Enameling Blog of Cloisonné & Many Other Enameling Techniques

 

 

Welcome to my Enameling Blog of Cloisonné Jewelry Techniques and others such as Plique a Jour, Champlevé Enameling and yes Painting Enamels. My site is a donation of everyone’s time to share and further the education of the fine art of enameling techniques. I am very happy to answer questions to help you, but please ask here and not emailing me directly. At the bottom of this page there is a comment section. Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks!!

I share my life’s passion and inspiration with anyone who wishes to read. I am a self-taught enamelist and goldsmith. I did not live here in the US where there was a knowledge base and to my advantage, my knowledge came from trial and error and today I continue to build on trial and error.

Read test analyze and you will surely learn.

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Online Classes

Mer Almagro’s Enamel Workshop

 

Now’s the perfect time to learn more about vitreous enameling you can find her classes at www.enamelworkshop.com and join her Patreon to watch lots of past and future videos full of tips, design and process talk, for just $3 per month
www.patreon.com/enamelworkshop

 

Mer is a terrific enamelist, and shares so much of her research in her online classes!

 

    

Mer Almagro

Perfectly suited for beginners and also for advanced enamelists looking to improve their wet packing and gradation skills. There’s something to learn for everyone!

 

 

And those Painting Enamels 

“I’m really so thrilled with these reds, especially 5005 has stolen my heart, never thought I could find direct on copper reds!!”

See the Jewelry Collection

 

 

“Custom Cloisonne Jewelry and Custom Enamel Jewelry are a delight to me. Contact me if I can create a jewel of your very own inspired personal adornment! All of my creations are One of a Kind Jewelry, whether in Cloisonne Necklaces, Cloisonne Earrings or Enamel Jewels such as Plique a Jour, I am thrilled to design for you.”

           Patsy Croft

The Matilija Poppy and The Mendocino Poppy Project

Mendocino Poppy Project by Tom Herman and Patsy Croft


Mendocino Poppy Project
by Tom Herman and Patsy Croft

 Check out our 2-year journey  at https://alohilanidesigns.com/matilija-poppy/

Feel free to leave a comment and I will reply soon

49 Comments

  1. Kirk Economos

    I read your article comparing vitreous enamel flux. I found it because I am having issues with Nihon Shippo G110
    on fine silver – I have had various problems with it – from it yellowing to turning milky white in firing.

    After getting white milky coating with a 2 minute firing set at 1450 (kiln went down to about 1370 then up to 1465 during that period) I started experimenting one piece at a time change variables. I approached it scientifically. I originally was using a 200 screen product – sifted. I then went to a 80 screen product sifted.

    The pieces have Grisaille black counter enamel, and there is a Sterling jump ring at the top that was soldered with eutectic solder. I think I might be getting some Sterling bleed down the 18 gauge fine silver wire I am using like a champleve border on the front of the piece (the jump ring is attached to the top of this border.)

    The pieces were clean and shiny. I applied diluted A1 (25% a1 to 75% distilled water) and then a medium coat of what stayed in the 80 mesh screen. I dried the piece thoroughly. 2 minutes with kiln set at 1450 ranging from 1365 to 1465. The same coating with same kiln setting for 3 minutes. First was cloudy and milky white, the second was perhaps a little better but still milky and white in places.

    I tried the same again with an extremely light coat of g110- plenty of silver showing through the flux sift- the results were a good deal better but not perfect (still milky in a few spots.)

    I imagine the G110 should fire at about 1450 for about 2 minutes (especially since the kiln is coming back to temperature for the first 35 to 50 seconds.) I do not know this for a fact however. I suppose I could use less G110 but when does it stop becoming effective in preventing reaction.

    Side question- you seem to suggest using soyer 3 – is this what you use. It appears more dense than some of the other silver fluxes.

    Reply
    • Patsy Croft

      Hi Kirk,

      Glad to have you on board as an enemelist! It is great that you are approaching enameling scientifically. We are working with many chemicals, minerals, some melt at high temps and some low. I have always advised my students to keep journals.

      I will write you in several comments.

      First I have heard other enamelist say the Nihon Shippo G110 yellows. N3 yellows on my testing. The Nihon Shippo G110 is a bit harder than N3 which means it takes a bit longer to fuse smooth when firing at the same temperature. I have found G110 to be very clean when washing and grain size consistent. Which to me is important. I will explain.

      The fact your kiln drops and regains heat as you mentioned is common, and does not effect the enamel. Now what can effect the clarity is not washing the enamel and sifting it. IF…. I needed to sift enamels I would wash them first then dry them before sifting. By drying, I have placed the washed enamels on aluminum foil and placed in the kiln or an oven at 200 degrees and let them dry out.

      Washing enamels will remove any unwanted particles. But only wash what you need today. Many will deteriorate if left wet for prolonged period of time. Washing and removing the small grains of the enamel leaving the larger grains will give you more clarity to your transparents and all the grains will fuse at the same time. If you want to save the smaller grains for Grisaille or painting, sift and save in different containers. This is true of transparent enamels. Opaque and opal enamels I wash once or twice.

      Small grains fuse faster than large grains= great for enameling on copper as it fuses faster holding down the oxidation on the copper.

      “The pieces have Grisaille black counter enamel, and there is a Sterling jump ring at the top that was soldered with eutectic solder. I think I might be getting some Sterling bleed down the 18 gauge fine silver wire I am using like a champleve border on the front of the piece (the jump ring is attached to the top of this border.)”

      I do not know of ss bleed.

      Reply
      • Patsy Croft

        Kirk your next comments.

        Kylr-Fire = A1 is recommended to be used by mixing with water 1 part kylr-fire + 5 parts water. Your portions will cause cloudiness. The best I have seen using is to apply this with a brush then sifting on. And agin if I were to sift any enamel I would apply it this way but only as a counter enamel in a thin layer.

        So if you are saying this is G110 on the front of your fine silver jewel and the second layer was still milky and white or maybe the second jewel was.?? Either way I wound have no reason to add Klyr-Fire to the front. If I had a high dome I might use it to help the edges hold the enamel but always remember Klyr-Fire can make transparent enamel cloudy, I call it. If you use the correct mixture and let it sit the water evaporates over an hour or so and can cause cloudiness.

        This lower statement will not help, you do need a thin layer of enamel to get great clarity, but have all the fine silver covered in the first firing.
        “I tried the same again with an extremely light coat of g110- plenty of silver showing through the flux sift- the results were a good deal better but not perfect (still milky in a few spots.) ”

        I do not think you are having a reaction,
        “I imagine the G110 should fire at about 1450 for about 2 minutes (especially since the kiln is coming back to temperature for the first 35 to 50 seconds.) I do not know this for a fact however. I suppose I could use less G110 but when does it stop becoming effective in preventing reaction.”

        Whatever your kiln reads you fire till you are just beyond a orange peel smoothness. In my kiln I fire at 1350-1400. And maybe I have to fire longer, but I do not see a need to hurry. As you probably know warm colors react to heat.

        Now I use Soyer #3 and only Soyer #3. Why?? It has a slight blue hue to it.This means I get a truer color to my enamels. If my base is somewhat yellow that changes the color value. It is a harder fire. So it takes a bit longer to fuse. Again I am not in a hurry.
        But if it is a higher/longer fire then all my layers after this are slightly lower/shorter fire, my reactive enamels will never reach the fine silver and cause colors to react with the fine silver.

        Read on the site about your enameling burning turning the color of mud. And welcome to the wonderful world of enameling! *)

        Reply
      • Kirk Economos

        Hi Patsy,

        When I mentioned SS bleed, I was referring to the fact that the sterling silver jump ring got hot enough that it might have transferred copper to silver of the body. I am getting some oxidation on the main piece in that area and everything but the jump ring is fine silver. My first time using eutectic solder so I may be under the false impression that it does not oxidize.

        I took the 80 mesh sift of g110 that I made and washed it thoroughly- with the last several being distilled water. I wet packed coats in a couple of thicknesses- from a wet pack that just obscured the silver to a wet pack even layered but with plenty of silver showing.

        My results improved somewhat with that but there were still areas that were opaque white. Most frustrating. I considered that I might not be firing long enough or hot enough so I put some test back in for various times and the got worse.

        In the past I have had some yellowing g110 around the edges- but I have never run in to it turning opaque white- I now have 8 to 10 pieces that I will probably have to design in opaque enamels.

        Reply
        • Patsy Croft

          Hi Kirk,
          The sterling silver will oxide while you are enameling. Also the solder will. When you wet pack you have a layer about 3-4 grains high each layer. If my designs calls for warm colors I will lay down 2 layers of flux. If you are leaving FS showing with no flux on top of the it will turn a bit frosty. This is why I like to add flux to the front and fire before I add enamel to the back, unless I am counter enameling the using the Kylr-Fire mixture.

          It is not the temperature high or low that is causing this color problem. How about adding a photo to your post. But I hope this information helps. If it is opaque I am wondering if you have possibly mixed up the containers?
          Patsy

          Reply
          • Kirk Economos

            Thanks Patsy,
            Your suggestion of firing the front with flux before firing the back (or at the same time with a klyr fire mix on the back) makes good sense- I will try and maybe adopt that in my process.

            Interestingly, the 10 pieces with flux that fired milky white were a group I processed similarly- fused fine silver wire border on fine silver, SS jump ring, eutectic solder and counter enameled in lead free- all before the g110 fired on the front.

            I have subsequently fired several pieces with the g110 with very good results. The difference in processing was a cut fine silver sheet border (Champleve) fused on fine silver with lead free counter enamel- no SS, no eutectic solder.

            One might assume that the SS or eutectic solder was the cause- but I am not convinced that either of them caused it. I am keeping it in the category of suspicions but cause unknown.

            I have coated the pieces in armour etch (with care) in the hope of removing the offending enamel. If this process remains as ineffective as it appeared to be yesterday – I may be able to take some photos to share.

            Thank you

          • Patsy Croft

            Hi Kirk,
            I admire your stick to itness!
            If this is the group that is frosty…
            Interestingly, the 10 pieces with flux that fired milky white were a group I processed similarly- fused fine silver wire border on fine silver, SS jump ring, eutectic solder and counter enameled in lead free- all before the g110 fired on the front.
            Are you dipping it in pickle then ?? washing brass brush ??
            Patsy

          • Patsy Croft

            or is this the the good result group??
            I have subsequently fired several pieces with the g110 with very good results. The difference in processing was a cut fine silver sheet border (Champleve) fused on fine silver with lead free counter enamel- no SS, no eutectic solder.
            Patsy

  2. Jean luzon

    Hi
    I am a novice at enameling. Everything is fine when I use enamel on copper but silver I am having a terrible time. My finished piece seems fine for awhile. After a month or so I first notice the counter enamel flaking off, then the front enamel slides right off the piece. I am using fine silver 22 g.
    I would really appreciate any insight that you may have to this problem.
    …Jean

    Reply
    • Patsy Croft

      Hi Jean,
      Sorry to hear you are having problems, I am happy to help you figure out what is causing this.
      Let’s start with basic questions.

      What enamels are you using?
      Are you laying down the enamels on FS the same way you lay them down on the copper?
      Are you using flux for Fine Silver? Which one?
      I use fine silver from Hauser and Miller, not sure if there are suppliers in PR. But very important, I slide the sheet right out of the paper wrapped silver pouch, cut to size and add my washed enamel.( I wet pack all my enamels) With clean hands. It is important not to touch the silver.
      I always add flux the the front of the FS sheet first, fire, then add to the back. Sometimes I add Klyre-Fire to the counter enamel, apply to the back, then add flux to the front and fire both at the same time.
      Are you firing the flux to maturity? Flux is a harder enamel than our transparent or opaque enamels. So fire it to a smooth surface, so it can grab to the fine silver surface.
      What do you mean by flaking off, of the counter enamel? Can you add a photo?

      Look forward to hearing back. Patsy

      Reply
      • Jean luzon

        Hi Patsy
        Thanks for answering so quickly.
        I am using Thompson transparent enamels on fs.
        I buy my silver sheet from Rio Grande
        As with copper I wet pack the enamel on fs
        The flux used is Thompson clear for silver 2020
        Silver is prepared by sanding to a high gloss followed with washing with dish soap then “flashing” the silver
        I wash the enamel but don’t grade sift
        Usually the back is fluxed and fired first
        Thanks for your consideration
        Jean

        Reply
        • Patsy Croft

          Jean,
          When you buy the silver you should not need to sand to a high polish. You should not touch it at all on the surface. Just the edges. And no soap!
          If you take it out of package with clean hands, and only touching the edges, cut your shape not using any oils on your saw blade. Flash if you like. And flux the front first.
          If you find the need to clean at all use alcohol and then rinse very very well. Then flash. Again being careful never touch the surface.
          Try and let me know how it goes. Patsy

          Reply
  3. Shirley Matteson

    Hi Patsy
    OK Sanded and Sanded and Sanded finally removed most of the pitting however now I have several large cracks..Can I re fire now? Also do I need counter as I have plenty on the back up to the wire

    Reply
    • Patsy Croft

      It looks better….BUT I think it is time to use a small round ball bur and remove the pits. There is not much. Then clean well with a glass brush, dry, fire, and fill the recession.

      Oh course there will be another round of sanding but I am sure if you stick with it you will be happy you did *)

      When you sand again start at 600…

      Reply
  4. shirley matteson

    Yes 1 coat of n4 and seems like trouble started after this fire.

    Reply
    • Patsy Croft

      Shirley,

      This is why I do not use top coats. I know some enamelist do. When I get to the point of enameling my jewel where I am happy with the colors but there is still space left to fill my wires I use the lightest color on that family to finish filling the cell.

      For now I do not see the top of your cloison wires, so sand it down more with 600, then 1200 grit and see if you get below the N4. Maybe that is all you need. Keep me informed.

      Reply
  5. Shirley Matteson

    This is the wing blown up shows the pitting

     

    Reply
    • Patsy Croft

      Shirley did you add a top coat?

      Reply
  6. Shirley Matteson

    After polishing my new piece there seems to be pitting on the surface. should I refire to eliminate this? Why does this happen?

    Reply
    • Patsy Croft

      Shirley can you get a better photo. Can not see the pits.

      And tell me more. How are you polishing? Are the pits in all of the enamels?

      Patsy

      Reply
  7. Shirley Matteson

    Wow! This is so scary!
    Put my domes on top of the kiln, heated to about 90 degrees,we have a temp gauge, put jewel in kiln upside down and heated, 1450 degrees for 2 minutes. Very Hot! Wearing my welding gloves took lower dome and put in front of kiln, took jewel out slid into dome placed top dome on and pushed lightly. let cool and when removed it was re domed with a few small cracks that healed with a re fire. I am so blown away. It looks beautiful. With help from an amazing Enamelist and friend my jewel will live on.
    Thank you so much Patsy you are so gifted and I am thankful beyond words.

    Reply
    • Patsy Croft

      I am very happy you stuck with it. Now you have learn a very useful enameling trick!

      Great job, they look like a happy family.

      Cheers and keep enameling!! And thank you for sharing with all of us.

      Reply
    • Shirley Matteson

      Just wanted to share the finished product
      My jewel has a new home on this silver belt buckle.
      Thanks again Patsy you are the BEST!

      Reply
      • Patsy Croft

        Wow that is gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.

        Happy Enameling, Patsy

        Reply
  8. Shirley Matteson

    Yes I added ng302 instead of rf1 and it worked however now my dome has inverted so the whole piece is trashed. Wish it could be saved

    Reply
    • Patsy Croft

      Looks good now, and you know on your test plate of opals as they are lined up and fired all at once
      you can see which ones fire first and know which are hard firing and medium. Just don’t put in same cell when using cloisonne technique.

      BUT Don’t give up, you have come so far! Tell me how did you dome it in the first place?

      Reply
      • Shirley Matteson

        I use this doming tool, it is very heavy and I put my fine silver piece in place added the top on and push down. Works great.

        Reply
        • Patsy Croft

          yes Shirley, you can see Nina had the same idea, enamelist have used this for centuries.

          So heat the jewel and heat the two parts of the punch and block. I sit mine on top of the kiln.

          Take a couple of practice runs so it is easy and you do not burn yourself. I have a tile next to my kiln where I can sit the hot tools.

          Wearing gloves, place the hot tools on the side of your kiln, and quickly take the jewel out of the kiln and place into the block face down and push the punch down just like you did to form it.

          it should be all restored. *))

          Reply
          • Shirley Matteson

            Wow ok I will try Makes me very nervous
            Will be back soon

        • Nina Novikova

          Hi, Shirley
          Would you mind to share where you found these large doming tools?

          Reply
    • Nina Novikova

      Hi, Shirley
      Heat it again, put on a hot metal plate immediately after kiln and press with hot iron. I do it often if enamel warps.

      Reply
  9. Shirley Matteson

    ok, I sanded down but I still have valley. Should I refill with RF1?

    Reply
    • Patsy Croft

      Hi Shirley, I am bit concerned with the hardness of the RF1. If you remember the cracking was not appearing till you were nearing your completion point and it was the RF1 that started the cracking .

      Beside the counter enamel, which is always our first culprate, you fixed but still had a crack in the right horse’s blaze.

      I think when you go back and add enamel to fill the valley try a lower fusing opal enamel. RF1 is a high fusing opal = hard and when sharing a cell with a low or medium fusing enamel it can crack.

      So let’s be sure. Try NG 302 I saw that on your test plate earlier.

      Reply
  10. Shirley Matteson

    added another counter and the cracks healed, yahoo!

    Reply
    • Patsy Croft

      Awesome, now back to the front, how does that look?

      Reply
  11. Shirley Matteson

    Carved it out and seem to have more cracks

    Reply
    • Patsy Croft

      Oh my! yes, these really look like a counter enamel problem. If you have a hard time calculating how much counter enamel you have on your jewel, while enameling place a small circle of cloison wire on the back. Then as you enamel you will know for sure it is matching the front layers.

      Please take a photo of the jewel eye level and horizontal for us to check the counter.

      Reply
  12. Shirley Matteson

    added more counter, still have cracking

    Reply
    • Patsy Croft

      Shirley, try to carve out the crack and lets see if it will heal. It might have some contamination.
      Patsy

      Reply
  13. Shirley Matteson

    Patsy
    I cant get the crack to heal Now there is a bubble in the crack Should I remove the bubble and refire?
    Can I fire the piece upside down without distorting the front picture?

    Reply
    • Patsy Croft

      I would drill out the bubble and clean it well under running water with use a glass brush. Let it dry and refire. Sure you can fire it upside down on a trivet. And while you are at it add another layer of counter enamel.

      Reply
  14. Patsy Croft

    Shirley, always the first thing we think of when there is a crack is to check your counter enamel. You need the same amount of counter as layers of enamel you put on the front. So now if it is uneven add counter and see if the crack heals. Let me know. Patsy

    Reply
  15. Shirley Matteson

    Patsy
    Thank you for the info This worked great.
    Also allowed me to watch my design and fix some things before I got to far into the actual enameling process i.e. The ears being to large for the piece I have time to take out and change the size without major demolition further down the road.
    Thanks for all the help Your the best!

    Reply
    • Patsy Croft

      So glad I could help. Looking forward to seeing your progress!

      Patsy

      Reply
  16. Shirley Matteson

    Hi Patsy
    Do I have to form all my wires at the same time?
    I have a large piece with a lot of wires.

    Reply
    • Patsy Croft

      Hi Shirley,
      Great question, if you mean do you have to fuse all your wires in place on the first firing of your flux? I say no. In my large pieces I lay down my larges wires first. The dominate ones that help me keep my placement of the design. Then I begin with what I would call secondary lines.

      While we are only using flux nothing will burn and this really helps if the fine silver base is domed. I can tilt the jewel to add wires that would normally slide off edges while placing it in the kiln.

      Have a great day, Patsy

      Reply
  17. Patsy Croft

    Beth thank you for sharing!

    Reply

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