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September 11th, 2006


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09:27 pm - Smiley face enamels
Here are pictures of the current state of the pieces I am working on for the Smiley Face show.


Cloisonne smiley Cloisonne smiley

The finished cloisonne smiley face, not in setting.




Plique Smiley: process Plique Smiley: process

My Plique-a-jour smiley face, during the enameling process.


(14 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:her_wonderland
Date:September 12th, 2006 03:20 am (UTC)
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cute! I like the top one the most. :)
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From:afmetalsmith
Date:September 12th, 2006 03:32 am (UTC)
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Thank you! :)

I think the top one benefits from the fact that it's done- though not set yet- and the plique one is still in process. All the holes will be filled with enamel, and it gets a bit more intensely colored when it's completely fired. Also the wee little holes around the outside will be filled with yellow. :)
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From:gandryyne
Date:September 12th, 2006 03:50 am (UTC)
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Oh those are awesome!

As for the wire work in the Plique...*goes cross eyed for ya*
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From:afmetalsmith
Date:September 12th, 2006 07:15 pm (UTC)
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Heh. Yes, one benefits from a certain amount of compulsiveness in such work. :)
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From:medvssa
Date:September 12th, 2006 06:49 am (UTC)
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Hey they look great! Really watching the pictures make a great difference, I had imagined them all wrong :)
The top one looks great, you say it is not set yet, but I see silver around it, did you make a raised field there? (I don't know how to call it)

And the plique is awesome! very nice wire work, it will look great once finished. And you did solder it? wow. I think the eyes would look great with a bit of "wax drop", like a little dome, do you know how to do this?
[User Picture]
From:afmetalsmith
Date:September 12th, 2006 07:28 pm (UTC)
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Glad you like them! I'm sure my descriptions weren't a whole lof of help in allowing you to visualize them. :)

For the top one, I used a piece of 20ga. (0.8mm) square wire and soldered that onto a piece of sheet for the border. I've been experimenting with that lately, since sometimes when I set pieces without that the edges crack a bit during the setting. However, the solder flowing where I don't want it to is a problem for this technique, at least when I want to use transparents by the edge- they're a different color over the solder than over the fine silver, depletion gilded though they are. Sigh. I will probably start experimenting with solder flow blocks and see where that leads me. Or maybe just do the rim on the back; that would add strength to the edge without getting solder on the front... Hmm. :) The rim thing works great when there's an opaque or opalescent right next to the rim, though!

The basic technique for the plique is to do the wirework and glue it with cyanocacrylate down to a titanium plate (22 ga- maybe 0.6mm?). You can either do the whole thing that way or do it in pieces- for this one, I did the border circles- the 2 plain ones and the zig-zag between then- and soldered those, then laid out the interior. For the soldering, one files a hunk of eutectic silver-copper alloy (72% silver, the rest copper, if I recall correctly- it's the lowest-melting alloy of the 2) with a really coarse file, and then you can either dust the solder over the piece- which is fast but I haven't had a lot of luck with- or use a brush and place filings everywhere 2 wires join. Then solder with a big bushy flame until the solder melts, check for connections that didn't solder, and repeat. It is very important to have good ventilation, to keep one's face away from the piece, AND to keep the flame on the piece while the glue burns away- else it's pretty toxic.

Domed eyes sound like a great idea! The way I learned was to do all the finishing, and then before the fire-polish firing to heap enamel very very carefully just inside the metal. Is that how you do it? Or did I misunderstand what you meant- always possible! :)
[User Picture]
From:medvssa
Date:September 12th, 2006 08:16 pm (UTC)
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Hmh, yes I understand why making this rim would make the enamel more resistant to pressure, but yeah solder leftovers are a pain in the ass. That setting I told you once is nice because you really don't put much pressure on the enamel, but I guess making it is also a pain in the ass. I have also read in an enamelling community that some people leave a couple of millimeters on the border of the base not enamelled, so that the setting almost touches the enamel, so that the pressure doesn't affect it. I am not sure how good this would look though.

Hmh, cyanocacrylate is super-glue right? Interesting. I wonder if a non toxic glue would work. I use tragacanth (?) for cloissoné and it holds well until it burns, perhaps it would work too? that would be cool. Does the solder affect the color of the enamel?
I want to try the PMC plique technique with PMC paper, sounds great, can you imagine, a fine silver plique?!

Yes you understood right. You can work in adding a little more enamel than the rest before the final firing, but this depends on the way you clean the wires, if you stone it, then you would have to do it afterwards. I used to clean it with hydrofluoric (when the piece is still warm and with a wooden stick dipped in pure acid, you have to work under a "bell" and with extractor, because of the fumes) wich is nice since it doesn't spoil the metal and if the metal is textured or so, the only way I see to clean it without damage.
In any case, this is how I do the domes, in the final fire (polish fire you call it?) you add a little dome of enamel carefully not to stain the wires. It doesn't have to get to the very edges. Fire upside down, or the dome will go a bit downwards. For this you probably have to take the piece to the oven when it is not completely dry (I don't know if you dry before, I don't, I evaporate in the oven: in and out) or else it can fall. Maybe one layer in not enough for a nice dome, so it may be necessary to repeat.
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From:hobbitblue
Date:September 12th, 2006 12:11 pm (UTC)
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I love the depth of the colour in the top one :)
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From:afmetalsmith
Date:September 12th, 2006 07:30 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! The glass is about 0.75mm thick, so it's not really thick but there's enough to give it the depth you see. Also, I think the color depth was helped by me using 3 colors of yellow in successive layers- I had too-orange and too-green, so I layered them. It came out a bit darker than I'd originally wanted, and maybe a bit more orange, but I'm quite happy with it. It is generally not a great idea with enamels to get too wedded to anything coming out a very precise shade of color, anyway, because Things Happen!
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From:hobbitblue
Date:September 12th, 2006 09:25 pm (UTC)
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It definitely seems to be more art than science, do love the results though! :)
[User Picture]
From:fub
Date:September 12th, 2006 05:34 pm (UTC)

Some questions

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How large is the plique-a-jour smiley? How thick?
Suppose you were to have a light behind it -- how much added thickness would be acceptable?

(Yes, I didn't forget about our initial discussions! It's still in my mind.)
[User Picture]
From:afmetalsmith
Date:September 12th, 2006 07:37 pm (UTC)

Re: Some questions

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The plique one is about 1.25 inches across, so that's about 31-32mm. The thickness of the metal is 1.3mm, and it's domed a wee bit- I could definitely dome more, though, if I needed the space! For this one I did it as low a dome as I could manage, since I just wanted it for stability and appearance. The whole thing, domed, is probably about 6mm back to front in the middle.

I think for a light behind it, anything up to about 12mm on the edges and mmybe 18 in the middle would not be a problem at all. More would be possible, probably, but the design would be trickier to give the thickness without it looking awkward. This basic diameter is a pretty good one for plique, but it could go somewhat bigger or smaller; also, the plique part could be set into a larger box if needed.

This one isn't going to be set- all the metal that's going to be there already is. The next steps are to finish the enameling, polish, and set the 2 stones. Good thing, too, since it has to be done in a week and a half or so!
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From:anderale
Date:September 25th, 2006 12:55 am (UTC)
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They look so perfect! The holes in the plique piece kind of freak me out, but I'm weird that way...plus I know it's not done. You get everything so perfect, it's amazing.
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From:afmetalsmith
Date:September 25th, 2006 03:25 am (UTC)
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There are now no holes in the plique. :) Despite its best efforts!

I really hope to get it done in time for J to get a few good picturesof it DONE- I'm going to put a price on it for the show, so I might not see it again. That's a tricly thing, since they're getting 40% of the price.. but at least they're insuring it etc. so I'm not as reluctant as I was with the craft center's asking 40% and offering pretty much nothing in exchange! I'm probably going to list it for someplace between $400-500, so get $240-300 i it sells. Which it probably won't, but i don't want to count on that!

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