Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Shimmery Spring Jewelry in Enamel Lusters

Enamel Cross Earrings in Shimmering Blue

Jewelry makers naturally keep an eye on the latest styles and color trends. So I've noticed that this year's spring fashions have been dominated by iridescent fabrics and high-wattage metallics. These lovely shimmering pastel textiles reminded me of a group of unique mica based pigments - Carefree Lusters - that I had purchased from Thompson Enamel a few years ago. After seeing the samples in the middle of a Thompson's catalogue I just couldn't resist ordering them, knowing that someday they would be ideal for a special project.

Metallic Aqua Enamel Teardrop Earrings

Back then, I had played with the lusters for a few days, but never had that "Ah ha!" moment...  until I saw this spring's fashions begin to appear on travel shows, commercials and in fashion magazines. So I retrieved the lusters from storage and began to experiment anew, making samples and recording the results at different firing times and temperatures. Soon, I felt comfortable enough to fire the lusters on actual enameled components and was ready to begin creating some new jewelry pieces to complement this spring's styles and colors.
Tiny Metallic Rose Gold Enamel Earrings

For those of you who may be interested in the techniques involved in working with Thompson Luster Enamels, I will offer a few of the discoveries that I made through trial and error in developing my own procedures.
  • Firing temperature is calculated according to the base enamel.
  • I had success firing at approximately 60 degrees below the normal firing temperature of the base enamel.
  • More is better. Any excess of unfused luster can easily be wiped or washed away after firing; but using an insufficient amount of luster can result in a rough surface.
  • Always start with a smooth, level surface that extends completely to the edges.
As with any new enameling technique, one should experiment, make samples, and become comfortable before using it on something special. Enjoy! I did!

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