Sunday, September 30, 2012

Millefiori, Decals and Hand Polishing

Decal Pendant by Jessica Calderwood
We've been talking about decals and hand polishing enamels in class recently so I went searching for information for my students. I've unfortunately come up with little to nothing on hand polishing enamels. I'm starting to think it just isn't done anymore. At least not in a country with a blogging community willing to share their techniques :-) But I did find an article on decals and using millefiori from an old Glass on Metal article. The Glass on Metal website is super old so I've copied and re- formatted the information for easy and efficient printing. You can download it in PDF form here. As soon as I try it myself, I'll post images of the process. Ceramic "waterslide" decals appear to be the type you'd look for. You can also have your own made and / or order them from numerous ceramic supply companies.
Here are some resource sites: - info on how-to make your own - ordering transfer paper or complete decals

Concerning hand polishing, here's my "cheat" to get that soft satin finish. I fire polish my piece as usual but then I use a very high grit sand paper, like 1500+ (you can order these grits through jewelry suppliers like Rio Grande or find them in the auto body sections at car parts shops) and with strong running water, I hand sand until I get the effect I want. At that grit it can take some work to get an evenly soft finish, but it takes the surface shine down just a bit and can be just lovely. With cloisonne it also serves to sand the wires back down to the level of the glass since when you do that final fire polish with cloisonne the glass sinks a little and the wires will be felt by the hand.

Apart from that, what little I've been able to find on hand polishing glass is from the hot glass world and reads a lot like polishing metal; start with coarser grits and work fine. The only difference is they are working wet (natch) and on mechanical wheels and finishing with a very fine polish like cerium oxide.

I have tons of images I need to optimize and put up here. My students have been doing some great things! I hope to be able to post some soon!