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Eye protection while enamelling


#1

Hi,

In March I plan to wire up my shed to support my Paragon
XPRESS-Q-11A, and then I can try to enamel some of my silver forging.

Prior to that, I may even attempt some torch enameling just to test
the waters.

However, several sources seem to indicate that I need eye protection
against UV or IR before I can proceed with enameling.

  1. Do I really need special eyewear just to do enameling with a
    pocket butane torch?

  2. Since my kiln is programmable, can I just do my enameling “by the
    numbers” with the programmable timed temperature sequence, rather
    than have to look through the glory hole to take the ware out at just
    the right moment?

Thanks,
Andrew Jonathan Fine


#2

Andrew,

In March I plan to wire up my shed to support my Paragon
XPRESS-Q-11A, and then I can try to enamel some of my silver
forging. 

Do you plan on enameling on sterling silver? If so you will need to
depletion guild your sterling to bring a layer of fine silver to your
top surface for enameling.

2) Since my kiln is programmable, can I just do my enameling by the
numbers with the programmable timed temperature sequence, rather
than have to look through the glory hole to take the ware out at
just the right moment? " 

It is not necessary to look through a glory hole. I time my firings,
but you still have to open the kiln to put your piece in and to
remove it. This will expose your eyes to the rays.

Jennifer Friedman
Ventura, CA
enamelist and jewelry artisan


#3

Jennifer,

Do you plan on enameling on sterling silver? If so you will need
to depletion guild your sterling to bring a layer of fine silver to
your top surface for enameling. 

Not at all. I have.999 fine silver forgings that I like, but just
want to add some color to. I am, however, considering letting some of
the masters here on the group convince me to adopt .950 (or as a
matter of pride, .958 Brittania standard).

Would.958 still require depletion gilding? If it does, I may have to
be a smartass and somehow try to find a way to cast different silvers
adjacently.

Andrew Jonathan Fine

BTW, I have #5 welding glasses that I bought for an oxy-acetylene
torch that I never did yet buy. Or do I need neodymium glasses?


#4

Andrew,

.950 silver will need depletion guilding.

If you are using a rather solid piece of fine silver with at least
the equivalent of 16ga then you will not need to counter enamel.

Also, you do not have to worry about firescale when using fine
silver, nor will you have it with sterling provided you depletion
guild the piece.

Your welding glasses should be fine.

Britania silver of .958 might be okay, but I was told it wasn’t being
produced any longer.

It is the addition of copper to the silver that creates the problem

do you know how to depletion guild?

good luck
Jennifer


#5

Jennifer,

If you are using a rather solid piece of fine silver with at least
the equivalent of 16ga then you will not need to counter enamel. 

Useful fact. Thank you for telling me.

Also, you do not have to worry about firescale when using fine
silver. 

The main reason I was led to considering that I should experiment
with torch enameling a side or two or my forgings.

Britannia silver of .958 might be okay, but I was told it wasn't
being produced any longer. 

According to U.K. law, Britannia silver is any silver that meets the
purity standard of the law which defines it. It hasn’t been made in
centuries because there is no economic reason to. But there’s no
legal reason why anyone could not, today, create an article meeting
that standard and having it hallmarked by an Assay Office with the
appropriate stamp.

Of course, I am in the US, and the Britannia standard is legally
irrelevant here. But chemically it might prove to be a decent
compromise between purity and mechanical strength, given today’s
silver prices.

It is the addition of copper to the silver that creates the
problem. do you know how to depletion guild? 

I don’t have any professional silversmithing training whatever.
Everything is all book-learning, a lot of surfing, and my 10 foot by
16 foot outdo= or laboratory back of my house.

I’m attempting jewelery as a hobby right now, after a previous
lifetime of electrical engineering and computer science. I’m also on
SSDI as during that same lifetime I have worked for a long time while
struggling with various mental illnesses, and in 2008 I had reached
the point where I have now become unemployable.

I’m in an isolated area of the country where there are no
professional jewelers willing to teach, no arts courses available, no
apprenticeships offered, and no jobs. Travel is not feasible because
my SSDI barely covers my family’s living expenses. Tuition is even
less so, because my wife owes a large student loan already, we have a
mortgage, and unlike a young person I cannot justify a loan for job
training.

(Would that there be some Saudi King willing to pay for airfare and a
semester’s training under his artificers. It’s one of my favorite
fantasies.)

I’m completely on my own, except for the internet, where I tend to
ask a lot of people a lot of annoying questions. A lot of people
have been very helpful though.

I have made quite a lot of progress since my starting point a few
years ago, and while that progress might be laughable from the
standpoint of a master jeweler, at least that and caring for my
family keeps me from falling on my sword due to boredom.

So, I don’t know know how to depletion gild. I’ve read that the
process involves nitric acid, which is a major reason why I have not
tried it yet.

Andrew


#6

Andrew,

Please check on past discussions about eye protection for enameling
in the Orchid Chat Archive. In general, when kiln firing, you want to
protect the eyes from IR. There are several companies that make
plastic lenses that supposedly protect he eyes from the IR spectrum
put out by kiln exposure while enameling. Most of these glasses are
inexpensive. Check with the following suppliers: Enamelwork Supply;
Schlaifer’s Enameling: Rio Grande. Another company is NOIR. If you
are really concerned about exposure you can consult with Robert at
Auralens. It used to be that Calobar lenses were the "gold standard"
in IR protection from the enameling kiln heat, but AO which made
Calobar is no longer in business and Calobar is hard to come by. It
is a glass lens. I believe Auralens can help you if you want to
pursue the Calobar route. The key thing about eye protection while
enameling is that your lenses should not block out too much visible
light while protecting your eyes. You will need to see what is going
on in the kiln.

Judy Stone


#7

I think what you are referring to for your needs is actually called
raising the fine silver. You heat sterling or some other silver alloy
to darken it, pickle it, and then brush it with a fine brass brush.
Repeat several times and there will be no more copper left on the top
surface of your metal. Check your books; it’s in there.

M’lou Brubaker, Jeweler
www.craftswomen.com


#8

Andrew,

Where are you located I am much in the same boat as you.

I love to teach and being on SSDI it’s difficult to find employing
opportunity as well.

I can help with some of your questions in the field of metal
smithing.

Feel free to contact me at offline

I believe that some education comes by helping others learn the same
craft.

Depletion guilding can be done with out acid. As far as I have been
taught anyway. I teach my methods of “kitchen metal arts” as it were.

Blessed Be
Samantha Ann