Better late than never – September’s Creative Color challenge!

When we last left this challenge I think I was trying to claim that the dog ate my homework!

But really it was a series of interruptions, while trying something new and challenging!  Which, in my mind, is what these color challenges should be!

For September, Louise had picked the colors of a dusky Spanish sunset.  I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to try champleve enameling.

Champleve is a enamel technique where raised areas of metal are incorporated into the overall design of the piece (and the enamel is laid into the recesses).  Like so many jewellery techniques, it is an ancient one.  In the Middle Ages they chiseled out the areas to be enameled.  You can also create the recesses by etching, engraving or fabricating.  Since I don’t know how to engrave, and don’t have the chemicals to etch I chose to fabricate my piece.

First you decide on your “picture”, trace it out of your sketchbook and use that as the template to saw out of silver.  Apparently, you can use sterling as the raised areas but I decided to stick with fine silver.  So, I sawed my design out of fine silver and then sweat soldered it on to a sheet of sterling silver.  This was the technical difficulty I referred to in my last post – sweat soldering is a big pain….  Oh, and for those of you who are technically inclined, I had to depletion guild the piece before moving to enameling.

Then the fun begins – the enameling.   The colors in Louise’s photograph are definitely more pastel than is really available in enamels.  I knew I would have to mix/layer the enamel colors to try to recreate a sunset.  Oh yes, I had decided her photo was good inspiration!

Here’s how it turned out:

Here is the finished piece - I know, it turned out to be tropical storm instead of a sunset, but hey - it's still tropical!
This is a close up of two of the raised areas - the palm trees and the spit of land. These are fine silver.
Here is the right corner of the sky, showing silver and enamel clouds, blue sky and the storm moving in. This is many layers of many transparent colors, with a tiny hint of opaque white and orange.
This is a close up of the left corner of the sky, once again with many layers of transparent enamel with a tiny touch of opaque white and orange.
This is a close up of the water in the bay. I just love this because it really looks like ocean bay water - all different colors!

The challenges were enameling on sterling silver, and the surprise of what color you were going to end up with (despite what the container says!).  I was quite happy with how the enameling turned out.  Plus, I thought my buildings and trees had a real charm!

But then, came the truly scary part!!  I had decided that this piece would be best as a pin, which meant I had to solder on the pin stem and catch – AFTER it was enameled.  I knew this was possible because my book told me so…, but I had never done it before and I could see all sorts of potential for disaster.  It was a nerve wracking time at my soldering table.

I had success though:

Yippee! Handmade pin back soldered on successfully!
The pin in all it's tropical glory!

I’ve got lots to say, so I’ll be back soon with more news!

Hope you are well!


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