Enamel on fine silver

Since it was some time since I have messed around with enamel, I thought I would give it a try using the fine silver I prepared earlier, as it were.

A small piece about 10 x 10 x 1mm was given a surface texture of dimples using an automatic centre punch, and given a walled enclosure with some fine silver filigree wire. This wire was made according to the instructions in the book by Jeanne Rhodes-Moen. The enclosure was in the shape of a heart. I then packed the enclosure with 'aqua blue' transparent enamel made by Milton Enamels in the UK.

Since our enamel kiln finally expired a couple of years ago after years of use and abuse, I fired the prepared piece of silver on top of some iron mesh with a small blow-torch underneath. This particular enamel turns first green then finally black as it melts; when it cools, the colours neatly reverse through green back to a very nice blue, effectively gluing the silver filigree design to the backing sheet. In passing it occurred to me that using a copper backing sheet would have allowed me to remove it by dissolving in acid, ending up with plique a jour.

Then I ground the surface down using wet silicon carbide paper, cleaned it off with a glass fibre brush under running water, and re-fired after packing one or two areas that were a little short of enamel. The grinding and cleaning was repeated, and the piece inspected.

Here was where things started to go wrong! Since I felt the enamel needed more building up in one or two areas, and since the colour was on the dark side and hence obscured the dimple texture underneath, I thought that some clear enamel on the top would be a good idea. Unfortunately I probably chose exactly the wrong clear enamel, in the form of 'super soft'. This in fact not only melted quickly into the missing areas, but fluxed the aqua enamel so much that both 'super soft' (in the form of a yellowish glaze) and aqua started to leak from the bottom of the filigree enclosure.

So, back to the drawing board. Pictures later!

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