November 4th, 2007

anvil, ring

Enamels and filigree

I know it's been a good afternoon of enameling when it takes a while for my eyes to focus at distances longer than a foot! (That does mean I ought to take a 5-min break every half hour or so; perhaps I'll start setting a timer.)

I got the wires down adequately on a cloisonne piece that's been giving me trouble with that. It's a triskele, with 3 large spirals, and they've been reluctant to sink into the bottom flux layer and get stuck. Still, I think they're down enough to stay put now while I start to add color- which will also work to anchor them more, so that's OK.

I put 2 thin layers of flux down on my engraved piece, too, plus 3 layers of a mystery blue I'd gotten for free on the back, for the counter-enamel. I'm not thrilled with the blue, but I'm going to be setting the piece so it doesn't much matter. It fires really high, though, so I put a note to that effect on the jar.

I'm somewhat concerned that my flux (which in enameling lingo means "clear uncolored enamel")- which is a supposed to be a silver-safe one- is yellowing a bit when fired on silver. Weird! I should probably do some temperature tests: use small squares of fine silver, sift a similar amount of flux over them, and fire them at consecutively higher temps until I see a pattern. Another test would be to do something similar, but choose a temp. and fire pieces various numbers of times at it. What fun- more background work, like with the sample/test tiles! Still- it'd be very good to have a better grasp of what exactly is happening!

I also got most of the wires for my Tudor rose down on the engraved piece. They're glued, but not yet fired in.

And, some fun! The greens are mostly laid into the leaves on my earrings. These have a simple Dublin rose, with 2 small and 2 large leaves. I'm using 3 colors of green in each leaf, and 2 colors of pink in the rose. So now the leaves are close to done, and I've got 1 color of pink in the rose. I decided to work on the leaves since this is a particularly well-behaved set of greens, while pinks can be fussy, so I know the greens will forgive anything I have to do to get the pinks to behave- while the reverse is not likely to be true! So, close to done- which probably means between 5-10 more firings. Yes, plique takes a LOT of firings!

I did some clean-up work on my "January" thimble, too, which I haven't worked on in months. The enameling is pretty much done on it, so I'm cleaning up the wires and removing excess glass. After I do that, it'll have 1 more quick firing to make the glass shiny again, then be polished and have the garnet set in its top. This is not a practical thimble, but was an educational piece for me in making 3D plique. My next 3D piece will be bigger; while that'll use a lot more glass and wire, I think in many ways it will be easier! The tiny size was a challenge here.

I've ordered a DVD on Russian filigree that I read about in "Art Jewelry" (I think). It looks intriguing. I currently can do Scandinavian-based styles, and types intended for plique- but this looks different, and will perhaps have applications when combined with the others. I also know much of the theory of Indian-style, but haven't built the tools nor made a piece yet. From the pics about the DVD, the Russian sounds like it shares some approaches with the Indian, so it should be interesting.