Moth #2, Champleve
Here is another enameling test with Argentium. The bottom piece of silver is 20 gauge and the top is 22 gauge (purchased from Hauser and Miller). First, I cut out the moth shape in the 22 gauge metal and placed it on top of the 20 gauge sheet, and then fused the two pieces together. It took quite a bit of heat to accomplish this. I use an acetylene tank for all my soldering needs. When finished, I added some textures using a scribe and a ball burr, which I ended up having to cover up later (you'll see).
I put a simple bail on the back for a chain before doing anything else. There was some fire scale that showed up here. I didn't know Argentium could get fire scale. Perhaps this has something to do with the germanium-oxide coating? I am not sure. I sanded most of it away but decided to come back later and sand some more.
After laying on a coat of clear flux on the top (Ninomiya F3) and adding wires, I fired the piece and it came out VERY yellow and discolored. My first thought was, "It's ruined!" No, of course it's not ruined Maybe I left it in the kiln a bit too long?
So I simply cut up lots of tiny pieces of silver and gold (slightly thicker than leaf) and placed them over just about the entire moth, and then re-fired the piece.
Little by little I continued adding my enamels and re-firing at 1400 for approximately 2 minutes after each coat.
Hours and hours later, it was finished! I used diamond abrasive buffs to smooth it all out (mentioned in my previous post) and then placed it in the tumbler for a half hour. After that step, I sanded with some fine sandpapers (400, 600, 1200 and 4000.) I also tried out some cerium oxide (powder) mixed with water and polished with that, as well, but I wasn't as happy with the finish as I had hoped, so did a last polish with Zam.
One last note - some gray scale appeared on the front of the piece after a few firings (near the edges), so I had to sand the silver down to get rid of it. I used Argentium to make this piece instead of Fine Silver because by using Sterling Silver or Argentium, I did not have to put a coat of enamel on the back (counter enameling). I dislike the way a coat of enamel looks on the back of a silver piece. Next time I'll experiment using Fine Silver, though, with a coat of clear flux as my counter enamel, on the back to see how it looks...and then I'll move on to trying enameling on Sterling Silver.