Understanding enamels

Understanding enamels

Ring-a-Week #42, “Blue Heart”, fine silver, sterling silver, vitreous enamel.

I’ve been reading that it’s recommended to fire enamels over fine silver instead of sterling silver but I couldn’t quite understand why until I tried it.

I made this ring by soldering a metal clay heart on a sterling silver band. Metal clay is pure silver and doesn’t oxidize when heated. By applying a layer of transparent turquoise over the heart, the resulting color had a great clarity and brilliance whereas the same color appeared kind of dull when I had applied it over sterling silver a while back.

Of course I will keep using sterling silver for enameling. The results can be very nice depending on the colors that are being used. I’ve also read in Lisa Darty’s book that through the process of depletion gilding, you can bring fine silver on the surface of the silver and achieve the same effect as enameling over fine silver.

Then, I wanted to see how the same color would turn out over a gold plated sterling silver heart that I happened to have around. Notice how it’s more of a blue green than aqua blue this time.

heart

Next, I would like to try firing enamels over gold foil and see what happens.

Thanks for visiting!

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Comments

hey, I am anxious to see the result over gold foil…;) that is a great idea. I don`t think the turquoise will look that great on gold though.
Can you maybe explain a little bit more about that torch technique.
How long does it take for the enamel to run?
Are those just standard enamels normally used in the kiln?

thanks,M

Hi Metka! I use vitreous enamels, they can be fired either in the kiln or by using a torch.
When torch firing, I usually heat the metal from underneath to prevent the enamel from burning. It doesn’t take long but the time depends on what you’re firing. Bigger pieces need more time, copper takes more time than silver.
Btw, Linda Darty’s book is excellent if you’re thinking about trying it.


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