This vessel made by Harlan Butt.
In October of 2019 (pre-Covid), the Metal Arts Guild of Georgia (formerly the Georgia Goldsmith's Group) invited Harlan Butt to Atlanta to do a workshop on enameling vessels. I had enameled flat/domed pieces previously, but never a large curved vessel. The enameling process is pretty much the same in all the classes I have taken, but there are a few differences when working on a much larger, curved surface.
Harlan's teaching was exceptional. Intelligent, kind, patient...and he is a true a lover of nature, which you can see in his work.
We were all given a copper cup to begin.
We completely covered our cup in fine silver sheet, bit by bit, each layer fired. Then a layer of clear enamel was placed on the entire piece, dried and fired. We need this layer of enamel for the future wires to adhere to on the vessel.
Now the fun begins. Harlan makes these wonderful little jigs which allow you to make a pattern out of brass just one time and use that pattern to form your fine silver cloisonne wires so you can create the same cloisonné wire design over and over. What a time-saver this is! There are more photos of Harlan's jig in my favorite enameling book, The Art of Enameling by Linda Darty (page 110). Tip: Always anneal your cloisonne wire.
Below you can see the pattern I decided to make. One by one, I placed the the wires on the outside of my vessel with Lilly Root glue, which will keep those wires down a bit better than regular Klyr-Fire or Blu-Stik.
It's important to try to curve the wires a little bit before putting them onto the vessel. Sometimes I added a little bit of wet-packed enamel to help hold them in place. When it comes out of the kiln, touching the wires down gently with tweezers helps make sure they are formed well onto the piece. I tried to finish 2 or 3 rows at a time before drying and firing.
Once the entire piece is ready to be enameled, it's time to prepare the enamels! Most enamels you buy are 80 mesh. For the best transparency, we used 325 sifter screen (some think 200 is better). One can also wash the fines out by adding water to the enamel, swishing it around, letting it settle and draining off the milky fines on top. Repeat this over and over until the water runs clear. Once the enamel is washed, add a drop of Klyr Fire. This is to help the enamel stick to your piece - remember we're enameling on a curved surface here and you want the enamel to stay in place. Then enamel is done in this order: 1) Lighter transparencies, 2) Darker transparencies and 3) Opaques. Always rotate from firing on the bottom of vessel to firing on top. Otherwise, the enamels can all run and gather in one direction, and we don't want that to happen.
Here are some of the vessels made by other classmates.