by Carol M
So this is my second attempt at Plique-À-Jour enamelling. Not good enough to give to my friend for her 60th as I had planned, but ending up as an addition to my ever growing collection of earrings.
I started out laying the piece's flat using the mica sheet, as with the test samples on the previous post, and filling in the areas with enamel. The enamel still sticks to the mica sheet and has to be then cleaned up, this led to cracks or the enamel falling out completely. I think maybe using 0.5mm fine silver was too thin, not giving enough thickness for the enamel to adhere to.
I then switched to the suspension method, using trivets and only very small amounts of enamel in the areas to be enamelled, building the layers very gradually. The first firing I let the kiln get too hot as the enamel dropped out, but I persevered being very careful not to let the kiln temperature reach over 785°C on subsequent firings.
This is very time consuming and I think I have spent at least 12 hours on these earrings, I am afraid to say this technique will have to wait until I have more time before trying again!
So I then tried the Champlevé technique, where areas of silver are either etched away to allow enamel to be laid into them, built up until they are the same height as the silver. Instead of etching I tried another first for me and having pierced a design in a piece of silver, I fused it to a base plate.
Fusing, again a technique to be practised, there is a fine line between fusing and melting. I was getting better but as you can see there is some reticulation. The idea behind fusing is that you get the very shiny surface as a base for the transparent enamels but I have also read that by texturing the base it gives an interesting look to transparent enamels. In this case I went with the texture.
Filling the areas with enamel was a much simpler solution than the Plique-À-Jour, but the enamels have still not come out as transparent as I was hoping. Not sure if this is due the textured base or not freshly cleaning the enamel. Maybe there will be a part three to this post ......