B3 Torch Fired Enamel Earrings

Enamel spiral earrings by Julia Rai

Submitted to the Registry evaluators - June 2009

This project has taken me three goes to get right for the evaluators! My first effort was a simple spiral shape with embedded fine silver to form loops for the ear wires to attach to. The inspiration was snow on branches and I used opaque white enamel to get a snowy effect, then dipped them in Liver of Sulphur. I really loved them but the evaluators didn’t.

Design 3 out of 5
Enamelling 2.5 out of 3.5
Finish 1 out of 1.5

6.5 overall is not enough to pass. The comments are self explanatory…

“Enamelling could have been more adventurous. You have this spiral form which ends in an incongruent silver wire. I would have loved to have seen it resolved with a little more thought. Ear wires need attention. They are too wide and are incongruous, poorly formed and finished and don’t relate to the earring elements.” Oh dear!

Enamel earrings by Julia Rai

Re-submitted to the Registry evaluators - August 2010

So I tried again. This time, I wanted to form something more freely and I’d just attended a sculpture course. Using large lumps of clay and carving into them is very liberating so I wanted to do something similar in metal clay – smaller of course! I started off with a piece of clay in a rough disk shape, then began to carve into it, pulling bits out and texturing them roughly with a sharp point. I had great fun making them, then enamelled them using the torch. I soldered on earring posts to finish them.

Design 2.5 out of 5 – worse than before!
Enamelling – 2 out of 3.5 – worse again
Finish – 1 out of 1.5

5.5 – not good at all. Here are the comments…

“I feel like these earrings strive to satisfy the requirements but do not show evidence of advanced exploration – of form development, design, use of color or enamelling.” Whoops!

“Frankly, these are not very attractive. The colors smear together and fight with the texture. More than that, the earrings without color are not very interesting. Adding color to a poor design is rarely enough to improve it, but when the color itself is poorly handled the resulting work becomes overworked and unappealing.” Well don’t spare my feelings!

The final comment really annoyed me though…

“My customers would not buy earrings this heavy.” How is that relevant to my evaluation? I wore these earrings many times before sending them off and didn’t find them heavy.

Blue Pearl Earrings by Julia Rai

Re-submitted to the Registry evaluators - February 2011

Anyway, for the next try I decided to make very small, delicate earrings.

These were formed with tapered elements, pasted together and then textured with the old favourite thick paste and cocktail stick. I embedded fine silver wire into the open parts to put a pearl on after firing. Earring posts were soldered on after firing.

Design 5 out of 5
Enamelling – 3.5 out of 3.5
Finish – 1.5 out of 1.5

Woohoo! 10 out of 10 – I’m so pleased because I really love these little earrings. Here are the evaluators comments….

“A lyrical combination of form, texture and color. I’m pleasantly mystified by a surface texture whose origin I can’t identify. Although heavy, these earrings hang well and follow the curve of the jaw nicely. In doing so, the pearl and enamel are featured. A very nice job!” Flippin’ heck! There was me thinking these were small and delicate and they still think they’re heavy!

The other evaluator agreed, “I agree; good job. These could be rubber molded for production by lost wax casting.” Interesting thought. And there was more in this evaluation – something I’d never had before, actual advice!

“A suggestion: Large disk post backs provide stability, especially for heavier earrings. They are easier to use and more secure. I’ve included a pair in case you are unfamiliar. You would need to patina them, of course.” This was a very welcome addition to a really useful evaluation.

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

​B3 Torch Fired Enamel Earrings

Make a pair of earrings that use metal clay and enamel. The purpose of this project is to foster experimentation with torch-fired enamels.

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