Wednesday, August 8, 2012

First trial with glass enamel

A few weeks ago I finished my first enamelled piece ever - "Vintage garden" pendant :).
Well, maybe not really the first one, but two pieces with enamel I made before were super simple - just a tiny pendant and earrings with a bit of enamel in recessed area. I torch fired them and even in case of so simple projects I had problems with enamelled surface cracking. So generally I was a bit psyched out by enamelling ;) and I worked only with uv resin and epoxy enamel since then.
But then Metal Clay Today announced theme of their Summer 2012 challenge - "Enamored" - enamelling on metal clay. Well, I thought that it would be great pretext to finally try enamelling again, and this time make something more complex. I had only a few colours of enamel, so I decided to go "black & white" with 22 K gold accents. I drew a rough sketch:
I wanted a domed black & white enamelled silver cabochon with gold accents in oval, concave, gilded frame. Fristly I formed oval cab out of cork clay:
Then I formed a silver clay cabochon on it and drew sketch of my flowers:

By placing thin coils on lines of my drawing I formed cells for enamel and a few elevated flowers. I filed coils down a bit to make them flat:
Then I formed around it a thick coil out of Fimo to make a support for  my concave frame: 
I formed a frame on it, let it dry, and then I took it off Fimo coil. I filed my frame a bit ( a few "chips") to add vintage touch to its shape:
Then I added a background to the frame - to make a support for my  future cabochon, and fired it in my kiln to turn ACS into pure silver.
After firing I checked if the cab still fits the frame :).
And then I begun enamelling... I really know nothing about it, but thanks to wonderful Joy Funnell I read some basics and knew more or less how to begin. So I begun with counter enamel. I chose opaque black. I only left a little leaf motif at the back to be filled later with white enamel. I used so called wet packing technique - I just "packed" wet enamel on silver surface using a tiny brush. Actually I was really surprised that enamel powder stuck somehow to this curved surface and didn't slip down. I fired this in my kiln in 800 °C. It came out not too smooth, with no enamel in a few places, so I had to add more enamel and fire it again. There is a big difference (for me) between firing enamel and firing metal clays - you have to put a piece into the kiln which is already SO very hot. I did it for the first time in my life - I've never opened orange glowing kiln before - it was really scary ;).
 Then I begun working on a front of my cab. I was gilding and adding enamel at the same time - temperature in which enamel is fired is sufficient for gold to fuse on silver surface.
After adding black enamel I covered rest of silver surface with white enamel. I was afraid that during firing counter enamel may stick to my firing pad, so I put a few scalpels under it ;). I have no enamel firing trivet or tray, so I had to improvise.
It took a few firings to fill all cells well with enamel, but finally it looked like this:
Nothing cracked! Of course it isn't perfect (there are a few places I should put more enamel on, and there are a few tiny "stains" which could be covered - but I didn't want to fire the cab once again - white enamel was becoming a bit yellowish in a few places). I decided that this piece should have a vintage feeling, so some "irregularities" are quite welcome :). Then I prepared a frame - I gilded the inside of the frame and asymmetrically soldered a few prongs with tiny balls and a jump ring. I oxidized and partially polished both parts of the piece, I set the cab and the pendant was ready :). I know, I know it's not perfect, but I'm really happy with it. It's always so great to try something new. I already have tons of ideas for enamelled jewellery :).


  1. Thank you! :) OMG - I didn't want to show this blog for a few days more, because I sent this pendant to Metal Clay Today challenge, and this challenge is meant to be "blind", without knowledge of names, but I see that even without telling anyone about this blog it is easy to find. You probably saw in your statistics that I added your blog in my links. I haven't thought about this. Thank you very much nevertheless - I appreciate your opinion veru much - I love your work :). And your experiments with fusing are wonderful.

  2. Wow, I can't believe this was your first try! You are so incredibly talented!

  3. Thank you! :) It turned out enamelling is really wonderful thing. There is SO much work and trials ahead of me, but I want to try it again quite soon.

  4. Love this too! thanks for sharing your process :)

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