Enamel Makeovers: Turn Wire and Metal Scraps into Enameled Jewelry Components

It's sunny and 70 degrees as I write this, down here in Southwest Louisiana, but I'm so envious of all the snow photos that I'm seeing from friends and family up north. They aren't too happy about the March snow and would gladly trade places, I bet, but I love snow. It covers up everything so beautifully, making even grills, garbage cans, and mail boxes look pretty, kind of like fluffy puffy marshmallows. I especially love snows that coat every little twig and branch on a tree. It's amazing what a thick coat of white can do to everyday things to make them look magical.

Sometimes I think of enameling that way, too. You can take the simplest shapes or components–a coil or spiral of wire, a twisted scrap of metal–and turn it into interestingly shaped burst of color in jewelry, especially with opaque enamels. It's a great way to use up scraps as well as leftover enamels, too. Just look at these quick before-and-after samples of wire and metal pieces. I dug through my scrap bowl and recycle cups to find copper and brass pieces that had interesting shapes and twisted leftover wire pieces into coils and spirals. None of them look like much until they get a coat of colorful enamel, turning them into interesting jewelry components.

                   BEFORE                                             AFTER
enameled wire focal piece
enameled metal scrap
enameled wire ball
enameled wire scrap pieces
enameled wire coils

Enameling is also a great way to salvage stamped blanks gone wrong. I had a few stamped blanks with mistakes on them, where my metal stamp impression was bad, so I just enameled over the whole thing to create colorful charms.

enamel over metal stamped mistakes

It was a project by Sharilyn Miller that first got my mind rolling in this direction. She made simple springy wire coils out of heavy-gauge copper wire and enameled them, turning plain copper wire into colorful, one-of-a-kind enameled wire beads/components that she later linked together into a bracelet. (You can see more about this project and the finished bracelet on Sharilyn's blog.)

Sharilyn Miller's enameled wire coil jewelry
                                                          Sharilyn's enameled coils

I think you could create most of these effects with cold enamels, as well, which allow you to really expand the products that you can "enamel" with the reduced heat. Enameling and cold enameling are great ways to add color to jewelry and to transform simple shapes into interesting jewelry-making components. Even with my quick-and-dirty enameling on these samples, it's clear to see the transformation a coat of color can make when you have good "bones" underneath!

I'm always happy to find a new way to save, reuse, recycle, and be thrifty any way I can. Another great way to be thrifty is with our Lucky 7s sale! Seven great jewelry-making resources are on sale for only $7 each, a huge savings in every case!

P.S. Another humble thing that looks really cool and artistic when enameled is metal screen or mesh. No, I'm not talking about the enameled mess that I've made of the screen I use on my tripod, but more deliberate enameled work, like the meticulous checkerboard-design enameled mesh in Wendy McAllister's jewelry. She uses eye magnification to place tiny amounts of enamels on the screen for an incredible effect.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.