Well, I have searched the archives and read the relevant books on
enameling and soldering. I still have some technical questions, so I
am asking those of you with experience enameling to share. I am just
getting into enamels and the texts sometimes lack on the finer
points of fabrication.
I understand the issues with solders containing zinc in areas that
will touch enamels. The suggestion one sees is to use the eutectic
solder. So, I look at the “eutectic” solder Thomson Enamels sells and
it flows at 1460 F - that is not the flow point of the silver/copper
eutectic - which is about 1434 F. If I am firing at 1450 F… 1460 F
make me nervous, and the true=1434 F flow point of the eutectic is
not going to work. What happens here? Does the “eutectic” solder
immediately flow and dilute… raising the melting point… like
granulation? I get using IT for the joins not in contact with the
enamel… but what do you use for the ones that are? I thought about
making my own solder… but don’t understand the copper/silver system
and know the melting temps are not linearly related to the
copper/silver ratios. Is there an algorithm that provides melting
points for various percentages of copper and silver… or a chart??
Anyone fusing sterling or.999… seems like a very small, local and
very hot flame might work. Yeah, I know… I can try that myself.
The texts recommend .999 silver. That makes little sense since you
can enamel directly on copper. Why not sterling? Is this just a
thing with transparents and firescale? If my first application is an
opaque can I use sterling? We are talking about pieces that will
still have a significant amount of metal showing. Obviously, I’d use
copper if covering it all up.
Can you depletion guild a soldered piece? I guess I could just try
that and see what happens It is feasible to fabricate a piece out
of sterling, depletion guild it… and fire it? If I make a hollow
form using sterling soldered with IT and depletion guild it… will
that work? Or, am I going to make a mess? Will depletion guilding
cover the solder and eliminate the zinc issue? Can I plate it with
fine silver before firing? Can I cover the solder seams with .999
foil when using an opaque? What about the new germanium containing
alloys? I have resisted using Argentium… call me a purist
Moving on… if I apply Keum Boo to fine or depletion guilded
sterling… will it diffuse into the silver at the short, hot firing
temps of enameling? Obviously, we are talking Keum Boo under
transparents. I know I can apply gold foil to a base layer… but I
lose the metal color then.
Can I enamel over a patina such as liver of sulfur? For instance,
can I apply Keum Boo, use LOS for a patina to get contrast, then
fire a transparent over it? Guess I could do the same thing putting
gold foil over a black opaque first coat.
If I am fabricating using sterling… can I coat the metal parts
with Prips flux or FireScoff when I fire… will fluxes mess up the
enamels. I’d assume they would mess up a transparent if I got it
onto the enamel.
Sorry… lots of questions. The devil is always in the detail isn’t
By the way… I just attended a workshop on enameling that Thompson
offers in Northern KY at their plant. Very affordable and a great
workshop. Info is on the Thompson web site.