I've been concentrating on bezel setting and soldering a lot recently so have been working mainly with metals of the silver and copper hue. So a bit like when your body tells you you need chocolate (all the time in my case) I got out the enamels recently to feed my craving for colour.
Enamels used to scare me when I first started using them and I was ultra careful about not contaminating them so as not to discover those little black specks and tiny pieces of wire wool that you never see until after you've fired something. I'm still careful but maybe a bit more relaxed these days. I recently had a problem with some transparent enamel I'd washed several months ago. I used it over opaque and it cracked. Not straight away because enamel likes to lull you into a false sense of security sometimes. No, one piece cracked a few hours after it was fired and the other a couple of days after. I reckoned it was because the washed enamel had been hanging around for a while and was probably contaminated.
I washed some more and it's worked fine this time as the earrings below show.
I can't be the only one who finds the idea of washing a dry powder slightly odd. When I started torch enamelling and read that you needed to wash transparents if you want to use them over opaques I thought it seemed a bit of a chore and how can you "wash" a powder, how does it dry?
It's really easy to do and involves putting a small amount of enamel into a shot glass or similar and filling it with water. You stir it, let it settle then pour off the water. This helps to remove a lot of the dust and other bits in the enamel powder you don't want. Do this until the water is clear(ish) using filtered water for the last rinse then blot as much of the excess water off the wet enamel powder with a kitchen roll as you can. Take care not to touch the enamel with the kitchen roll to avoid getting bits in the enamel. Then spread the wet enamel onto a clean piece of paper on top of a baking tray and put in the oven set to the lowest heat setting for about 10 -15 minutes to dry. When it's dry tip the enamel into a clean pot labelled so you know what it is. You do need to make sure everything you use is clean and doesn't have any bits or dust on it to avoid getting those bits in the washed enamel as they will show up when you fire it!
A bit of a fiddle but worth it. The alternative is muddy looking dirty colours.
I used three opaques for these - aqua, pea green and lichen green. My Mum used to say to me that blue and green should never be seen, usually as I was just off out on a Saturday night wearing blue and green! I never took any notice and reckon if these colours are good enough for nature they're good enough for me!
The colours in these orange and brown earrings remind me of an exotic colourful beetle. I used orange transparent over nut brown with a sprinkling of brown on top.
Next I'm planning on making some more small enamelled studs. I made some of these a while ago when I had just started soldering and found it terrible fraught and stressful! Enamel and solder aren't always easy to combine. I had to use enamel solder for the posts and was so worried things would melt or that the enamel would react with the solder. It didn't and everything was fine but I didn't enjoy the experience very much so haven't made any more, apart from a recent custom order. As I'm a bit more confident with the soldering part now I've decided to make some more even though they are fiddly to do. They are very cute when they're finished though :D