Champleve Techniques

Champleve is a beautiful technique used in enameling where you create recess compartments or cells, in metal to  receive enamels. These recessions can be achieved several ways. One grave out the area using gravers or chisels in any metals of enameling.  A second option is the use acid, which has been popular in the past few years. Ferric nitrate works on copper, sulfuric acid on fine silver or sterling silver, to achieve a cell to enamel in.

You place a resist on the areas you do not want the acid to removed such as asphaltum varnish, applied with a paint brush. Now you are ready to float the jewel in the acid. It is rather slow maybe 24 hours to remove the desired depth of metal.

Coral from Enamel Works Supply as a great book out on etching metal for Champleve.

Relief Etching for Jewelers and Enamelists here is the link to her site,

 Engraving takes some time to learn and the acids are a nice thing to avoid. My choice is to create a jewel in the Champleve technique using two plates of metal  one for the bottom or foundation and one for the top to create an edge. The easiest metal in my opinion is fine silver. And fuse them together. This process is used in granulation buy adding copper to one of the sheets of metal.

The ring will act as a stop for the enamels, also creating the recession create champleve. The first image one part is plated with copper. The second image shows the pieces of fine silver fused together. You can use a torch or kiln.




The third image here I have soldered on a bail with hard sliver solder. And after graving out the background to add some sparkle , I laid in two thin layers of enamel, and polished.



Sharing The Beautiful art of Enameling  Patsy Croft

How to Make a Test Plate of Enamels

Demo for the Week! Making Color Test Plates.  

How to make a test a plate of enamel. Necessary to see the true enamel color once fired. What you see in the container un-fired is not what it looks like when fired.

First big reason I go about it this way, is all colors of the same family are here. Making a color test plate as you see below allows me to see how close the colors are to each other which gives me the opportunity use them to shade from light to dark.

Second and even more important is to see the different melting times of each enamel. These enamel dots were all applied at the same time and fired all at once. One did not melt = means it is a harder firing enamel.  If you lay it down next to one that melts quicker you will have cracking between the two enamel colors.

Third, I can see which pink enamels have yellow in them or blue in them. This tells me the ones with a yellow base will burn sooner than ones with a blue base.



On to making the plate,

You can pause the slide show when you need to.

Clean the Copper sheet of 18ga.using comet cleanser or penny brite. The copper will be bright and the water should run off. A good sign the metal is clean.

My counter enamel is moist and I add a mixture of one part Klyre-Fire to five parts water. The Klyre-Fire acts like glue to keep the enamel from falling off when you flip it over the add the flux on the front side of your test plate. Add counter enamel to the back and remove excess liquid with the brush, turn the plate over and add flux.

Fire the enamel test plate,  I use 1450 degrees, for 1 minute to 1minute and 15 seconds, in my kiln.

Next prep fine silver foil, using 120 grit sand paper.This is accomplished by burnishing the fine silver foil on the sand paper with a small flat tool, like a ruler. This puts small holes in the foil so it will not trap air bubbles when fired.

Gently brush off the back of the fine foil so no sand from the paper is on it.

Lay the foil on the fired fluxed plate of copper.

And fire in kiln.

After removing the plate from the kiln burnish the foil down.

Now I am ready to apply flux for fine silver. I am only applying flux here to one side, I want to leave some of this fine silver exposed as I want to use this plate also to test some enamels directly on silver. There are a few that you can fire directly on fine silver with no flux, but you have to test to know.


Add my color dots of enamel I want to test. These enamels have been washed in distilled water.


And now you know how to make a test plate for enamel. This test plate is for enameling on Fine Silver. If you want to enamel on copper just skip adding the fine silver foil. Also if you are enameling on copper turn the temperature up to 1550 and fire to get a beautiful gold color to the copper sheet.

I would like to mention this plate with all the pink colors on it is .5″ x 3″. And the dots are small that would equal one layer of enamels. Not very much. Just remember you want to see the true color of the enamel and be able to see through it specially if you are enameling on fine silver.  If this is one layer think about how much it will darken also with 4-5 layers.


Color Plates and Understanding Expansion of Your Enamels

Enameling on Brass

Everyday someone visits this site asking if they can enamel on brass. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Barbara Lewis whom has not only developed torch firing enamels but has produced a line of brass jewels for enameling.

Here at her store you can pick up and the supplies and instruction you need to achieve enameling on brass! She sells Thompson’s Unleaded Enamels for this so if you already have your enamels get some of her brass jewels and get started playing!

Happy enameling!

Setting Cloisonne Enamels

Setting Your Enamels

I like to begin the setting with a finished piece of enamel that has a good girdle all around the edge as in a faceted stone. I believe it cuts down on the cracking during setting. If the enamel comes down and meets the fine silver or copper base plate at a sharp edge it is likely to crack.  Thin enamel and soft metal after many firings, and you start applying pressure, you can imagine how easy it is to crack.


This piece is domed and you do not see the underside of enamel.

Tuff Break is a rubber product I purchase from Fred Woell. You can find his contact info in Resources.  I like to place it under my enamel jewels. It adds  protection to the counter enamel as well as the top of the enamel jewel, by giving the enamel piece a cushion which helps me avoid cracking the piece during this process. When I roll down the very top edge of the fine silver bezel the enamel jewel drops just a hair  as I push down on the jewel, allowing me to avoid pressure right on the enamel surface. It also takes care of that tinny sound of the enamel against the back metal once the piece is complete.



After placing the rubber backing and the enamel jewel in the setting, it is time to close the bezel. Choosing a sterling silver base in this case I am using fine silver bezel wire 2.5 mm high and 26 ga thick. As a matter of choice I do not like to sand the bezel thin at the top. Leaving this edge as is allows me to remove the jewel if I ever need to. And with this thick bezel there is plenty of metal  to sand out any dings.

My favorite burnisher is a wooden clothespin. As you can see here it sits flat on the table and parallel to my bezel wall.


With a snug fit between the enamel jewel and the wall of the bezel all that is needed here is a little tightening.


Applying pressure parallel to the girdle,


Working my way all the way around with light pressure.


And lastly  just turning down the very top edge of the bezel with the clothespin.



Those Tiny Bubbles in My Enamels

A couple of things bubbles can be from,

The addition of Klye-fire. And some times the more firings the more they go crazy. I do my best not to use this but I realize in some designs we need it. The last time I used Klyr-fire, a mixture of 1-20 parts distilled water was best. It help on a 3d surface but I could still see a few tiny bubbles.

Bubbles can come from sterling silver that has not been depleted properly. The more you fire the worse they get.

Specks usually come from old or deteriorating enamels. When you wash them  you see tiny white specks in the container. On your first few firing you will see some are white in your enamel, then continue  firing some look like beige-brown goo, and sometimes they turn into bubbles.


Plique a Jour With Hans Meevis

I have had the pleasure of meeting Hans Meevis a terrific jeweler and instructor of jewel design and concepts. Hans has a blog with many tutorials any jeweler would enjoy. Check it out He is not afraid to experiment and push the limits!

Also on his site he shares an excellent demo on Plique a Jour!

Thank you, Hans for sharing!!!

Making Your Own Trivets

I am sure you all have come to the point at some time the standard trivets just will not work to support the jewel you have created. Times like this push us to be inventive.


You can see this is an odd shape Plique a Jour Necklace, and in the enameling process it needs to be turned different directions. This trivet is made from kiln fire brick and heat tempered wire. There is ordering information under resources for the wire.






In the next trivet I have created a long thin cloisonne jewel and if I use standard trivets the enamel jewel would warp if the side could not be supported.









Again this is kiln fire brick. You can use your jeweler’s saw to cut these shapes, then a half round hand file to make a grove to place the cloisonne jewel on. The sides are supported and the back is not touching the enameling trivet. This way the counter enamel that is required in this cloisonne jewel is just as pretty as the front. I have a fire cloth lying between the brick and the enamel so I will not have any of the firebrick dust in the enamel back.

I have added this one this week as I was enameling cufflinks and needed a way to fire both sides at once and not have the enamel touching anything.

Enameling trivets can also be a challenge  when enameling in a trinket kiln. I see enameling artist searching the internet for a trivet to fit in the small trinket kiln. The first image is a one inch square of stainless steel, with the corners bent up. Using a pair of needle nose pliers you can easily place this trivet in and out of a trinket kiln.

The next small simple trivet is made from the Heat Tempered Wire you can order and bend to your needs. This fits easily into the trinket kiln and the trivet will not disturb any of the enameling surfaces.


Happy Enameling, Patsy


Shading and How to Use Colors in Enamels

Hi Patsy
Just enjoyed viewing all of your designs! Do you have any suggestions on shading within the cells of your cloisonne or know of any publications I could read to help me out?

thank you,
Wendy Edwards

Hi Wendy,

Thanks for visiting and I am happy to try to help. I can not recommend one book for this but I can say for me it took time. I was a Fine Arts Major in school and only used pin and ink. My love was drawing. When I first saw cloisonne I was hooked forever and begin a quest to learn colors.

I began photographing everything that was of interest to me. When diving, hiking, walking, always carrying a camera. With these photo I made albums to use as resources. I would take a month or so at a time and draw and paint till I got the impact I needed in my art.

Then it takes time to look and see the colors.One trick I have learned is to take a peice of paper and cut a hole in it. Place this over a picture and you can see better it is a pink white or a red green. There is more than one or two whites in a white flower petal. It makes the jewel much more interesting to use more than a couple of colors in the same family when shading.

The Huma Huma on the front of the site has 29 colors from blue to green.

My color plate of pinks has at least 14 colors on it. Now I know this is way too much for many artist but if I lay in half of these colors next to each other I can create a beautiful image from light pink to dark pink by placing these next to each other.

If you shade in this manner = laying colors of enamel next to each other in the same or similar color family, each time you lay in a layer of enamel you need to shift to the left or right to avoid a line from being created. I like to work from dark to light. This way after a couple of layers of enamel are laid in and fired I drop out the darkest color of enamel, say it was on the right of my design, then shift all my colors of enamel to the right,I can get a very even and beautiful gradation of color!

A book of watercolors I used is “Light Up Your Watercolors” by Linda Stevens Moyer. She has a couple of exercises you can try, and she uses her warm colors to bring the information forward. Also try “Colored Pencil Fast Techniques” by Bet Borgenson. She teaches Juxtaposing Color which is great for color impact. You can use her exercises in watercolors as well.


Happy Enameling! Patsy

Cloisonne Wire Sizes

Hauser Miller is whom I like to order my Cloisonne wire from as well as my Cloisonne bezel wire, for setting the cloisonne jewel. Here is a link to their site,

Although I prefer to set my cloisonne jewelry with 2.5 mm high 22k gold bezel with a thickness of 26ga and this is not on their chart, but they will supply it for you. When I am working in silver I will use the same sizes of wire for my settings just in Fine Silver.

Lower on the page is their stock sizes of cloison wire this is 24k gold wire. The two marked with the * are stock, readily available. The .005 x.040 is the taller wire and the .008. x .032 is the shorter in height cloison wire. I like to keep on hand 22ga 24k gold round wire as some times I need to pull it down, then roll it out, myself to create a very thin and short cloison wire  as here on the  back of these earrings.


The total thickness of the earrings is 1.5 mm. with a 24 ga fine silver disc in the center there is not much room for my cloison wires, yet I have them on both sides of the fine silver disc. The wires might be 1/8 of a mm here.

On the front of the same earrings, you can see the wires are thicker and a bit higher. It is nice to be able to customize these wires to your need.

When Andre 3000 from OutKast order the Mandrill Cloisonne Pendant, he wanted thicker cloison wires in the jewel. Here I cut the wires from fine silver sheet to achieve the look he was after.


Cracking In Your Enamels

There are several reasons enamels crack. The most common reason enamels crack is there is not enough counter enamel on the jewel. Counter enamel is enamel on the back side of the jewel. Your base metal expands as well as the enamel when heated, and contracts when cooled. Without enamel on both sides of your base metal one side is going to expand more causing the opposite side to crack. If enamel is placed evenly on both sides of the metal you can eliminate this cracking. Sometimes this happens as it is cooling, when this happens there is very little enamel on the back. But I have seen the enamel crack years later when the enamel was not even on both sides of the base metal.

In some cases you can also dome a piece of metal and use less counter enamel as in a bead. But if you plan to put a thick layer of enamel on the front of the metal you then need more counter to avoid cracking.

Another reason enamels crack is if you use a hard firing enamel next to a low firing enamel. Hard firing enamels take longer to fire, and low firing enamels take less time to fire. Great reason the make test plates and see when each enamel melts first when they are all fired at the same time on the same plate. You can see on my test plate dot #4 is still grainy while the others are smooth. So #4 is a harder firing enamel and if placed next to #5 and you fired it long enough that both enamels were smooth in time the jewel will crack.

Cracking takes place in leaded enamels as well as unleaded enamels. Unleaded enamels are harder firing enamels than leaded enamels so if you combine them on the same jewel you can experience cracking. If you need to use them together use the unleaded first then layers of leaded to avoid cracking.

Plique a Jour with Alternative Backings

I have found in researching alternative ways to provide backing for plique a jour a material form Fusion Headquarters at Carmen at 503-538-5281

A material they carry is called Wet Felt and  comes in a 36″ x 36″ roll. This felt material can be cut in sections and shaped to your desired form. At this point you can let it air dry, or oven dry at 350 degrees until the form is hardened about 4 hours. It is still too rough to apply enamels on but if you layer on their fiber coat, as many times as it takes to create a even surface, then you can sand it to get a very nice smooth surface. Apply kiln wash and after all is dry, place plique a jour form on the felt form and enamel away!

I believe the materials are most helpful in creating larger forms such as vessels.

Be sure to wear protection mask while sanding. And one draw back I found is that he shelf life of the fiber coat is short. So make yourself a note to shake it up often and when mine got too thick I added water.

Fusion Headquarters does not have the Fiber Coat on their site due to the short shelf life = 6 months, and the expense. If you call they will have it for you in a couple of days.

Are Your Reds Turning the Color of Mud?

Many enamelist have difficulty using warm colors. There are a couple of things that help.

First start with a hard firing flux. Flux is the base coat, it is like a primer used in painting.  It keeps the enamel away from the metal, as many are not compatible  with the metals we use to enamel on. The hardest leaded enamel for silver is Bovano’s #3. For Gold it is #2 And for copper is # 1

Bovano flux #3 also has a blue base tint that does not turn yellow. I have noticed in some manufactures flux for silver, if accidentally fired too high will turn yellow. With a hard fire enamel flux the warm colors are less likely to come in contact with the base of fine silver, gold, copper or sterling silver. When you are firing too long or too high the base gets hot = the fine silver and holds the heat. Then the flux gets liquid and the color layer you are firing mingles with the flux coat and eventually comes in contact with the fine silver =  a phlegmy looking yellowy brown= burnt enamels. So if you fire a bit lower temp, the flux will not get  liquid as you only need to melt the top layer of color. Your color enamels are  lower firing enamels =melts faster than your flux. So you need to choose the temperature and firing time just enough to melt the last layer you have applied.

In the technique, you will also know you are over firing, if your enamels are climbing up the walls of your cloison wires. And think about that. If your enamel is climbing up the wires that means you have less flux at the base. So now your warm color is closer to touching the fine silver and burning.

I only want to fire my warm colors a couple of times. With too many firings they burn out and get dull.  To help with this I  use the flux in the cells of the warm colors each time I fill the cells of my cool colors until it is at my last several layers. Also just in case I crack the piece in setting or it was dropped or damaged in the future I will have the opportunity to re-fire the jewel without my colors burning out.

There are some warm colors that have ash or blue bases and will not burn as easily.

If you do test plates you can see this, such as Ninomiya H24 and N26, yellows with ash bases. Oranges also, look at the test and you can see it has an ash base, like Ninomiya N21. It is not as bright of an orange but if you put N24 first then the N21 this brightens your orange and you will not have to worry about burning.

You really have to do the test plates and analyze the colors. On my pink color plate with 14 colors I can see some have a yellow base and some have a blue base. Use the blue base first then the yellow base one to get a brighter color, in the same color family. Do color plates and use all your warm colors, one of all reds and one of all yellows, and fire several times to see which of the reds and which of the yellows burn first. Then you really know which can handle more firings. It takes time but when it is all over you will be very confident of the end result.






What is Cloisonne

What is Cloisonne?

Cloisonne (pronounced cloy-zon-ay, French for ”partition”) is an ancient metalwork technique that makes use of small, precious metal filaments and colorful glass enamels to create brilliant artwork. The metal wires are bent into shapes to create small cells, (partitions) of designs, and many coats of finely ground glass enamel are fired into them until one unique piece of art is rendered. Cloisonne is most commonly used in jewelry making, though illustrations of the craft can be found in many facets of the art world, including the production of hand-made dishes, vases and abstract pottery.

Though the art form’s origins are most likely Middle Eastern, Chinese Cloisonne is the most renowned and permeated throughout the world. Cloisonne’s popularity spread quickly throughout Asia and Europe, and examples of the art can be seen in Byzantine

mosaics, inside Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, and in prized Russian Czarist jewelry.

The most notable quality in Cloisonne is the art master’s exceptional attention to detail in creating unique designs from the pure silver base and 24 karat gold filaments. Every design is handcrafted, which guarantees a matchless piece of art each time.

Custom designs are often painted on paper with watercolors prior to beginning the process in order to estimate the appearance of the final product.

After the original artwork is decided upon, the metal ribbon like strands of 24 karat gold wire are individually bent, twisted and oftentimes soldered together to produce a blueprint for where the colored enamels will later be painted.
This design is attached to a base of pure silver by firing it with a clear coat of glass enamel in a kiln.
After the silver pendant has cooled from its initial firing, the painting process begins. The metal filaments serve as the pattern for the colorful enamel glass, and the artisan paints only one coat at a time into the design.
wc-five The pendant is fired again and again after each consecutive enamel coat.This is a painstakingly delicate practice, but the layering and firing of each coat of glass is critical in achieving a deep, vibrant color scheme for the design.As many as 25 layers of enamel can be added to a single piece of Cloisonne jewelry.After the partitions have been enameled and fired to the artist’s satisfaction,



The pendant is polished and placed in a custom-made, perfectly fit 18-karat gold setting. Each Cloisonne rendering takes multiple weeks of dedicated attention to complete, but the finished product is guaranteed to be worth the wait. Happy Enameling!

Plique à Jour

What is Plique à Jour

Miniature stain glass window effect in jewelry. Frames of metal holding enamel, with no backing, thus allowing the light to come through. Developed in France and Italy early in the 14th century.  There are several methods of plique à jour.

This jewel of plique a jour is a method of pierced metal. Most artists will use this method with the aid of Klyre Fire, a glue substance, to help  hold in the powdered enamels before firing. This jewel is created in 18k gold sheet of 22 ga.  The use of gold gives you more strength and allows you to create jewels in a thinner gauge.

The Bird of Paradise Pendant is more involved. I want to show where you can go with pliqué a jour. Here I have chased the Bird of Paradise in 18k gold sheet of 16 ga. and cut away the negative space. I used 18k flat wire to make the leaves and soldered them in place with hard solder. With such large open spaces the use of foils aid in holding the enamel in place, until fired, then the foil is removed. The stone setting took place before the enameling. Less worry of cracking your enameled piece.



This is a pair of cloisonné earrings with a drop of plique à jour leaves and a ruby. I would never get a stone cut like this much less be able to afford it. The leaves above the ruby are made in 18k gold, 18 ga sheet pierced and sawn out, then filled with enamels. Again foil is used to support the enamel while firing.

 The enamels in this case were laid in after the ruby was set.



This enamel jewel of plique a jour is made of 18k gold sheet. The pedals have been sawn out and formed in a dapping block. The opens were pierced and filled with enamels  using foil for support. And assembled after firing all the enamels. The stones are fabricated on screw post and allows it to be assembled in such away the pedals all turn.







A few helpful points I have come across in my research,

Millenet in Enamelling on Metal states to use larger granules of enamels, consistent in size for plique to acquire a clearer transparent. Also he puts the Klyr Fire against the cell wall then adds the enamel.

Another point is to use soft firing enamels= higher expansion rate enamels, which mean these enamels melt sooner than others allowing it to fuse faster and not fall through the openings.

If necessary to use Klyer-fire to hold the enamels in the opening while firing, use one part klyre-fire in 5 parts water in your enamels. After washing your enamels pour off all the water then add the Klyre-fire mixture  to the enamels. Too much Klyre-Fire will cloud your enamels, so pay attention as the day goes, the water evaporates and makes the mixture stronger of Klyre-Fire, so add a bit of water though out the day.


The use of a consistent gain size gives the best clarity but also using a smaller grain size can be used such as 150 mesh, as it is  lighter and easier to fill the openings without falling through. It is a bit tricky, but you are making a water bubble with your brush in the opening. I place my brush parallel to the surface of the metal and opening, and just touch the edge with the brush and move it across the opening, this usually makes a water bubble. There is enamel on your brush at this time, and a good bit of water.

Fire the enamels just to orange peel until you have the cells filled with your enamels, then carefully fire to maturity. This way the enamels are less likely to fall through.


Champleve Beautiful Enamel Work

Champlevé is an enamelling technique made by the process, in which  cells are carved into the surface of a metal object, and filled with vitreous enamel. The recessions in metal is then fired until the enamel fills the cell, after cooling the surface of the object is polished. The uncarved portions of the original surface remain visible as a frame for the enamel designs.

There are several ways to achieve this recession in the metal. And as most enameling projects the metals used are commonly copper, brass, gold, and silver. Each has the same properties of enameling as in any other enameling technique, it is just the preparation of the metal that is different. One can carve or grave out the recessions. Without engraving skills an enamelist can apply asphaltum varnish to the metal that is designed to be left as the positive space. And place the metal of copper and sterling silver or fine silver in sulfuric acid and the acid will slowly remove the un-wanted metal. Leaving a recession to place enamels.

Some enamelist use the process of depleting two sheets of sterling silver with the use of heating to 800 degrees and dipping in a pickle bath, repeated time to create a fine silver surface. This allows the artist to fuse the two sheets together. The top sheet prior to fusing is saw pierced out in a desired design. Again the negative space is left to enamel.



Here are a couple of excellent samples of champleve enamelist!

Gesine Garz’s work from Germany

Hi Patsy,

I just had a look at your website. Great stuff! I like your work too!
Here is a bit about myself and my work, you can also see some of it on the British Society of Enamellers website:

Gesine Garz
For the last 15 years, I have trained and worked as a jeweller in London, UK and I am still constantly seeking to improve my skills and broaden my knowledge. I studied jewellery making and enamelling at the Sir John Cass School of Art and Design in London, where I was fortunate enough to be taught by a number of extremely experienced and skilled crafts people, which was a fantastic experience and inspired me to progress in this field.
I specialised in enamelling and was accepted as a full member of the British Society of Enamellers in 2005. My work has been on show and for sale in a number of exhibitions in the UK and Germany.
I currently teach at a Jewellery Academy in Hatton Garden, London’s Jeweller’s Quarter.

To me, enamelling is one of the most beautiful kinds of jewellery decoration. I find it fascinating how layers of fired glass can create intensity of colour and depth to a degree which otherwise can only be achieved by gemstones.

Figurative subjects inspire me. I try to get close to the appearance of the real object in shape and colour but sometimes also take it one step further to give my pieces a certain twist.

In terms of techniques, I like making use of the possibilities of photo etching and cloisonne, as it allows me to create very intricate areas on which to apply the enamel.
Many of my pieces incorporate Champlevé, because the light reflection from an engraved background enhances transparent enamel colours beautifully and makes them shine.

Fusion and Reticulation
I love using the techniques of fusion and reticulation in my work, especially together with enamels. This brings out the contrast between the bright, colourful and accurate enamel work and the dark, more random and “dug-up” look of the fused silver.
I often use scrap pieces of metal for my fusion projects and create new shapes. It sometimes takes a while until I find the right enamel pieces to go with a particular fused setting. I like to oxidise and partly polish the fused/reticulated surfaces as it brings out their uneven texture really well.

I hope what I’ve written is useful for your website. I’ll attach a few larger size pictures too.

Best wishes,

Sandra McEwen’s Work


I’d love to be one of your featured artist.  I’m attaching a couple of images- feel free to pick the one you like best.

As far as technique goes, I’m happy to share.  I understand that some
artists want to keep their processes to themselves, but I believe that open
dialogue between artists can be very rewarding for all involved.  And,
honestly, the secret to my fusing technique is pure practice.  After you’ve
fused about a hundred things, believe me, you’ll have figured it out.  So
I’m more than happy to answer any questions you or your students might have.

Let me know if you need anything else…

Thanks again,

Ps.  Do include a link to my blog as well: