Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The beautiful thing . . .

. . . about being an ADD artist is that I've amassed a rather large collection of tools, supplies and materials. What this really means is that when I decide to try a new and different (for me) technique, I often already have most of what I need. I've been wanting to try enameling on metal for quite a while and recently moved forward by purchasing a sample set of enamels. With a viable soldering station at the ready and plenty of copper sheet and wire, I could get started.

Although I often think I'm the laziest person in the world, I'm beginning to see that at least some of the time it is more a matter of my not being patient. My excitement on receiving the tiny jars of enamels was somewhat tempered by the fact that they have to be "cleaned." Enamels are powdered glass which, due to the manufacturing process, come to one in an ever-so-slightly contaminated state. They have to be dumped into larger containers, each color by itself, and mixed with distilled water. The enamel particles fairly rapidly settle what are called "fines" suspended in a now milky-looking water. This water is poured off into a container lined with a coffee filter -- not good to fill the drain with glass! The watering, mixing and pouring off procedure has to be repeated until the water is clear.

If you're thinking, "Yeah! Now I can get on with the enameling!" you are incorrect. Next you have to spread each container of damp enamel on sheets of paper, each color by itself again. And now we wait for this to dry. Since, in my case, impatience is the mother of invention, I dragged out the old electric food dehydrater, inserted the trays of paper and glass powder, and not so patiently waited for the enamels to dry.

All in all this process took approximately 24 hours. By Sunday afternoon I was chomping at the bit, as they say. It was time to pour the dried powders back into their original (but now cleaned) little containers.

The rest of the process, to make an already long story longer, was to cut and dome copper disks, cut copper wire and solder it to the back of each disk. Next the disk has to be scrupulously cleaned which basically means a soak in hot acid (the pickle pot) followed by wire brushing and a bit of sanding to give the surface to be enameled a little tooth.

Now we brush on an even coating of the enamel adhesive and immediately sift a layer of enamel powder over it. This, then, has to dry. Are you beginning to see the necessity for producing more than one pair of earrings at a time? Hurry up and wait.

Finally, the enamel coated disks are positioned (level) on the wire grid of a soldering tripod. The torch is lit and heat applied from below so as not to scorch and ruin the enamel. Here's the final product:
I've very happy with my first attempt. Learned a few things and now I'm ready to go on. Any requests?


Tommy said...

I would like to request that you show me how...if your horrible son ever comes to visit...

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