This session in the Adult School Jewelry class is about torch fired enameling. It’s just six weeks, so just enough time to learn a bit and experiment a lot. Which I love to do. I will admit that I wasn’t too excited about this, as I think of it as a kind of old fashioned style of jewelry, but I am being open minded and reserving judgment… Part of the joy in these class is learning from other students, seeing what they are learning as they try new things.
We are using powdered enamel…finely ground bits of colored glass, to add color to copper metal shapes. Using a torch, the glass grains melt and adhere to the prepared copper surface. Lucky us, the teacher has supplied the class with about a hundred plus colors of enamels… transparents and opaques. Lovely!
I’ve chosen to experiment on copper metal that’s been embossed, so the surface has quite a lot of texture. But a few pieces, like the pendant and purple disc earrings you’ll see are more smooth. Last night I also tried out another technique that uses a ‘watercolor’ technique I saw on youtube…gotta love youtube! Instead of sifting on the dry enamel powders, the powder is mixed with water and a bit of Klyr Fire ( that acts like a glue), then applied with a tiny paint brush. Excited to work some more on this technique next time.
This was my first attempt. Just looked like burnt copper, not the lovely green enamel I used. Not sure what went wrong, but I do like that the leafy embossed copper design shows through the glassy surface.
And number two…The purple was a dry application, then I went back and applied a mix of aqua and dabs of darker green using the watercolor technique. Love the bits of bright copper showing. I don’t usually like bright copper in jewelry (you know I’m a huge fan of oxidized copper), but love it with these enamels.
And the backs…Ugly. The backs were actually done first, called counter enameling, because glass want to pull to the center, so this counter acts that action when you do the front of the piece. It seems that the color tend to change the more times you fire the piece. The flame of the torch is actually underneath the piece.
And these…a total experiment. I just kept adding more colors with the paintbrush and firing. Just to see what would happen. A. Some of the enamels are like shiny glass, others are a bit dull looking. Especially the orange/red. B. I love the bits of copper showing through. It’s a very interesting, modern look to my eye.
Next…Do you see the difference in the two colors. Glassy purple and orange pit-ty red. I think that the red enamel takes longer to melt, so I needed to keep at it longer. So at the top of my list next class, is to refire it and see what happens. Again this heart was cut from an embossed sheet of copper. I then used a paint brushed loaded with wet enamel to pack the low parts of the design. Love how the copper metal ridges are showing in this piece.
Last one for now… These pendants were hammered out from old thick wire from the garage. I textured just the top part and applied to colors of enamel. Again, love the bright copper color that gives these a simple modern look to a very old art form.
Finally, if you have a little time and would like to watch some short youtube videos in enameling, here’s a couple to wet your appetite.
Wet enameling with Ricky Frank.. first of four in a series. Does amazing work. I did not grind my own enamel powers as he did though.
And there you have it, til next time…