Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Making Enamel Samplers

PMC / Silver Clay is just "perfect" for enamelling, but if you're going to work with enamels, you need to know they change colour when fired! Another issue is many enamel sample pics are taken on copper and fine silver produces different reactions and colours....
Above are over 60 different enamel testers that I got from the helpful folks at Vitrum Signum. I've made it my mission to find a palette of colours I can work with on fine silver. Hopefully by documenting my experiments I'll save you some time and trouble.
To make each sample as equal as possible (and to allow for future identification) I've made 64 sampler leaves (+extras) engraving the make and colour reference on the back of each one. I also added LowF to low temp enamels and HF to Higher Temp ones. Eventually they'll create a very useful, colourful graduated sampler necklace!

Above are my first 15 enamel samplers. I've tried to photograph the colours as accurately as possible and have added some notes. Not every colour is probably at it's best, they might be changed by different temps or times but I've followed the temperature notes in the catalogues as much as possible. My personal favourite from this group is Soyer Jewellery Enamels 606 Moss Green, which although labelled as Opaque is surprisingly transparent.

All comments and experience sharing welcome! :)
Nic xx


  1. Nicola, I am loving Soyer 291 Bright Red!! Now that is a fun one. I wish they sold those in the States. I am excited for you!! Realistically, I am going to have to steal time from here until the end of the year. Between work and home and prepping for surgery in January I am up to my eyeballs. :)

    I can't wait to see more testers.

  2. Nice Samples Nic. I see you got some Kujaku 105A. My favourite!

  3. The 291 would look fabulous in an Autumnal piece, such a delicious colour!
    Joy - I was sooooo lucky to get the 105A, it was a cancelled order that Vitrum Signum had and their very, very last 50g. I shall be treating it like gold dust, it's so stunning especially the thicker layer in the veins of the leaf which show it's true colour better.
    Nic x

  4. What a huge amount of work this is! And what a brilliant resource for everyone. Talk about dedication to duty Nic!!! Hope all is well with you :)

  5. I haven't tried too many Soyer colours yet Nicola, what a lovely shape for samples, I'm usually lucky if they all come out the same size. I just cut them from sheet metal.
    What are the 'tubes' they are stored in? Do you buy them like that?

  6. I spoke to Joy Funnell (who's done loads with PMC and enamels), she mentioned that sheet sample colours don't always come out the same as silver clay samples. So I rolled the clay out and used a sugarcraft cutter to make the firing blanks.
    The thing that took the most time was carving the reference no in before I fired them,lol.
    The tubes are what Vitrum Signum send their 10g sample sizes out in. Neat aren't they, I think they're blood vials or similar so you might be able to pick them up on ebay?
    Nic x

  7. Hi there - just stumbled across your blog.... Try covering half of every sample with flux for silver (a thin layer) Most reds, oranges, yellows and purples will show their true colours only over flux! A lot of these colours are more brilliant over a layer of flux because the colours that make up these particular hues are gold bearing or other minerals/metals that don't react well to silver. So if you separate the colour from coming into contact with the silver, you will see the actual colour intended.
    Although you do get japanese colours that claim to fire "direct on silver" - usually it is the case that it will always be better over flux. :)

    Try SOJE3 flux for silver.. or N1 flux for silver (ninomiya)..

    Happy enamelling!!

  8. Thanks Gia
    Will try some with flux ones next :)


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