Making a Cloisonne Pendant Using Torch Fire

Cloisonné is a French word that means ‘to be confined,’ ‘to be cloistered.’ Traditionally, the cloisonné technique consists in making the contour of a picture by fixing very fine metallic threads on the piece and in filling the resultant spaces (cloisons) in with enamel.

The inspiration for the picture was provided by the painting “Profile of a Young Woman,” by the Renaissance Italian painter Sandro Botticelli (circa 1480).

Making a Cloisonne Pendant
Using Torch Fire

Step 1

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Pic 1

For this project, make an oval pendant measuring 7.0 cm high and 4.5 cm width using a 950 silver sheet 1.5 mm thick. The frame for the protection of the enamel consists of a 1.0 mm square section string soldered on the silver sheet using a very hard solder (SEE PICTURE l).

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Step 2

Prepare a 1000 silver flat wire 0.20 mm thick measuring 0.70 mm width (1000 silver is more pliable and it does not oxidize).

Step 3

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Apply a thin layer of colorless enamel (flux) to the piece and fire it using a torch. (SEE PICTURES 2 and 3).

Step 4

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Shape the wire which was divided into different parts at the top of the figure and place them on top of the enameled piece. You may drop a little bit of quick dry glue so the wires do not move, the glue evaporates in the heat. (SEE PICTURE 4).

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Step 5

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Gradually develop the picture by firing it step by step which facilitates the assembly. It is not necessary to solder the wires because the colorless enamel fixes the wires to the piece when it melts  (SEE PICTURES 5 and 6).

Step 6

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Choose the colors when the wire outline is ready and begin to apply the wet enamel using a number 00 paintbrush (SEE PICTURES 7 and 8).

Step 7

image_9Pic 9 In order to cause a sensation of sfumatto it is simply necessary to apply several shades of the same color side by side and mix the grains of enamel one by one before they dry. You can do that by softening the line 1 of transition from one shade to the other to cause the sensation that the colors are mixed. Tap gently the external edge of the piece using the handle of the paint-brush before the enamel dries in order to level. Let it dry very well (SEE PICTURE 9).

Step 8

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Fire it using the torch with the hard flame. First let the fire be large by closing almost entirely the air holes to guarantee the dryness (if there is a little humidity the water will boil and cause all the enamel to spill out from the piece ). After, open the air entrance to increase the heat (SEE PICTURE 10).

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Step 9

image_11Pic 11 Let the piece cool and repeat the process once or twice until the enamel is level with the frame of the pendant. (SEE PICTURE 11).

Step 10

Make the finish by using a diamond point, sandpapers numbers 280, 400 and 600 and wash the piece very well under running water and using a soft toothbrush. Fire it again for the enameled surface to reacquire its shine.

Step 11

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Finally, solder a flared bail using easy solder, put it in the acid to clear the silver and polish (SEE PICTURE 12).

By Carmen Lombardi [Volume 29, Number 3, June, 2010]
In association
glass on metal
Glass on Metal is the only publication dedicated to enameling and related arts. Technical information, book reviews, how-to articles and insight on contemporary enamelers highlight each issue.
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