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.

Or just ask questions. A student asked today.

“I am working on a piece currently and is having some issue with the colours. I am trying to remove the colour by using a diamond bur as advice when I took the class with you but it doesn’t seem to budge.

 

Could you send me the link the bur to purchase ?
You recommended one ceramic bur from Gesswin and one diamond bur from lasco, may I also ask do they work for the same purpose and what’s the difference ?” 

Answer:

The bits I like the most for removing small spots or bubbles in enamels are the Rio Grande 1.1 mm ball diamond bur. # 343023 and the point, #343114

The ceramic ones are for finishing the plique. You can remove a bit of enamel then polish it in succession. Also good to remove enamel on gold work to get the enamel very thin to create the gold luster look. 

Lasco bits are larger, I do not use as often but if you have a larger space that needs the help. They are extremely fine in texture and high quality. The range is 200 grit-600. 

Happy Enameling!

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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

13 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. Patsy Croft

    Beth thank you for sharing!

    Reply

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