Enamel and Process, No. 2

In my last post about enamel, I did just a quick introduction to the process, mentioned a little breakthrough I had and showed a few examples of process shots. Since that post, I've gotten a little deeper and yes, it's only been a few days, but when I get into something, it's like my brain becomes a sponge and I want to absorb as much as I can about the subject.

I recently ordered a handbook from one of my suppliers, and while it is not a handbook that is easy to read for a beginner jeweler, it was full of really good information and gave me a ton of great insights. I will most likely break this post into several posts because with this last round of enameling, I had made little tweaks that drastically changed the outcome of the work.

For this round, I wanted to see how layering gold foil on top of the enamel would look. Gold foil is different from gold leaf. Gold foil is 0.0036mm thick and gold leaf is 0.0008mm thick, so to the naked eye it doesn't seem like much of a difference but it is about double in value, and gold leaf (when I tested it out) just disintegrated into the glass when I applied the heat of the torch to the piece.

For this experiment, I used several transparent enamel colors on top of the gold to see how it would affect the brilliance of the gold. Powdered enamels come in either transparent or opaque colors and you can layer the opaques with transparents to get a wider range from the colors that are available. Enamels can't necessarily 'blend' the way that paints can blend. The opaques, for example, don't break down and blend with other opaques to make a new color; they remain like granules in another color. Transparent enamels will appear more blended once heat has been applied but the colors can be unpredictable unless you do a test beforehand.

I began by slicing the gold foil with an X-acto blade. I place the foil in between a folded sheet of tracing paper and cut each piece on a piece of rubber. The blade has to be extra sharp otherwise the foil can snag and make for a rough edge. Below are a series of photos of my using a prepared piece of enamel and slicing the gold foil.

What I wanted to see was if a colorful transparent enamel would affect the brilliance of the gold, and if I added several layers (meaning if I added the foil, a layer of transparent, heated it up, added another layer of gold, another transparent, and so on), what that would look like in the end. Below you can see when I add the gold foil, then a layer of transparent enamel which looks like a white powder, and then the result after heating it once.

I did a total of 3 layers, with 2 different transparent enamel colors, and the colorful transparent enamel definitely took away the brilliance of the gold. I am happy with the final result, but I think in the future I would use a clear enamel which adds a nice glassy finish to the piece and allow the gold to shine through. I just love the way gold looks, especially since the foil I use is near purity (23.5k gold), and I think the color of the metal compliments many color harmonies.

That's it for today! Thanks so much for reading!