Enameled cigarette lighter I have been given an antique Dunhill
cigarette lighter to enamel as an anniversary gift. Although I have
been enameling for 20+ years I am very apprehensive about this
project and am seeking help.
The lighter was very popular in the Art Deco period and many of them
were enameled using champleve. This one, being sterling, is very
plain. It has the “body” area plus a visual break and thickening at
what would be the base and top of lighter. The customer ASSURES me
that the body/base/top of the lighter is cast. He has viewed it under
a microscope and says he sees metal grains shared by the body and
base at the point they join. [I haven’t had the chance to view under the microscope yet]. If this is true, my first hurdle of solder is
taken care of. I have had the customer sign that there is no solder
present and that prices will adjust dramatically if there is solder.
[I’m sure this won’t do me much good in reality though]
I will do a depletion gild to bring fine silver to the surface.
Second hurdle - The lighter is Swiss made but shows an English and
US Patent. It is marked sterling. I assume that no European or
Britannia silver is being used. Basically sterling is sterling is
The third hurdle is melting temperatures. Untracht’s book says fine
silver melts at 1760.9F and sterling at 1640F. My enamel metal of
choice is fine silver and with sterling I have already lost 120
degrees. I am getting closer to the flow temperatures of my enamels.
I do not have a pyrometer on my kiln.
There will be enamel completely around the lighter so I will be
working in dimension.
It is highly unlikely that I will be able to counter enamel this
I will be using opaque enamels from my stash of leaded Thompson’s.
The owner originally contacted me thinking that I worked in cold
[epoxy] enamels. Once he realized that I used “glass” enamels he
really didn’t even want to discuss cold enamels. When I told him of
all the ways this thing could self-destruct he answered “Well, then I
will find another silver lighter and we’ll start again.” I like his
attitude and told him that was the only way I would proceed but I
REALLY do not want this thing to blow up in my face.
So…Can any of you offer suggestions, encouragement’s, warnings?