How did I turn a page in a coloring book into a work of wearable enamel jewelry art?
This past year, I studied Enameling at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) with the well respected enamelist, Rebekah Laskin. Of the techniques we studied, I most enjoyed cloisonné, watercolor painting technique, and champlevé.
For our first challenge, we attempted to arrange the delicate, fine silver cloisonné wires standing up on the copper discs we'd domed, to match our approved paper sketch. Once fired into earlier laid layers of clear or white enamel in the kiln, the wires provided cells to be packed with layers of color upon successive firings at 1550 degrees Fahrenheit. I created this hamsa piece with embedded glass beads, which I then bezeled in sterling silver, having soldered on a silver tube for the bale.
Watercolor with Oxides
A second project involved experimenting with watercolor painting techniques, and not only using the enamel ground up glass pigments, but also a type of color product called Oxides. I was inspired by the whimsy and wonder of painter Marc Chagall to create my two scenes. We were able to draw in pencil directly onto white enameled copper squares after stoning the surfaces to make them receptive to the graphite.
My favorite piece born out of this course is my Flora Champlevé Flower Necklace. Its creation involved applying all that we'd learned. This technique involves taking a black and white image and transferring it onto special PNP (press-n-peel) paper, which allowed me to heat transfer the image onto a sheet of copper using an iron. Soaking the piece of copper in an acid bath over a couple of days, I was able to etch out and recess only the spaces that did not have ink, creating the cells in which to pack my enamel colors.
I sawed out a portion of the design to create a singular bloom.
After applying and firing on the colors, I stoned down the surface to allow the metal design to reemerge.
I created a shadow in sterling silver on which to mount my enamel flower, cut a length of sterling silver tubing and soldered it on for a bale.
The completed piece was published in the Summer Edition of Ac Magazine!
And just like that, a coloring book page became a wearable piece of jewelry art - an unusual accessory that embodies the organic natural themes of Art Nouveau, so beloved today.
P.S. Since then, I've completed two more beautiful floral enamel pendants to complement the other pieces of my ADJ collection.