Sunday, July 29, 2012

Liquid Enamel

I played around with liquid enamel this week.

For these beads, I first applied the background blue enamel through torch-fired immersion. Then, using white liquid enamel, I painted (and I use that term loosely) some semi-floral bead cap shapes at each end of the beads around the holes. The enamel takes a long time to dry (24 hours) - and I could only paint one end of the bead at once, because in the process of flipping the mandrel to paint the other end, if the enamel wasn't dry, I just succeeded in smearing all the enamel I had just lovingly applied! Not that I actually did that, or anything - I mean, in THEORY that's what would happen. So it took a couple of days to get my floral "beadcaps" painted on.

Then, the blobby floral beadcaps looked too un-matchy and blobby, so I decided to further call attention to them by dotting them with sunny yellow liquid enamel, which also had to go through prolonged drying. And once dry, the application was too light, so I had to repeat it, several times. Then I added some yellow polka dots around the circumference of the bead, which also took several applications and prolonged drying time.

So what I'm trying to say is it took about 6 days to get to this point: this is how the beads looked BEFORE firing in the torch (The squarish bright white spots on the blue beads are reflections from my overhead lights):

And here is how they look after firing:
My nice, thick, even application of yellow enamel is now very uneven, thin, and splotchy, but I actually like it! The white enamel also got bubbly and spotty. And the most interesting part was watching these fire: the yellow enamel actually caught on fire and then smoldered throughout the firing, like little embers on each bead - it was fascinating!

This was fun, but pretty labor and time intensive, so I'm not sure I'll do it again - at least not in this fashion, since my painting skills are basically nonexistent!

This is a pendant I did with liquid enamel - I may have already shown it, but here it is again:

Where you see the orange circle? That's where I painted on a thick circular glob of white liquid enamel, and then sifted orange enamel onto it (after the whole piece had been fired blue!) - then I let it dry. During firing, the point was to let the white liquid enamel bubble up and start showing through the orange, and you can see a little of this near the pendant's hole. I could have achieved a more bubbly result if I had held the mandrel in the flame longer, but my neck and arm were getting too sore - so I quit.

In contrast to the painted beads, I will probably repeat this technique. It was fun, and it turns out I am REALLY good at painting blobs!

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