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Making enameled cuff links


#1

Dear All,

A student of mine is exploring copper jewelry and just came up with
plans/designs for a series of copper enameled cuff links. I realized
how was she going to solder and enamel on the same piece of copper?
Can this be done and if so which is done first? I am not an enameler
so am not sure if its even possible. She is under a deadline as she
is preparing for her Visual art I.B. exam next month and wants these
in her show. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Sharron in dusty Dhaka waiting for the rains to wash the trees clean.


#2

I have done something like this – enameled on a soldered copper
piece. It’s not a particularly predictable process in my experience
(since, of course, hard solder flows in the mid 1400s and enamel
generally fires between 1400F and 1650F). I did have solder "creep"
on my piece that required cleanup afterward, but the enamel fired
successfully and the piece’s integrity held…

My recommendation would be to use the hardest solder she can find and
definitely do a test piece. :smiley: Solder first, enamel second. Ideally,
of course, she could find a way to construct the bases without the
use of solder at all… riveting?

Best of luck,
Kieran


#3

Sharron-I would recommend that your student make an enameled panel
on copper, and then make the cufflinks with a bezel and then set the
enamel panel like it was a stone. Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#4

Hello Sharron,

Perhaps your student could set the enameled pieces just as they were
stones. Just an idea.

Judy in Kansas


#5

A student of mine is exploring copper jewelry and just came up with
plans/designs for a series of copper enameled cuff links. I realized
how was she going to solder and enamel on the same piece of copper?
Can this be done and if so which is done first?

Generally, the enameled piece is set into another metal for the
finished product. Therefore, the enameled copper could be placed into
framework that already has been made into the cufflink. I’m not going
to say that enameled pieces are never soldered, but normally they are
not - at least not to make this type of project.

Sandra Graves


#6

Hi Sharron

If you use hard silver solder with a good initial close fitting
joint it will not release during the subsequent enamel firing
provided that no pressure is applied to the joint during the firing.

For cuff link blank I would use a 2mm thick base with no counter
enamel on the back-face where I assume all of the solder will be
located. One point you need to take into account is that everytime
you fire the solder will get that much harder but it can also
develop small black pits. To prevent pit damage to the hard solder
during enameling you need to cover the solderedjoint with a flux,
borax is ok for this but any high fire flux[solder variety] will do.
Enamel on the face of the cuff link should not exceed 0.3-0.4mm in
depth and a protective metal edge [ champleve] to the enamel is
useful.

The metal edge is useful if for any reason the solder joint failed
during the enamel firing -just turn the completed enamel face down
supported on the metal edge and resolder the finding but use easy
solder this time - I havenever needed to do this but it can happen
to anyone.

Is hard solder better than enameling solder- I believe that a good
hard solder joint will be stronger than an enamel solder joint
because it flows better and so makes a better initial solder joint

As an experiment try soldering two pieces of sterling together using
hard solder and then try to seperate them using heat alone- the metal
will melt first. You don’t realise how much surface tension there in
in the joint until you try to correct a misplaced hard soldered item.

regards

mike kersley
Hertfordshire
UK


#7

Just a thought… what about bezel setting the enameled piece on the
cuff link base?


#8

Hi Sharron,

I do this all the time… no problem. I use silver but I see no reason
why it won’t work with copper. She should us heavy enough gauge metal
as not to need counter enamel. She needs a trivit that can hold the
enamelled piece face down without marring her design. On the bare
copper back of the finished enameled piece, solder the cufflink
finding on with hard solder. Hard solder flow temp will make sure the
enamel reflows well and you will get a nice solder and a nice final
flow on your enamel. If the flame touches the front it could discolor
the enamel.

I hope this helps,
Sharon Kaplan


#9
You don't realise how much surface tension there in in the joint
until you try to correct a misplaced hard soldered item. 

Unless of course it’s not a misplaced joint at all, but one you
really don’t want to come apart, and then it just might separate when
you don’t want it to. I use exclusively hard solder all the time and
this is an occasional problem with a piece involving multiple solder
joints (most pieces then). A few experts have said I should use hard
solder for parts like the joint in a ring shank but easy for
soldering the setting to the shank. I have tried this many, many
times and been disappointed every time. The last time I did it was
for a friend’s Christmas present and the colour match of the easy
solder is so poor that it is far too visible. I much prefer to use
hard solder for all joints. Torch control is the key to avoiding
previous joints coming apart.

Sorry for hijacking your thread! And with regard to what you said,
yes, this is particularly true with two bits of sheet soldered
together as opposed to two bits of wire, for example. They’re
virtually impossible to separate!

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk
http://helensgems.ganoksin.com/blogs/


#10

You can solder first using IT solder which melts at a higher
temperature than the enamel (if you’re careful) and it’s available
from Thompson Enamel.? However, it’s best to do the enamel and set
the enameled pieces into something that will bezel the enamel. If
not, there’s a good chance that the enamel will chip or crack if it
is accidentally bumped against something. Remember, it is glass.

If you don’t want to bezel the piece,? you can do champleve enamel,
by etching a design in the center and enameling the recessed areas
only. That way there will be a metal rim to protect the enamel.

Donna Buchwald


#11

Your student should use either IT solder or Eutectic solder on the
piece prior to enamelling. She needs a solder that will not melt in
the kiln. Yes, she can create a piece and treat it like a piece to be
set, but I don’t think that is what you were asking.

jennifer friedman
http://www.jenniferfriedmanstudio.com