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Enamels for plique-a-jour?

What enamels do people recommend for plique-a-jour work in copper
and silver? I have some medium expansion opaques in 80 mesh from
Thompson that I was considering using for my first experiments, but
wasn’t sure if I needed finer mesh, a mix of meshes, a different
type, etc.

And what’s the maximum cell/space size I should limit myself to? Is
there some magic ratio of surface area to thickness?

Thanks,
-Bill

Hi Bill,

What enamels do people recommend for plique-a-jour work in copper
and silver? I have some medium expansion opaques in 80 mesh 

I use lead bearing Ninomya enamels with a constant melting point. I
also sift them to 250-300 mesh for plique-a-jour.

And what’s the maximum cell/space size I should limit myself to the
way plique a jour works is with soap bubble type filling (simple way
of putting it) and the maximum cell space should probably be no
larger than 3-4 mm diameter. Otherwise, it will take forever to fill
and maybe not at all. The best rule of thumb is to keep you cells as
small as possible by using filler wires within the diameter of the
cells.

Jennifer friedman
@jennifer_friedman
Ventura, CA

Plique: one meaning of the term is “light of day”, as in daylight
shows through the enamel covered gap. Poster motioned Opaque
enamels-Not the way to go, there is no point to making it opaque!
That said, a gap of 1/4 inch in any direction is the largest normally
recommended. Use Transparent enamels of very pale colors. The small
space and several layers needed to bridge the gap concentrate even
pale colors. Dark colors read as opaque. There are a number of good
books out there that cover Plique. Clean your transparents very well.
You can take 80 mesh enamels and grind them to a finer grit with a
mortar & pestle. Then clean the cloudy bits out by rinsing with
water, distilled or purified water in the final rinses. Use a small
amount of Klryfire (like a small rain drop amount) added to your
clean, wet enamel to help hold the enamel in the gap. It is a tricky
process to do well. Buy or borrow Linda Darty’s book, “The Art of
Enameling” or Karen L. Cohen’s book, “The Art of Fine Enameling” or
any enameling books that list plique in their contents. As you work,
keep notes so that you can find what methods work best for you. Take
a tour of the the www.enamelistsociety.org website & there find links
to artists and Have fun, experiment, and practice,
practice, practice. Check the website for class listings and take a
workshop in plique, or any technique you want to know more about.

Best wishes.
Eileen Schneegas
Snow Goose Designs
Washington state

Thompson has great enamels for metals. You need the type especially
for metal, not glass, as the COE is different. Pam East, at Pinzart,
pinzart.com, has and enamels especially for use on
silver. And I would certainly use transparent enamels rather than
opaque for plique a jour.

Jackie Truty
Art Clay World, USA, Inc.

    What enamels do people recommend for plique-a-jour work in
copper and silver? I have some medium expansion opaques in 80 mesh
from Thompson that I was considering using for my first
experiments, but wasn't sure if I needed finer mesh, a mix of
meshes, a different type, etc. 

I use well-washed (to remove the fines) transparents for the most
part. I think your medium-expansion enamels are fine, but part of
the charm of plique is the “stained-glass” effect, and that’s lost
if you use only opaques; might as well do cloisonne in that case! 80
mesh sounds good; the smaller the particles, the more likely they
are to add cloudiness- of course, with opaques that’s not an issue.

I use both leaded and unleaded, sometimes in the same piece- it
might be risky to put them in the same cell, though.

    And what's the maximum cell/space size I should limit myself
to? Is there some magic ratio of surface area to thickness? 

You’ll really have to experiment with your metal, your enamels, your
kiln, etc. Generally smaller cells are less risky than large. I’ve
had some that filled beautifully, though, while I’ve had to fight
the glass (with similar specs!) on others. As you work you’ll
develop a palette of colors that you like, that work for your
designs, and about which you can predict their behavior.

Good luck!
-Amanda Fisher

Regarding the use of enamels. Thompson used to sell the best enamels
when they were lead bearing. I just don’t like the brilliance or lack
of it in the non lead bearing enamels. Best bet, by enamels that are
lead bearing for silver and copper. Ninomya I believe are the best
because they all melt within a 10 deg difference and that is good.

Jennifer Friedman
Enamelist
Ventura, CA