Plique-á-Jour » Discussions

To stone the metal or not?

  • June 25, 2010
    Hi All Plique a Jourers, I have just visited the Gulbenkian museum in Lisbon to see Laliques best pieces and I was amazed to see that he did not stone the metal in his Plique a jour work. Being on gold this works really nicely as the metal stays clean and the enamel joins the cells visually. I'm not sure how it would work on silver, perhaps with anneals and pickles to bring up the layers of fine silver? I do this in larger pieces, but I still stone the metal. Any Thoughts?
  • Member
    June 25, 2010
    What do toy mean by stone the metal?
  • June 25, 2010
    Hi Patsy, When all the cells are solid and holding (or on big pieces when a section is of cells are holding) I stone the metal to clean off all traces of the enamel from the tops of the cell walls (later I polish them when the piece is complete) The the enamel dishes nicely in the cell, like a candy shop window but the top of walls are polished metal.
  • Member
    June 25, 2010
    Thanks Jean,

    I am surprised as you said he did not clean the surface.
    Happy Enameling, Patsy Croft
  • Member
    August 30, 2010
    Did you think about using fine silver? my only plique was a 'cheat' I suppose, we were taught to use a copper small bowl, with fine silver cloisonne' done in transparents on the convex surface of the bowl. Then it was etched in the concave bowl, filled with acid, and with a band of resist around the rim to leave a structural copper rim for support. I think I want to do some on mica and expand my experience. Any advice for one picking up on an old love? My test fires of flat rimless cloisonne on mica were not successful, but I did not saw out a solid metal rim of fs. Does anyone 'clamp' or hold down the work on the mica? how is that done?
  • August 31, 2010
    You might want to try a small sheet of titanium (available at Metalliferous in NY) or ceramic/alumina plates (Enamelwork Supply in WA) instead of mica so you don't have to stone off the mica stuck to your enamel. You can cut your fine silver sheet with tabs to fold over the edges of the titanium to clamp it on securely during enameling. When enameling is done, just saw off the tabs.
  • Member
    August 31, 2010
    That's great, thanks I will try it.
  • September 1, 2010
    Hi Terry,
    just spotted your reply. I do not back the enamel at all as it can contaminate the clarity and brightness of the enamel. The stoning is just to clean the stray bits off the wires, it does not touch the enamel itself as it is concave on both sides of the cell. Mica especially contaminates. The enamel will stay suspended in the water and hold enough to fire a little and then you build up the rest on the next firings. Its a slow process but one worth it for the beautiful clarity. You should be able to see your finger nail through the cell, and the colour should be bright and have that lovely shine.
  • Member
    December 22, 2010
    Good Morning, I do a little Plique-a- Jour, though I have had best results with the kind of Plique-a-Jour method which is cut out of 18ga sheet silver with a jewler's saw, firmly strapped to a sheet of mica(with cloisonne wire) and fired often enough to span the cells and fully fill them. It worked well; and I hand-ground every one of them to remove the mica residue with a carborundum stone(and cleaned again afterwards with a glass brush). The finished result was utterly flat and smooth before flash-firing lastly on a trivet just barely until the gloss was restored---but no longer. These were all on silver and pre-work included a series of pickle steps to enrich the copper at the surface. All my pieces were necessarily flat.  I also did several pieces where there was a soldered rim into which I packed as many of my usual cloisonne wires as I could within the frame---partially as an internal support---and packed that with enamels in several firings and I did not grind any of these down afterwards. One side remained frosted, and the other side was concave-enamel and looked excellent. This set was fired against a new-age tile of laboratory graphite given to me by the industry related to sending rockets into orbit. (That was in the 70's...perhaps there are better alternatives now--this one deteriorated with each firing and emitted a black dust during cooling). The result had possibilities though I desired a thicker frame and a cleaner support. The concave aspects of the enameling were lovely--the sparkles enhanced the result. Eventually, I couldn't stand the idea that the item could fall apart into wee glass-confetti and I would have no way to repair it.  l shiver at making things which cannot be repaired. Is this the real reason why Plique-a-Jour remains so precious? Jean, are you using a jeweler's saw for your work, exposing the entire work to the firing temperatures and using capillary action and gum to hold the glass in place during firing?Amazed and awed! Diane Merrill
  • December 23, 2010

    Hi Diane,

    its a case of practice makes perfect ( or at least acceptable!) for the unbacked filling and firing. I do pierce a lot of the work and have also discovered water jetting for the flat pieces. The best way to get clear bright enamel, I believe is not to back it, then you also get the concave on each side which gives the extra light reflection. I haven't needed any gum yet, but I don't rule it out either. I am just not sure whether it will take away from the clarity. I am sure it would facilitate very large cells. I am addicted to plique a jour and ways to make it as clear and bright as possible!

    On discussion of stoning. Enamel gets onto the top of the piece as well as into the cells, unfortunately, and I have always stoned this off and then polished it. On some of Laliques pieces, he had not stoned it off and so there was a layer of enamel on the surface of the metal. It surprised me. It also looked well on some pieces but not on others depending on the colour enamel and the metal used. It seems there are so many acceptable approaches to plique a jour, its all personal taste I think.