|The After Practice Piece - Improving|
Last week I shared making the piece to enamel from ArtClay Copper. This week is about the actual process of enameling. If you are interested in using the enameling techniques, I highly recommend Pam East’s DVD’s. Last week’s post has the links.
I looked forward to this part as I remembered how much fun it was to blend the enamel colors in Pam’s class. Three pair of earrings are ready to be cleaned in PreEnamel to remove any oil or fingerprints. I started do this at my work station and ended up at the sink because the water needed to be hot. After scrubbing and rinsing until the water sheeted off the metal instead of beading, I was ready to counter enamel. That just means putting enamel on the back of the piece so that there will have equal amount of stress when the enamel is placed on the front and the enamel will not crack.
|The earring on the left shows the counter-enamel|
The enamel colors I used are translucent and are mixed with water for easier application.
The first layer went on and my frustration began! I found that setting the small metal pieces on a 3 prong trivet was harder than it looked on the DVD. How can it be so hard for me to place the piece on 3 points and have it level and balanced? If I touched the enamel (which are tiny particles of glass), the smudge had to be repaired. When I jiggled or accidentally hit the trivet, the enamel fell off and had to be redone. I quickly learned to take care at each step. I think it took 5 tries before I got it right. The rest went smoother! After practicing with several pieces, I developed a wrist action that eliminated the problem. My suggestion is to practice moving the trivets and learn how to use the tools before placing the metal piece on it.
|3 Pair of earrings with enamel before firing. Look at the colors and find the fired ones on this page!|
I need to get a digital timer. My phone timer also added to my frustration! And I have a new kiln with a window in the door so I’m learning about it. The DVD shows the shelf on the bottom of the kiln and mine was on cones raised about an inch. The first firing would have been great but because the shelf was too high, I could not see the top of the piece on the trivet. That meant I could not tell exactly when to take it out. Should have thought of that sooner! The timer is helpful but you still need to see the exact time to remove the piece. Later I lowered the shelf and things improved! The first pieces were over-fired and the color was muddy and crazed. It took a couple of firings before I understood when the enameled copper was ready to come out of the kiln.
Seeing the colors before and after firing is part of the magic. The blues and greens are difficult to tell apart before enameling. So it is very important to label the colors!
I fired the earrings with 3 layers of color and learned more about shading. It is really obvious when you do it right! The layers of translucent color add so much depth.
Now that I’ve gone through the entire process and gained confidence, I made another piece to get it right. The first pieces are just practice pieces. I sometimes forget about the learning curve and expect more perfect pieces the first time. I’m much more confident and will continue on this path for a while.
|This is the color before firing. Look at the finished color at the top of the page.|