Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Cloisonne Enameling on Cast Silver


#1

Hi! I’m new. Wanting to enamel on cast silver pieces using a glass
thype of enamel (Thompsons or the like). Will this work? Is there
more that I should be aware of before attempting to create the
original to be cast? Such as… depth or thickness of outlines,
etc… will I need to enamel the back of the pieces too?

Thank you to anyone willing to share this info. Angi


#2
Hi!  I'm new. Wanting to enamel on cast silver pieces using a
glass thype of enamel (Thompsons or the like).  Will this work?  Is
there more that I should be aware of before attempting to create
the original to be cast?  Such as.. depth or thickness of outlines,
etc... will I need to enamel the back of the pieces too? Thank you
to anyone willing to share this info.  Angi 

Hi Angi. We cast in pure silver for those who wish to do fired glass
enamel. Many of our customers request this when they do fired enamel.
If you need someone to cast the items for you, we can. If you plan on
casting your own , I would suggest you cast in pure silver. Best
Wishes, Daniel Grandi

Contact : sales@racecarjewelry.com or Tel: 401-461-7803


#3

Angi, check out the articles on that subject heRe:

http://users.netconnect.com.au/~pictures/eNAMEL_useful_stuff_01.html

Allan Heywood


#4
    Hi!  I'm new. Wanting to enamel on cast silver pieces using a
glass thype of enamel (Thompsons or the like).  Will this work?  Is
there more that I should be aware of before attempting to create
the original to be cast? 

Yes, what kind of silver? Fine Silver or Sterling? If you are
enameling on Fine Silver (99.5% pure) , good. Heat silver first, so
that you know it is “clean” then enamel away.

If Silver is Sterling (Silver & Copper) Fire it 5-6 times in kiln
and then pickle it until it no longer turns dark from the heat. You
will have burned off the copper alloy from the surface and you will
have been left with a “fine silver” surface on which to enamel. You
may also experience some discoloration of enamel certain colors from
the silver, Ask Thompson which colors work the best on silver. Pat
DIACCA Topp check out www. DIACCA for enamels.


#5

Angi, I’ve never enameled on cast silver myself, but I still may be
able to help some. First off, if it’s cast sterling silver you will
need to depletion gild the piece to bring the fine silver to the
surface. As far as counterenameling, it really depends on the size
and thickness of the cast, also how thick of an enamel layer you are
planning on doing. The old saying, “Everything is relative”, applies
here. :slight_smile: Lisa – Lisa Hawthorne @Lisa_Hawthorne


#6

I am far from an expert on this, but here is what I have found.
The casting needs to be really clean and smooth for a good result.
You will have to enamel the back side if you are putting on multiple
and/or full-coverage coats. The reason for enameling the back is
basically to prevent cracking of the top enamel – the metal
stresses differently than the silver. I always apply a flux to the
silver – it helps hold the enamel and also keeps the colors from
being affected (ie., changing). Some colors do not react well with
silver, so you will have to experiment with the particular enamels
you get. (By the way if you are firing a glass cabachon with PMC,
make sure to flux the area around the cab – it helps to keep the
silver from yellowing. I haven’t tried the Prips flux yet – it
might be even more effective than Batterns.)

I recommend you pick up the book entitled The Art of Fine Enameling
by Karen L. Cohen. It is not only a good primer, but it gives step
by step instructions for various types of enameling, troubleshooting
and studio basics, tips and tricks. (I have no affiliation with it
– but I learned tips from it myself!)


#7

Hi Angi, I’m in the middle of my first enameling class and it’s
quite fun. Do use fine silver for your castings, sterling will
oxidize. Also, if you are casting, you may consider skipping the
cloisonne step and just building the recesses to fill with enamel
directly into your wax (as opposed to adding cloisons).Doing that ,
I believe, falls under the “champleve” catagory. Best advise I can
give is experiment and have fun!

Amy O’Connell
Amy O’Connell Jewelry
http://LapidaryArt.com


#8
Do use fine silver for your castings, sterling will oxidize. 

Amy, there are many applications for which fine silver is unsuitable
because of its softness and lack of resistance to deformation - that
is one of the main reasons why Sterling and similar alloys were
developed and why they are used in (particularly) jewellery and
hollow-ware. It’s a no-brainer to depletion-enrich ( NOT
depletion-gild, which refers to gold exclusively; and NOT guild which
is a group of like-minded individuals ) Sterling and similar alloys
and it is quite beyond my understanding why professionally-cast
Sterling is not more widely enamelled.

Allan Heywood


#9
 Sterling and similar alloys and it is quite beyond my
understanding why professionally-cast Sterling is not more widely
enamelled. 

Hello: Because if you want clear beautiful colors and a finished
enamel that will last for hundreds of years you use fine silver.
Enamel can change colors after a couple of firings due to "ANY"
minute amount of contamination such as the alloys used in sterling.
I have used both and believe me, fine is the only way to go. Also
it should be minimum of 18 ga. The only problem arises if there is
surface areas of metal such as champleve’ which will dull a bit with
wear. Yes, you can fire/pickle/fire/pickle sterling until the
surface has no copper or zinc left, but even then you are walking a
treacherous path with the stability of colors and transparences.
Best to do the cloisonne’ on fine and bezel set it if you want the
rest of the design done with a sterling metal surface. I have created
over 2000 cloisonne’ pieces in 30 years, trust me. Pat DIACCA Topp


#10
 I have used both and believe me, fine is the only way to go. 

Pat - there are literally millions of cast and
stamped Sterling silver pieces still floating around e.g. the
Charles Horner Art Nouveau stuff - and I defy anyone to get more
reflectivity using cast 999 fine silver than the majority of those
pieces.

Hundreds of thousands of Sterling compacts, pill boxes, vanity sets
picture frames etc have been made and many of them are still in
existence. Although most of them weren’t cast, the principle is the
same - you are not enamelling on the Sterling alloy itself, but on a
layer of pure silver. The surface of an object made of 999 fine
silver and the surface of an adequately depletion-enriched 925 Ag or
for that matter 800 Ag object will appear IDENTICAL once they have
been heated to redness, with or without vitreous enamel covering
them. They will be a uniform, flat, no-gloss silvery-white regardless
of whether or not they were highly polished prior to firing.

If you have brought up a substantial, even layer of pure silver on
the surface of your Sterling that is what you will see through the
enamel. If there are no casting flaws e.g. pits, inclusions, etc -
and there rarely ever are if the piece is cast using the best of the
available technology by some one who actually knows what they are
doing - then you will have no problems.

Problems invariably occur when people attempt to enamel castings
they or their mates or the bloke down the road have produced. While
these might be perfectly adequate for the average bit of jewellery
nothing but the highest quality castings will survive multiple
heatings to bright redness unscathed.

Also it should be minimum of 18 ga.

Walk into any antique dealer and inspect some old
enamelled Sterling jewellery.

Yes, you can fire/pickle/fire/pickle sterling until the surface has
no copper or zinc

Sterling contains no Zinc - if there is Zinc there it ain’t
Sterling.

left, but even then you are walking a treacherous path with the
stability of colors and transparences.

The incompatability with silver of enamels containing colloidal gold
is well-known and occurs when there is ANY amount of silver in the
surface to be enamelled - it is irrelevant whether one uses Sterling,
999 silver, or gold alloys containing silver. It is an entirely
separate problem.

Here are some pictures of Sterling pieces and one 18k yellow piece
I’ve enamelled, including two Horner brooches and the hatpin
yesterday ( hatpin is < 0.3mm thick - try making that out of 999
fine silver and expecting to use it without it folding up at the
first push) The pendants are about 0.5mm thick, the brooches, 2mm,
the frogs were new work for a Melbourne jeweller:

http://users.netconnect.com.au/~pictures/Sterling_01.jpg
http://users.netconnect.com.au/~pictures/Sterling_02.jpg
http://users.netconnect.com.au/~pictures/Sterling_03.jpg
http://users.netconnect.com.au/~pictures/Sterling_04.jpg
http://users.netconnect.com.au/~pictures/18k_01.jpg

cheers
Allan Heywood


#11

Just to correct one thing Allan Heywood has said ‘Sterling contains
no Zinc - if there is Zinc there it ain’t Sterling’

That’s not true. At various times and places in the past there have
been some stipulations about alloy content (19th century Germany,
Austria and Russia for example) but Sterling is really just means a
standard that contains 92.5% silver. What the other 7.5% is doesn’t
matter legally (although it might for matters of workability,
toxicity etc). All sorts of other metals have been added to sterling
in the US and elsewhere over the last century or so including zinc
and cadmium and there are all sorts of proprietory alloys to minimise
fire staining, hinder tarnishing, facilitate casting and so on.

Best etc
Jack Ogden


#12

but Sterling is really just means a standard that contains 92.5%
silver. What the other 7.5% is doesn’t matter legally

Jack, Sterling silver is always and only, 92.5% silver and 7.5%
copper. Adding any amount of any other element in excess of the
accepted level for “trace” elements makes it another alloy.

Using your logic, if one were to add (to use a ridiculous figure )
100 gm of lead to 100 gm of 24k gold you would still have 24k gold !

Al Heywood


#13

Al, your wrong about the copper. The sterling standard says 92.5
percent silver. It does NOT specify what the remaining 7.5 should
be. Yes, if you take sterling with 7.5 percent copper, and add
other things too it, the silver percentage then changes and it’s not
sterling. But if you REPLACE some or all of the copper with other
metals, so the silver percentage remains 92.5, then it can still be
called sterling. This is the what Jack Ogden was explaining. If
you contact various metals suppliers for sterling casting grain,
you’ll find there are now a number of varieties available. Some
have no copper at all, I suspect. The no fire scale sterling
casting alloys don’t do it with just trace deoxidizers or anything.
They do it by using other metals in place of the copper. Tin, for
example… These, despite having metals other than copper as the
alloy, can still be called sterling. And to use YOUR example, if
you mix 100 grams of lead with 100 grams of gold, you can’t of
course call it 24K. But you CAN call it 12K, even though it’s not
an alloy anyone would normally use for jewelery.

Peter Rowe


#14

Allan, sorry to differ (unless Australian legislation is different)
but the 7.5% in sterling can be anything - copper is most
traditional, but not stipulated. So as long as 92.5% of the contents
of an alloy by weight are silver then it is sterling.

Don’t quite follow your logic re 24 K gold, but in all these things
(silver qualities, Karat gold etc) the proportions are by weight not
volume so yes, in theory, you could mix about 11 buckets of tin
(light metal - haven’t checked the maths, but I’m talking
theoretically:)) to 1 bucket of 24 K gold and still have an alloy
that could legally bear a UK 9 K hallmark.

Jack Ogden


#15

The designation Sterling is a legal term in many countries and there
is a legal definition of what that is . In the US sterling means a
silver alloy that is at least 92.5% silver. US law does not specify
what the remaining portion is. In many of the de-ox sterling alloys
it is silicon, zinc, germanium, etc. as copper is the culprit in
firestain and accelerates tarnish. Even the de-ox alloys will
tarnish; just at a slower rate as tarnish is mostly a sulfide and
silver will form a sulfide with or without copper present.


#16
   Sterling silver is always and only, 92.5% silver and 7.5%
copper. Adding any amount of any other element in excess of the
accepted level for "trace" elements makes it another alloy. 

Allan, I have to disagree. Maybe the definition of Sterling is
different where you are, but here in the UK it means a silver alloy
containing a minimum of 92.5 percent silver, as determined by a
specified test method. The remaining 7.5 percent can be anything
else. I suppose the implication is really that the 7.5 percent can be
anything else that alloys with silver or is totally miscible with it.
It’s normally copper of course, but even that wouldn’t be pure …
nobody makes Sterling using “SpecPure” grade copper. Indeed other
elements are deliberately added for specific properties. Heat
hardening Sterling contains, I think, some magnesium. Sterling is
also available with germanium and or silicon, which are supposed to
tarnish less readily. They all still contain the required minimum of
92.5 percent silver though. As to whether anyone would want to
include zinc, that’s another question, but they could if they wanted
to. As I say, maybe the regulations are different where you work.

Kevin (NW England, UK)