Welcome to a new series of articles to do with enamelling and making jewellery that I intend to publish. I hope you find them useful. I plan to write them weekly, so keep checking to see my latest words of wisdom!! Seriously, I intend to write about issues and problems I have experienced (and hopefully overcome), and tips and shortcuts concerning enamelling and making jewellery that I have come across in the course of the past twenty years or so.
Today I have a quick tip that I have found useful when I am enamelling lots of small copper pieces like my Elephant brooches or Fossil Brooches.
- As you probably know, copper is inherently a greasy metal. It is important to remove the grease before enamelling, or the enamel won’t flow and fuse properly. There are many ways of doing this. The quickest way I have found, is to place the pieces on a charcoal block in subdued lighting. Then use a gas torch to ‘flash’ over the surface. You will see the grease burn off very quickly. The piece doesn’t need to get hot enough to to allow oxides to form. It is important that the surface has had any surface scratches removed first, and after doing this, only handle by the edges so it doesn’t pick up more grease from your fingers. This method works well too for intricate pieces that are otherwise tricky to clean properly. This can be done in a kiln but it is much easier to see the grease burn off using a torch, and thus you don’t overheat it.
Hope you find this useful.