Monday, October 13, 2008

Enamel on Metal Clay: Learning the Hard Way

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There was a point in this process where the gold keum boo koi on blue green water was just gorgeous. Then things started to go into "learning the hard way" mode. Thank goodness I'm aware that I learn more from failures than successes.

What I've learned:
1. Egg yellow transparent enamel over gold keum boo is not yellow. It's an ugly, ugly, deep butterscotch.
2. Removing ugly enamel from metal clay is a pain. I used diamond hand pads for the flat panel, but had to use a diamond burr for the panel that had raised silver balls. In both cases I could only remove the surface enamel and had to leave the enamel in the crevices. Work wet!
3. It's hard to remove enamel from the surface without removing more from the edges than the center.
4. Removing enamel from keum boo removes some of the gold, no matter how careful you are.
5. Enamel is likely to fill pre-drilled holes. Clean before fireing.
6. Any bits of enamel fired into pre-drilled holes will need to be drilled out with a diamond bit.
7. Cheap diamond drills don't work very well on enamel (nor on regular glass).
8. Diamond bits probably won't be the right size for the intended silver wire rivets.
9. Using a center punch on enamel to set a drill bit will fracture the enamel around the hole.
10. Those wrong size holes will require making some tiny decorative washers to fit the wire rivets.
11. If you make the exact number of needed washers, one will be dropped into a black hole before it can be installed (even if you were successful at finding the thing in the tumbler shot!).
12. Cutting tiny sterling tubes for the rivets is easy with a cut-off saw, but holding the little rascals to file smooth is another matter. My solution: put a drill bit inside the tube, extend tube just beyond end and hold there while filing gently.
13. Balling up the opposite end of the rivet with a Little Torch works as well as the lost washers. Actually it looks nicer, except that the enamel around the hole darkens. Plan accordingly.
14. Glossy enamel looks really different than matte polished enamel.
15. The whole thing is easier the second time round!

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1 comment:

  1. 1. For tiny hollow stilts, just use crimp beads! Works great.
    2. To remove enamel, use Pam East's method. Mix equal parts salt and cream of tartar add enough water to make a paste. apply the paste to the ugly enamel, place piece on mica and heat until black. Fire at the black stage for 2-4 minutes. Quench in cold water. Voila. Scrub with a steel brush until happy.
    3.To tumble tiny parts that have holes, string them on a safety pin.
    4. Can't help with the holes.

    This piece is lovely! Do it again!

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