Archive for June, 2008

Info on Stencils

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

I sometimes think now that some Enamelist want to keep some things secret. I didn’t read that, and no one told me that. But from experiences I have had I have thought that. I really hope that is not true, because it would make the art form a tad “sad” to me. I love to explore info, read what others do, and talk. Absorb.

So here I go on Stencils. I am a newbie. As by now you should know. I have no education in Enameling. I do have a college degree though. My education is primarily in the arts. Anyway I have figured out how to use stencils in Enameling. Even my books do not cover the subject well.

I have used the following things,

  • Paper – just plain printer paper, I used a Xacto Knife to cut up patterns, then I place this small piece of paper how I want it to lay on the Enamel and sprinkle my powder, sometimes I use a “glue” and sometimes I don’t. It works well. (Stencil Photographed)
  • Plastic electronic baggies – I cut these open and cut an appropiate sized piece and then put my silhouette under it and use an Xacto Knife to cut out the form (Stencil Photographed)
  • Leaves, Flowers and other plant material – I spray with “glue” the Enameled piece (usually with two layers of Enamel already cooked. And then I lay my plant material how I would like it to look, and sprinkle. I carefully remove the stencil material trying to take with it all the powder that is on top of the material to leave a good edge….works pretty good.
  • Tissue Paper punched out with those little cheapie punches. I got a few for $1 each at Michael’s. Once the enamel “glue” dries you pick them up with your tweezers. It worked pretty well actually.

Now I will tell you what didn’t work for me.

  • Dragon Fly Wings….the idea was great, but the holes are just too fine. I had some magnificent dragon flies here and the idea was very good. Unfortunately it was a no go….
  • Well since Dragon Fly Wings didn’t work I tried some wings from massive flies that we have here that bite horses (and people) and it hurts like the dickens….no go either!
  • Plant Matter that does not leave enough space between leaves to make a good mark. The lines need to be fine enough or the piece of copper big enough to let a good idea come through as to what you are trying to acomplish.

I will talk about the ideas I have otherwise.

  • Tissue Paper – The idea is to fold it up like a snowflake cut up…and do just that, cut up a fine pattern of a snowflake to use as a stencil. Since the material is cheap and this would make for one of a kind Enamels. You can’t repeat it over and over with the same stencil like the computer bags but that is part of the charm.
  • Seeds and other material – there are some really spectacular natural items out there, I just have to figure out where and when to collect them.
  • My daughter is going to Japan, maybe there are some neat papers or cut outs that would make for great enameled pieces.
  • Pieces of fine lace and other types of fabric that might work.
  • Brass jewelry pieces that I have a large collection of, some of these would work well I think because they have holes punched out of the metal.
  • Crochet items – Some of these would be very interesting, especially if I can find some pieces that are particularly fine.
  • Magazine pictures cut out with the Xacto Knife….especially Silhouettes. Clip Art from clip art magazines.  You can download clipart from the net and use this too, just cut it out with the Xacto Knife…
  • You get the idea right?! hehe

Anyway, hope this helps someone else figure out what to do, if you don’t like what happened you can always dump it in the trash, wash the piece and try and try again and again! You can even grind off the Enamel and start over if it is what you want to do. Nothing is set in stone.

My Pure Gold Pen is DRY!! How do I Hydrate it?

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

I have ball point pens and gold pens, they have dried up, how to I hydrate them again? Do I add oil to the ball point pens or distilled water? I am not sure. What can I do about the Dried up Gold Pen? I am sure I am not the only person with this problem. The Enamel Pens the ball point part screws off, so I am imagining that I can add some distilled water……or would oil do it? Please anyone else out there know about this? Appreciate any comments.

My Latest Stab at being an Enamelist! hehe

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

I particularly like to make fun of myself. hehe, i guess that comes with age. At least for me it did. I no longer care what everyone else thinks of me or if I fit in. Nice huh? hehe

Anyway, so I took the stars and moon piece and tried another plant stencil on the back of it, of course it is nicer than the moon and me anyway….or is it that I fall in love with each piece as I create it? hummm, maybe that is it!? hehe,

I know, I am nuts…oh well. You will just have to deal with it. HA! So here is the moon and stars copper piece…I am now doing the “back” to make this double sided, I like that two for one thingy. Anyway, this is how I do it. I use my Preval sprayer to spray a light coat of ‘glue”….then I lay my little leaves or flowers on the enameled copper disc. Then I powder it. As you can see, this one is ready to be dried and then I have to remove the leaves…carefully so I don’t have to many extra enamel everywhere….I want two colors to show…

 This is what it looks like once the leaves are removed. I am letting it dry on the top of my little kiln….

 This is the piece in the kln. You need to be careful to protect your eyes. I use my lampworkers glasses from Phillips. They offer UV protection to keep you from burning up your retina. This kiln is setup to 1450 degrees. It really is hot and it burns your skin fast. I have a little pair of heat proof gloves and I am going to have to think about using them. This piece was in the kiln about 30 seconds.

 This is the final product. I still have to clean up the edges some, but it is now a two sided pendant…I like it! Do you? hehe, it was so much fun to make too!

Here are the finished pieces (4 of them)

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

The little notch at the bottom of this pendant just sorta appeared, I have no idea why, but I am not going to do anything to stays...

Here are the 4 pieces now finished. I might work on a couple of them some more, but I am pretty happy with them for now….I used different techniques and I enjoyed making them alot.

I really like the idea of doing reversible pieces. Two for one. I may still do two of these like that…just because I can!


Second Attempt at Enameling – I am getting somewhere

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

This is the backs of the first two pieces.... These are the backs of the first two attempts at Enameling. I was later told not to use black, but I was not told why? Anyway you can see how the edge sorta looks burned and I am not too happy with the results. I now believe I need more coatings. So that is what I am going to do.

 These are the colors that I used on the back of the 4 pieces These are the counter enamel colors that I am planning on using on the backs of my pieces this time around. There are 4 pieces.

Powdered and drying on top of the kiln

So here you go, I have them powdered and drying on the roof of my little kiln. We will see what will happen. I have covered them even more with the Enamel. The first time around I could not see the metal under, this is the second attempt. I did these over 2 days, I don’t have access to a kiln full time. I share the kiln with our lampworkers in our workshop here. I am teaching young women how to lampwork and soon how to enamel. Anyway, our little kiln is getting a real workout. During the day for 9 hours, it belongs to the lampworkers in our shop, and in the evenings, once it has cooled off and I can remove the lampwork beads it is MINE!! All MINE!!! bahhhhwahhhhh!!! hehe. Anyway….Here is my second group! Which I am rather proud of (I think I said that in the first attempt too, oh well…..)

 This is a very pale pink, it takes more than 2 coating to cover the metal well I know I am rather silly, you will just have to put up with me. Anyway so here is the really light pink.

Drying on top of the kiln Here are all of them sitting on top of the tiny kiln. I do not fire them together for many reasons, some fire fasters I have found, and some slower. So if I do them at least individually I can control better the time. Although I have done two at once, and remove one when it is ready and leave the other to mature or in other words…dry the “glue” out before putting it in the kiln (why it needs to dry I am unsure of, but possibly the coloring of the enamels would change?

This color of pink bubbled up. I am not sure why, but it did. The Black  and Purple did ok. The Blue is like an \ This is after the first firing. The places where I did not apply the enamel well shows, or maybe it is the nature of that color? I am really not that sure about that part. But at least they are started….and it is something you can work with….

After the second Enameling. This is after the second coat. In this picture you cannot tell it, but the light pink has a “ring” in the middle where the copper still shows through, it almost has a transparent quality to it, even though it is an Opaque. I am not sure at this point what to do about the bumpy surface of some colors, I guess this is where the word “stoning” comes to mind. But I am afraid to grind the surface, but from what I understand you grind the surface with a white stone (I have them) Then fire polish them in the kiln or let the surface glass up again….and promptly remove it…I think the counter enameling came out pretty good.

The fronts of the 4 pieces, cleaned up with my shaft tool I have polished the fronts of the copper discs, on the backs is the enameled surface shown above. I probably should be pickling these instead. But it seems easy to me to grind off the firescale that forms with each firing. The rough surface doesn’t seem to bother the Enamel none….

Now on to the fronts!

First firing of the fronts of the copper discs. This is the first firing of the fronts…

Closeup of two \ Closeup of the first two, some Enamel has popped off the edges…not sure why, but also there is firescale coming through on the red one….Once I added the second coating on the red one the firescale became very pitted. I used my shaft tool and a diamond ball to remove it, I ground it down to the copper, but only in the spots where it was black, then I filled those in with enamel using a tiny spoon. Fired it and it came out pretty good overall….that was my fix.

  Closeup, you can really see the firescale good…and it got alot worst, it looked like it had some kind of disease once I got the second coat on. I had to grind it down and fix it up…which worked. So another lesson learned…

 Closeup of the pink, this pink is darker than the other side which is a softer pink color. The fronts of these are all different colors than the backs….this pink is darker and seems more difficult to me. This one came out alot better once I put on the second coating (forgot to fotograph it)….but it worked well once I got the second layer on…There is a girl in college that goes by copperheart that said that 3 layers is usually what works best for her….So next time I am going to try that…

I am going to close this post for now. I will have more pictures soon!


Ok, I know I will laugh at this a year from now…

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

This is my very first attempt at enamelling. Of course I over did it, and had to try a few techniques. Who can blame me. I have a nice stockload of neat things and I think I have enough to last me a lifetime (what is left of my own! HA!). So what do you think? I don’t like the enamel close to the edges. It is missing some. I can see firescale around the edges. I know I don’t have enough enamel on the surface. I used Cat Whiskers on them for branches of the flowers, and I also used a stencil I cut out of paper. I actually like the stencil. I like the 3D effect of the milliflori, but I like the wafer flowers even more. I counter enameled black on the back, someone told me that wasn’t a good idea, but why? I want to know why black is not good as a counter enamel. 

The second attempt. I like this one better, because I think it is better made. Closeup of the first piece, I see firescale around the edges, I am not sure what I am supposed to do about that! (Yellow Enamel) The firescale is not as apparent in this piece, but it is still there. The orange area is a stencil cut out of paper that I used. I used an xacto knife to cut it out of regular printer paper. But I have also used computer storage bag (semi transparent) to cut out patterns by placing the plastic sheeting over a drawing.(Blue Enamel) You can see the firescale to the left above the little flower really clearly. I guess I did not do something right. But I am not sure what, either there is not enough enamel on the front before I added in the decorations or I overfired it? There are also some bubbles where I added in the Cat Whiskers, I am thinking that some air got trapped below and the bubble came through. But that is only an guess for now.

 My first two attempts at enameling. For first attempts I am rather proud of them. Before cleaning up edges

This is after I ground down the edges and firescale with my beloved (now my best friend) Shaft tool. I have had the thing for 4 years and never used it, brand new…it was in a cloth tool bag where a rat decided to make a newst. The rat chewed my cord up some, not enough to hurt it, I put some electrical tape on it and cleaned it all up. I am sure glad it is in good shape now, proudly hanging a a tripod I have (I don’t have a stand and I am making due) and it works great!

My first two pieces with the edges cleaned Here you can see the 3D effect that is possible, although I am not sure it is desirable. Anyway, these were fun and interesting. I learned quite a bit doing them too!

First Posting and Why.

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

I “was” a member of an Enamelling forum. I introduced myself, what my goals are and everyone answered “Yay…Welcome! If we can help just ask. We will answer your questions and help.” I felt a comradship with these people. I was excited in trying out my new art form. Everything was shiny and new. My future looked bright. So what do I do? I ask quetions. Maybe I should go into some background.

I am American, I live in a remote area in a foriegn country. I do not have access to a bookstore and to have something shipped here is like mortgaging a house. So what do I do? I search the net. I have a huge amount of Enamels. Due to a fiasco that happened a few years ago. I have these and don’t know how to use them. So I decided I was going to learn and I have found I love it! It is so much fun. So I have a million of questions that are not covered in my 3 books – The Art of Enameling (Linda Darty), Enamelling on Precious Metals (Jeanne Werge-Hartley), Contemprary Enamelling Art & Techniques (Schiffer Press)….Or I could not find a clear cut answer. I have a very small amount of copper to start with. I would like to make samples of all my colors (I have every single jar 8oz that exists…and then some. Some jars I have 4 each of. So you get the picture.

So I asked questions with fevored hope that they would answer them and help me along. Well I was told “Read your books”….. Frankly this put me off. I do not feel all warm and fuzzy anymore with this group. So I am going to blog about my experiences instead. My hope is that I help someone else get through the first troubling times that a wannabe Enamelist goes through. Instead of telling someone to “read a book”…. That my questions are of such a “Basic” nature that it is hard to answer them, geeze louise….What is there to a yes or no answer! Yes I am miffed by this remark and it still bothers me. I guess you could say I am a tad mad….I will live of course, but they could have been my mentors, my guides, it could have been very nice. We could have been friends. (A side note, since I posted this two people have been very kind to me from this group and it is a different story now…but it still could have been more helpful, I could have been put off so much that I would have dropped this skill, so thanks to the OLD grandfather and Edmund I am still going strong at this…)

So I am going to make this a photo journal of what I go through, I am going to be very detailed, on what worked and what didn’t. My observations. I am really wordy, so you will have to put up with my ramblings…hehe, oh well. But I hope others like me will join me. I hope to do finer and finer work as my skills improve. I would be so happy to have others join me in the venture, and to help them and for them to help me along the way. So if you are also put up by hoytie toytie Enamelers then join me here.

To date, I have done 6 Enameled pieces on copper (Started two more already). I am so very excited and I have already improved in the two sessions I did. I will be posting pictures as well…..