After you have drawn your image on paper, it is sometimes difficult to transfer this image to the base of Fine Silver. A couple of things that might help you, after you have fired the flux coat on the Fine Silver base or any metal you are enameling, is to use either a Stabilo pencil or Spot Pens (made for black and white photography retouching). You can sketch out the design on the fired flux enamel coat with either of these, and place your cloisonne wires or add enamels accordingly.

The lines of both will disappear in the first firing and not effect your enamels.

Repairing Cloisonne Enamels= Bubbles

24k gold enameled gold piece repair

I received a piece of cloisonne this week broken and wanted to share the repair process.  The piece was dropped and the enamel had completely separated from the fine silver base. Here in the photo the broken piece is sitting on a new sheet of fine silver, that has one layer of flux fired on its front, and four layers of counter enamel fired on the back of the new base . I filled the backside of the enamel piece with a very thin coat of flux, hoping this would give it a solid bond to the base, when fired. There were some cavities on the back of the broken enamel piece from the separation of the base, here I added a bit more flux, hoping to keep the enamel from sinking or forming bubbles. Next, the piece was fired in a kiln at 1400 degrees. You can see in the photo the base silver is larger then the broken enamel piece. Once it was fired and the broken enamel piece fused to the base, I could clean the edges of the enamel piece that was discolored. It was too fragile to attempt this prior to attaching it to the base. I used a diamond ball bur to clean around the edges.

gold cloisonne enamel repair jewelry

The holes in the enamel piece are where bubbles did form. I needed to remove these to prevent the piece from cracking in the future. A diamond ball bur was used again, to bur through the enamel and open the bubbles. The right hole is not burred out completely. I wanted you to see what to expect as you are drilling. This is a small pin hole which will open into the whole bubble as you proceed.  The left bubbles have been opened completely, which is necessary to allow the enamel to flow smoothly into the opening.

24k gold enamel jewelry repair

In the third photo you can see how smoothly the enamel flowed into the openings. Even though the enamel is lower than the cloison wires, which you would expect, I have a choice to fill with matching color, or sand down the high spots.

cloisonne enamel jewelry repair

One very important point is to fire the enamel piece you have used a diamond bur on before adding new enamel. If you add enamels to the burred area, then fire, you will have shadows in the finished enamel piece. I have also seen burnish marks in the enamels after drilling out the bubble and have concluded it can from the diamonds being worn off the bur. In this case get a new diamond bur and go over the surface are to remove the burnish marks. I have used Arkansas stones as well for repairs.

All set and ready to go back to the owner!

Overfiring Enamels

Patsy – Wow I hadn’t seen your web site before. Very impressive. I’ve been meaning to let you know about my experiments with the customers enamel, that complained of a blotchy, muddy appaence in her transparents. She thought the fine silver was contaminated. I did a test with her enamel and my enamel and her metal and my metal. I fired everything 5 times at 1400 degrees and there was no discoloration. My conclusion is that temperature makes a big difference on silver! Keep on keepin’ on!

Enamelwork Supply Co.
Settle, Wa


Thanks for the note, and sharing your testing. I believe we have been overfiring as well!


Making Dyes for the Hydraulic Press To Form Foundations for Enamel Jewelry

Hi Patsy,
I’m trying to make a dye for the hydrolic press…actually I made one, and I think the copper is to thin. What gauge should I use for the copper?
Then, do I cut the same pattern out on the thick plastic? Seems like I do!!
One more thing…what gauge fine silver do i use in this dye, for the base of an enamel piece.

Thank You so Much,                                    

Hey Mary,

If you are making a dye for the hydraulic press, you should use brass, not copper. Coper is too soft. I like 18 ga. brass. I first cut out my design in the brass sheet. Then I use carpet tape to hold it to the plexiglas. After you place the brass on the plexiglas, then you cut the same pattern in the plexiglas. When I am forming the foundations of fine silver, for a cloisonne enameled pendent I use 20 ga and if I am making earrings I will use 22 ga.

Have a great day!

Overfiring Enamels = Enamels are the Color of MUD

Hi Patsy,

I hope this finds you well and having fun! I have a technical problem with my 22K+fine silver fused element from the Arrowmont workshop and hope you don’t mind my picking your brain! I’m sure your opinion is the best!

My problem:
This fused piece of gold and silver is slightly overfired but still usable-from the kilns at the workshop. There are no holes in it and the silver slightly climbed the gold wires but not so much as to obliterate cells.

I enameled it once and the Japanese enamel I used turned blotchy and ugly, so I removed all of the enamel with Etchall.

I re-enamelled it. Got some blotches but covered them with dark colors.

Upon final firing (of course) got an open pit or two…like burst bubbles.

Recoated, refired. The initial pits filled, got new ones.PITS…..but why mostly near the wires??

Recoated, refired! Same thing, old ones filled, got new ones. Some of the tiny pits seem to go all the way to the metal, some not. They are only occurring on the side to be ground…deeper enamel; not the “Russian” style side. The Russian style side was fine.

I am now removing all the enamel once again!!

I cannot figure this out since I only used fine silver and 24K gold wires. The pits occur at random spots and a bit more near wires. I’m wondering if the overfiring created some funky alloy even though my metals were pure??( I did get discoloration in the enamels too…an uncommon blotchy muddy nuisance that I didn’t expect)..Or, do I need to boil in baking soda after Etchall…is it possible there was some invisible residue from that?

Thanks in advance for any input or advice you may have!


Dear Jan,

Sounds like you have a couple of problems. One, when using the Etchall, an acid that eches out all the enamels, I will soak the piece for a day or so in water and use a stiff tooth brush to clean it well, before reenameling. There could be some acid trapped, and it would make sense in corners and next to the wire where there could be very small pits from the fusion process. This could help if it is the Etchall, but I have had the bubbles in bad enamels as well.

Usually you can tell they are bad before you fire the enamels. What you see is the enamel floating on the surface, after you have washed them. This is not to be mistaken for the fine as we call them, that we see when you initially wash the enamel. After you have washed off the fines and the water is clear some of the enamel will float = deterioration. This can cause bubbles in the enamels when firing, if it is really bad. If they are only slightly deteriorating you may see this after a few hours, when they have been sitting wet while you are working. This degree of deterioration will look cloudy in transparent enamels and never go away!


The muddy, blotchy look in the bottom of your transparent enamel is the salts from the fine silver interacting with the enamels caused from high temp. In this fusion style of enameling I believe with the gold wrapped around the fine silver disc conducts the heat better. And for this style of enameling we need to lower our firing temps to 1400 degrees. I have over fired this last month as I have added more gold to the outside of the ring. This is the first time I have had the muddy, blotchy patches appear in the transparent enamels. And it takes place first in the warm colors that are senitive to over firing.

I have been happy though to be fusing my wires down, as I have been able to etch the cloudy enamels out and save the metal work.

Hope I have helped and Happy Enameling