Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Regarding enameling on Argentium


#1

Regarding enameling on Argentium… I’ve read the Orchid archives
noting others not having much success. But neither is there much
info. Any tips for successful torch enameling (propane & O2) on
Argentium 970 or 930?

Thanks for any help.
Jamie


#2

I have tried it and I have spoken to the guy who invented Argentium.
The Germanium that makes it delightful metal that it is in all other
ways makes the enamel “ping” off. The necessary bond between the
glass and the metal can’t happen because of the Germanium. He did
say that he was planning to work on an alloy that had the properties
of Argentium (handling and non-tarmish) AND would permit enameling.
No news on that of late.

Justine


#3

I don’t work in enamels, but I just had a thought. Would it be
possible to plate the argentium with fine silver and thereby permit
the adhesion of enamels?

Mike DeBurgh, GJG
Henderson, NV


#4

Mike,

I don't work in enamels, but I just had a thought. Would it be
possible to plate the argentium with fine silver and thereby
permit the adhesion of enamels? 

Thanks, Mike. Your comment made me think of depletion gilding. Will
gilding work on Argentium? If so, this might be the answer to
enameling on Argentium. Anyone?

Jamie


#5

Tamizan sent me a private email (8/2/09) responding to my question.
I want to post parts of it for everyone else, so that it is available
in the archives for future use. Thanks Tamizan!

I'm an enameller working in the UK. I've always discounted
Argentium as I was told that silver containing germanium is NOT
suitable. Some tests have shown that the colours go muddy and
yucky. However, Cynthia Eid has been here for the weekend, and
we had a demo & slideshow yesterday. I am GOBSMACKED!!! by
Argentium's potential. 

Cynthia knows of at least one enameller working on it, but
apparently you [in the US] have much more success with 970, and
then heat harden in the oven or whatever. Sadly only available
so far in the States, but I intend to order some from Rio Grande
for shipping to UK 

I would torch fire from below only, big fluffy flame (bushy
flame), piece supported everywhere on steel mesh (bend to shape) 

There is a very well established company in Birmingham UK which
makes badges for Knights and royal regalia, and they are all
torch fired (name escapes me, senior moment!) I've seen a photo
and they have a huge fluffy flame about a foot long under the
pieces. 

You'd need to get the heat fairly even over the enamel area to
avoid cracking, I surmise. This may be a problem as Argentium is
as you know not such a good conductor of heat as sterling, so
torch firing more difficult than kiln to get even heat. This may
be one of the problems with it. 

You can solder findings on after with sterling, but with
argentium you could not support the piece fully without touching
the enamel surface. Fusing sounds good, before enamelling, to
avoid findings dropping off.... before heat hardening, brush out
the enamel surface well (natural bristle nail brush with lots of
running water, at least a minute. Bit of detergent early on to
remove finger prints & other grease.) Then support the piece
again in the oven. We looked at temps, and the hardening temps
should not be hot enough to affect the enamel, but avoid dust,
and grease, however you can.

#6

When I have made enamelled items I have either soldered the findings
on using enamelling grade solder or fused. You can use a borax based
flux or a wash of copper sulphate solution, which will create a
eutectic at the junction. Do not let borax flux anywhere near the
enamel, so make sure you clean things thoroughly. I do not solder
afterwards because you often get a striking of the colour with the
reheating.

nick


#7

Hello Nick & Orchidians

When I have made enamelled items I have either soldered the
findings on using enamelling grade solder or fused. You can use a
borax based flux or a wash of copper sulphate solution, which will
create a eutectic at the junction. Do not let borax flux anywhere
near the enamel, so make sure you clean things thoroughly. I do not
solder afterwards because you often get a striking of the colour
with the reheating. 

Don’t understand exactly the term “striking of the colour”, but it
is well possible to solder findings on to the reverse after finishing
the enamelling. On sterling anyway. This is of course providing that
the back is not enamelled and that you can position your torch so as
not to touch the enamel surface.

Clean well - as before a natural bristle nailbrush or similar, under
running water for a minute or more, support the piece on a trivet or
stilt, enamel side down and not touching the trivet, borax and
solder on your findings.

Some say easy solder, some say that this can craze the enamel and so
use hard. I “practice” the placement cold first to make sure it can
be easily deposited, everything is ready, and that I have the
sequence right for more than one finding. Then gently warm the whole
piece, going in high and fast for the actual soldering bit. (OK so
the heat diffusion with Argentium should make this a bit shorter in
time) For small or delicate findings (earposts etc) I will hold them
just outside the yellow of the flame (so warmed but not burnt) until
the solder about to melt, then place and solder. Let the piece air
cool. I gave up enamel (IT) solder as it balls up ie does not flow
easily, a bit like medium which I don’t use either. Also, if that
finding is going to drop off in the kiln Murphy’s or s*d’s law) then
it doesn’t make much difference which grade solder.

Occasionally the flame bounces off the trivet and slightly blackens
the enamel surface (Murphy again) but this can usually be removed
with pickle or a very light sanding of 1200 grit (fine) emery - even
tripoli will remove light burning.

Hope that’s useful.

Best wishes from the Balloon Fiesta and the UK PMC Symposium, both
in Bristol this weekend.


#8

Hello everyone,

I’ve been travelling and teaching in England, so I have not been
keeping up with Orchid too well. I did see some questions about
enameling on Argentium Silver that don’t seem to have been answered.

I am not an enamelist, but here is what I have learned from my
enameling friends, and the Enameling Forum:

-Argentium 930 can be enameled on by using the lowest temperature
that the enamel melts at, for several minutes. Opinions vary as to
whether it is best to use freshly abraded AS, or whether it is
better to annealing and pickle one to six times prior to enameling.
Jennifer Friendman, a fine enamelist and Orchid member, has had good
results after six times, but another friend of mine had good results
on freshly abraded AS 930, using a clear flux under transparents.

Jim, on the Enameling Forum reports: “I fire enamels on 970 at the
same temperature as fine silver, 1450 deg F. I have a PMC kiln that
controls the temperature well, but it looses about 100 deg F when I
put a piece into the kiln. I wait until the kiln heats to the point
it starts controlling, the relay in the klin starts clicking, and
watch through the window until the enamel just fuses and take it out
at the orange peel stage. I follow the same steps on fine silver
too. I clean both metals the same way, with Bon Amie cleanser which
is just pumice. This removes any oxidation from the surface.
Argentium forms a germanium oxide that is transparent and reduces
the tarnishing but I remove it just before I enamel. So far the
argentium seems to work the same as fine silver…”

So, I encourage enamelists to pursue enameling on Argentium 930 or
970, using these tips, and to report their results. I hope that this
is helpful.

Thank you to all my new British friends for the warm hospitality!

Cynthia
www.cynthiaeid.com