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.



7 thoughts on “Setting Cloisonne Enamels

  1. Vicki DuBose

    Thanks Patsy! I usually use a bezel pusher in the beginning and then the metal burnisher at the end . The clothespin is a new idea for me! I will try it . The rubber backing is something I will look into as well, thank you so much ! I usually use plastic but rubber with a little give does sound like a great idea .

    1. Vicki DuBose

      This is a spinner w/both elements moving. When you blow on it the middle spins like a WhirlyGig and bigger one moves, which is why it’s not centered on a spot on the edge

    1. Patsy Croft Post author

      Hi Beatrice, yes usually I do. Once in a while there is a need to make it. I use Hauser and Miller for all my metal needs.
      Thanks Patsy

  2. ora kuller

    Beautifuly and clearly explained. I too love to use clothpin.
    Metal burnishers are way too harsh. I use them sometimes just to highlight the top of the bazel.
    Thanks Patcy,


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