Enameling is a calculated process of fusing powdered glass to copper or fine silver by way of heat. Each enameled piece takes careful planning and goes through meticulous preparation, color selection, enamel sifting, and several firings in the kiln to achieve the desired look.
I use Thompson's lead free vitreous enamels in powder form. On occasion I will also use Thompson's acrylic and watercolor enamels to add a painterly effect to my work. All items have a backing of speckled blue counter enamel which helps prevent against breakage and distortion. If I desire that my piece have a more decorative, colorful backing, I will use regular enamel which has the same effect.
I mostly use copper as a base for the enamels to be applied, although fine silver is also used and noted in the product's description. All metal is cut, filed, sanded, textured, drilled, and cleaned before any enamel can be applied. Once the enamel has been sifted, I heat it in my kiln until a temperature of roughly 1400℉ is reached and then take the hot enameled pieces out to cool. Another round of sanding and cleaning is needed before the opposite side can be sifted and fired. It is only after these base layers are applied that I can really start to have fun with my designs.
Decorative elements such as rubber stamps, decals, sgraffito, graphite, painting, and more are used to add texture and additional color, layer by layer. Under firing enamels so they reach a lower temperature can also add textural elements to my piece.
The enameling process can take upwards to a week depending on the amount of work I have to do. A typical work flow will look like this if I am able to be rewarded with quality studio time.
Day 1 :: plan out pieces and cut, file, drill, and sand all metal
Day 2 :: clean and group metals and begin counter enameling
Day 3 :: finish counter enameling and clean/sand all metal
Day 4 :: start enameling front sides and hopefully get around to sanding edges
Day 5 :: begin layering colors and adding decorative elements
Day 6 :: finish up from day 5 and begin to assemble
Day 7 :: hope that you have at least one pair of earrings completed.