Thursday, December 27, 2012

14thC tiny tidbit

Another project begun earlier this month was this brooch, a holiday gift commission inspired by the jewelry of the 14thC.

Here is some of what it took to get from my initial sketch to the completed piece:

There were quite a few challenges along the way, starting with getting the An Tir checky background just right; remember that the backing metal on these enamels is only about 3/4" across or less. Enamel is very finely ground glass, like beach sand, but smaller.) Fortunately, our plucky heroine has been playing with glass and fire for a number of years now, and while it is never as intuitive a process as stitchery is for me, time has seen improvement in my skill set... (Hmmm, speaking of practice, am thinking it may be time to start up again with teaching my various enameling workshops again after the turn of the year...)

Three layers each of white and gold, carefully hand-packed, (six firings) plus two layers of counter enamel (two more firings), and the checky base is ready for the limoges painted enamel details.

That sorted out, the heraldic designs (Goutte de Sang and Jambe de Lion) that are the insignia of particular awards in the SCA Kingdom of An Tir, were painted on with limoges enamel (finer than beach sand, more like talcum powder) mixed with lavender oil, fired at 1500F, and that process repeated several times to refine the images and add details. I always love to see the working sketches that I make begin to translate into material objects. Now that the enameling for these pieces is completed, the next step will be to fabricate the settings that will protect the enamel and allow them to be worn as jewelry.

(click picture for closer view)

A close view of very small bezel being sawed to shape, before the finish work of smoothing and polishing, and setting the enamel. (interior is about 1/2" x 3/4")

Bit by bit, all these pieces will be completed and assembled together in an tiny articulated brooch... (see drawing on right side of image)

Finally this challenging project is complete! I am quite happy with how the enamels turned out, and with how tidy the tiny hand-fabricated bezels look. Hope the recipient is as pleased with it as I am...


  1. what excellent work! I know exactly how diligent and careful the metalworker artist needs to be to fabricate such delicate exquisite bezels! I made five bezels for various pieces for Christmas presents this year and had to toss two of them. I'll start over in January!
    Good work! The recipient will be thrilled, I predict!
    Happy New Year!!!

  2. Thank you Claire, I didn't realise that you also did metalwork. Do you have pictures online of your work? I find that making small bezels well is easier than larger ones, which are more difficult to solder evenly.

    I have four different things that I do for income, enameling and jewelry is one of them. I learned to solder as a teenager umpteen many years ago. The folks that ordered this are, in fact, quite happy with it and should be picking it up this weekend, since they were out of town over Christmas. I had posted the pictures on my Facebook "regalia" album (with permission from the husband who ordered it for his wife) and she is really pleased with her gift. It was not a surprise, as they collaborated on the design, it is my great joy to be able to do this kind of custom work for people.

  3. You're welcome! Here's a picture of my favorite pair of earrings - I am working on a project "100 Bezels" and these were about # 39 and 40. I'm almost up to 100. (Next up, 50 Hinged Pendants). If you can't see the image b/c it requires Flickr or something, I'll figure out a way to show you!

    I've only been working on metals for about seven years, a few hours a week. Now that I am retired I get more time at the studio! It makes me so happy to hammer and melt and form!

    And I bet the recipient of the enamel is delirious with happiness! You do great work!

  4. Gorgeous work, Indigo! You are so very talented.


  5. What a treasure, Indigo. I'm sure the recipient will cherish it her whole life.