Introduction: Enamelled Pig Badge
Enamelling is a big subject and the technique has been around for at least 2000 years.
The purpose of this piece is to show that with minimal skill you can produce pleasing and unusual items from day one. If yoy want to get a job with Faberge it will take a little longer.
You will need:
An enamelling kiln and equipment, enamel, copper blanks etc. Sounds like a tall order but you may find that someone at your local club (i.e. me) already has this kit.
Step 1: Prepare the Workpiece
Enamelling is the process of melting powdered glass so that it fuses with a metal substrate (base) usually madewof copper or silver. As such it is essential that the metal is clean and oxide free.
Pickle the copper blanks in a solution of 150ml vinegar with 1 tablespoon of salt disolved in it. This will take about half an hour. It works best if you warm up the solution.
When you have finished, lightly sand one side of the blank with 400 & 800 grit wet or dry paper. Or you can use a wire wheel in a multi tool
Step 2: Counter Enamelling
As an enammelld piece cools, stresses are set up by the differential contraction. This can result in cracking or spalling of the finished piece.
To overcome this we counter enamel the flip side. Counter enamel is cheap stuff you can buy, or just a mixture of odd bits left over.
Apply some walpaper pate to the shape and then sprinkle counter enamel on it. Wait for it to dry and than fire it.
Enamel melts at a very high temperature. Wear saftey glasses and gloves. Do not attempt to handle any object that has been in the kiln for at least half an hour.
If you burn yourself, hold the affected area under a cold tap for at least 5 minutes. Do not apply Butter. Seek help from a qualified first aider.
Step 3: Enamel the Front
Repeat the pickling and sanding process, as the non enamelled side will have oxidised.
I have applied a base coat of pink enamel. Note that all enamel tends to look like a dull white powder, so I always make a sample piece and glue it on the top of each bottle.
Wallpaper paste the shape and wait for it to dry.
You can fire the pink layer first, but in my experience it just makes the next stage more difficult.
I am decorating my pig with random stripes. To do this I have some fine glass rods which I snapped (safety glasses on!) into small lengths and scatttered onto the surface. You can arrange them carefully if you want a specific effect.
Step 4: Add a Brooch Clip
Small accesories such as clasps are known as findings. You can get these from any good craft store.
I fix them on with rapid setting epoxy resin.
Here is a batch of finished pigs.
Step 6: Other Ideas
Many other simple finishes are possible. This flowery elephant badge was made by melting millefiori bbeads into a layer of clear enamel.