Mermaid Complete!

I finally made it to the store to get a new pickle pot so that I could complete my mermaid cloisonné pendant. For the beginning pictures of this project, see the post prior to this one. It shows the white enameled base with the wires initially set. Tonight I got to paint her. Actually it’s more like wet packing sand than painting really. I mix the enamels with water and use a paintbrush, toothpick, or piece of wire to fill the cells of the design. After it’s all set I laid a paper towel over it and allowed it to wick water from the enamel. Afterwards it looks like a bunch of colored sand set into the cells of the wire design.

wet pack 1

Next I used a dry paintbrush to brush away and loose enamel and prepare it for torching.  The more glass you add to a piece the longer it takes to fire it.  I was so excited when my mermaid finally made it to the torch – it seemed to take forever for the glass to fuse.  Of course that’s probably because I was holding my breath and counting every second.  At last the metal glowed, the glass flowed and my first firing was complete!

first firing

It was a real pain trying to get the wet glass to pack into some of the finer areas; the arms, the fish tail and the tips of the seaweed were real buggers.  I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get enough glass into the tight spots to get a good fill, but I gave it my best shot as I wet packed it the second time.  When I went to repack the tail I accidentally grabbed the wrong green – ACK!  I didn’t realize that I’d grabbed the green for the seaweed until it was too late.  As I started packing I recognized that the colors weren’t the same, but I decided to just go with it.  It looks a little like a shadow on her tail though, so in the end not much damage done.  This time I used some of the transparent that I had used on the bubbles to layer over the opaque blue background to try to give it a more watery look.  Off to the torch she went!


In the end I am happy with this experiment.  I am learning a lot as I go and I’m sure I’ll make plenty more mistakes in the learning process, but for now I say ‘Not bad for an amateur.’   I’ve got many other pendants planned and I can’t wait to get to them!  Stay tuned. 😉


Adventures in Enameling

Some of you already know that I have a new addiction. I have become enamored with enamels! 🙂 I shared some of my first enameled pieces in a blog post previously. That post shows some simple sifted pieces along with my first experiments in sgrafitto. Since then I have discovered the immersion technique made popular by Barbara Lewis. I’ve made lots of beads using her technique. It’s a fun, simple and no fuss technique that you can achieve instantly satisfying results with. Here are a few pictures of my foray into enameling beads using her technique:

beads crop 1

enamel viking

I had a lot of fun with the beads but I eventually ran out. Not a problem! I just moved on to other experiments – in cloisonné. I first started with a mermaid, but I was using what I had on hand to play with. I had seen others use round copper wire in cloisonné with success so I broke some out and began designing. I originally intended to make the Minoan Snake Goddess, but my Muse refused me and insisted on a mermaid instead. Here is my mermaid design all planned out. In this pic, I have counter enameled and added two coats of opaque white on the front.

Originally I wanted to use transparents on this piece, but later decided to go with opaques at least for the most part as I became worried that the oxides in the copper would make my transparents muddy. You can see how the oxides dirty the copper when fired in this picture:


These oxides can be cleaned between firings in pickle. My pickle pot got cracked and I have to get a new one before I can proceed with the mermaid. She has to be cleaned in pickle between firings to prevent the oxides from jumping up onto the surface of the enamel. I don’t want to have come all this way just to ruin her! Having been stopped in my path on the mermaid, my creative lust was unfulfilled. I suddenly remembered that I had some fine silver wire tucked back that I was using on a project a while back so I decided to make another pendant using the fine silver – what a difference it made. The wire stayed bright, beautiful and free of oxides. I should have taken a picture of the second piece at this stage but I didn’t. I was too eager to press forward. So I packed the new design with enamels and hit the torch – SUCCESS! MY first completed cloisonné. This is my ‘Solitude’ figure that you’ve seen repeated in my art cuffs.

solitude 1

The rainbow moonstone has some beautiful blue flash that compliments the blue in the skyline which unfortunately did not come through in the picture. The pretty little purple stones are tanzanite.

I have a thousand designs running around in my head presently that can’t wait to make it to the torch! I’m drawing them in a notebook because I’m afraid I’ll forget about them before I get to them all. Stay tuned for more adventures!