Experiments and Risks

Taking risks and experimenting are a vital part of my business.  Every route I have tried regardless of success has been a major learning experience for me.

This past Saturday, New Years Eve, I spent most of the day trying out my enamels.  In the fall I bought out an entire studio worth of tools and supplies from a man who could no longer do metalsmithing.  It would take me quite a long time to list all of the stuff I got, there are so many new things that I have not gotten to experiment with yet.  Many of the tools and equipment were things I used while in college, but since I have been out of school for 4 years, I am a little rusty on all of these techniques.  There are also different things that I have no experience with and no training.

This is my first experimenting with enamels.  While I did get a kiln in the new tools and supplies, I was using the torch fired enameling technique.  I have never tried enameling until this past weekend.  I watched a couple of YouTube videos and paged through the enameling books that I got along with the used tools and equipment.  I probably enameled 10-20 pieces before I got one that I really liked the final outcome.

This video was one of the most useful, I really like the dipping technique she used.

I was also cheating and did not do any of the enamel washing that is suggested in every book I have looked at.  I suppose I should do this in order to have the best results.  Anyway, this is one of the first pieces I created:

Enameled Bird by Beth Millner

Enameled Bird by Beth Millner

One of my objectives I wrote about in my post, “Jewelry Business Objectives 2012” was to do some wax carving.  Lost wax casting is a pretty cool process with many steps.  In order to start casting, I will have to do some practice castings and also get a bigger and more powerful ventilation system.

I should have included Enameling in my Jewelry business objectives for 2012, but since I am calling the shots, I can just add that into the mix.

Often times I want my jewelry to go on a new and interesting path and finding that path can be difficult.  I generally do not know that I am on the right design path until a piece is finished or until I am already on the path.  This understanding of my practice functions as a reminder to let things happen organically and just let the designs and ideas come out naturally.  The only part I am responsible for is getting in the studio and letting go.

While I have made a couple of blog post outlining goals for the next year to help me have a general path to follow, I also need the time to just experiment.  So, if there are two additional items to add to my post, “Jewelry Business Objectives 2012” I would add Experiment and Take Risks.

My best work has come out of experimenting and taking risks and channeling the studio freedom at least one or two days per week might be the best way to further expand and develop my jewelry making skills and practice as an artist.

The enameling was quite fun and I think I will do more experiments this week.  Here are some more YouTube Videos that I found inspiring and informative.




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2 responses to “Experiments and Risks

  1. i also wanted to give you some information about enameling, as i’ve been doing it for about six years now, and am also a professional jeweler. I’ve not gotten into torch firing, but i do know a bit that may help you. books and teachers both say that you need to wash the enamels for a very specific reason. like many other substances, glass oxidizes, and this happens from the outside in. this oxide can also begin to flake off. this is what the washing takes care of. lighter (smaller) particles stay suspended in water and go down the drain with it, while the larger ones stay in your enamel jar.
    the oxides can ‘dirty’ the color. when using opaque colors, the oxide contamination is not as noticeable. when torch-firing, the dirty nature of the gas being used can also effect the colors, making washing even more unnecessary. If you get into the more traditional methods of enameling, esp if you start using transparents, you’ll definitely want to wash your enamels, but youll also want to get a kiln. these traditional methods like cloisonne are what most books focus on…

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