It's been a busy few weeks with getting the new Projects4Crafters.com website up and running. But it's there at last and it has bags more space for lots of free craft projects to be added over the coming months! :)
One thing I have been asked about a couple of weeks ago was the shield I used on one of the Create and Craft Creative Jewellery TV Shows. They have some rather over zealous air conditioning in the studios due to all the camera lights and the first show I did there I was positioned under one of the air-con vents. I ended up not being able to enamel a single copper blank during the hour long show as the tealight flames were positively horizontal (meaning the top of the stove never got hot). As such I needed to find a way to protect the stove in case I found myself in the same position again.
Unfortunately I'm not aware of any shield that is available to purchase at this time that is suitable for the Efcolor Tealight Stove. However, in desperation (and with the help of a very inventive father) I did manage to create one. So for anyone out there who loves using their Efco Efcolor Tealight Stove but is being constantly frustrated by drafts or plans to do some enamelling outdoors here's how I made mine.
Homemade Efcolor Enamelling Stove Shield
Piece of Perspex
Section of drainpipe
Boiling and Cold Water
Heat Protective Gloves
and most importantly (if you're like me)... A Handy Man!
Cut a piece of perspex 520 x 126 mm and drill three 8mm holes 40mm from the bottom edge (one of the long sides). These should be evenly spaced at 130mm, 260mm and 390mm from one edge (one of the short sides). Place a section of drainpipe (or something similar) across your kitchen sink and lay the perspex across it. Make sure whoever is going to bend the perspex around the pipe is wearing heat protective gloves. (I used some NASA thermal gloves inside a pair of thick gauntlet rubber gloves.) Concentrating on a small section at a time pour boiling water over the perspex whilst encouraging it to bend around the pipe. As soon as a section has curved around the pipe pour cold water over it to set it. Keep working on the perspex until you are happy with the overall shape. You should end up with a circular shape with a gap in it that is approx 220mm in diameter. When placed around the tealight stove it should protect it from drafts whilst being far enough away to allow air circulation (so the tealights aren't starved of oxygen) and to stop it getting too hot. Please note this is a homemade solution to draft problems when working with the tealight stove and not only have I found it effective, I haven't experienced any problems with it either. However, if you make one yourself and if, at any time, you feel it is too close or starts to get hot remove it from the stove and allow it to cool.
To download the template for the Homemade Efcolor Tealight Stove Shield go to the Information Sheet page on the Projects4Crafters.com website.
One last thing I should mention to anyone who is experiencing problems with enamelling on the Efcolor tealight stove. I have found that tealights can vary quite dramatically depending on where you get them. Once upon a time supermarket shelves were filled with night lights and not many tealights. These days I struggle to find night lights as everything seems to be labelled as a tealight. However, I think that the labelling may be incorrect as night lights are designed to produce light without a lot of heat whereas tealights are supposed to give off heat and most of the tealights these days appear to be scented (not much good if you're wanting to keep your chinese food warm). I've tried various brands of tealights and quite often find that they aren't producing enough heat to melt the Efcolor powder as well as they should. (The best test for this is the silver or black texture powders - they don't really separate and give that gorgeous two toned finish if they don't get heated to the correct temperature ie. 150ºC). The cheap ones from the supermarkets and cheap jack shops just don't get hot enough. I did try some deeper ones made from stearin once but they got too hot and made the enamel pull and wrinkle so definitely avoid those. So far the most reliable ones I've found are from Ikea.
Hope this helps all those budding enamellers out there - I'd love to see photos of any Efcolor enamelling anyone's done so do send your photos in to either firstname.lastname@example.org or post them on the facebook page.