I did the first pass of soldering the filigree for the plique-a-jour one (after finishing laying out the wires), and it turned out pretty well for pass #1. The whole thing held together and no bits fell out, which is pretty good! So I pickled it and will go over it tomorrow and add more solder- and maybe slightly reshape the filigree if needed- to get all joints and meetings soldered.
Diane Almeyda- from whom I learned most of the plique techniques I use- generally sifts eutectic solder filings over a piece for the first soldering pass. I didn't, because in general when I do it that way i get too much solder in some places and too little in others. Instead I used a wet brush (wetted with a boric acid and borax solution as a soldering flux) and placed filings individually on each join. I paid special attention to the ends of wires, so nothing would fall out! While this is more time-consuming initially than the sifting, I find that it allows me to do fewer passes of soldering and less clean-up of excess solder in places.
I also textured the metal that will go behind the enamel in the cloisonne smiley. I tried just mounting the piece in my engraving ball to do this, but it's so thin and of fine silver, so it would bend instead of staying put. Annoying! I ended up mounting it on an aluminum fitting with setters' cement (a variation on pitch). This worked well, since it held it firmly and also supported the back well; I'd domed it slightly, so the support was welcome in such a thin piece.
The texturing wasn't much- just angled cuts with a #51 round graver, in a rough spiral toward the center of the metal. I'm not a very good engraver at this point, but I like it for adding texture behind enamels, and I figure that's a pretty forgiving way to get some experience in basic control of the gravers.
So the next steps: more soldering of the filigree, and beginning the enameling of the cloisonne. I'll start with the counter-enamel on the back, and add my initials to it in case I decide to expose the back in the setting. I figure I'll use black, since the front will be black and transparent yellow. (In general, I like to use cobalt blue for any counter-enamel that will be visible, but I don't think it's the best choice for this piece.) After i get the counter-enamel and my initials in, I'll add a layer of colorless enameling flux to the front, and then can start adding the wires. I have shaped the upper part of the smile, and that's the trickiest part of the design, so that's cool.
I also spent a bit of time on the wax carving- I wasn't at my best for it today, so didn't go all that long. And I finished putting my own trillium pin/pendant back together, and cleaned off the pieces from the one I hope to sell. Now that I know what I'm doing, it ought to go pretty quickly (I hope!).