Sunday, July 7, 2013

Bleeding heart copper champleve enamel earrings

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.

Meantime, check out my jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Feelin' Blue: Last Day Of Enameling Class

Today was the last day of my enameling class -- at least until it resumes in early October. Still, that's months from now and I'm feeling a little down. I've really enjoyed the class this year and wish the Y offered a full summer semester. The teachers do need a break, though, and I'll be ready and waiting when the fall comes!

I didn't get to do much during this last class. I mainly worked on my champleve heart earrings. The pair of red earrings turned out well, but the turquoise ones are a mess. I stoned the enamel to flatten it out so that it would be flush with the metal, but the enamel cracked, so I re-fired it. The enamel then cracked. I added another coat of enamel to each heart to even them out... and the glass cracked even more. My poor hearts are broken! My teacher said that I can stone off the enamel and start over, but I don't know if I'll bother. I might just start the entire project over with deeper inlaid hearts. At least I succeeded in making one successful pair.

Meantime, I began my next project, which is going to be a very deep frame lined with silver foil. I'll then add cloisonne wire and fill it in with transparent enamels. I used 16 gauge metal for this and let the acid burn a nice, deep groove. It's so deep, in fact, that one of the ladies in the class thought that I'd soldered two pieces of metal together. Nope. I just let it sit in the acid for several hours.

I'm thinking of purchasing my own kiln. I'd like to continue my work this summer and this would give me plenty of time to practice. I just have to figure out where to put the kiln so that it's safe to use. But I'm beginning to make higher-end pieces and I don't want to lose my momentum.

Make sure to check out my other jewelry works at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.