Thanksgiving was a double treat for my family this year. Not only did we get to celebrate with our family; it was also my dad's birthday! In honor of the occasion, I made him a special gift: a handmade enamel and cloisonne skull keychain:
I chose the skull design because my dad collects them (not real ones! I get asked that all the time, LOL). He's also not a big jewelry wearer other than watches. I couldn't picture him wearing a skull necklace, but I realy wanted to make him something so a keychain seemed like my best bet. Happily, he really liked the gift, especially because it is handmade. He used to make stained glas pieces so he understands how much work went into it.
As for how I actually made the enamel piece, it was all about layers. I first put on two coats of opague black enamel powder on the back on the copper square. After I fired them to smooth glass, I put on a coat of white enamel on the opposite side. Meanwhile, I shaped the fine silver cloisonne wire into a skull, and I have to say that cutting out the tiny eyes, nose and jawline was the most difficult part. The cloisonne fired up nicely, but the nose moved slightly so it looks as if he has a broken one. Oh, well.
Once the cloisonne set, I wet packed the rest of the colors. Wet packing is a little like water coloring and is a great way to do tight, intricate work with a brush. I added white to the skull, filled in his eyes and teeth and painted the flames beneath him. I fired the piece then added another coat of these colors to smooth them out and really make them pop.
This enamel piece was a lot of work, but worth it because I wanted to give my dad something special. Now he can carry his keys -- and think of me!