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 http://hansmeevis.blogspot.de/2012/10/further-plique-jour-experiments.html He is not afraid to experiment and push the limits!

Also on his site he shares an excellent demo on Plique a Jour!   http://www.meevis.com/jewelry-making-class-fairy.htm

Thank you, Hans for sharing!!!

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 www.fusionheadquarters.com 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.

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.

 

Plique a Jour with Carmen Lombardi and a Torch!

The plique-à-jour technique with torch, amazing!

In my research of alternative methods used in Plique a Jour I can across this article in Glass on Metal, by Carmen Lombardi and yes she uses a torch to create Pliique a Jour.

Carmon uses sterling silver as her metal to pierce out her plique design, and titanium to support her enamels, remember..enamels do not stick to titanium.

Make a pair of earrings by using 950 alloy  and a 0.90 mm thick metal sheet. Cut out the design internally, so as to make the carved areas have the maximum length of 5.00 mm and be at least 3.00 mm distant from the borders, and by keeping between them a minimum distance of 1.50 mm. Those measurements are necessary in order to guarantee a steady frame for the silver and to prevent the enamel from damaging.

Put the pieces on a titanium sheet and apply wet enamel in light colors using a number 0 (zero) brush (the silver piece and the titanium sheet must be very plain and they must be one even with the other). Dry off the enamel very well during the application to keep it from becoming soaked and from running down the piece. The titanium is used in this technique because the enamel doesn’t adhere to its surface.

Handle the titanium sheet by picking it up with the third hand tweezers and by being careful not to move the piece from its place. Heat up the titanium underneath by using the torch, first with the candle flame (closing partially the air flow valve) and after with the hard flame, since it is necessary much heat for the enamel to melt. Let it cool down and repeat the enamel application and the burning procedures as many times as it is necessary for the enamel to reach the thickness of the silver metal sheet.

Make the finish on both sides with the diamond point by cleaning up very well the part that was in contact with the titanium and after that sand them by using all the sandpapers up to 600. Wash the pieces in running water by utilizing a toothbrush with smooth bristles.

Melt the pieces again in order to make them gleam. For that you should rest the pieces on small metal sheets of titanium and be careful not to let the latter touch the enameled areas. Let them cool down. Then, place them into the acid to make the silver get brighter, and finally polish them up.

The ‘plique-à-jour’ technique is perfect for making earrings, making a bigger enamel transparency effect possible.

Thank you Carmen for sharing!

There are many way to do things, check it out www.glass-on-metal.com/ Back issues February 2009. Runs about $5.00

A few notes to add. If the sheet of titanium is too thin, it will warp. If it is too thick, it will require a mega-torch to heat adequately. Regardless, titanium (like most metals) will oxidize when heated in the presence of oxgen. This won’t be a problem for the first piece that you make, but the oxides will have to be removed from the metal before subsequent pieced can be made. The oxides can’t be removed  by pickle. They have to be ground off.  To purchase titanium sheet visit http://www.alphaknifesupply.com/ti-sheet.htm

Plique a Jour with Brenda Radford

Brenda Radford of Radford Studios joined me last fall at the FSG Wildacres Masters Workshop where we work on alternative backing techniques for Plique a Jour. We researched and experimented with different products to allow us to create large cell openings to hold the the enamels.

She is kind enough to share her work after returning to her studio in Ontario Canada. 18k White and 18k Yellow Gold,  and Diamonds.

Thank you Brenda for sharing, Beautiful work!

 

Plique a Jour in and on Copper

Several years ago I read an article by Bill Helwig on Plique a Jour using copper sheet and a backing of copper foil. Not until recently did I find the time to experiment with the art of plique a jour and remember this article to review as I began my exploration. I could remember him saying enamels do not adhere to copper.

There is still some part of that statement I have questions on and will get to those later. But for now wanted to share the process. You can read the whole article in Glass on Metal   www.glass-on-metal.com/pastart/bridging_the_gap.htm but to wet your appetite here are several photos of his technique.

One of the wonderful properties of copper and enamels is the warm qualities it give the enamel! In image one he has cut out the copper sheet and in image two he has secured the copper foil to the back of his design. From here he has filled the cells and fired to the point of completion and of course there is fire scale to deal with but he has created a beautiful piece!

Plique a Jour a US Master, Valeri Timofeev

There have been few masters of the art of plique à jour, most notably,             

Fernand Thesmar, Gustave Gaudernack, Rene Lalique, and P. Ovchinnikov

And today Mr. Timofeev exists in the grand tradition

of the dynamic enamelist whose convictions and workmanship respect,

but know no master.  He is completely independent from any influence

that would suggest a side track, a reliance upon tentative worth or

speculation.  His great resonance and command can only be faulted by

knowing too much and by being far too resourceful for the more modern habits.

Review his tradition techniques in this article from Glass on Metal

www.glass-on-metal.com/pastart/pliqueajour.htm and his website http://valeritimofeevenamels.com

Here are a few of his photographs showing the intricate technique.

Guild of Enamellers’ Bursary Award for 2010

The Guild of Enamellers is delighted to announce the winner of their annual Bursary Award – Bronagh Mullan who has recently graduated from Birmingham City University, School of Jewellery where her interest in enamelling was sparked when she attended a part-time course by a visiting tutor and practising enameller, Penny Davis. This motivated Bronagh to use enamel throughout her remaining jewellery projects at university, experimenting with opaque and transparent enamels.

The Selectors for the Award were particularly impressed by Bronagh’s rare gift for combining traditional enamelling techniques with modern technology such as laser marking and JewelCAD but all her jewellery is hand-finished. Using plique à jour she brings delicate colourful enamel detail to the more aggressive shapes in her work, harmonizing these two opposing styles to produce a balanced end product. Her passion for enamelling results in well executed detailed pieces in precious metal, incorporating enamel and stone setting in interesting positions.

Bronagh is currently working as a jewellery designer for a manufacturer in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Meanwhile in her own time she continues to experiment with enamelling and hopes to exhibit in the New Year. The Guild of Enamellers is proud to support Bronagh’s ambition to further develop her skills.

info from www.guildofenamellers.org

Plique a Jour with Platinum Backing

We had a workshop in Wildacers NC through the FSG, Fall 2009.

This is the project I demo in the workshop. We experimented in different backings and each artist chose which method they preferred. In this jewel I use pure platinum foil to support the enamels while firing. Hauser Miller will roll this for you to.002 ”

A draw back is the expense of the platinum, but it can be used multiple times and sent in for refining. The advantage of using this foil over other backings is the end result of clarity in the enamels.

 

Enamels and Nitric

In making plique a jour jewels, I prefer 18k gold as my choice of metal. But as you have seen other karats of gold can be use as well as, copper, sterling silver and fine silver. All of which except the pure metals, oxide when firing the enamels in place.

To deal with the oxidation you can deplete sterling silver by using sulfuric acid and nitric acid for gold. I use nitric acid to deplete the 18k gold in most cases before enameling. But once in a while it is necessary to do so after enameling in the technique of plique a jour. I have started a list of the enamels that are not affected by the acid. By the way if there is a B in front of the number it is Bovano.

If you are using enamels that do not take well with acids, deplete the gold first in nitric. I heat the nitric in a beaker just to a slight steam, and dip the heated jewel into it and the oxides dissolve quickly. I usually repeat this until the jewel can be heated in the kiln and produce no oxides.

It very very important to wear protection!! Nitric is dangerous. I work outside and wear acid gloves and goggles and a respirator. Also on the table is a fan blowing the fumes away from myself and the studio.

Colors in Nitric 

 

A105B         When dipped in nitric acid in a quick bath after enameling it dulls the shine and pits the surface.   When fired the dullness get worse.

BOVANO #3     HOLDS UP REAL WELL IN  NITRIC ACID.

B 518  This enamel was deteriorating, so I put a few drops of nitric acid in the 518, rinsed well and tested the firing of, with no effects except it harden the enamel.Which makes it a longer fire.

 

Ninomiya #N3,  does not work well when washed with Nirtic before enameling.

B 610             Great

N G 338       Great

NG 302       Great

B 209          Great

L 69

H 24

LT 74

LT 71

LT 70

H 55

N 73

N 72

N 71

One thing I figured out this week when using colors that are affected by the acid is to add a layer of Bovano’s # 3 over the color and all is fine.