Enameling Hotline of Cloisonné & Many Other Enameling Techniques


Alohi Lani Designs, cloisonne jewelry 

 

Welcome to my blog about Enamels & Enameling of Cloisonne Jewelry Techniques, Plique a Jour, Champleve and many other Enamel Jewelry Techniques. This site is a donation of everyones time to share and further the education of the fine art of enameling. I am very happy to answer questions to help you, but please ask here and not emailing me directly. It save me time and others can share also. Thanks!!

Each Topic on the  left of this page is a chapter that is constantly growing as I add demos and information to them. So visit often and learn the beautiful art of Cloisonne and many other Enamel techniques.

I create Gold Enamel Jewelry, from my own designs and custom enamel jewelry. It is wonderful to help a client design a unique piece of jewelry that is like no one else’s. I don’t know about you, but I do not like to look like everyone else. I am a unique individual  and want what I wear to say so. If you ever want to take your enamel jewelry, plique a jour or cloisonné jewelry to the next level do not hesitate to contact me to help. I only create the finest enamel jewelry.

       Instagram 1

I joined this past year Elisa Melegari a designer and artist, in creating a jewel called the “The Dragon”. Named by the client Whoopi Goldberg. This bracelet and ring combo was inspired by the bracelet designed by Alphonse Mucha and executed by George Fouquet, “The Serpent” 1899 for Sarah Bernhardt.

The original bracelet

Serpentine Bracelet

                             

 

 

                                                      The Ada Brooch

 

 243Gold-and-Plique-à-Jour-Enamel-Morning-Glory-Pendant-Brooch-by-Marcus-Co.-New-York-circa-1900

This beautiful brooch of Plique a Jour lead Tom Herman and I to an excited level of appreciation of this delicate technique. Together with the assistance of Nancy Gardner and the Mendocino Art Center  Jan 11 – 15.   Tom and I will be teaching our two specialities.

Tom Herman you probably know as www.sevennfingers.com will teach chasing and carving. He is a true Master! Students in his class will sculpt metal into ornamental patterns using Bas Relief techniques, as well as engraving and saw piercing.

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In my class we will explore Plique a Jour in 3D, known as backless cloisonné or windows of light. With the knowledge of the expansion of various enamels and capillary action you will be able to put your skills to the test. With a  provided sample 3D leaf in fine silver measuring 3″ x 1/2″ and cells of 2 x 8 mm, will be already formed and saw pierced for you. You will have time to study enamels that work best for the technique as well as floating the enamels in very large cell openings and adding multiple colors and shades in each cell. Once you have mastered this you are encouraged to bring fine silver or 18K gold sheet to form, saw pierce and create our own 3D jewels of light.

Pitcher-Plant-Pendant

         Let’s take an in-depth look at the early Master”s work of Plique a Jour including how they possibly achieved this extraordinary work. Jan 11 – 15. These two workshops will be followed by two open studio sessions where artist will receive our assistance for a couple of hours each day. Artist are invited to join us for part or all. Open sessions are Jan 18- 22 and Jan 23- 27

         During the open studio time Tom and I will be building = alloying, forming, chasing, saw piercing, and enameling a Matilija Poppy. A long time resident of the art center. Once completed the brooch will be auctioned and proceeds will go to benefit the Mendocino Art Center. Students will be able to join us for demos as we work through the process. Watching over our shoulder will also give you a chance to learn.

Registration www.mendocinoartcenter.org/masters.html or call 707-937.5818 x10

 

Photo of a Matilija Poppy

 1632016-06-14 12.06.07

  The Ada Brooch

                     IMG_1645                                 Tom Herman and I will be presenting in detail The Ada Brooch

 

 166 145Ada 1

Beautiful color and movement in this jewel.

 145Ada A

Surprising to me how this leaf can twist and turn with Plique a Jour!

                                              Mendocino Art Center  Jan 11 – 15

                   Registration www.mendocinoartcenter.org/masters.html or call 707-937.5818 x10

 

 

5star

My KILNS for enameling and other artist needs. Jewelers, potters,glass work, and PMC Kilns. They are hot, fast, portable and most affordable. Kilns with 5 Star reviews!

Patsy Croft Kiln #55-IP, front Here is a quick view of our 55F-IP model. This is the 5 x 5 interior with an Analog controller. I have just launched my dedicated website for these kilns. Check it out here  Kilns

                             We just had our first International order ship! Very exciting.

    

 

31 thoughts on “Enameling Hotline of Cloisonné & Many Other Enameling Techniques

  1. Ana Borja

    Hello Patsy,
    I recently started enameling and I ran into your amazing blog. The information is so helpful and I’ve learned so much from it. I was wondering if you could help me out with a question I have. I used 18k gold with enamel for the first time last week and after firing it, it oxidizes and turns black, and I have no idea how to bring back the shine. In the bigger pieces it was easier because I just sanded it and polished it but when I have very small parts I can’t get to all the surfaces and some parts remain black.
    Could you help me out? Can I put a piece in the pickle once it’s been enameled or is there a better way to prevent fire scale?

    Thank you so much.
    Ana B

    Reply
    1. Patsy Croft Post author

      Ana,
      I enamel on 18k, but first I deplete the surface in nitric acid. I use 70% Regina you can find online. I wear all the proper safety equipment, and in a small glass pyrex add only enough acid to cover the piece of 18k. I heat it on a hot plate enough to be warm. My jewel goes in the kiln at whatever my firing temp is. Usual I fire at 1420. I leave it in the kiln the time I know I will be firing when I enamel it. Lets say a minute and a 15 seconds. It oxides and I place it in the acid. It is now clean of oxidation. Rinse in water and dry. I repeat this till it no longer oxides. Could take 10 times. Then a slow short tumble and clean with peroxide and a cue tip. Now you are ready to enamel. You might have some = very little oxidation by the time you are finished enameling but it is only in the bare metal areas so just tumble again to remove.

      Unless you have tested the enamel in pickle I would not go that route.

      Good luck! Patsy

      Reply
  2. Rick Blomquist

    Do you do commission work? I am restoring a very fine 1936 Pierce Arrow that has a 2″ disk of Cloisonne’ in their centers. There does not appear to be any patter or design on them, but look to be a solid reddish color. Please contact me, and i can mail you one, or at least send a photo.

    Regard, Rick
    608-780-8229

    Reply
  3. Laura Brown

    Hi there,
    Your work is beautiful.
    I am trying out techniques with graphite on white enamel. I would like to add some gold foil or gold leaf. Once the enamel is toothed I draw on my design and torch fire. I can only do this once as subsequent firings make the image fainter… So I would like to add gold on the final firing with the graphite. Does gold foil need a layer of enamel over it? Or can it left uncovered? I have heard it could turn brown can I do anything to remedy or prevent this?
    Thanks ever so much in advance
    Laura B

    Reply
    1. Patsy Croft Post author

      Hi Laura,
      Thank you for your kind words. Yes, each time you fire the graphite will sink into the enamel. You can use some enamel sticks to have it last longer, = not sink in so fast, or P-3 Thompson sells, you paint it on and if sinks in also but not as fast as graphite. The foil will wear quickly if you do not add enamel over it. I would add the foil and fire it in, then try the graphite and a top enamel like N4 from Coral at Enamel Works Supply. It fires faster = a lower temp enamel. You could have it pretty dry, so not to disturb the graphite, if you wet pack, or shift it on and just to be sure you get a solid covering.

      Good Luck! Patsy

      Reply
  4. Patsy Croft Post author

    Laura,
    On the pair that you have two layers of enamel on each side, try to remove the enamel that is climbing up the post. If the enamel is rejecting the solder, try to solder the post on with hard silver solder, which should flow around 1550 degrees and fuse your enamels on at 1450. I am firing right now a small ring at 1450 and the enamel follows in 1.20 min. But I think it is the unevenness of the enamels. *) Patsy

    Reply
  5. Lorena

    I really want to start trying my hand at cloisonné. Ive read several articles that have scared me though regarding safety issues with enameling. I would be working in a home studio. Is it unsafe to try doing this type of art in a home studio. Are there any books or articles I can read that would give me info regarding the safety of this medium? Also I’ve read the enamels and other chemicals used to create the cloisonné could be hazardous in themselves but I would be applying them wet so would it not be safer? any info is appreciated it has been a dream of mine to create cloisonné pieces.

    Reply
    1. Patsy Croft Post author

      Hi Lorena,

      I do not know of a publication. You might try Tom Ellis at Thompson’s Enamel. 859-291-3800 I have been enameling in my home studio for 25+ years, no shifting, only wet pack. Each year I have blood work to check for lead and cadmium, with no issues. I have good ventilation also

      Good luck, Patsy

      Reply
        1. Patsy Croft Post author

          Lorena,

          All you really need is a bench to work on, my enamels in cabinet drawers and another cabinet to put my kiln on and supplies in drawers under this. I took a photo but I am sorry it is not uploading.

          Patsy

          Reply
  6. Nina

    Hi, Patsy
    Admire your work, I am learning enameling and have read a lot of good books on this subject, practicing with cloisonné enameling. I learned by experience and later from books, that yellow, orange and red colors turning brown when touch fine silver directly. I always put clear base enamel as a first layer on a top of fine silver base and put gold foil under it if I want to have nice warm color. However, whatever I tried, if I use fine silver cloisonné wires, yellow turns brown when it touches cloisonné wires and I have this ugly tiny brown border around yellow cell. I ended up removing these brown lines by a burr and refiring them filled with clear enamel. It helped to fix the issue, but how to avoid it in future? I fill, like I have to always use 24k gold wires with yellow or red, but maybe there is a secret? Thank you so much, your articles always help a lot.

    Reply
    1. Patsy Croft Post author

      HI Tina,

      Yes that can be a problem! Like you said you go back and remove the burnt enamel. So try to put flux along the fine silver wires. I use a brush with a very sharp tip, it makes it easier to get against the edge with a small amount of enamel. I have found one yellow that does not burn until 5 firings. Ship 190 I get it from Coral at Enamel works supply. Also at times I use blue, very light if it will not show. Such as Ninomiya’s N55. On a red I use a darker blue.

      Have a great day!! Patsy

      Reply
      1. Patsy Croft Post author

        Tina,

        Hope you found this helpful. But I should mention As I place enamels in the cell first I put the flux next to the wires or blue next to the fine silver wires.
        Patsy

        Reply
  7. Gretchen

    I too am new to enameling and am trying to do this all self taught if you will. I live in Canada and there are not many places (if any) that offer classes on enameling so I am normally left to teach myself.
    I would love to find some good books on the steps of enameling, and on how to use many colors and shading. I love the Celtic arts and would love to use enamel to incorporate these designs but I am not finding anything that tells me how to do it.

    Like, do you fire in between each color, or do you layer your colors and then fire?

    I have really enjoyed everything I have read thus far on your site, you are a wonderfully talented artist!

    Thank you for any help you can send my way!
    Gretchen Collin
    Spirited Gemstones and Jewellery

    Reply
    1. Patsy Croft Post author

      Gretchen, tell me where you are located. There are some classes and groups there.
      I have on the site the book I learned from Enamels Enameling Enamelist it is a great started book.

      Patsy

      Reply
        1. Patsy Croft Post author

          Connect with this group target=”_blank”>http://metalartsguild.ca/group/enamel” Catherine Crowe is very strong in the technique and the organization of an enameling guild there. You should be able to connect with someone in your area from this. There is lots of info on my website. Read, it takes time, experimenting and patience. There are classes all over the US these days. I have listed on the site guilds also. So check it out. All the northern states. I have listed also Glass on Metal mag. a good way to stay connected with what is going on, all levels of artist. Get it.

          Have fun and let me know how it goes, Patsy

          Reply
  8. Taylor

    Hi Patsy,

    My name is Taylor. I am somewhat new to enameling and came across your blog. It’s amazing! So much information! I have several specific questions that I thought you may be able to assist with.

    My uncle and I recently started making jewelry. We are on a mission to replicate a ring. It is a fairly simple ring, a band with a bezel and a circle of bright orange enamel in the bezel. When we began attempting to create the ring we thought the hardest part would be pouring the metal. We started by getting a sand casting kit and amazingly we were able to pour the ring somewhat easily. We were so happy! We thought that the color part would be a pinch considering that we had just successfully poured molten metal!!!! However, it has ended up being so confusing and frustrating! Since that first ring we have made many more copies of the ring and have tried to enamel the inside of the bezel which I refer to as a mini “bowl”. We have several issues/questions:

    We are using bronze as the metal. Is it possible to enamel on bronze? We enamel at 1450. We leave it for 2 min but when we check it usually is still sandy looking so we leave for longer and keep checking on it.

    We just recently learned about using a base enamel so we have been using foundation white from Thompsons enamels. This has helped a lot. However, the subsequent layers/colors seem to shrink a lot!!! We end up having to do several layers just to make it fill up the bezel. Is this normal? Does enamel usually shrink? I’m wondering if this could be happening because we are not working on a flat surface more of like a mini “bowl” that we are trying to fill. Does this have to do with whether the colors are low/medium/hard? I am not sure what they are. They are Thompson brand opaque colors. Are they all the same hardness?

    After several layers, once we have finally filled the “bowl”, the enamel never comes out flat. There are lumps…not bubbles, but lumps. I originally thought this could be because it hadn’t melted completely but when we leave it in the kiln longer, the colors seem to burn. I have tried sanding it to be flat and then working my way up sand paper grits and even using a polishing wheel but it never gets as shiny as it is when it’s just out of the kiln.

    Another frustrating issue is that after firing the enamel, the metal gets completely black from fire scale. Why is this happening? Even if my enamel came out perfectly, I would have to scrape off the fire scale on the metal bezel which would scratch the enamel next to it. Is there a way to avoid fire scale?

    I see very small black dots in the enamel. What could this be caused by? I see a lot of people in your blog complaining of white dots but mine are always black.

    Lastly, I see that you talk a lot about counter enameling. I am wondering if this is necessary in my case. Since it isn’t a flat surface, but instead a ring, I don’t think it makes sense to do it. The one thing I haven’t had a problem with is cracking and I believe that is the purpose of counter enameling. So I’m hoping it isn’t necessary.

    I would really appreciate any answers you can provide. This is driving us crazy!!!! We see how much success you and others have had and we are not sure why it is so difficult for us. Especially since we have seen how intricate of designs people can do. All we need is a circle of color (just the color spot, no design) and we have worked for over 1 year and still haven’t been successful. We would love to be able to accomplish our goal.

    Thank you!
    Taylor and Uncle Paul from California

    Reply
    1. Patsy Croft Post author

      Taylor and Uncle Paul,

      Thanks for visiting and sharing your experience. It is great to hear such determination! I was in a garage once for 4 years trying to get clear transparent enamels. I read a book on enameling and they talked about silver. I thought (with no metal back ground) all silver was created equal. I continued for some time with gray cracking enamels before I read the book again and realized they said fine silver.

      In the chapter on Metals of Enameling you can see in the top right hand corner of the home page, I have listed the metals enamels like. Bronze is not one. Bronze and brass are very close metals. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, bronze is an alloy consisting mainly of copper, combined most often with tin. Enamels love copper but with just a pinch of zinc it becomes brass and is problematic to enamel.

      Usually you get 2-3 firing on brass then the enamel no longer adheres to the metal. Bronze I have not heard or read of anyone enameling on. But I will do a little research. Several things come to mind. 1450 degrees is a low temperature to be firing if you were using copper.This could answer the lumps. Enamels are were fine grains of glass and as you layer colors in they do melt and appear to recede. There is air between each grain, like balls, but when fired they all melt together and for a solid layer of glass. I fill my cells 10 – 15 layers that will measure in the end 1 mm or a bit more. I am going thin in my layers as that is how you get clarity in transparent enamels.

      If you read on the site about fluxes for the different metals, you will see almost all enamels need flux. Enamels really like pure metals, and even then burn when they touch the metal. This is what you are seeing once you fire the enamel enough to fuse properly yet it is too late and they are burnt. So you are on the right track using a flux. Uncle Paul probably knows this like painting a car, you need a primer.

      And you speak of oxidation = firescale, of the bronze during the process, which get oxide flakes in your enamel = black dots. Yep, again copper likes to oxidize. If one is working in copper all the time there is a coating available to paint on the surface you will not apply enamels on. It is called Scalex Coral carries it at Enamel Works Supply, her info is on the recourses page.

      And last the counter enamel is necessary if the jewel is thin and flat. If the metal is 14 ga you can get away with out counter.

      There are many books on enameling and hundreds of classes these days. The magazine Glass on Metal is very helpful, info is on the site, and list classes all over the country. There is a page of Guilds around the country that might help also.
      Post some photos when you can and good luck! Patsy

      Reply
      1. Taylor

        Hi Patsy,

        Thank you so much for taking the time to respond.

        We have been trying on bronze because the original ring that we are trying to replicate is a goldish color. Since we are not ready to try (and possibly fail) with gold, bronze and brass have been the metals we have used. It sounds like it would be a good idea to try copper as well.

        Just this past weekend we successfully poured the ring using a vacuum caster. We will attempt the enamel this coming weekend. We will start off by firing at a higher temperature since that will hopefully help with the lumps. And we will continue using the flux. Thank you for the tip on firescale. We have ordered Scalex. That should make a big difference!

        As far as polishing, I have been doing it mostly by hand. I start with a 200 grit sandpaper and work my way up to 2000 grit. I then use a polishing wheel. The metal looks beautiful and the enamel looks shiny but not as shiny as it does when it’s just out of the kiln. Uncle Paul ordered me a Graves Cabmate (such a generous guy!) which should be arriving soon. I don’t know too much about it but it sounds like it should make the polishing aspect a lot easier.

        Thank you again for providing your insight. I really appreciate it! I will let you know how it goes this weekend ☺

        Reply
        1. Patsy Croft Post author

          When you have time we would love to see images. Could be a bit more helpful on polishing then. And before you use new supplies to be sure it is best. I use up to 50,000 grit diamond wheels or paste.

          Patsy

          Reply
  9. Barbara Lewis

    Hi Patsy, Thank you so much for the information on hard enameling! I always check your website first … because usually I’ll find the answer here! All the best, Barbara

    Reply
  10. Concepcion

    Superb website you have here but I was wondering if you knew
    of any community forums that cover the same topics talked about in this article?
    I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get feedback
    from other experienced people that share the same interest.
    If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Kudos!

    Reply
  11. Wayne Houston

    Hi Patsy,

    I am looking for information on how to make both transparent and opaque caucasian skin colors. Thanks in advance for any help you might offer.
    Thanks,
    Wayne

    Reply
    1. Patsy Croft Post author

      Hi Wayne,

      Thanks for the visit.I want to share a couple of photo to answer your question. Some reason I can not add them here so I will start a new Topic and call it Painting Enamels. It will show up on the top left of the site.

      Let me know if I can be of further help, Patsy

      Reply
  12. Kerri

    Great info and site! I hope you do not mind my curiosity but I am looking for more plique a jour info on classes. I am interested in Cloisenee for a few distinct applications- but feel led into plique a jour for its aesthetic relief when used for accent.

    I realize that the plique a jour is the higher tier of enamelling arts- but think it would accentuate a myriad of my own personal interests well.

    I am trying to establish a few contacts and build a few relationships with artists who are indeed educating their public- and your site is definitely one of my favorites!

    Thanks again and I look forward to hearing from you- By the way- I too, have taken a course at Wildacres- Fred Sias’s lost wax casting- and am looking into John Campbell and William Holland for classes- any reccomendations of instructors or starter books that are not coffee-table books?

    Thanks again. And I look forward to communicating more with you as time goes on!

    Kerri Duncan
    Silver Forge Studio

    Reply
    1. Patsy Croft Post author

      Hi Kerri,

      Thanks for the visit. Contact Diane about classes here “http://www.plique-a-jour.com” she is currently have classes and is in the Miami area. On casting try Tim McCreight’s book Practical Casting Rio has it item #550-185. He is very clear in his teaching techniques.

      Have fun and visit again, Patsy

      Reply

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