Thursday, March 20, 2014

repairing the damage

our plucky heroine has been working on a "repair the broken enamel" project; one of my pieces from a far kingdom met with something bad...

Now mind, I only ever repair enamels that I myself initially created (as that way I know the materials used and the construction... which allows my safety in the deconstruction and repair) and in the years I have been making regalia and jewelry, I have only ever had three come back for repairs after being damaged.

On arrival here, this lovely piece showed a small piece of missing enamel over the Pelican's wing, and cracks all over the golden transparent background...

Looking more closely at the setting, there was one side of the heavy backing plate bent away from the bezel cup that holds the enamel - extremely odd... that this amount of bending could occur without damage, or any effect at all, to the pearl drops

Back lighting shows how bent the backing plate is. Whatever caused this is probably whatever caused the damage to the enamel as well

After removing the enamel from the setting, it was obvious that the bezel had been all that was holding the shattered enamel glass in place. This is pretty much what I expected to happen, as the other time I repaired an enamel with this amount of cracking on the surface it also had many shards that came loose when the setting was removed

All the detached enamel bits have left a great deal of the design and background missing, and the remaining enamel is deeply cracked, which will likely remain as shadows in the repaired enamel

These tiny pieces in particular are part of the Laurel wreath and I shall endeavor to reattach them when the repairs are made. The enamel design will go back into the kiln at 1500F for a number of times to reattach and fuse the broken pieces and to fill in the places that are missing... This is not a trivial repair!

learned something new... in the process of gradually adding new enamel to the parts where it was entirely missing, the many repeated hot firings also gradually brought the air bubbles (that were initially fused into the cracks with the first repair firing) to the surface, where they could be filled and re-fused.
While no repaired piece looks "like new" this is by far the best re-enameling I have done, and will remember to use this technique should other repairs show up.
This enamel is really difficult to photograph well, but I am really happy with how the deep cracks all across the background have been not just fused back but are mostly invisible now, and how the missing enamel has been replaced and color-matched... next steps will be to remove the old bezel cup, create a new bezel cup, repair the damaged backing plate, and then reassemble the entire piece... like I said, it isn't a trivial process..


  1. I would never have guessed that it was possible to repair an enamel. Once again your wily abilities impress! That poor piece looks like it was trod upon by a horse. . . and it looks great all repaired.

  2. as far as I am concerned repair is ONLY possible to pieces I have originally made myself. It is too dangerous to try and repair anything else, or anything that has had other peoples "repair" attempts. I had someone ask me if I could repair their broken enamel that they had attempted to stick together with super-glue. Sadly, I could have done much with it, had they not tried to glue it together, super-glue has cyanide compounds in it and they become vaporised at the kind of heat used to melt the glass... not safe at all!