Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tales from Enameling Class: Hot Topic

We had a little excitement in my enameling class this week: one of the new students almost set the studio on fire! As she removed her piece from the kiln, she somehow dropped the red-hot trivet onto a wood burnishing tool... and the tool burst into flames. Luckily, my teacher managed to extinguish the fire quickly and no one was hurt.

The woman was pretty embarrassed and kept apologizing, but we told her that in enameling, there are mostly "happy accidents." We've all had stories of overheating pieces or dropping things, or in my case, stupidly grabbing a still-hot-trivet and burning myself. I've never actually set anything on fire -- yet -- but it's easy to do something kind of careless when you're working with kilns, torches and other dangerous equipment. I've been making jewelry long enough that I feel comfortable with the tools, but this incident reminded me that as skilled as someone is, we still have to be careful. As I pointed out to the woman, my teacher keeps an aloe plant in the class, just in case someone gets injured. I told her to consider this incident a "right of passage." She'll get the hang of it -- and she'll be making beautiful pieces in no time.

Other than that, the class was business as usual. I brought in some munchkins to celebrate my birthday and began work on a new sgraffito pendant. I didn't have any new copper pieces with me, so I took an old "failed" project and layered enamel on top of it. I'd tried to make a champleve heart, but the depression wasn't deep enough so half of the enamel was peeling off. I scraped out as much as I could then covered that side of the metal with about five layers of deep blue glass. On the other side, I put down a light blue base and a dark blue topcoat; I then carved out a swirly design in the dark blue enamel so that you can see the light blue enamel beneath. I'll eventually post a photo when the necklace is complete, but my teacher said that it looks Moorish. Then she realized how many coats of enamel I used and was like, "But why is it so thick?"

I have this idea for a sgraffito bib necklace that I plan to work on. I want to use copper squares as the main part of the necklace and then attach long, thin strips of copper for the "bib." All of them will have a similar sgraffito design. It's going to take me weeks to make this, but I think it'll look really nice. I'm just trying to figure out what colors to use. I'm leaning toward the light/dark blue combo, but red and black might work, too.

Meantime, this has been a productive semester of enameling so far, despite the snow! To see more of my work, including my wire wrapped jewelry and enamel pieces, head to Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

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