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Finishing Cloisonne


Don’t use burs to open up the air pockets in finishing cloisonne
enamel. You need diamond drill bits. Get them from your dentist,
or buy them. They are small and will not damage the enamel when
you open up the air pockets to refill. Always use water. A drop
on the spot where you are drilling will do the job…but keep wet
and rinse.

Another point: If using wet/dry sandpaper begin with 150–If that
is too coarse to your liking start with 220, 300, 400, 500, 600
and a 1200 will give a fine polished finish. You might not want
to do all those steps, but it does take the scratches out of the
metal and the enamel. If you take it to 1200 you can then then
use a fine wax (such as Renaissance from England) if you want a
satin finish. Otherwise after cleaning with a glass brush you
can refire for shiny finish. The white alundum stones are ok, but
I don’t use them because they are so coarse for fine cloisonne–
I like my lapidary machine with water, have 220 one side and 600
the other.

Knopp: What is the pixie diamond grinder that you mentioned?
Have not heard of that. Louise


Hi, For grinding cloisonne I use the method I learned from
MerryLee Rae. It involves the use of an expanding rubber belt on
a lapidary unit with a water drip. First I mount the piece on a
large dop stick using enough dopping wax to fully support the
cloisonne out to the rim. I begin with 320 grit, move to a 400
and then finally a 600. When I am satisfied that all the enamel
is off the surface of the wires and there are no areas that have
not been sanded, I clean it under running water using a glass
brush. Next I flash fire to close pits and restore to glassy
surface, being careful not to overfire which could cause the
enamel to crawl over the wires. Sometimes I return to the 600
belt to give a satin finish to the surface. Looks nice on
opaques, not so great on dark transparents. I used to use cerium
and tin oxides for the final satin finish, but got tired of
trying to remove it from the tiny “pores” opened up by the 600
belt. Hint: be careful not to grind too long with the 600 grit,
or with a worn out 600 belt, as this will remove metal but not
enamel. When you refire, the enamel will move over the lower
wires! Warning: a new 320 belt can cut through the enamel very
quickly! Be expecially aware of what is happening at the edges of
your piece. Inspect it frequently as you are grinding.

If you decide to use the diamond grinding pads in a flex shaft,
be aware that the diamonds are bonded on with a toxic material.
Use with water and maybe a fume mask!

Happy enameling.

Carol Holaday


Sorry my message was so cryptic! I meant a diamond grinder, that
is really popular with lapidary and jewelers. It is made by
diamond pacific and called the PIXIE. it has 6 wheels, and
automatic drip for water. I love it. Sue Knopp