Repairing Cloisonne Enamels
I received a jewel of cloisonné this week broken and wanted to share my steps to repairing cloisonné enamels.
The jewel was dropped and the enamel had completely separated from the fine silver base. A little scary so artist might say, but the only way to learn is to try even if you fail!
Below my first photo the enamel section is sitting on a new sheet of fine silver, which I fired one layer of flux on the front and four layers of counter enamel on the back of it’s new base.
I filled the backside of the enamel piece with a very thin coat of flux as there were some uneven areas, hoping this would give it a solid bond to the new base when fired.
Next, the piece was fired in a kiln at 1400 degrees. You can see in the photo the base silver is larger than the broken enamel piece. Once it was fired and the broken enamel piece fused to the base, I cleaned the edges of fine silver away. It was too fragile to attempt this prior to attaching the enameled section to the base.
The holes you see in the enamel piece are where bubbles formed from the uneven underside and I used a diamond ball bur to bur through the enamel and open the bubbles. The right hole is not burred out completely showing you what to expect when drilling into a bubble. This is a small pinhole which will open into the whole bubble as you proceed firing. The left bubbles have been open completely, this is necessary to allow the enamel to flow smoothly into the opening while firing during repairing any enamel jewelry.
Now it is very important to remove this enamel dust I created while drilling. To do this use a glass brush under running water and scrub lightly . I also like to use a second precaution of flushing it under a steamer. The reason for this is if you fire the enamel jewel without removing the dust it will leave visible scares.
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.
Next leveling the surface, cleanup the edges and polish. *)
All set and ready to go back to the owner!