The Art of Living by Making Art

Jewellery inspired by nature and made by hand.
How I make it, why I make it, the challenges I face and the successes that come my way.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fine or Sterling?

I don't do a lot of enamelling on copper, not because I don't like it but it just doesn't seem to fit with the aesthetic that I'm into right now. What I like right now is transparent enamel on silver. What I have to think about before I make a piece is whether to choose fine silver or sterling. I weigh up the pros and cons of each according to the piece I am making and often I use both metals in one piece. Here are a few observations about using both metals in combination with enamels.

Fine silver
  • transparent colours really pop

  • no tedious depletion gilding needed (see an earlier post I wrote about this)

  • takes textures easily

  • very soft, so could bend if not formed (domed for example), or if used flat, very thick sheet is needed

  • more difficult to get a hard smooth high polish, on the edges for example
Sterling silver
  • colours can be a little muted, most of the Thompson transparent greens and blue-greens are fine, other colours may be duller

  • needs to be depletion gilded, I do it ten times!

  • sterling has much greater strength than fine silver meaning greater choice of form and construction

  • sterling can be polished to a super hard shine

  • If you want to experiment sterling offers some interesting possibilities if you don't depletion gild, ie let the copper oxide bleed through into the enamel

Fragment Series

And here is a pendant I just finished. It's all in sterling for strength and because the edges are high polished and because I knew the green enamel would work well.

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