Hard Firing Flux

Posted on 11th August 2013 in Cloisonne Jewelry Techniques

Why do you need a hard flux? Your flux coat is laid down first on the metal of your choice. You want a hard flux which means it will not become fluid as quickly as you color layers that are applies later. This is specially important when using warm colors.

As in this pendant, of cloisonne it will be a deep layering of colors I need an enamel base flux that will hold up for many firings.  Bovano 3# is a hardest firing leaded flux I have found for silver.D-Bird This will protect my warm colors from mingling with the base metal and turning the enamels the color of mud.

 

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Setting Cloisonne Enamels

Posted on 6th May 2013 in Cloisonne Jewelry Techniques

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.

 

 

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Cloisonne Wire Sizes

Posted on 6th January 2012 in Cloisonne Jewelry Techniques, Tools and Supplies

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,

www.hauserandmiller.com/fab/bezel.html

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.

 

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What is Cloisonne

Posted on 9th October 2011 in Cloisonne Jewelry Techniques

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

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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.
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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.
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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!

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Securing Your Wires in Cloisonne

Posted on 22nd June 2011 in Cloisonne Jewelry Techniques

Many get frustrated as they try to balance the cloison wires on the base coat of flux as you place the piece in the kiln. There are several products you can order to help secure them. Most common is Klyre Fire, but if you need something a bit stronger try Tragacanth Gum. Tragacanth Gum is commonly use in securing granules in the technique of Granulation. it is a food additive and can be found here;  www.lorannoils.com.

I have found it works best if added to water to create a milky consistency  and let it sit over night before using. When in need to secure a wire or two dip the cloison wire in the tragacanth solution and place on the fired flux enamel jewel and set on the kiln for a few second as the heat will harden the solution.

 

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Cloisonne Enamel Jewelry Repair

When you need to remove trash or a bubble in the cloisonne enamel jewel, use a diamond bur. And save this bur for only your cloisonne and enamel repair. A good quality bur, as the diamonds are smaller and spaced close together. If they are large a spaced out too much it will rip the enamel instead of a fine sanding.

One of the most important things is to glass brush the sanded area, be sure it is dry and fire. This way there is no shadow of the cloisonne repair work.And now you can apply more enamels to level the repair of the jewel.

There is more detail on this under Cloisonne and Repairing Cloisonne.

Back to play!

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Cloisonne and Distorsion

In designing you cloisonne fine jewelry here is something to keep in mind. I want to show you what happens in cloisonne as wires attract heat and cause the base meal to distort.

This is a cloisonne piece I am currently working on and thought it          

would be a good opportunity to show how things can move.

There is a concentration of wires in the top left of my design. As I am layering in enamels the cloisonne jewel starts to bow up in this area.

Here you can see the top left of the enamel piece is higher, and the right base of the enamel piece is bowing.  And can cause several problems if not dealt with. One, as you have planned your warm colors in the high area you could sand it all off while trying to make a nice even dome, because you have several layers of flux before you have added the warm colors. Second in setting the right side will be higher and maybe your bezel will not cover the same as on the left side.

And the farther you go without knowing and planning more can go wrong. The counter enamel also likes the heat and will pool under this area, and can eventually cause the enamel jewel to sink in the area as well.

As the points of my piece are lifting and the center starts going down I know I have reached the limits of layering in the enamels.

One way to counter this is by adding cloison wire to the back of the jewel opposite of the wire work on the front of the jewel.

Happy Enameling!

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Cloisonne Enamel of Debbie Parent

Posted on 22nd March 2010 in Cloisonne Jewelry Techniques

Foils in Cloisonne!

Debbie was very kind to share her Colisonne Enamel Jewel. It is fantastistic. I love the effect of over filling the cloisonne cells and here she has used it very well! If you click on the image it gets larger and you can get a better view of  the jewels on the bridle. And in may of them she has used foils. Excellent!  Thanks Debbie

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Cloisonne Enamel: The opaque white coming into the transparent. I think it was leaking under the cloison wires?

Posted on 16th March 2010 in Cloisonne Jewelry Techniques

Hello, I had a go with some transparent enamels this time in my cloisonne, but I had a problem with the opaque white coming into the transparent. I think it was leaking under the cloison wires? I tried to fire the opaque and transparent at the same time, I think was a mistake? I think the opaque leaked under the wire at the higher temperature it takes to fire clear?

Thanks for your kind assistance (I need it!)

Geoff,

Your cloisonne work looks great, you have the transparent green nice and clear.  In my experience when you apply the cloison wires and sink them down into the flux you should not have one color moving into other cells. If the wire is not all the way in the flux when you apply the colors the enamel can travel under the cloison wires. Lets say you put in the opaques enamel in all assigned cells of the cloisonne piece, and it is now dry after going all the way around. When you put in the second color = green here, it is wet and will suck the opaque enamels through any open space under the wire. The dry enamels will move toward the water. You even have to be careful the enamel it does not come through on the sides where the cloison wires are not real tight, as I can see here where the dark color enamel pulled through into the aqua cell.

So just check after you sink the cloison wires into the flux enamel that you have complete contact. If you do not I would rather burnish the wires down carefully, as they are very soft now and re-fire. This is common on a domed surface. Also as I work I try to keep the piece damp to avoid this and dry it all at once before firing.

Great job! Patsy

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Those Wires Can Be Hard to Stand Up!

Posted on 20th February 2010 in Cloisonne Jewelry Techniques

Question – what do you use as a glue (besides Klyr Fire) for Cloisonne Wire?  I heard of something called “no spit” or vac u coat??  Appreciate your comment.  Debra Long

Hi Debra,

If you are needing a solution stronger than Klyr Fire try tragacanth. It is available on line and the best results I have had, is if I add water to the powder and let it sit over night to get a good creamy consistency. It does not take that much. And after firing, it turns to ash so brush it off before applying another coat of enameling.

If this is not enough to hold the cloison wires for your application I move to fusing the wires to the fine silver.

Thanks for the visit!
Patsy

Some enamelists use lily root powder for vertical surfaces. It can be purchased from Coral Shaffer at Enamelwork Supply in Seattle.
Barb P.

If you’re using fine silver cloisonne wire on fine silver backing you can also use Art Clay Silver’s Oil Paste or homemade lavender oil paste and fire in a kiln first. These are metal clay products that are designed to join fired metal clay to fired metal clay or any fine silver to any other fine silver metal.

Lora Hart


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Thick Metal Thin Enamel

Posted on 15th February 2010 in Building a Good Foundation, Cloisonne Jewelry Techniques

A tip credited to Valeri Timofeev .

“thick metal = thin enamel, thin metal = thick enamel” This means if you are enameling say cloisonne, you can get pretty thick enamels on the metal plate of your choice, as long as you counter the same thickness. I have enameled to a mm in thickness on 20 ga metal= thin metal. But if you have 16 ga  metal and want to enamel on it, you can do so with one layer of enamel and no counter.

Here is cloisonne enameling and the                        

enamels are approximately 1mm in depth.

And here on the left is thick metals of  16 ga with                                    one coat of flux and one color of red enamel.

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Setting Your Enamels

Posted on 10th February 2010 in Cloisonne Jewelry Techniques

That Rubber Stuff

Hi Patsy,

Hope your new year is turning out well and I hope you are having fun in the studio.

I was wondering if you could tell me what that stuff was you use as a cushion when you set your enamel pieces.  You used it under the enameled element so the enamel would not break if the setting was hit with a hard object.  It was some sort of plastic cushion.  I hope I’m making sense.  I would really appreciate this tip.

thanks a lot Patsy!  Hope to see you again some time

-Tara Turner

Hey Tara,                                                        

Hope you also are busy enameling!

I do not mind at all,

The rubber backing is called Tuff Break and Fred Woell sells it. The last I ordered his number was 207-348-5267.  I like it for several reasons. Not only does the rubber add to protect the counter enamel while setting, it also gives the enamel piece a cushion during setting which help me not crack the piece during this process,  and it take care of that tinny sound of the enamel against the metal once the piece is complete.

Many enamelist use glues or a piece of plastic behind the enameled piece and I feel this is a more professional element of the whole jewel.

I will be back to Mendocino in July, Come join the class!

Patsy Croft

Cracking Enamels While Setting

Dear Patsy,

I found your site while doing a search on orchid.
I am in some sort of trouble with mounting an enamel piece (a pendant) to a setting. I do not know what to do.
So, this is the problem: I made my enamel piece, then I made a bezel to go around it; I soldered the bezel to a sheet and pierced out the back, but leaving a rim as I wanted to set the enamel from behind. I then saw out prongs in the bezel – most of the bezel will disappear – and then I set the piece in the setting and push the prongs down at the back of the enamelled piece. That’s where it goes wrong. I ruinded two pieces today.
Could you please help? I think that mounting enamels is really difficult.

Kind regards and thank you for reading,

Alicia

Hi Alicia,

I would be happy to help. And it should not be hard. But a photo would help me understand better how you are going about this. Can you upload as many photos as it takes for me to see. And if you would include a phone number I will call at your convenience and walk you through this.

Are you using fine silver for the bezel? Did you sand and polish the girdle = the outside edge of the enamel piece?

How are you pushing over the bezel? I find it is best to have a bit of height to the enamel at the edge = a girdle just like setting a stone. If the enamel slopes down to meet the fine silver to a point around the edges, the fine silver that is under the enamel, is soft from many firings, it is very easy to crack.

Happy Enameling, Patsy

Another thread suggests setting an enameled piece in a bezel for a more professional appearance. I am new to enameling, but am an experienced stone setting, so bezel setting is fine with me. However, two issues present a challenge. First, I am not used to setting a flat or near flat object. Second, I’ve cracked the enamel on several occasions when I’ve bezel set a disk. Any suggestions that you have to help me with these issues would be appreciated.

Jamie

If you makes a bezel-setting, make the “frame”  unconditionally from fine-silver and not thicker than 0,2 – 0,3 mm (0,01 –0,015 inch). The fine silver frame should only maximum 1 mm (0,04 inch) higher than the rim of the metal/enamel surface. File with a carborundum- or diamond file  the edging of the enameled workpiece in an angle of about 60-70 degree. Press the frame in several steps over the enamel.

I use 90 degree angle, but I think either can work.

All that has been said should help you and add this,  be sure you create a girdle on the edge of the enamel piece. On the girdle you want to see some counter enamel, the base metal and some surface enamel. Hope this makes since.

See  if you can see what I mean about a girdle. If the enamel comes down to a very thin layer at the edge of the fine silver or copper, which ever you are using, with the metal being so annealed it is very easy to crack. Here I have to sand down the top just a bit before setting. But my girdle is very thick. Also, the rubber stuff would help you. When you are setting it allows the enameled piece to go down when you are burnishing the bezel over it. Then as you release it raise back up. You can read about where to purchased it below.

Good luck!

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Those Tiny Bubbles

Hi Patsy

I just took a look at your website and I think its an incredible idea for you! On the jewelry front, I have managed to make a very pretty (for my inexperience) and large pendant with a turtle, fish and starfish. For the past 2 weeks I have been creating a VERY large pelican pendant. I thought it came out o.k. but, every time I fire it now I see tiny air bubbles. I did use silver foil on copper and I must have had some air trapped in it. I’ll take some photos and send them in so you can give examples of what NOT to do.

Take care!!!                  

Wendy

 

Thanks Wendy,

Your work looks great! Larger is better, gives you room to gradate colors. Your enamels are nice and shinny, as well as the clarity of the transparents.

You mentioned the bubbles, after 20 years I just read that the tiny bubbles are from underfiring. It is nice when you are not sure, as there are so many, many things that go on in the Cloisonne, art of enameling, that some one before has it documented.

Millenet states in his book, “Enamelling on Metal” from 1927

“ A few words of advice may not be out of place here. We have already said, and we repeat with emphasis, that it is essential that the furnace should be at its maximum heat at the moment of firing: and every enameller should take this axiom to heart: a short firing in a brisk heat.”

With winter here and we lose a lot of heat opening and closing the door, checking or replacing. Just one opening my heat will drop several hundred degrees. These tiny bubbles can be in one layer, just the one that was underfired. I am not saying fire at your kilns max. Our kilns are very different then 85 years ago. You have to experiment and find what temperature works best for you. The fun of enameling! Remember the one that was too hot and the base color bubbled up around the design.
I have one of those in my trunk!

Thanks for sharing, Patsy

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Stone Setting in Enamels

Posted on 12th January 2010 in Cloisonne Jewelry Techniques

Happy New Year Patsy- I will definitely pre enroll for the class- love the idea of the website!! Am currently working on a pair of earrings set with tiny (3mm) sapphires. I decided to wing it and go ahead & set the stones in a 24k thin bezel on top of gold foil and an initial coat of B3. So far they have not cracked or changed color. Any other tips that you could email me re: stone setting in enamel would be so appreciated.
Thank you so much! Karen

Karen,

I would love to see photos, I have fired sapphires, good choice, and did not have any problems. You can do all the enameling and set them before the last firing, or after you have polished the piece. I usually put stones in the kiln at 1400 degrees to see if it will take the heat, small ones = 1 mm just incase they crack, I am not out too much $. When we get together I will show you how to set a stone that will not take the heat after all the firing. Good to hear you went for it.

Dear Patsy- thanks so much for the fast and valuable advice. I was worried about the empty bezel warping- that is why I set the stones so early on in the enamelling process. Will cross my fingers & hope the stones remain O.K. Will send pictures when my technological situation improves. Again, thank you!! Karen

Karen,
I have only seen the wire work warp when there is enamel on the inside of in a small space, and no enamel on the outside of the wire work, here the wires will pull in. So leaving it open or putting the stone in will be fine. If you send photos about the work as you are working on it, I think this will be interesting to others.
Thanks for sharing!

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TRANSFERRING YOUR DESIGNS

TRANSFERRING YOUR DESIGNS

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.

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