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Heart of the South West

by: Dwyn Tomlinson

I decided to I had try out the new Iced Enamels. It's really rough having to try out new products all the time - the sacrifices that I make for you ... . ;-)

From there - the colours were the inspiration for this piece.

Iced Enamels are a cold enamel system - cold in the sense that you don't fire them in a kiln, but you do use a little heat. They are not a true enamel in that they are most emphatically not a fine glass-powder. The upside of this is that you don't have to treat them with the same kind of caution that you use for real enamel - you don't have to wear a mask, avoid breathing the dust, etc. They are a ground plastic that fuses at low temperatures.

The Iced Enamels are super easy to use - there is a video here on YouTube, one of many, but the essence of it is:

  1. Paint the piece to be "enameled" with the Iced Enamel Medium. This acts as a glue to hold the enamel powder in place. This medium cleans up with water, btw.
  2. While the medium is still wet, sprinkle the Iced Enamel onto it. Let it dry. Really - do wait for it to dry - otherwise it bubbles in the next step. 
  3. Next - you are going to heat the enamel powder until it fuses together. The video recommends a "craft heat gun" - but I didn't have one. But I do have the stripping paint / wallpaper type heat gun, and that worked fine. I think a really powerful hairdryer might work too, but you'd probably want a diffuser to prevent the air stream being too strong. I balanced the heat gun on it's back end, so that it pointed straight up, and turned it on. I held the pieces to be enameled with a pair of pliers, and held them over the mouth of the heat gun. It worked fine.Heat until you see it fuse together. You can add more if you missed a spot.
  4. Next, you need to protect the enamel. The downside of this not needing to be fired in a kiln is that it is not as durable as traditional enamel. Therefore, you need to mix up some clear resin, like the Ice Resin, and paint a layer on top and let it cure. I, of course, am pathologically incapable of sticking to the instructions, and filled the bezels with a thick layer of resin, and it looks fine too, but less like enamel. But still good.

The large heart is a base of the Turquoise enamel, with some of the Shattered Opal in the top left, and some of the Shattered Fire Opal in the bottom right. 

After making the heart and the two squares, and letting them cure, I made the short strand of beads by threading them onto a fairly stiff wire, and making a wrapped loop at the ends. I did a double loop (wrapping twice around the pliers) just for the look of it, not for strength. I also made all the attachments with jumprings with two jumprings for the same reason - it just looked better with the heavy chain. 

One of the things I particularly liked about this colour of Iced Enamel is that is also has chunks of copper colour in it - which adds to the variety and interest of the piece, more so than if it were a "pure" colour.

Attach the heart to a short piece of chain (4 cm, 4 links), then one of the square links. Attach the rest of the chain to the other side - 56 cm or so - and attach to the other square link. Attach that to the wire segment with the beads (about 10 cm, 10 beads plus loops), and attach to the end of the short piece of chain, where you attached the heart pendant. There is no clasp - this is long enough to just drop over your head. 


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