A day’s work turned into two. I had two investments out of four crack after firing, so I had a bit of a do-over. But this is the result. The rose hearts are always good sellers so I need to keep a few on hand. The ruling lines are 5/16” spacing. Click on picture to enlarge.
The Pegasuses (Pegasii ?) are an experiment. The three little ones are charms or very small pendants. The two larger are definitely pendants. They are Sterling silver but have been acid treated to raise a coating of fine silver. These two pieces will be glass enameled red. They are wearing in-line roller skates. It’s the mascot of my daughter’s Pegasus skating club.
The large tags are an experiment too. The one marked “Adams” is a commission, but I also decided to make a generic “Texas” version.
I am considering a slightly new direction with my metal working / art adventures. I would like to add some color to my work. Silver with some occasional black tarnish doesn’t add much excitement to silver jewelry. I could start to add colored gems. That would be a major next step.
There is another option I have been mentally exploring called glass enameling. First thought might be the kind of paint that comes out of a rattle can (spray can) made by a brand name, Rust-Oleum. Nope, not that kind.
The enameling I am considering is fusing glass particles to a metal substrate with the use of high heat. Hot enough, 1450 degrees, to melt the colored glass and fuse it to the metal. It’s been done for centuries and one of the best known processes are from France called Cloisonné and Champlevé. Another process called Basse-taille offers a similar result but uses only translucent enamels to show the features of the metal underneath the coating.
It was also a practice in China and other countries in the far east. The example shown above is from the Ming Dynasty. Examples can also be found in Europe, the near east and many other world cultures.
All processes fuse colored glass enamel into cells created in the base metal. The cells are created with metal wire frames in the Cloisonné method and by carved or formed recesses with the Champlevé. There are many variations as in any type of art.
The results can be very stunning and beautiful. It is a creative process with a lot of controlled heating required. Just the kind of challenge to keep it rare and collectable.
There is an alternative chemical epoxy cold process method that can be used to create a similar look, but I think the old school firing is my preference. It’s the heat of the fire that attracts me to lost wax casting… and to this glass enameling process.
I have a little project I am going to try. If it works out the way I imagine, I’ll certainly exhibit the results and it may be the start of a unique product line of glass enameling.
Casting of silver causes a fire scale to form on the silver because of the high heat and exposure to air. When a silver piece is released fresh out of the investment material, it is very dark and scally. The first step is to wash and scrub off all the investment, then to drop the piece into the pickle bath.
I use an organic acid solution that it heated to slightly steaming temperature in a small crock pot. This is the pickle. The piece, depending on solution temperature, may stay there for about a half hour or so.
I usually am able to scrub off the blackness about half way through, then a bit more time in the pickle the silver will be the snow white as seen here.
This is actually the pure color of silver before it is polished. The slight pink seen on the metal is a blush of the copper that the acid draws out. Sterling is 7.5% copper to make it hard and more durable than pure silver.
After this stage, the sprue is cut off and filed smooth untill evidence of the sprue location no longer exists. Then comes all the polishing and burnishing to the final finish.
Some pieces have an applied chemical darkening to add contrast.
So after this point is where all the working with silver really begins. I love it!
Silver purchase prices have risen. It was in the ~$14/T oz. range and is now near the ~$18/T oz. area, for casting grains total cost delivered in my studio. Market price is always lower than purchase price. I just restocked with 10 ounces as this is the lowest cost break point weight for Sterling. But it also means I will have to adjust my finished goods pricing to follow the market. This is about a 20% increase in the price.
I have paid over $22.00 dollars per Troy ounce less than two years ago. The price varies constantly. For me it is what it is and the cost of my work will vary with my supply. I don’t fine tune it too closely with the market as that fluctuates every day. I use a fair estimate and definitely cover the cost of a new stock material purchase. 60¢ a gram is a good round actual cost estimate.
Small silver cost changes right now are not too critical when cost is lower. Silver is not presently the major expense against operating supplies and expenses and reasonable (but pitiful J ) labor earnings. A more expensive metal like gold is opposite. A few grams at $28/gram (14k) can radically change the cost of a project.
The total value of silver or any precious metal jewelry is not all in the cost of the metal, but it helps. Sometimes a lot.
I have ordered a sculpting product called Cx5 and Cx5s made by Adam Beane Industries (ABI). I have been aware of it for several years but had no motivation to try it. Now I am wondering if it will be a suitable media for doing the small carvings I have been doing in wax.
The material is heat sensitive in relation to it firmness or actually hardness. It can be worked much the same as wax but also has characteristics of clay. It seems to be a product that is a bit out of the mainstream for hard core sculpters. But that could be because it is more of a cross breed between clay sculpting material and hard wax carving. Any change in work habits are hard for hardcore artist, used to their standard processes.
In any case I have ordered some and will give it a workout. I submitted a question to the maker of this product asking if it could work directly in lost wax casting replacing the burnout wax. (NO REPLY) Cx5 will be of less interest to me if I have to do an intermediate step of creating a wax master for the burn out.
I have an adult son and daughter that like to work with clay so I asked them come over when it arrives and try a sample. It's claimed to be a great product for making masters for resin casting. Since I like to do that as well as my silver work, perhaps he and I can do some larger pieces than I normally do in lost wax silver casting. It is also suitable for any large scale metal casting too.
After 19 days I finally received my shipment of Cx5 and Cx5s. No comment from ABI for the delay and in fact the ABI website had listed my order as unpaid for 15 days. That concerned me so I used the PayPal customer support system and communicated my concern to ABI. They shipped the product nearly immediately.
Cx5 is much harder material than Castilene and I am excited to give it that workout I mentioned above.
I will review the product over in Ramblin' Dan's Workshop and certainly display any creations here in Dimensional Art Org.