Enamel on Brass

You can enamel on brass.  Art Enameling on Metals by H.H. Cunynghame refers to enameling on brass. And Thompson’s Enamel sells it. Gilder’s Metal  is how it is listed and it is copper with a bit of zinc, 95% – 5 %.  It works with transparent enamels, sold for gold, silver, and copper, = medium expansion enamels, according to the their experts and you have no need for flux as it does not oxidize like copper.

Don’t fire it too often. After three or more firings, the enamel can jump off. Enamelled badges and emblems are very often made of gilding metal.

Enameling on Steel

“When Joseph Trippetti returned from the Army in 1946, he studied for three years at Philadelphia College of Art and the fourth year at Sheffield College of Arts and Crafts in England, where he majored in silversmithing. He has been enameling since the 1950s. For some years he taught enameling and painting before concentrating on commissions and gallery exhibitions. The medieval tapestries still influence his designs. His cloisonné were on domed copper plaques before he turned to large steel tiles.”

Musician: 16″ x 16″, silver cloisonné wires. steel, enamel.

“Design is my main interest. My method of enameling has remained about the same these many years. Originally, my work was mainly of cloisonné on domed copper plaques. I trained as a metalsmith. For the past 15 years I have been working on white pre-coated, flanged, steel plaques, ranging in size from 6″ x 6″ to 16″ x 20″. Using the pre-coated, steel tiles I do not have to be concerned with cleaning the metal and applying base coats. I use primarily 80 mesh opaque, leaded, unwashed enamels, though I also have some 150 mesh enamels and some unleaded enamels that I use when I need those colors. To use them all in one piece, the unleaded enamel needs to be under the leaded enamel and not on top. The enamels, wet with water, are wet packed with a brush almost to the top of the wires, and then the piece is tapped to level out the enamel and fired. Before each firing, any opaque enamel on the wires is removed with a fine pointed brush. It usually takes about 8 to 10 applications of the enamel, tapping and firing for the fired enamel to reach almost the top of the wires.

The final firing, with just a thin sifting of either soft or medium flux over the whole piece, is a healthy firing with the kiln at 1500°F before inserting the plaque into the kiln. I do not wet the piece for the sifted coat.  For me, the most important stage in the making of each enamel is the pen drawing of my design.”

You can read more on his techniques in the book Enameling with Professionals, by Lilyan Bachrach, and it is posted on Gonaskin’s Website at www.ganoksin.com

The pre-coated steel tiles he mentioned here, are squares of steel coated with a white opaque flux, ready to enamel. You can purchase them from Thompson”s Enamel.

Excellent Work!

Enameling on Argentium 970

This seems like a wonderful opportunity to use Argentium instead of fine silver for applications such as plique a jour. I am anxoius to experiment with the Argentium in this medium. I have enameled on the 925 and it justgot cloudy,  and did not see the advantage of Argentium verses Fine Silver, for cloiosnne, but for the application of plique a jour it is a stronger surface.

I hesitate to use fine silver in larger pieces and have use 18k gold in it place because of the durability. But with the cost of gold these days Argentium could come in very handy. Sterling sliver is not one of my favorites due to the fire scale developing during the enameling process. There are acids one can use to remove this but then there is always the problem of discoloring your enamels.

Argentiun; from the website of G&S Metals. And BTW is the only place I have found selling Argentium 970 .

What is the Difference Between Sterling Silver and Argentium in Settings?

The most important difference is that Argentium can be hardened, which should increase the durability of the setting. One hardening procedure is to use soft sheet and then heat it in an oven for 4 hrs. at 400º F of 1 hr. at 580° F. Argentium is harder than standard sterling when it is work hardened as well.


The silver of the 21st century – stays bright and beautiful and is ready to go when you are.
Argentium silver, the way silver was meant to be; forever bright and beautiful
What is Argentium silver and where did it come from?
Peter Johns, a professor of silversmithing at Middlesex University in England invented it in 1996 and  labeled it AS.
Argentium is .925 or 97% silver and qualifies to carry that trademark.

Germanium is the element that makes it tarnish resistant and firescale free.
Germanium is not found as a free element in nature. But is mined from zinc ores, coal and germanite.  It is a metalloid, as are silicon, manganese, boron and sulfur.  It borders between metallic elements and non-metallic elements and is found on the periodic table as GE.  It replaces 1.2% of the copper and seems to have a bleaching characteristic when alloyed.
Germanium is used as:
As a transistor element – as a phosphor in fluorescent lamps, infrared spectroscopes – lenses and flutes.
Fire Scale is prevented when Germanium constantly diffuses to the surface where it combines with oxygen and forms a thin layer of germanium oxide – GeO2 that is impervious to oxygen.
Technical Data Sheet
Melt Temperature is 60° F lower than standard sterling silver.  If it looks light yellow or orange, it’s too hot!
Harder and More Durable – Argentium Silver can be made nearly twice has hard as annealed standard sterling silver by simple heat treatment – even in a domestic oven at 450° F for 2 hours.  Typical hardness of rapidly quenched pieces is 70 DPH.  Flasks cooled to room temperature can approach 110 DPH and heat treated castings can approach 125 DPH! (Approximately twice the hardness of standard Sterling silver!)   To obtain this hardness, place the castings in the over at 580 F for 45 minutes.

Laser Weldable – Unlike ordinary sterling silver, Argentium Sterling Silver can be laser welded, opening up new avenues in application and design.
Casting:  It is very important not to over heat.  Use a separate crucible to avoid contamination from other metals.  PLEASE DON’T MIX SILVERS.  We use a very “happy” pink sticker which says, “ARGENTIUM – DO NOT MIX”.  Do not use silicon carbide.
There is a learning curve to casting Argentium:  a lower temp. to adjust to.

Sterling Silver: Melt Temp  – 1475°F   Flow  – 1650°F

Argentium Silver .925:  Melt Temp – 1410°F   Flow 1610°F
Argentium Silver 97%:  Melt Temp – 1724°F   Flow 1724°F

When investment casting, a pour temperature of 1780-1880°F (971-1027°C) and a flask temperature below 1250 F (677 C) is recommended.  If casting without a protective atmosphere, the use of boric acid flux or graphite powder is effective.  After casting the metal, a minimum of 15 minutes air cooling is required before quenching, says Peter.  However, many of our customers recommend letting it cool until you can pick it up and then quenching it for best results.
Polishing: To avoid contamination from other alloyw in the workshop, a separate wheel should be used for Argentium sterling only.  If this is not possible, thoroughly rake wheels before using.
Soldering – Argentium Sterling displays a lighter color when heated.  If the metal looks yellow or light orange, it is too hot.  It is important to avoid overheating this metal.  Use Argentium silver solders for best compatibility.
Price – Yes it’s more expensive 15% – 18% higher than standard sterling silver.  But all those who are already using it, tell us it’s well worth the extra money.  The cost savings is in the finishing.
Fabrication:  Easier to work with.
Enameling: NOT KNOWN
Antiquing: Use hydrochloric or muratic acid.
Remelting scrap may result in brittle castings.  There is no need to keep your silver scrap separate for refining.
AS Logo – if you are interested in the AS stamp, visit the Argentium web site to read about licensing.
Cost:  Averages approximately 15% to 18% more than Standard Silver.
But will reduce your costs due to:
No cyanide needed for stripping
Cost of managing the toxic waste of the cyanide processes
Healthier working environment.
Less deep polishing
No need for plating or lacquering to prevent tarnish
Less labor costs associated with reduced finishing and
polishing times.
Thus increased profitability for silver products.
The ability to harden Argentium Sterling makes certain designs possible that may have been with regular silver.

Two types of Argentium, 925 and 970

With the help of the enamlforum group where some have tested enameling on the argentium and are willing to share their  finding.

“I have done enameling on Argentium 970 with good success. The  standard Argentium 930 has too low of a melting point and problems with slumping. There are some photos of my test enamels on cast  Argentium 970 in this forum. I’ve also fabricated enamel cups from 970 sheet and it works well, however, it’s only available in casting  shot so I roll my own sheet. Rio carried sheet for a short while, but doesn’t any more. I sand off the germanium oxide just before enameling and fire it like fine silver. By the way, Argentium has it’s own quirks. I’d suggest Googleing it and reading up on how to use it, it’s different than standard sterling.” Jim at the   enamelforum@yahoogroups.com

Enameling on Palladium

Enamelling Palladium: Exploration

Rachel Gogerly recently had the opportunity to extend her knowledge and skills enamelling Palladium, a ‘new’ metal to the jewellery industry, which as yet has little technical information recorded on how well or not it enamels.
This opportunity came about with the introduction of Palladium hallmarking in the UK this year and to commemorate this, the Wardens of Birmingham Assay Office commissioned a new Badge of Office for their Assay Master Michael Allchin. Designed and made by Silversmith and Palladium expert, Martyn Pugh, it was the first Palladium piece to be marked in Birmingham.
The design included various symbols, including the depiction of the atomic structure of Palladium and at its centre, the Anchor, which has been the town mark of the Birmingham Assay Office since it was founded in 1773. Flames on one section of the badge (representing cupellation, the traditional method of fire assaying) required enamelling and it was this section that Rachel was invited to create vibrant transparent colours of red, orange and yellow.

Starting with no experience of working with enamel on Palladium and not knowing if it could be enamelled or to what quality, a number of samples and some experimentation were required to establish how best to proceed. There were four main questions Rachel wanted answered, ‘Can Palladium be enamelled? And if so, what preparation is required? Can consistent good quality results be achieved? Finally, how does Palladium influence the appearance of transparent enamel?’
In conclusion, Palladium enamels very well and like copper, can be hard fired. Unlike Silver and Gold, it does not melt if left in the kiln for a few seconds longer!! However, it does influence transparent colours greatly, making them more muted –flux looks grey on Palladium (see image 1), so it is likely that foils will need to be used with certain colours especially reds and yellows.

Subsequent samples allowed exploration of preparation methods, the best one being cleaning the surface thoroughly with a glass brush to remove any oxide dirt and grease. Standard pickles and nitric acid do not clean the Palladium metal surface in any way. Brightening the surface with engraving before enamelling the Palladium also helped to give more ‘life’ to any transparent colours used.

Because the colour of Palladium was influencing the colours significantly, it was necessary to use Gold foil under the enamel to get the vibrancy of the reds and yellows required to represent flames for this particular piece. The advantage of being able to fire the Palladium at a high temperature, between 950’ – 1000’c, meant it was easier to get the foil very smooth before applying the subsequent layers of colour.

Both the initial coat of clear enamel (flux) and the foil were hard fired and good clarity of colour was achieved by further hard firings when applying the all the remaining transparent enamels.

info from, www.guildofenamellers.org

And check out Rachel’s amazing work at her site www.craftmaker.co.uk/rachelgogerly

Enameling on Copper

Copper is one of the most popular metals to enamel on. Whether using transparent, opaque or opal enamels you usually need a flux, as you do when enameling on most metals. There are some colors of enamel you will find, you can get by with out flux but you will have to run a test to find out.

When applying your flux coat on copper use very fine ground enamels, 150 mesh, this will ensure quick fusing of the enamel  coverage and eliminate oxidation. =little brown spots on the metal.

Copper is the one metal that can be fired higher also. I fire my enamel on gold or fine silver at 1425 degrees where as copper is better suited at 1500 and even 1525 degrees, and I have see enameling artist fire at 1550 degrees.

One complaint of copper is the oxidation. But some artist use this to their advantage of design. Leaving the oxidation and enameling over it. You get a rough look and can get some very beautiful colors in the copper, which can add to the enamels.

It is best when making jewelry with copper and enamel, to apply enamel to both sides of the metal and fire at once. You can do this by adding Klyre-Fire to the enamel on the back. This is called the counter enamel. A few drops of Klyre-Fire added to your wet enamel, makes the enamel stick to the back so you can flip it over and apply enamel to the front and have one firing.


Above is a cleaned piece of copper, of  18 ga. by using penny brite. In the center photo the wet counter enamel is applied that has Klyre-Fire added to it so once I have used the brush to remove the excess moisture I can flip it over. In the third photo enamels are being sifted on. Once you have full coverage fire at your desired temperature from 1500 – 1550 degrees for approx. 1 minute and 15 seconds. Or hydraulic the enamels appear smooth.