Wednesday, 26 March 2014

My adventure with enamels

I’ve had a really busy and interesting week, not to mention varied, in terms of jewellery making. I put the finishing touches to ‘Marina’ yesterday. The centrepiece has turned out well with the pale shell behind the abalone circle combined with micro macramé and wirework. Working out the perfect way to attach everything presented a hugely enjoyable challenge.

In class I’ve been trying out the brand new enamelling kiln. Luckily I had some really patient coaching from my tutor, who is encouraging me to try all the things I’ve always wanted to have a go at. I’ve never used glass powder enamels before and the process is quite complex, but interesting and rewarding. After piercing, annealing and shaping my piece I had to clean the areas where the enamel was going with a little fibreglass tipped brush. Then follows a process that reminds me of panning for gold! Fine glass powder is swirled with water in a tiny container and every so often the milky liquid on top poured off until larger sediment is left in the cup. This is then applied to the jewellery with a tiny dental spatula and the excess water wicked off with a tiny corner of tissue. Then it has to dry on top of the kiln which is heating up in readiness to perform its magic. It has to be at 800 degrees and then the piece is popped carefully in. After a minute or two (you keep checking) it is done. It doesn’t look at all pretty at this stage, rough, black, and firescaled. I’ve learned over the short time I’ve been silversmithing that this is nothing to worry about, polishing, buffing and adding patina will transform it into something lovely – you hope! Here it is in the process of it’s transformation with some chain links I’ve been experimenting with to suspend it. I will need to think about the way I will construct the bail to hang it.

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