During Thing-a-Day 2009, I promised my six year old granddaughter that I would make her a tiara if she helped me to sort out my bead box… Terrible woman that I am, I have not fulfilled that promise to her up until today!! Well, you know how it is…sometimes life gets in the way of the best intentions.
My granddaughter is a real girlie girl. She loves all things pink and sparkly – so predictably she focused on sorting out all the pink pearly beads and all the ‘diamonds’ in my box of beads from broken up jewellery. Nothing in the box is ‘real’ or of any intrinsic value – all the ‘good’ stuff is carefully stored – but I find these plastic and base metal beads have uses in all sorts of art and craft applications. So I was quite happy to use them in practicing the art of tiara making.
I have used the silver plated braided wire that I made earlier this month (Day 13) and added a selection of the beads that she sorted out for me. I have spent much of the afternoon grovelling on the floor trying to find all the beads I have dropped and, predictably, my fingers are rather sore but I think I have done a reasonable job in making a tiara fit for a little princess that will see rather more play times than royal occasions!
I hope she will like it – and forgive me for taking so long in making it for her!
Now we are just past the halfway mark I am beginning to feel as if I am in a bit of a whirl! I have so much that needs doing apart from Thing-a-Day that I am beginning to struggle finding the time to fit it all in. Since I managed to do all 28 days last year I am determined not to fail this year!! …but it is not easy!!!
Today I have returned to the little drum shaped lampwork beads with their rustic rings and decided to make them up into a bracelet using pieces of one of my handmade fine silver chain designs. I did consider adding other dangly bits and pieces but decided to keep the lines plain and simple. (And the same can be said for my write-up today!)
I’ve not had a chance to get down to any real work today as I have just done a 12 hour stint of babysitting…but I have had a few quiet moments. I have found that making these silver braids is something that you can easily put down and pick up again so I thought I would do one today. I do have a tiara to make and so I thought this would come in handy and I may be able to finish it off later this month.
It is a technique that I explained on my blog when I first learned how to do it and I’m afraid I am just too tired to explain it all again here!! So if you are interestedplease click on this link!
Thing-a-Day Day 11
The experimental piece I have been working on today has been really interesting. It has been something I have wanted to have a go at for nearly 2 decades but have never really been brave enough to risk ruining a piece of silver if things went horribly wrong!
When I had a go at making some filigree silver pieces from fine silver wire earlier in the year, I realised that this would be my opportunity to have a go at this technique of enamelling as the value of the silver in the filigree pieces was not very large and I could just about live with the possibility that the whole lot might be trashed!
So this is my journey through the plique-a-jour window!
Plique-a-jour enamel is a style of enamelling where transparent enamels are fired into individual cells without any metal backing – thus creating a stained glass window effect.
1. I purchased a piece of mica sheet to use as my ‘non-stick’ backing plate and put my filigree pieces onto it.
2. I then attempted to fill each of the little cells with wet enamel – although there was a little bit of bleeding underneath the wires due to the twisted nature of the filigree wire it was impossible to get good contact between the wire and the mica sheet.
3. This was the enamel after it had dried for a while on top of the kiln.
4. …and again after it had been fired for the first time! Quite a few holes to be filled there!!
5. More wet enamel was put on top and then fired again. When everything had cooled down a gentle lift with a fingernail behind the wire and the pieces just pinged off of the mica…brilliant!!!
6. The effect from the front is now fine.
7. …but the look from the back is pretty rough!!
8. I ground down the enamel from the back of the filigree using a carborundum stone.
9. A little better now – but not as tidy as I would like! The areas where I had reinforced the fragile joins with a dab of PMC slip had now been ground down into irregular shaped patches…not so pretty…
All in all – I think this has been very successful – as I have seen how well the mica backing sheet works and how easy it is to remove the enamelled pieces. I would try again using a lighter coloured enamel as the royal blue is a bit dark unless held up to the light. I also think it would work really well for pierced sheet silver – or PMC.
I have always loved Art Nouveau styles and this enamelling technique was used a lot by Rene Lalique…so I will definitely have another go later on!