More Adventures in Enameling: Sgraffito and Other Surface Treatments with Susan Lenart Kazmer

Just when I thought I couldn't love enameling more than I already do, my fave Susan Lenart Kazmer creates a new video that pairs her meaningful, mixed-media jewelry-making style with enameling! Now I can combine three loves–torch enameling, mixed-media or found object jewelry laden with treasures, and words–into another big love: making jewelry!

 

As much as I love enameling and do it regularly–and as much as I experiment with enameling and all of my jewelry-making efforts–I still learned many cool enameling techniques from watching Susan's Explorations in Jewelry Enameling: Kiln and Torch Techniques. She approaches enameled jewelry making like a mixed-media artist, rather than as an enameling artist, and the result is a fun blend of mixed-media, metalsmithing, and enameling techniques that will help you create distinctive jewelry. Here are six things I learned about enameling from Susan's new video workshop.

 

Did you know:

1.       You don't have to counter enamel pieces that are curved, such as dapped and domed pieces.

2.       You can mix certain enamels like paint to create new colors, even though we've always been told we can't. It just has to be liquid enamels or even soft transparent enamels will work.

3.       Enamel powders won't stick to steel but steel is great for heat transfer, so you can use steel wires or rods to slowly transfer heat to unfired enameled pieces or cooled enameled pieces before additional enameling work to avoid the existing enamel cracking and breaking off.

 

4.       Firing clear enamels onto very, very clean copper creates a beautiful metallic, colorful shimmer effect. Texturing the metal beforehand adds even more beauty and interest to the pieces when they're enameled with clear.

5.       Enamels move from an orange peel stage to a molten glassy stage, but those aren't the only options. You can leave your enamels in the orange peel stage for a textured finish or etch enameled surfaces to create a matte finish, which is ideal for marking on with pens, crayons, and graphite pencils.

 

6.       You can use Klry Fire to prevent fire scale on exposed areas of metal that aren't completely covered in enamel.  

Though Susan recommends doing it in a kiln rather than with a torch, layering is another cool enameling technique that she discusses in her video workshop. After building a base of opaque enamels on her metal piece, she uses layers of clear enamel with occasional accents of other enamels to create depth and a floating look, similar to an effect you might have seen in resin work. She also demonstrates sgraffito, which is scratching words or designs in enamel. You can use an awl, sharp nail, needle tool, or similar to remove enamel in any design you choose to personalize or embellish your enameled pieces.

 

In addition to both kiln and torch enameling, Susan demonstrates a variety of specific enameling techniques, including:

  • how to use soft, medium, and hard enamels to create unique surfaces
  • using pens/markers, enamel crayons, and even stencils to create numbers and letters, abstract marks, patterns, or other surface designs
  • mixing enamels with water and painting them onto your designs
  • how to create colorful enameled wire pieces and enameled head pins
  • how to overfire or "burn" enamels and even metal purposely to create unique artistic effects
  • drilling and sanding (or "stoning") enameled pieces to fix sharp edges or stringers
  • how to create crackle, eggshell, and matte surfaces on your enameled pieces, and more
 

She also shares basic metalworking techniques to help you create one-of-a-kind bases for your enameled masterpieces. There's a lot to learn from this fun and informative enameling video workshop–an hour and 40 minutes' worth! Order or instantly download Explorations in Jewelry Enameling: Kiln and Torch Techniques to join in on the fun.

Want to see more? View behind the scenes shots in our Pinterest board for this video.

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