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An introduction to cloisonné enamel

Today I have been teaching an introduction to cloisonné enamelling techniques. My student Nicky already has experience in making silver jewellery and bezel setting stones so rather than using pre-made silver blanks I suggested she texture some small pieces of silver sheet to enamel onto. She cut out, annealed, pickled and textured some silver and then learned to apply enamel by the wet packing method.

I showed her how to grind and wash her enamel and she prepared the first of her colours and then I did some more while she made her little shapes in fine silver wire. For one of her pieces she packed the enamel into a deep recess she had made using the rolling mill and then dried and fired it. For the second piece she used fine silver wire flattened into a thin ribbon and shaped it and laid it onto the surface of her silver before wet packing the first coat of enamel around it. For the third piece she attached fine silver round wire shapes to the surface of her piece using Art Clay Silver overlay paste, firing then in the kiln to secure them. She then wet packed her enamels around them and said that this was easier to enamel although the preparation of the silver attaching the wires takes a bit longer. After applying a few coats of enamel and counter enamel she ground the surface smooth, washed and brushed them before giving them a quick final final to get the gloss surface back.

Here are her pieces and you can see she achieved great accuracy and really good transparency of her enamels, showing the textured surfaces of the silver through. She worked very hard during the day but has learned a lot and I am confident that she will enjoy taking this further.

If you would like to learn something about enamelling then make a date during May as quite a few members of the Guild of Enamellers are running workshops to promote the craft. I also have classes listed or you can email me for bookings or more information.