Thank you for answering all the questions so carefully.
I have never used nitric acid to get rid of fire scale.
Do you dilute it?
If so what ratio do you use.
No - I use it full strength so it is VERY dangerous if you do not know how to use it !!!
Its a bit difficult to describe this just by writing instruction but there is a paragraph about it in my book.
You must wear FULL safely clothing - rubber gloves/ sturdy shoes / chemical apron / goggles and mask.
Never breath in the fumes or get any acid on your skin / eyes. Nitric will burn skin immediately and the vapors will also damage you internally. You will need IMMEDIATE medical attention. If you want me to give more details I can send more info - but this is where Health and Safely could be a problem with online teaching.......let me know
The depth of your recesses, would they allow for cloisonne wire to be used?
The recess you need for a wire is 0.3mm....if you wires are higher you need to make the recess a bit deeper.
What size wire would you have used for the beakers?
0.3mm and possibly some fine ones of 0.2mm
You used reds and yellows.
Yes, but the yellow you see on the beakers is gold foil.
I struggle with reds in particular, as they tend to burn. They only come out well on a white base.
The fact that you are able to fire them on a high temperature and still get a beautiful red?
The red you see is actually a deep pink which is more reddish - Blythes Pink A14
Another good red I use as I have a but of stock is KJE 105A however it is not made anymore.
The trick to firing reds ( and pink some oranges and yellows ) is to fire them over a layer of enamel flux.
Check Japanese colours as they can be more vibrant.
Yellow tends to be tricky, how are you able to work with it?
The yellow in the design you have seen is gold foil with a layer of flux over. If I use yellow it tends to be Soyer 30 which is consistent and a nice colour. Try firing what you have over a flux layer and see if you get an improvement. The flux I use is Blythes C1.
What inspires your designs?
It varies from project to project. I get given themes for gallery exhibitions but my own preoccupation is looking at abstractions though studying colour and light in a variety of environments.
I thank you for the list of suppliers.
If you don't mind may I ask the price of the beakers and did they sell well?
They got a very good response at the Goldsmiths fair. I made three and sold one. The price was £2300.
I hope to get future orders at some point because people seemed genuinely interested.
There are areas that seem to be stenciled in, like the yellow on the purple beaker?
The blue beaker with the three yellow,narrow rectangles.
If so how do you do this?
What would you use as the stencil, especially on a curved surface?
How do you get such clean' line from you stencils?
The yellow was gold foil and not a stencil.
If I was going to stencil I would use paper cut outs and dampen them so they would sit on the vertical
- or you could use sticky backed plastic, sift the enamel and then pull off when dry.
I might use kylre fire in the enamel if it was difficult for the enamel to stay vertical in a section.
Do you use a gas kiln?
Yes I prefer them to electric as the elements can burn out in an electric one, but the electric are good for firing too. I work in the back garden so gas is ok, it depends on your set up.
A gas kiln might not be suitable is some places.
Answer the questions when you have time, there is no urgency.
I am very grateful for all you time and effort.
I am away this week but back on the 5th of November - looking forward to chatting more when I get back.
I think for my next post to you I will send photos of doing a copper bowl. It might be best for you to try working on a copper piece before you try silver ? the techniques are a bit different but it would be a useful thing to try if you are wanting to do vessels/bowls/beakers/3d forms.
This image is of a piece with just one coat of enamel on that I did as a demonstration.
I will dig out the rest of the images and we can look at how the design builds up for next time.
The inspiration for this piece is a study of birch trees...the colours is Blythes white T6.
The green is just the colour reacting with the copper !! ........I'll send you more soon.
( the tile at the back has been screen printed )
The size of the beakers are perfect.
Thank You !
I thought they were much larger which would have been too much for my brain to cope with.
The size is the maximum I can fit in my flame-fast kiln !
The lady that bought one at the goldsmiths fair also said that she liked the scale. She is a collector but only has a modest house so she like the idea they could fit with her display.
The Britannia silver is 960 as opposed to 925 (sterling silver).
A higher fine silver content.Thats perfect.
Higher silver is also regarded well by collectors as there is more silver in the piece !
You used flux first. Why?
I wanted to cover the metal in one go - I also anticipated adding wires, but decided against it as I was making them in a limited timeframe and realised I would have difficulty working things out in time.
The flux that I have used are either too soft and bleed through into the colour, or when I use a diamond flux (very hard) it dis- colours.
They can discolour - firing is tricky if they over fire or underfire.
Soft fluxes would be a nightmare on a beaker !
So just hate flux and avoid it except for cloisonné. Does the flux you use work well or is it temperamental?
Blythes C1 has always worked for me without any problems. I use it on all sorts of pieces.
Presumably you would try and cover as much metal with flux as possible in one go?
Yes this was the main aim of using the flux as a base.
I might though work on them differently on future pieces, it isn't totally necessary.
It all depends on the design. These pieces essentially were a big test to see how to make them.
They are the first beakers I have ever enamelled !
Before I enamel I clean the silver in nitric acid * to clean any fire-stain out of the metal, so I needed to fire the first coat all in one go to protect the metal from getting the fire-stain back into the metal surface.
(* nitric acid as you will know is a very dangerous acid - it will burn you skin/eyes and you must not breath the fumes at all, only ever use if you have the right set up. Always wear full safety clothing - goggles gloves apron proper footwear and you need a fume cupboard etc etc - if you need more information on this do let me know - do not use acid if you have not been shown how to use it. )
If an area was not covered with flux, but still fired, what would you do.
That area would have fire scale on?
I would have to clean the fire-scale off again. Which would mean going through the acid again. There may be patches where the enamel has come off.
The substance that you use to hold the enamel. Would it be the equivalent to 'gum arabic'?
I use gum Arabic' would that do the same job???
Klyrefire is similar but is clear and doesn't seem to affect the enamel so long as you don't add too much.
There is the risk of making the colour cloudy if you add too much. Its more similar to gum tragacanth.
Do you use the enamel bought in frit form or powder form.
Generally Both depends what I have in/what is available, but with the beakers I favored frit as I want to be sure I got a good clear colour. Powders are ok but I can be certain if I grind my own colours.
How many times on average would you fire each piece?
It varies ! each design is different. The minimum is around 6 firings but with a painted piece it can be 12+
However that said too many firings with a beaker in Britannia can cause problems the metal is soft and will warp / distort the design etc.
At what temperature (high, medium or low)
I run my kiln at around 950+ I like to fire quick and high.
Do you stone the piece once all the enamelling is done, what would you use?
Yes, I also stone between layers so there is not too much build up and I make sure the colours stay clear.
I used the wet-pack method for the beakers. Placing the enamel on wet with a quill can give a bumpy surface as its difficult on the 3D vertical. I may try doing some sifting next time...
I use carbourundum stone and diagrit pads.
Just out of interest, do you do your own engraving?
I imagine its hand engraved not lazier or etched?
What depth is your engraving?
Yes - all hand engraved. Time consuming but I enjoy doing it and like the control I have.
The depth of engraving is generally 0.3mm but on these piece some areas are 0.2
What do you do about the fire scale in the metal.
Clean it out before I enamel - see previous note above re: nitric acid
What instrument do you use to wet pack the enamel with.
A bird quill (goose I think ) - old fashioned stlye !
Very interesting that you fire the beakers upside down, on a tile, with a hole in the center.
The hole is essential - you have to allow air to flow into the shape & without a hole the heat will build up too much.....the tile is also there to catch any enamel if it falls off, so that it doesn't go onto the floor of the kiln.
Placing the work upside down also gives more chance for the enamel to stay, due to the shape.
Enough for now!!!!
Looking forward to chatting more !
Here is a supplier list for the enamels and sundries I use > click here for SUPPLIERS
HI again Sasha !
Here are the answers to your first questions !
What thickness metal did you use for the beakers?
> The beakers are 10cm in height, 8cm wide at the top and 3cm wide at the base. They were made from a disc of 17cm diam metal which was 1.2mm thick. They look thicker at the top once they are spun because the action of spinning pushes the metal up to be thicker at the rim. The top rim measures 1.5mm. The thickness graduates back to 1.2mm towards the base.
What metal did you use?
>The metal is Britannia Silver. This is good to enamel and more importantly easier to spin for the silversmith as it is a softer alloy than standard silver.
Were the beakers forged or cast?
>They were spun by http://www.silver-spinner.co.uk/
Here are some photos of how they where made. I haven't had time to arrange them in order but I think you can work out the progress......Each beaker was engraved to give texture to the metal, then enamelled in various techniques using transparent enamels. I used a flux Blythes C1 as a first coat to ensure it covered the entire surface before I commenced the colour work. It is ground very fine and I add a bit of klyre fire to enure the enamel stays on the vertical surface. I fire the pieces upside down on a ceramic fiber board which has a hole cut away to the same diameter as the top of the beaker, so as air/heat can get inside the shape.
The ceramic fiber board is also useful to catch powder if any drops down so it doesn't affect the kiln floor.
I anticipate your next set of questions !!! ..................
with SASHA LEON