How to Enamel Jewelry With 20+ Expert Enameling Tips and Techniques
Apparently, I was a strange little girl. I remember being enamored with cloisonné and enameled jewelry at a very young age—at seven or eight years old, which seems really young to be interested in (or even aware of) such a sophisticated and uncommon art form. Thirty-cough-something years later, my unusually early interest in cloisonné and enameling was a mystery to me until I read our free eBook, Enameling Jewelry: Expert Advice and Tutorials for Raku, Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry Making & More.
In it, I discovered a line written by Helen Driggs, senior editor of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist and master goldsmith, in which she describes enameling as “drawing on the skills of the goldsmith, painter, and chemist.” The things I wanted to be when I “grew up” were writer, jewelry maker, painter, and chemist (and architect, but that doesn’t quite fit). No wonder I was so drawn to cloisonné jewelry. Enameling combines two of my jewelry-making passions–metal and glass–with two elements I love to work with–color and fire. (I’ve been a bit of a firebug since I was a child, too. Hmm . . . .)
Naturally, I was thrilled when I learned our newest free eBook was going to be about enameling and how to make enameled jewelry. In How to Enamel Jewelry: Expert Enameling Tips, Tools, and Techniques, you’ll find a comprehensive introduction to making enameled jewelry from Helen, including an enameling tools and materials list; her tips for washing, grade sifting, and storing crushed-glass enamel powders; how to make enamel test-fire samples and how to torch-fire enamel; and more than twenty tips on enameling (kiln and torch enameling, both) from four of the most accomplished enamel artists in the industry today. Bead and enamel jewelry artist and instructor Pam East also shares how to torch-fire enamel onto filigree silver beads to create a unique and colorful jewelry-making component.
Expert Cloisonné, Enameling, and Enamel Jewelry Tips
In addition to Helen, enamel and cloisonné jewelry artists Marianne Hunter, Amy Roper Lyons, Karen L. Cohen, Marjorie Simon, and Pam East share their best enameled jewelry tips and enameling how-tos with you in the free enameling eBook. Here’s a sampling; download How to Enamel Jewelry: Expert Enameling Tips, Tools, and Techniques for more enameling tips and pieces of information to help you make enameled jewelry.
- Keep your enamel powders and enameling supplies clean–really, really clean. One grain of a different enamel color can ruin hours of work. Don’t open more than one jar of enamel powder at a time, and use stainless steel firing racks to eliminate oxide flaking off the rack, which can contaminate your enamel.
- When enameling on silver, be sure to put a layer of clear enamel under warm colors such as reds, pinks, and oranges as well as opalescent white to avoid a chemical reaction that can turn them a brownish color.
- If you texture the surface of your fine silver jewelry with transparent powders before enameling, your enameled jewelry will look more alive as light plays across its surface.
- As you fill cloisonné cells, if you change your mind about an area or don’t like how a color is turning out, use silver or gold foil to cover that area and continue with a new color.
- Transparent enamel in small cells can be dark and dull. Use foil under them to brighten them–or use opaque enamel.
- For a smooth coat, good coverage, and rich colors, fire one layer of grade-sifted 80-mesh grains and then add a second layer of 100 mesh. The larger grains create more intense color, and the smaller grains fill in around them.
- Label everything. Fired glass looks different from powdered glass, so make sure you write the color number on both the enamel storage jar and its lid.
- When wet-packing opaque enamel powders, put in a few drops of Klyr-Fire to help keep them in place. When wet-packing transparent enamel powders, keep layers thin for the best clarity of color.
Enamel Jewelry Projects
The Enameled Filigree Beads project is perfect for a beginner/intermediate jewelry maker who is ready to enamel jewelry. At a Bead Fest event, artist Pam East was challenged by another artist to enamel fine silver filigree beads that he was selling. She discovered that her quick, six-step process was so easy, that in no time at all she had made a handful of these beads. Pam shows you how to use a handheld butane torch, which makes this project accessible for jewelry artists of all skill levels. These beads don’t even need to be annealed and should be cool and ready to use in about five minutes.
Show off your jewelry making skill with the Torch Fired Enamel Medallion Necklace project. Helen Driggs shows you how to create your own torch fired enamel “cabochons,” how to tab set those cabs, and how to stamp and patinate the surrounding metalwork, which you can put together using the chain of your choice.
I can tell you more about the free enameling eBook, but the most important point is that enameling and making enamel jewelry is FUN–and I’d love to help you learn to do it, free! Download Jewelry Making Daily’s How to Enamel Jewelry: Expert Enameling Tips, Tools, and Techniques and begin your journey of enameling, enamel jewelry making, and cloisonné. And share with your friends! We love sharing.