|Steel wool & cleanser||for cleaning oil from base metal (usually copper).|
|Copper||for enameling; pure, cut to shape: 18 ga.|
|Scalex||for cleaning copper and/or preventing firescale (optional)|
|Enamels||2 oz each, 80 mesh, opaques, transparents opalescents (medium fusing colors are standard, ask to make sure), 1 lb. washed hard fusing transparent undercoat (called “flux“) #2040, 1 lb. undercoat opaque white #1010. The hard flux should be rinsed again and again until water is clear, let dry between paper towels and store in covered jar. This is called washing your enamels and all transparent enamels will need this treatment (numbers given are Thompson’s ordering numbers).|
|60 mesh sifters||60 mesh sifters (for 80 mesh enamels) one for each of the 2 under coats.|
|Silver cloisonné wire||It is 100% pure silver. It is ribbon shaped and the commercial wire is .010” thick and .040” high. Hard to bend!!
Silver cloisonné wire .004” thick by .040” high is what I use. (Note! This is 0.5 the thickness of commercial wire). Roll previous wire through a rolling mill to get another nice size. Or buy pure silver wire .016″ diameter round and roll down, .014″ diameter will make cloisonné ribbon .003 x .040, another good size. These finer wires are more suitable for fine, intricate work and do not clog your carborundum stones when you file down your work (Hauser and Miller is where I buy the wire).
|Hydrofloric acid||for destroying fired enamel when removing errors. Diane suggests using a hammer instead, as unlike Hydro Floric acid, hammers don’t cause cancer when used improperly. Hammer method even usable on gold.|
|Demineralized water||used in contact with enamels or Purified water or Distilled water (both are bottled and regularly available at supermarkets these days).|
|Atomizer or eyedropper||De Vilbiss atomizer #7 for spraying water over wet packed pieces (drugstore) or eyedropper for keeping your pieces wet while working (drugstore).|
|Klyrfire||allow to evaporate and thicken to “glue” down wires. May be thinned with distilled water for saturating bowls and cups when enameling vertical or upside down surfaces.|
|Covered jars||Covered jars for holding enamels while wet packing (tackle supply houses carry an item called: tackle-stacks. clear jars. screw caps. all plastic) .|
|Tweezers||Tweezers surgical quality, pointed, for manipulating, bending and setting wires (Micro-Mark mail order is best pricewise & your local surgical supplyhouse also carries these).|
|Scissors||Scissors tiny, straight manicure type for cutting wires. (Micro-Mark or the neighborhood drugstore).|
|spatulas||Tiny “spatulas” for lifting wet enamels from jars to cloisons ( homemade, art store, Micro-Mark, leftover dentists scrapers, waxworking modeling tools).|
|water color brushes||Small red sable water color brushes for lifting misplaced enamel 00 (double aught) very fine tip well tapered. (Micro-Mark or your favourite art store).|
|Purified water||get a gallon (grocery store).|
|Kiln||Allcraft model 88 (which has chamber 8” x 8” x 4”) with pyrometer is good. I use a Firemaster w/ pyrometer. (Any kiln with a chamber which will fit your trivets will be ok. I prefer the door which opens like a refrigerator – rather than like a gas oven – so I am not leaning over a hot door. You will certainly need a pyrometer) .|
|Trivets||for supporting pieces by the edges during firing.|
|Mesh bases||to put under trivets so they can be safely lifted in and out of kiln.Firing Fork for lifting mesh, and trivets in and out of kiln (barbecue fork is ok, too).|
|Table knife||for pushing any loose wires into molten enamel during first 10-15 seconds after coming out of kiln (butter knife, or cake icing spreader).|
|Carborundum grinding stones||for cleaning firescale off edges and grinding (Norton Company, Worcester, Mass 01606) or Scotch stones for knife sharpening may be substituted.|
|Glass brush||for cleaning all traces of grinding residue from, enamel after stoning. This item continues to bring trouble to me. You do not want the product wrapped in tape, or plastic. The one bound in string is what I use. It has no secondary residue/adhesive which can leak off into your work. Apparently during manufacturing glass brushes are sometimes combined with an adhesive – horrible for us. So make sure these are the string bound variety.|
|Paper towels||for blotting up excess water (and only for that use).|
|Typing paper||to work upon (not to be exchanged with paper towels which contain LARD and contaminate bare copper – your base – and may later repel the undercoat).|
|Note||The above list is compiled for the purpose of purchasing EVERYthing you need to open up your own studio and make enamels for a living. The quantities of enamels/copper could be adjusted down if you are just having fun.
Also note that the writer is using copper as a base. Theoretically you can also enamel on gold, silver, sterling, steel and probably others as well. The following recipe works perfectly on copper and will teach you good habits which can carry over into your working with the other bases. Gold and silver are easier to enamel than copper. I just prefer copper for cost and color reasons and, therefore, have used it exclusively.
|Where to buy in the USA|
Procedure for preparing the basesI generally work on several pieces at once. Most of my pieces are less than 3 in diameter, larger ones take a minute or so longer to fire.
Plan “A” basesCleaning
DomingThe firing above has annealed your copper. You may wrap your base in a piece of plastic film to keep it clean and with your thumbs push it into a curved depression in a piece of wood or a little bowl. This step is optional. It lessens the possibility of warpage if you pre-warp your metal, especially in larger work.
Enameling base coats
For base coats I use Thompsons hard flux #2040 or Thompsons hard white undercoat #1010 depending on color effect I desire. These are both hard enamels and never bubble through the color coats nor leak up the sides of the wire.
Plan “B” basesCleaning
Enameling base coats
NoteThese two methods give you your undercoat over your base. One method requires three firings. The other method does require better hand-eye coordination and finesse – but you can do it in one firing. You will also discover during these firings some standard characteristics of enamels:
Good work habits are well worth developing here and will reward you as you progress.
ColoringFirst color coat
Next color coats
Final finishingFire finishFire at safe temperature for 2.25 minutes. Cool. Stone edge. Result is a highly glossy finish!
Mat finishAfter fire polishing take 600 wet or dry sand paper and buff under running water in one direction until gloss is removed. Result is a very smooth finish!
Note!A final layer of colored glass on the back (called “counter enamel”) is a good idea for strength. I generally do two of these and use my favourite color – unless there is one color on the front which is cracked or giving signs of stress, in which case I use that color. This usually removes the cracks entirely from the front.
Dianne MerrillDiane Merrill is a twenty-seven year resident of Marin County, California, USA. Born and raised on a New England farm she had the constant encouragement by her naturalist mother and artistic father. Creativity and experimentation were as natural as breathing.
While at the University of New Hampshire her first interests were pen & ink and monoprinting, later giving way to her first serious art form: cloisonné enameling. This she learned in the late sixties from her parents, Marianne & Andrew Pfeiffer, family friend Margaret Seeler, and William Helwig. She further developed these skills in the early seventies while attending Arizona State University and working as a local production silversmith. She began her professional enameling career in the Bay Area in the mid-seventies doing select street fairs while teaching cloisonné enameling at College of Marin and, in the early eighties, Dominican College. She holds two valid California Community College Instructor Credentials and over the years has taught artwork to hundreds of adults privately, in small workshops and in college classrooms.
In the late seventies she joined the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), a Medieval and Renaissance recreation group, which developed in her an interest and curiosity regarding the fine details and careful workmanship used by earlier artisans in the making and decorating of every kind of ware. This has led to an eclectic study (including early embellished papers) which is still growing. She took a class in Islamic Art History and is now excited to be learning the techniques of miniature painting and illuminated manuscripts by copying the originals.
In 1991 she shifted from cloisonné enameling to another ancient Oriental art form, gyotaku (also known as fish rubbing), which she prints on her handmade papers. These are now sold across the USA.
For twenty-two years she has worked with the public at Kaiser Hospital under very stressful conditions and has reduced the anxiety and warmed the hearts of many patients. She is constantly being praised for her smiles and compassion in a fearful environment. She loves working with people and her talent in this department glows.
Diane has held many private classes and workshops all over the country in various disciplines; some medieval and some modern. Her enthusiasm and cheerfulness makes her classes entertaining as well as artistically satisfying. She clearly loves to teach. Techniques that are very old, difficult or obscure appeal the most to her. In her classes students learn how ancient crafts evolved through the centuries to the present.
Currently Diane judges for the Sonoma County Fair committee in both the Arts and Crafts Divisions. She teaches workshops through the SCA and is on the College of Marin curricula, teaching Jewelry – Cloisonné Enameling. She administers and teaches her Hand and Spirit Art Therapy Program to the elderly and ill in Marin.