Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Enamel Workshop Part 2 —
Kiln Firing at Liloveve Studio

What’s in the oven? Well, it's not biscuits. This small kiln reaches temperatures of over 1500° F. It takes a watchful eye at these temperatures as metal and glass can melt and burn. All the skills we've acquired from torch-firing apply directly to kiln firing.

When working with high heat it’s important to dress correctly. Don’t wear synthetic fibers, wear cotton instead — potential disaster is only a sleeve-length away. Protective heat resistant gloves, tongs and long handled tools are required when kiln-firing — you can forget about wearing flip flops.

Wet packing is another method of applying glass powder by making it into a paste with one part Klyr-fire adhesive and four parts distilled water. After cleaning and buffing a copper surface, the paste is applied with a brush — it's about as viscous as yogurt.

Much like guache or watercolor, the wet paste should be completed in one application and then allowed to dry before further decoration and firing. Many water color effects can be used using the wet-packing technique... blending, gradation, spot coloring... etc.

Sgraffito comes from the Italian word sgraffiare which means “to scratch.” This decorative treatment is used on ceramic tiles, wall treatments, and of course enamel jewelry.

Instructor Emilie Shapiro gave us a detailed demonstration. The finished base color is mars red — first fired, cooled, and cleaned. An opaque blue paste is wet-packed onto the surface and allowed to dry. A design is scratched through the paste with a stylus to reveal the mars red base below, then it’s kiln-fired. Opaque colors are recommended for sgraffito, but transparent layers can be applied afterwards at separate firings.

To prevent warping a layer of counter enamel is applied and fired to one side. Counter enamel is mixed from left-over glass colors. Without a counter enamel, long thin shapes such as this test strip bend like plastic while firing.

In this test strip silver foil is applied, and then layered with more transparent color. Multiple transparent layers deepen in color to create a lustrous surface.

It take a steady patient hand and many trips to the kiln to achieve this gem-like quality. Looks good enough to eat!

Liloveve Studio is owned operated by Caroline Glemann, a designer of fine jewelry. For more information about this enamel class and other classes at Liloveve, and to learn more Caroline Glemann’s jewelry, visit the studio website: www.liloveve.com.
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