The process of enamelling is one of the oldest methods used to
decorate metal; the basic technique is simply sifting ground enamels (powdered
glass) onto a metal surface and then heating to a high temperature in a kiln.
This is called firing, and is usually at a temperature between 750C and 880C. Other
techniques include Cloisonné, Champlevé,
Plique-à-Jour, Basse Taille and Stencilling.
When fired the enamel melts, flows, and then hardens to a smooth, durable vitreous (glass like) when cooled. Enamelling is characterised by its brilliant non fading colours, its durability, and the variety of colour effects depending on the angle of light.
I use copper for all my collection, vitreous enamel and sterling silver ear wires and chains for my jewellery.
Firstly I cut the copper and clean it; it needs to be clean of any oil or dirt so that the enamel will stick to it.
To prevent warping when the metal and glass are heated and then cooled, the back of the piece needs to be enamelled first.
The piece then needs to be cleaned again before building up layers of enamel on the front, with a separate firing for each layer.
The effect of firing isn’t an exact science - once in the kiln the process cannot be controlled - so experimenting with different colours is one of the joys of working with enamel. Each piece is unique.
When I am happy with the finished colours I polish the piece ready for use.
the gwen dunne collection