Every year, the Bead & Button Show is put on in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Milwaukee is only an hour away from Jefferson, Wisconsin, where Cool Tools is located. Classes are offered at the Bead & Button Show with a huge variety of techniques and skill levels. Rhonda and Dianne, employees of Cool Tools took some classes to keep up their knowledge in the jewelry artist world. Each teacher was wonderful to work with and an inspiration to learn from.
Classes included (from the first to last picture):
Backyard Birdhouse in Silver Clay with Lyle Rayfield
Aphrodite Pendant with Kaska & Katherine Firor
Kiln-Fired Enamel Earrings with Sherie Gage
Spinner Ring with Robyn Corelius
We both learned a great deal of technique and instruction at these classes and can’t wait to take more next year!
I mixed my own custom colors using Sunshine Enamels and distilled water. For pastels I mixed the colors with 19-1231 Mixing White. For the pink bird I mixed 77-1234 Purple with 10-117 Mixing Flux. Some of the colors looked much different before they were fired; once fired I was a bit disappointed in the resulting color. My recommendation would be to test-fire the colors on a scrap piece of copper (on the same foundation color) before using in your final piece.
The enamel “paints” were mixed to a thin consistency and applied like watercolors. After they dried I used a clay shaper to remove them from unwanted areas such as the graphite lines and the background.
This time the piece was fired at a lower temperature: 1375°F/746°C for 2 minutes.
It should be coated with one more thin layer of clear flux, but I haven’t decided if the piece is finished or not. I might want to add more color to some areas. One reason for not doing this would be that with each firing the graphite lines get lighter and less defined.
Sunshine Enamels can also be applied more thickly like acrylics, but if they’re too thick they can crack. If you like painting or coloring you really need to try these enamels. They are a lot of fun!