Enameling on Sterling Silver

Tom enameling his Sterling Silver Egg.

He has made this to support a gorgeous Chased Gold and Blue Lapis with Diamond Bracelet.

I asked Tom how he planned to enamel this sterling silver egg. He plans to paint Klyre Fire on and sift the enamels. I asked are you planning to counter enamel it? And he said he did not want to.  But he knew he wanted opaque enamels.

Here you can see the egg open, and a bit more of the bracelet. Tom has some leaded enamels with several shades of blue. He is going for a look, close to that of the lapis. I  mentioned he would need to deplete the surface. This means to raise the fine silver by heating to a red glow and quenching it in acid or pickle bath. He is removing the copper from the surface so the enamel will adhere to it. I have read it can take 4 times. I use 18k gold in my work and when I want to remove the copper in the surface layer before I begin enameling, I have had best results heating and quenching 7 – 10 times.

Tom has enameled and started sanding to get his final finish on the enamel, using sanding pads and in his last application he plans to use cerium oxide. In this case it is not necessary to counter enamel  this piece because it is domed and he is only apply a thin coat of enamel. Remember thick metal =  thin enamel. He did not have to use flux because his choice of blue will not burn against the silver. But he is unhappy with the uneven surface of the enamels, and believes he had some soft and some hard firing in the group.

After several attempts to sand and re – fire the enamels still are not smooth. An option at this point could be to apply a top coat such as Ninomiya N4. that is a soft firing enamel.

With his multiple firing bubbles started forming. The depleted surface on the sterling silver was not sufficient, for this many firings. He was heating at 1450 for up to 5 minutes. One thing I have found to avoid some of the bubbles would be to raise the temperature thus shortening  the firing time. The enamels on the surface will melt faster and give the underneath metal less time to heat.  At this point he has to clean or break any bubbles that might hit the surface on this last firing of a soft enamel. A soft enamel means it will flow at a faster rate than a medium enamel thus not firing long enough for the bubbles to resurface.

And a beautiful Enamel Jewel!

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