I finally finished my first completed champleve design! Here are my crimson red copper heart earrings, which I made using Victoria Red enamel -- a deep, blood red-colored glass:
Champleve is turning out to be more complicated than I'd thought. You have to keep track of just how long the pieces sit in the acid; otherwise, the ferric chloride will burn right through the back of the metal. Still, you want to create a fairly deep groove so that the enamel has something to fill. As for the enamel, the idea is to fill the groove so that the glass ends up flush with the metal; it shouldn't overflow. It's supposed to look inlaid. So it's taken some practice to get the hang of this. I'm still learning, but I'm getting there and these earrings are cute!
I polished the copper using special metal polishing cloths and made the earring hooks using 20 gauge copper wire. I tried a different method for making the hooks; instead of just closing up the end loop as I usually do, I wire wrapped the bottom of the hook to give it extra security. It didn't take long to do, but the earring wire is a lot stronger.
In my last post I debated whether I should get a kiln, but I've decide to instead rent some studio space for the summer. This way, I don't have to worry about safety and ventilation issues. I'm actually going to use space in the Brooklyn-based jewelry studio where I took last year's summer enamel class. That kiln isn't the best, but it's probably better than what I'd use at home -- and I "know" the kiln so I have an idea of how long to heat pieces. I made some nice pieces there last year so it'll be a good place to work and practice champleve.
Sometimes I'm not sure if people can tell that I'm working and improving, but a friend recently told me that a mutual acquaintance commented to him about my stuff. She told him that she could see that I was getting better and making more complicated pieces. I really appreciate that she's noticed!
The summer has been pretty quiet, but I might be doing a craft fair/fundraising for a local school for kids with Cerebral Palsy. I hope it goes well -- not just for myself, but because it'll be nice to raise a good amount for the charity.