Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Since I posted that last enameling post, I thought it might be nice to show my finished enameled brooches.

I wanted to create brooches that look similar to campaign pins, but were for recycling. I feel like recycling is held  in high esteem by people who already thought it was important, but in terms of gaining new supporters it seems somewhat difficult. I figured if there were campaign pins, maybe it would get people thinking.

As you can see, the backs of the pins are the tops to coke cans. I also used recycled glass from C&R Kuttbottle and fused it to the enamel to give extra color and dimension. The pins are about 3 inches in diameter, maybe a little smaller.

This is my favorite (and most involved) one. I tried to rivet the arrows on and it was a NIGHTMARE. So instead of riveting the smaller dome to the larger one, I just used enamel to fuse them together. I'm also a sucker for blue/green/teal colors.

This isn't enameling, obviously, but I've been playing with stitching on metal so I added it to the campaign button idea. I love the soft/hard mixture of thread and metal. 

These are some samples of experimentation with sandblasting resist on the enamel. Depending on the thickness of enamel and the amount of sandblasting, the results can be somewhat dimensional.

One of my favorite fold-form shapes enameled with natural colors. I meant it to be a pendant, but the holes closed up and it makes a really nice ring!

Friday, May 13, 2011


This semester, I've really gotten into enameling, which is the process of adding colored glass to metal. Most colored metal things in jewelry (that aren't stones) are enameled. Not all, but most. Enameling is REALLY fun. It feels kind of like playing with a really hot and slightly dangerous easy bake oven. It definitely has that instant gratification factor when you pull it out of the kiln and it looks perfect. Most things in the metal world are definitely NOT instant gratification. It takes a  lot of time and screw ups to get something to look the way you want, but with enameling it still takes work but it's definitely not as long of a journey.

Enamel starts as powder that comes in cute little jars. Theres transparent enamel and opaque enamel. The transparent is somewhat finicky but can give really interesting layered results. Opaques tend to be brighter, bolder fields of color.

That red thing is called a sifter, and it works like a tiny flour sifter. It allows you to distribute the enamel evenly over the surface of the metal, like dusting something with powdered sugar in a sifter.

Then the piece goes in this steel tripod, called a trivet. This has three points of contact to minimize sticking. With enamel, you HAVE to enamel both sides, otherwise its very weak and breaks easily. So the trivet keeps the back side from sticking (unless the trivet is dirty or you overheat the enamel and make it run all over the place). 

Getting ready to put it in the kiln (the blue thing). A kiln is a super hot oven that is used mainly in ceramics to make clay into hard, useable pottery, but we have a few uses for kilns in metalwork as well. I don't know if you can read the temperature gauge in the bottom right, but it reads 1500 degrees.

We use a funny fork looking thing to put the trivet in the kiln. It's SUPER hot. Enameling is somewhat of a balancing game. If the kiln is too hot, solder could melt and if you forget about it and leave it in there too long, the metal could even melt. But if it's not long enough, the enamel doesn't melt and stick!

My face felt like it was going to burn off taking this picture. Not the smartest thing I've ever done, but I think you get the idea how hot it is in there. It generally takes 2-3 minutes for the enamel to fuse to the metal, depending on the size of the piece.

After it comes out of the kiln, it begins to cool, so we take it off and put it on a steel block to help it cool faster. Anything that wasn't covered in enamel, like the sides of the metal, are now solid black from all the heat.

Here's a view of several samples I was working on at the same time. The orange-ish one on the left is the one I used in all these process pictures. So there you have it, crash course in enameling. Now when you see an enameled piece of jewelry in the store, you know more about how it was made!

I have several enameled pieces in my etsy store, like these:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Welcome, Chic-Steals Readers!

Today, I'm doing a giveaway over at chic-steals.com, and I'm looking forward to reading the comments to get feedback from my etsy store!

I am working on a new post that I will finish and put up after my final critique tomorrow! Please feel free to look around!