Pliqué a jour Enamel

Pliqué a jour Enamel

Plique à jour enamel (also know as window enamel) is one of my favourite enamelling techniques. The enamel looks like a see-through window panel held in only by the glass fusing to the inner edges of the window’s frame. It is a beautiful and delicate looking technique, that seems like a bit of magic is keeping these beautiful pieces of colour suspended in jewellery.

It’s also one of the most fussy techniques in enamelling, because you run the risk of the enamel overheating and melting out the enamel from it’s frame as it fuses in the kiln. Traditionally, enamelist were limited to how big they could make each window opening, for fear of the enamel melting out.

In this article, I will show you how I learnt to make plique-à-jour enamel for large window openings in jewellery.

First, I begin by creating a piece of jewellery with window frame openings that will later be filled with enamel. It is important to used extra-hard solder when making these frames, because the melting temperature of regular solder will melt in the kiln. Some artists use a single sheet of metal and cut out the windows, but for me I use pieces of rectangular wire to fabricate delicate branch like structures to hold the enamel.

In these pieces, I have used sterling silver (925) for the frame and hard silver (800) for the pins of the brooches. After the piece is fabricated, I will need to “depletion guild” the silver, so that the pure silver will be brought to the surface. This is important, because enamel does not like to fuse to sterling silver, and prefers either pure silver, pure copper, high carat gold, or platinum. 

After the frame is finished, I will add a thin copper sheet to the back of the area I wish to add enamel. This copper sheet will be about 0.1mm thick, so that it will be easy to bend later. I give the copper sheet tabs around the edges of the opening that will be folded up and holds onto the window’s frame.

In the enamelling room, I will set the temperature for the kiln around 750 degrees Celsius (1400 degrees Fahrenheit) for my first firings with the foil backing on. 

The enamel powder will first be “washed” to remove the smallest and finest grains of powder, which would make the enamel look a bit cloudy once fired. Then the enamel powder is packed into the openings using small paint brushes. This is the part of the process I really enjoy. This is where I can mix my transparent enamel colours together as I pack them into the openings. Transparent enamels will blend colours with each other as they fire to create a luscious and blurry watercolour effect. After firing, I will repeat this step another 2 or 3 times until the whole depth of the window opening is fully filled. 

Once I am finished enamelling the piece, I will then remove the copper foil backing. This is done by pealing the copper foil off, as though it were the lid of a can. Under the foil there will be a layer of copper oxide and also likely some excess enamel that will need to be filed off using a diamond file.

The piece will need to be fired one more time in the kiln after the piece has been filed, firing temperature of the kiln for this stage, because of the risk of the enamel melting through the opening. I will set the kiln to 700-725 degrees Celsius (or 1300-1350 degrees Fahrenheit) and will keep a very close attention to it while it’s firing, so that I can take it out at just the right time. 

For one of my latest jewellery pieces, “Piece of the Sky”, I finished it by setting the enamelled frame into a custom brooch setting. Using this plique à jour enamel technique allowed me to fill an unusual shape with colour and to create the illusion of a sky image within the glass.

References:
“Bridging the Gap – Plique a Jour with a Profound Twist”, Glass on Metal, Bill Helwig, Volume
21, Number 4, August 2002, [ http://www.glass-on-metal.com/pastart/bridging_the_gap.htm ].
“Plique à Jour”, Cloisonne and Enamel Jewelry Making: Patsy Croft’s Enamel and Goldsmith
Blog, Patsy Croft, 8th October 2011, [ http://alohilanidesigns.com/plique-a-jour-2/ ].

March 01, 2017 by Chayle Cook
Ethics & Sustainability

Ethics & Sustainability

The gold and silver that I offer is sourced from an American refinery that is working towards sustainable practices by producing their metal from recycled sources. By sourcing this material there is no need for new mining to happen, and I can be assured that I am providing my customers with a more ethical and environmental source for their jewellery.

I offer environmentally responsible silver and gold metals in all of my collections.

In my own studio, I have always taken extra efforts to create a healthy environment and reduce my use of chemicals and toxins by using safer alternatives. I am happy to extend these philosophies to all the silver and gold I use in creating my jewellery.

January 01, 2017 by Chayle Cook
Where are your gemstones mined?

Where are your gemstones mined?

The gemstones that I offer in my collections are sourced from ethical Fair Trade mines. All of the diamonds that I offer are from Canadian mines, excellently cut in Belgium.

The benefits of ethical sourcing protect the livelihoods of skilled workers around the world and encourages transparency within the jewellery industry. I am extremely happy to provide my customers with a reliable and positive source for their gemstones.

 

  

Fair Trade Sapphires

Sapphire is next to diamond on the hardness scale. It is a beautiful and durable stone that comes in a wide variety of colours from red, yellow, green, and the traditional blue. Ruby is simply a specific colour of Sapphire.

I offer coloured sapphires from ethical mines in Australia and the USA. Each stone is hand selected for colour and comes with a fair trade level of background information about the stone so we can track its mining origins through to where it was cut, polished, and distributed.

 

Canadian Diamonds

The diamonds I offer are sourced from Canadian mines, which are known for their high quality diamonds and are governed by ethical labour laws. Each Canadian diamond is graded and coded with a serial number to guarantee it's authenticity and quality. You will receive a detailed GIA or IGI grading certificate with your Canadian diamond and a CanadaMark Canadian Diamond Authentication Plate. 

 

Shop Diamonds & Gemstone Collections

 

January 01, 2017 by Chayle Cook
Where is CHAYLE jewellery made?

Where is CHAYLE jewellery made?

CHAYLE jewellery is made in Canada, expertly crafted in Ottawa. 

I started my business in 2013 with a mission in mind: To produce quality jewellery designs for artistic jewellery lovers, using only responsible and ethical practices.

All of my current collections are exclusively handmade in Ottawa, using silver and gold refined from 100% recycled sources and fair trade gemstones. 

For clients, the benefits of buying and wearing Canadian jewellery is that it brings new products and fresh ideas into the market. By selling Canadian designers, we are helping to bolster our Canadian economy and create a positive connection between clients and their local jewellery artist.

January 01, 2017 by Chayle Cook
What are Fair Trade sapphires?

What are Fair Trade sapphires?

Sapphire is next to diamond on the hardness scale. It is a beautiful and durable stone that comes in a wide variety of colours from red, yellow, green, and the traditional blue. Ruby is simply a specific colour of Sapphire.

I offer coloured sapphires from ethical mines in Australia and the USA. Each stone is hand selected for colour and comes with a fair trade level of background information about the stone so we can track its mining origins through to where it was cut, polished, and distributed.

 

December 01, 2016 by Chayle Cook
What are Swarovski Cubic Zirconia?

What are Swarovski Cubic Zirconia?

Swarovski is an Austrian company that makes high quality hand-cut crystal.

I have chosen to use Swarovski Cubic Zirconia in my silver stud settings because of their brilliant sparkle, well-known brand of quality, and for the ethical and environmental benefits of sourcing non-mined products.

Each Swarovski Cubic Zirconia is laser etched with the Swarovski logo so that it is not confused with another gemstone or of an inferior crystal.

 

October 01, 2016 by Chayle Cook
Tags: Gemstones
Jewellery Cleaning Tips

Jewellery Cleaning Tips

How can you keep your CHAYLE jewellery looking it's best?

Here are a few simple "do-it-yourself" cleaning practices that are eco-friendly and will keep your jewellery sparkling like new.

 

1) Jewellery Bath

The sparkle of jewellery appears dull when there are oils like hand cream and sunscreen on its surface. However, this is easily removed! Prepare a small bowl of warm soapy water. Allow your jewellery to soak for a 1/2 hour or over night. Lightly brush the jewellery with a soft clean tooth brush, this will help remove any remaining oils. Rinse well under running hot water, this will help to wash away the last bits of soap and oils. Dry off with a towel and you will see a significant difference it the sparkle of your jewellery again!

Note: All patinas on CHAYLE jewellery should avoid soap, water, and chemicals to maintain their dramatic colours. See patina information here: Turquoise Patina Copper, Red Patina CopperBlack Patina Silver.

 

2) Polishing Cloth

The surface of jewellery can get small scratches over time. After cleaning you may find that the surface still seems dull because of these micro scratches. Polishing cloths are a great "do-it-yourself" option! Take a piece of flannel cotton fabric, folded a few layers thick, and place it on the table. Hold your jewellery down onto the flannel and quickly rub the jewellery back and forth into the flannel. The flannel will rub away small imperfections and light tarnishing without adding new scratches. Other fabrics are too course.
* Polishing cloths are also sold at jewellery stores that have polishing compounds on them which quickens the effect of this process.

 

3) Anti-Tarnish Storage

Once your jewellery is looking clean again, it is a good idea to store it where it won't tarnish again while you are not wearing it. Especially for silver jewellery, store in a sealable baggie or air tight container. Silver tarnishes with chemicals in the atmosphere like sulphur and can also be effected by the bleached lining of jewellery boxes, so sealable baggies are a great trick to help reduce tarnishing.

 

4) Professional Cleaning

I offer complimentary cleaning on all of my custom jewellery and wedding rings. Please feel free to book your appointment to have your rings cleaned!

 

 

 

January 14, 2016 by Chayle Cook
What is Blue Copper Patina?

What is Blue Copper Patina?

The Blue Patina I use is a hand-made natural patina on Copper. The colour is produced from the reaction between the copper jewellery and the vapours of sea salts and ammonia. The effect is similar to the green copper roofs on the parliament buildings in Ottawa, or the blue copper on the buildings by the ocean in Nova Scotia.

Additionally I buff on a thin layer of conservator’s wax to add additional gloss and protection.

**This patina should avoid soap, water, and chemicals to maintain its dramatic colour.

 

August 12, 2015 by Chayle Cook

What is Sterling Silver made from?

Sterling Silver is an alloy of 92.5% pure silver. It is used in jewellery because of it's beautiful white colour and workable malleability. Silver will tarnish over time, however the alloy I use is a new low tarnishing variety.

* Sustainably sourced.

March 04, 2015 by Chayle Cook

What is Gold-Fill?


I am introducing a beautiful material called Gold-Fill to my collections. With it's luscious real gold layers, it is an exciting alternative for gold lovers!

Gold-Fill is extremely durable and long lasting. The metal is fused with a thick sheet of real 14K gold and then heat rolled into shape. The final thickness is so durable that I am able to hammer and polish the jewellery as though it were solid gold.

Also known as “rolled-gold”, Gold-Fill is a thick (20%) layer of 14K gold fused onto silver. It should not be confused with gold-plating. It is a durable and long-lasting material that can be hammered and soldered without any damage or change to the gold! Gold-Fill is an economical alternative from karat gold and is superior in durability in comparison to gold-plated jewellery.

 

* Sustainably sourced.

The gold and silver that I offer is sourced from an American refinery that is working towards sustainable practices by producing their metal from 100% recycled sources. By sourcing this material there is no need for new mining to happen, and I can be assured that I am providing my customers with a more ethical and environmental source for their jewellery.

 

March 04, 2015 by Chayle Cook
Tags: Metals