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!
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