Sunday was Metal Studio day again - we have such fun playing on these days! I wish we could get together more often.
This time, we decided to tackle an enameling technique known as "Raku;" it bears some similarities to the raku pottery process, as I'll explain below.
I decided to use the process to create several pairs of fold-formed copper earrings. These start off with a large sheet of 24g copper, which I then cut into 1-inch squares.
Here is one pair of earrings after all the folds are placed and re-opened:
The earrings were then pickled for a long time to remove the firescale;
The firing process is next - 2 firings with clear enamel to both sides was first, to get a good base coating.
Then comes the "raku" firing. These are the pieces, ready for firing (the raku color of enamel is in place):
Now, more about the actual raku part of the process. Immediately upon removal from the hot hot kiln, the pieces must go into a container (with a lid!) containing shredded paper, so that they will ignite the paper and then smolder under the lid.
Here is the roasting pan we used, filled with shredded paper, ready for the emergence of the earrings from the kiln:
So, the pieces are yanked from the kiln and unceremoniously dumped into the roasting pan, whereupon flames start shooting skyward (have the fire extinguisher nearby!!) I quickly clamped the lid on the pan, squelching all but a little of the escaping, acrid, stinky smoke, and ran for the door to get this smelly thing outdoors. OMG it stinks.
After about 70 minutes, the smoldering process ends and the roasting pan is cool to the touch, and we can continue.
Opening the lid:
I fished out the trivets and earrings, and this is what I had:
So I took the earrings to the sink and scrubbed them with dishwashing liquid, water, and an old toothbrush. And this is what was lurking underneath that film:
This was time and labor intensive (and I had to clean that mess out of the roasting pan!); if I hadn't chosen to fold form the earrings it wouldn't have been nearly so time-consuming and difficult, but I really love the result!
Now the 12 earrings are piled on my work table, waiting for earwires. Sometimes the very last, finishing step (attaching a clasp, anyone?) is the one I procrastinate on. Well, that, plus it was almost 9 PM by the time we finished the firings, and I wasn't hanging around to place earwires - I wanted to go home by then!