Saturday, August 23, 2014

Experimental Saturday - Enameling on Copper Metal Clay

If you know my work or read my posts, you know I love metal...especially copper...and enameling!  You also know I like to try new things.  A few months ago, after really, really, really wanting to give metal clay a go, I played a bit and then dove in head first and bought a kiln. At the time, I wanted to add an enameling collar to the kiln so that I could expand my repertoire even more with cloissonne and other kiln-enameling techniques, but it just wasn't in my budget then.

Fast birthday is in a couple weeks (Happy Birthday to me!!) and hubby asked me what I wanted...can you guess what I answered?  Exactly - that enameling collar!  Sadly, I don't have it yet...should be here by my birthday though and just be warned that I will be inundating you with more progress because I have been researching a lot of different enameling techniques.

But you know I am impatient, right?  I want to enamel metal clay now!  My only option right now is my beloved immersion method torch-firing, a la the lovely and talented Barbara Lewis.  Maybe that would be do-able.  I queried over on the Facebook Inspired Enameling group and got some advice.  Barbara shared that she had tried it on a finished bronze clay piece that a student brought to class and was unsuccessful. Hmm...I decided to see for myself!

Here are a few of my 1st copper clay must sacrifice for the greater good, right?

I won't bore you with the details.  Here are the after photos...

It started doing this as soon as I took it out of the flame.  The smaller one I tried a 2nd time with the same results.

This sad one lasted a  little bit longer :(
Just look at those gorgeous color flakes on the paper!  I do have to admit that they are still sort of cool...perhaps salvageable!

So, in hindsight, I think one of the biggest factors in why this was an epic fail was that metal clay is more porous than actual metal sheet.  I also fired these pieces in the most straight-ahead program included in the clay's instruction packet.  I now know that there is a special firing program for enameling pieces in the kiln, so it would follow that maybe that would also apply to torch-firing them...maybe!

As for kiln enameling on metal clay...there are artists out there making gorgeous art.  I thought I would share a few with you...

Robbin Bowler is an artist/designer who creates sweet birds and other whimsical jewelry designs from CopperClay that has been enameled in a kiln.  Love these!

Pam East is a prolific artist who has written several books and tutorials  on enameling metal clay.

Gorgeous copper clay and enamel pendant.

Hadar Jacobson is well known in the metal clay world, not only as an artist, designer, and author, but the inventor of  Hadar's Clay.

Last on today's list, but definitely one of my favorites and one of the artists whose work really inspired me to want to work in metal clay, is Wanaree Tanner.  She breaks down creating this gorgeous piece, as well as many others, step-by-step on her blog.

Obviously not copper, but, HELLO? Gorgeous!
So, get ready for more metal clay and enamel from me...not going to let my little failures get me down! Now, off to bed with me since I will be getting out bright and early to drive over to BeadFest to do some shopping and visit with some of my team members here and other online friends...maybe you?!

Melissa Meman


  1. I had the same issues you did, I guess I need to try it again. Maybe read the instructions on how to fire with that in mind first would be good lol!! I haven't looked at the package instructions in years. I sure do love the work you shared from these artists! Thanks Melissa!

  2. Hi Melissa! I have no idea what an enameling collar is, but I'm glad you're getting one for your birthday wish! (Happy Birthday!). I love the vintage-look of the pieces you created!..don't throw them away! The round flowered piece is my favorite! Thank you for showing is the other Artist's work, too!

  3. Yes Melissa, don't throw them away...I can see some awesome pieces using seed beading around them..To so totally love the colors!


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