Our Blog

Fire and Acid

  • Image
  • 0

I can’t believe it’s March already and I haven’t written a post yet!  Shame on me.  But there’s been plenty happening!

 

Today, for instance, I have been playing with fire and acid!  Honestly, it’s not quite as bad as it sounds.  I’ve been making some enamel test strips.  I’ve wanted to get back into enamelling for a long time and I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy a pyrometer, which is a probe that sits in my little Uhlig jewellery kiln and monitors the temperature.  Without it it’s a bit like flying blind.  Hundreds of years ago they didn’t have such equipment so all credit must go to those true artisans.  Me, I like to cheat and use modern technology where possible to make life easier.  I was a bit dismayed when it arrived, however.  For the amount of money I spent on it I at least expected it to be made out of cast iron and come with a man who must crank a handle to switch it on and off!  It turned out to be light as a feather with a rather long probe (cue offensive jokes).

 

 

Pyrometer

Pyrometer

 

 

My husband, who is brilliant at everything, managed to fit the pyrometer for me.  It was a delicate operation and quite fascinating when we took the kiln apart.  Who knew that it was full of little orange clay pieces for insulation?  The dust went everywhere….

 

 

 

 

When the pyrometer was fitted we used some fire cement around it to hold it in place and then Steve funneled all of the clay back in (which wasn’t as easy as it sounds).  As usual, there was some left over!  It’s so useful to know what the temperature is in the kiln because enamels generally fire between a certain range, and over firing certainly isn’t good for them.  I’m really pleased with it.  You can buy them from Vitrum Signum.

 

So today I decided to make some enamel test strips.  Basically they’re strips of copper over which is fired a clear flux (basically clear enamel, and not to be confused with soldering flux), and then various colours and silver foils used over them to test the colours.  Firstly Steve sanded and polished the strips for me (below top left), and then I dipped them in a pickle (acid) solution to clean them (below top right).  After a wash off in water I sifted some opaque lead-free enamel over the back (below bottom left and right) and fired them for two minutes at 800°C which was the recommended temperature and time.  The green colour worked, but the yellow went an awful black colour.  I can only think that perhaps the opaque yellow enamel, which I’ve admittedly had for a long time, has ‘gone off’ due to moisture or some other contaminant.  Because these opaque colours are only going to be used for the back it isn’t as bad as it sounds and I can still use them.

 

 

 

 

I used lead-free enamel because after copper is fired it creates ‘firescale’ on any uncovered surface which needs to be removed with a warm acid bath, and lead-free enamel copes better with the acid.  Once it had been in the pickle Steve polished the top of each copper piece.  This will be the surface I will test my new transparent colours on tomorrow (below).  The reason for enamelling the back and the front is because glass and metal expands and contracts at different rates when heated, and by enameling both sides your piece is less likely to suffer from cracks in the glass.  I will let you know how it goes!

 

 

Soyer and Ninomiya Enamels

Soyer and Ninomiya Enamels

 

 

In other news we have two new arrivals in the Archer-Terry household.  Sadly my beautiful Truffle guinea pig past away recently leaving Tuppence on her own, and literally a week later a work colleague asked if I wanted to take their single guinea pig on whose brother had died on the same day as Truffle.  I took that as a sign and collected him the very same day.

He’s a lovely ginger and white ‘teddy’ guinea pig whom I’ve named Hector (below).  He’s ridiculously timid and didn’t seem to be eating much and the vet recommended I leave him for a couple of weeks before I get him neutered.  Then Tuppence will have a toyboy (she’s about four and a half and he’s about one).

 

Hector Guinea Pig

Hector Guinea Pig

Also my husband made me a huge 6 foot cage for our other new arrival, Pearl the hamster (below).  She’s very friendly, loves her wheel and is ridiculously photogenic!

 

Pearl the hamster

Pearl the hamster

 

I’ll keep you updated about my adventures in enamel.  Bye for now!

 

Kelly.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Show Comments (0)

This is a unique website which will require a more modern browser to work! Please upgrade today!