B5 Plique a Jour Enamel

Plique a Jour Earrings by Julia Rai

Submitted to the Registry evaluators - February 2009

These delicate earrings were probably one of the smallest things I’ve ever made at this point in my metal clay career. They are 4cms from the top of the earwires to the tip. Plique-a-jour is an enameling technique that allows light to shine through the enamel so it’s great for earrings. I’d never done plique-a-jour before and I made several test pieces to get the technique right.

There are two techniques, one using mica behind the holes and the other using surface tension to hold the enamel in the holes. I tried both but found the mica method the most successful. It means a bit more cleaning up after firing but it was worth it.

I drew the design of the earrings on paper which then provided a template. I wanted them to have lots of holes in to make the most of the plique-a-jour enamel. The tiny dangles were very fiddly but worth it!

These earrings got good scores.

Informed use of the technique – 4.5 out of 4.5
Design – 2 out of 3
Craftsmanship – 2.5 out of 2.5

9 out of 10.

The comments were simple, “This is one of those pieces that is easy to evaluate and that generates few comments. The earrings show an understanding of the techniques and realize them in a workmanlike manner.” This is fine but once again, I’d really like to know why I lost a point for design. What’s wrong with the design that means it didn’t get full marks. It’s so frustrating when they do that and don’t explain!

I really owe a debt of gratitude to Linda Darty. Her enameling book was inspirational as well as being a great source of techniques. I made these earrings using the plique-a-jour technique explained in her book. In October 2009 I attended a Masterclass with Linda Darty and she’s a wonderful teacher and great fun to be around. If you get the chance to attend one of her classes, I’d recommend it.

Here is the project description from the Masters Registry website:-

​B5 Plique a Jour Earrings

Matching earrings of two parts each, both of which use the plique-a-jour technique.

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