Perhaps you can help me with a thorny niello problem. I am new to
inlay and thought this would be a fun thing to get to grips with, so
in the summer set up my plant pot furnace in the garden, carefully
weighed out my lead, silver and copper, melted them down in an old
crucible and then poured in loads of sulphur. Fairly predictable
results, lots of gagging, clouds of brimstone smoke and some fairly
good theatrics from me. Anyway, I ended up with something which looked
like it had the right properties but just would not work.
Reluctantly, I stumped up the cash and did what I should have done
all along and bought a small packet of the stuff from Fischer.
Then, with great anticipation, I set up my test rig and tried again,
only to find that it failed in the same way as the stuff I had made.
As I don’t have a kiln, I was torch firing from underneath the piece
I was trying to inlay. The niello was powdered and mixed with alcohol
and a bit of sal amoniac ( so far, so Mcreight), inlaid into channels
I had cut into the sterling. On the rare occasions that the powder
staid in the channel it first seemed to degas the sulphur over the
surface of the piece, turning it black, and then would not really
flow. I seemed to get good niello on the very edges of my channels,
but the middle remained unfused or badly fused. Also large parts had
just eaten into the silver.
Does anybody have any suggestions on how I might go about getting