Enameling the Future

Day two at Sue‘s was all about copper and glass. A friend of hers had found an enamel kiln on craigslist and told her to buy it. Sue thought that maybe she could use it to make buttons and other embellishments for her fiber pieces, so she called the guy and bought it. The kiln came with all of the tools needed, boxes of enamels and bunches of copper shapes to work with. She got a few other tools at Harbor Freight and was good to go. If you happen to be interested in doing enamel work on your own I highly recommend The Art of Enameling: Techniques, Projects, Inspiration by Linda Darty, it tells you everything you need to know to get started and has some great pictures for inspiration as well. 
Once in the basement we settled in to work; turned on the kiln, sorted the enamels, selected our metal pieces and were ready to start. The kiln, however, was not ready. The kiln was hardly even warm. Sue switched it from low to high and we refined our rudimentary preparations. I sorted the enamels even further and put all of the little copper bits in piles according to shape and size. Sue busied herself with cutting circles and doming them. Eventually the kiln was ready to go. 

Evidently it needs to be turned on high about 45 minutes or an hour before you are ready to work. I chose a crescent shape from the pre-cut pile and put holes in both points and one at the center of the wide side of the curve. Sue cut 2 small circles, drilled 4 holes in each and domed them. I coated the back of mine with Indian Blue (seen above) which turns out to be a bright turquoise color. On the front I put a clear coat and after firing that I used enamel from a bottle labeled “Mixture”. There are about 6 of these bottles each with a different color to it. This one looked blue-ish but turned out to be a lovely mottled pale green (below.) I think that the uneven dark edges mean that we over fired but I like the roughness of them.
The large bead is lava, the red ones are garnet and I think the other 2 are soapstone. Now all I need is to find a good clasp to attach to the leather laces and it’s finished! 
Next time we get together I’ll take more pics of the process and of Sue’s work, she does very nice work.

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