For the love of silver…for the love of life!!

Posts tagged ‘enamel’

Eat Your Heart Out Rene Lalique!.. ;)

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!

Oooops!! (Thing-a-Day Day10)

OK – so today has not been one of my better ones! …well pretty much a disaster to be honest…but such is life!

I had got myself all excited about trying to enamel my silver shells and then things didn’t quite go to plan.

From what I had read on the internet – I was led to believe that clear flux enamel powder fired to a peachy pink colour on silver – so that was what I planned to work with for starters – since the lady that wants these earrings wanted to have pink shells. The only other vaguely pinky colour that I have is deep mauve. I have never had success with red shades of enamel and so I have never really bought any.

Initially, I was going to enamel the entire shell – these were made as experimental prototypes anyway – so I was prepared for disasters. But for some reason I thought that I would try just the areas around the openings into the shells first to see how things went. That is the beauty of vitreous enamels…you can keep building up layer upon layer of enamels – so long as you don’t make the layers too thick – so you can patch up holes and modify colours as things go on.
But when my shells came out after the first firing of clear flux – the results were anything but clear, or peachy pink…in fact – it was sort of sandy yellow! Not what I was hoping for at all.

So there was no point in continuing with the clear flux so I thought I would just see what colour the deep mauve might turn out to be….and hey!…guess what!! It’s deep mauve!!! So I didn’t want to continue enamelling any further with colours that were just not going to be right. It isn’t a total tragedy as the mauve just looks like the deep shadow within the crevices of the shells…but it’s certainly not what I had in my mind’s eye!

I will have to see if I can do anything else to make these prototypes a bit more attractive later on. I suppose I could consider using coloured transparent resin, but it is not a product I enjoy using….so I will have to have a ponder about it for a while!

I may have a play with enamel again tomorrow – but it will not be with the shells. I’ll have a go with the filigree shapes I made a few days ago and see if I can experiment with the plique-a-jour method of enamelling…

See you tomorrow!!

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