Silver, gold, bronze. These are the typical colors in the jeweler’s palette. But what if you could incorporate eye-popping color into your pieces with just a few simple steps? Enameling, and cloisonné enameling in particular, gives you the power to play with color in any piece you make. And it’s easy to get started.
The artistic possibilities with cloisonné are never-ending. The process involves using strip or wire to form small compartments that can then hold enamel. The artform dates back to ancient times, when artisans used pieces of glass and stones in place of modern enamels.
Master enamelist Ricky Frank has taught several classes on the technique here at Rio, the most recent of which was at our Winter Workshop in January. His students are always asking, "What do I need at my bench to get started?".
The answer is, not much! Here are the basics you’ll need to set up your enameling workshop!
- This little Blazer Butane Microtorch has all the firepower you need to get started working with enamels right on your bench, and its compact, economical form makes it ideal for beginners. Torch-firing enamels is a great way to get started with a limited investment. If you try it out and LOVE it (which we’re pretty sure you will) you can upgrade to a kiln, which will give you more enameling options.
- A stainless steel mesh firing rack allows you to torch fire pieces from underneath.
- Copper Sheet: Copper sheet and findings are a great way to practice when you’re getting started. Move on to fine silver as you gain confidence.
- Copper Strip Wire: Solder on to sheet or findings to create compartments.
- Pre-Cut Copper Stampings: Buy the shapes you need pre-cut so you can get right to enameling.
- Thomspon Lead-Free Enamels: Thompson Enamels come in an incredible range of colors and shades, including transparent and opaque, so whatever you dream up, you can create.
- Enamel Adhesive: Holds your enamel in place and burns off during firing.
Would you like to get everything you need to get started (and a little more) in one easy package? Pick up the Thompson Enamel Beginner’s Kit. The only additional thing you’ll need to buy with this kit is a torch or kiln.
Ready to get started? Begin practicing techniques with this basic Enameled Cloisonné Pendant Project. Ricky Frank will be back at Rio teaching a Cloisonné Enameling Class in October, so you can learn from a master. Mark your calendar now!
New to making jewelry? This coming June, Rio will offer the Jewelry-Maker’s Techniques Toolbox, a 5-day hands-on learning extravaganza of jewelry techniques! Taught by designer, jewelry maker, and teacher Jim Dailing, this class will cover every basic technique jewelers need to stock their just-gettin’-started toolbox of skills. Find out more in today’s post at The Studio…...Read the Rest
Have you ever been disappointed to find that the end product of your jewelry design did not quite live up to what you had envisioned? Consider this: The more techniques you have at your disposal, the more satisfied you’ll be with your results. Rio Grande offers classes that can take your jewelry making to the next level. Read about three such classes coming up in May and then register before they fill up!...Read the Rest
Today Amy visited several of the bustling classrooms here at Rio Grande’s Winter Workshop. Some participants were quiet and intensely focused on trying new techniques. Others worked in a happy cacophony of clanging and then paused to examine their progress. Rio Grande is wonderful place to be this week—learning and discovery is all around us! Maybe today’s photo tour will get you planning your trip to the Land of Enchantment for next year’s Winter Workshop....Read the Rest
Rio Grande’s annual Winter Workshop starts this Sunday, and we are busy setting up benches, cameras for close-ups of instructors’ work, Foredom® flex shafts, anvils, 3DESIGN® software–you name it! Follow our excitement this week as we bring you highlights of this GREAT event where participants hone their skills with some of the very best teachers in the industry, mingle and crowd around workbenches in the demonstration area, exchange jewelry-making experiences and tips, bond with each other over wonderful meals, and get a behind-the-scenes look at Rio’s facilities....Read the Rest
Want to start your own jewelry business but not sure where to start? Have you been running a jewelry business for years, but you could use some skill-sharpening and some fresh ideas to help your business grow? Gain beginning skills and jewelry business knowledge in the Rio Grande Winter Workshop, Smart Tools To Help You Grow Your Business. Read on to learn about the instructors, then register!...Read the Rest
Registration is now open for this week-long event where you can get hands-on in any number of jewelry-making classes taught by the industry’s most beloved and talented instructors, watch demonstrations of the tools and processes that will enhance your work at the bench, and tour our 180,000 square-foot solar-powered facility. What a great way to experience Rio firsthand and start 2014 with a shot of creativity and learning!...Read the Rest
Here at Rio Grande, on November 14 and 15, Bill Seeley will teach the class, Anodizing Reactive Metals: Niobium and Titanium. Consider yourself warned: you may fall in love with expressing yourself through coloration of lightweight, low-cost niobium and titanium. And in today’s post watch a video, with Bill Seeley himself, that features a demonstration of the amazing anodizing process....Read the Rest
Rio Grande is here after the holidays with an exciting array of new and returning classes for you in the 2014 Winter Workshop series. Make a day or two of it, or plan to take a whole week! The classes, demonstrations and tours lined up for the week of Winter Workshop give you lots to choose from. Gain a new skill—or hone a skill you’ve already got. Browse through today’s post to find out more, and reserve your seat early!...Read the Rest
There’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to PMC! Take a look at the inspiring PMC projects we’ve featured on the blog today and then check out the PMC classes that are scheduled for the end of October/beginning of November here at Rio Grande. There are still a few seats available—so hurry and sign up!...Read the Rest