Well been back to Edinburgh to do a one to one with Dorothy Cockerell , today we did plaque de jour , I ended up using some pre cast shapes for the task as I mentioned in my last blog the silver casting I did wasn’t very successful . The idea of the plaque de jour is that the enamel when fired will look like stained glass, best used on something that will hang and let light transmit through it. I have done a pair of ear rings. they are not totally finished yet they still have to be polished and ear hooks attached.
This particular technique is very frustrating for a beginner, every time I put the enamel in I dry it too quick and it falls out !! still I persist. And by lunchtime I have the first two firings done and I can see it develop, still a few holes and not joined at the edge on the large hole but I feel I a getting there. After lunch and two more firings I am happy ll the holes have filled and gone shiny, the hardest part it keeping the enamel wet to form a meniscus film, when I do the residential at higham hall this is defiantly one of the techniques I am going to do.
Next session with Dorothy July 20th so I need to get practicing before then
The saga of the silver casting for my enamelling on 6th June, well all not well I have made a right cods ear of the dam thing, all you silversmiths and enamellers out there who do your own silver work to enamel I am in awe of you all it is so difficult. Still this is what its all about the learning process, well mine has not gone well so I have recast my sliver into some flat disks so I can work on them on the 6th . next blog will be after the 6th , soo excited .
Back on the train to Edinburgh this should have been a two day event but things have been changed slightly today (Saturday) is the silver casting and then on the 6th June we will continue with the enamelling of the casted piece.
Trish our tutor for the cast work goes through all the health and safety bits, we are using flame throwers (well gas torches that are very powerful ) so we have huge protective gauntlets to wear when we cast. I decided to cast two pieces of glass and a twig. Well the first pour went well I got the silver into the hole the only problem was the finished piece was a bit to thick and what I had planned wouldn’t work so I re cast it , well that’s when the problems started ! I forgot the air holes. Ok try again. Left the twig in the cast!! think I will let Andrew the jeweller make the silver for me to cast in the future!! Eventually I get the things done the twig I can work with but don’t care for the other so I may melt it down and do something else before the enamelling day..
photos to follow
I have now been on the first of my classes in Cold enamelling to update my skills in, I travelled up to Glasgow on the Friday ready for the early start on Saturday, there was 8 of us on the course, Fiona our tutor made us all welcome, some of the others had already done cold enamelling I was a novice , hot enamel is my normal field of enamelling. Saturday starts off with a health & safety briefing and and overview of the materials we will be using, I am very interested in the thixotropic resin / enamel with this you can enamel unusual shapes curves and rings. We make a paperweight with inclusions a pendant with dried flowers, a plaque de jure style pendant, a cast piece and I did a ring that I took with me. Photos. Its quite a complex process mixing has to be exact or the rein will not set and this will ruin your work.
Went to bed exhausted my mind was full of things I want to do! day two was a finishing off process buffing polishing edging and all the rest of hard work that people never think of! I would like to do a nit more with Fiona as I think I have only touched the tip of the iceberg as far as cold enamelling goes. But it is defiantly an avenue I want to keep exploring. looking forward to the next session Hot enamelling.
On the train t 7.43 AM off to Edinburgh , why cant we have some enamelling tutors in Newcastle ! well I know of one but she is off doing her PHD . Dorothy Cockerell is a world famous enamelling and is off to teach in Kashmir in May. I arrive at Dorothy’s workshop I am like a kid in a sweet shop, the equipment, and materials she has, wow, I want to move in!!. we are looking at consommé this is where you use wire to create shapes on on a background and enamel in the wires.
I was working on silver, the reason for this is because the work I do for Andrew Dytherm of Dytherm jewellery designers in Monkseaton , Whitley Bay is always silver and gold, very occasionally palladium or copper. So today I am going to use silver disk and silver wire.
It is a fiddly process and when I look at the expertise of Dorothy and other enamellers I am a complete ham-fisted beginner! Well I get the base later on and the wires in place , even get the enamelling going ok, then Dorothy pushes our boundaries , and takes the work past the lovely look to cracked and not so nice, this is to show us how we can hopefully recover the work. I think her words as my face fell when I saw all my hard work looking a mess was “ you are here to see what can be done and how to do it not make perfect pieces, these you go home to do with practice !” so this is what I will do . the image shows the cracked glass L . I leave catching the 6:30 train back home exhausted but excited. Cant wait for the next session in May.