How to enamel copper jewelry

Written by rebecca suzanne delaney
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How to enamel copper jewelry
Easy steps to copper enamel jewellery. (Roungchai/iStock/Getty Images)

Copper enamel is an ancient technique that can be used to create many different effects. Vitreous enamel is useful because it is an inexpensive way to add colour to jewellery. Artists creating with copper enamel often use vitreous enamel as a substitute for gemstones. The addition of copper enamel to gold and silver jewellery allows dramatic use of colour while reducing the cost of making the jewellery.

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Things you need

  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Acetone
  • Klyr-fire glue
  • Enamel
  • Spatula, spoon or sifter
  • Kiln or torch

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  1. 1

    Sand the copper with 220-grit sandpaper to remove all oxidation and any tool marks on the copper.

  2. 2

    Saturate a rag with acetone and wipe the copper clean.

  3. 3

    Pour klyr-fire glue in a spray bottle. Add an equal amount of distilled water into the spray bottle to dilute the glue. Spray the diluted glue on the clean copper until there is a thin, even coat of glue on the entire surface of the copper you plan to enamel.

  4. 4

    Add enamel to the copper by sprinkling dry powder enamel on the copper with a spatula, spoon or sifter. You can add an even layer of one colour enamel to the entire copper you plan to enamel, or you can add different colours to different parts of the copper until the entire surface is covered.

  5. 5

    Fine tune your enamel design by mixing a small amount of enamel powder with water and using a spatula or spoon to put the wet-packed enamel in specific spots on the copper.

  6. 6

    Set the enamel copper jewellery aside until the klyr-fire and water are completely dry.

  7. 7

    Fire the enamel by placing the enamel powder-covered piece in a jewellery kiln preheated to about 871 degrees Celsius / 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit or by heating the prepared enamel piece with a torch until the enamel reaches about 871 degrees Celsius / 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit. Continue to heat the copper jewellery until the enamel powder melts and forms a smooth, even coat of glass on the copper. Time to fire the enamel will vary but it usually takes only a few minutes.

  8. 8

    Remove the enamel from the heat source and place it on a heat resistant, fire-safe work surface. Allow the copper-enamelled jewellery to cool to room temperature. Do not try to hasten cooling or the enamel may crack.

  9. 9

    Use 220-grit sandpaper to remove oxidation from the back of the copper-enamelled jewellery. Do not put copper-enamelled jewellery in an acid pickle bath to remove oxidation as the acid may discolour the enamel.

  10. 10

    Add findings, if any, to complete the jewellery.

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