One Photo -Two Jewellery Projects by Heide Mearns

Some images are so appealing you can’t stop working with them. This is what happened to Heide Mearns when she was looking at a flower design for her next project.

Flower on iPad Mini original

The little blue flower on the iPad Mini , the one that started it all…

Heide had a photo of a little blue flower on her iPad Mini she wanted to use for a bracelet focal piece.

The final drawing on the iPad Mini

The final drawing on the iPad Mini

We had a look at iDraw a great iPad app for precise drawing, I gave her a little bit of guidance on how to use the app  and off she went!

Drawing pasted to Sterling silver sheet

Drawing pasted to Sterling silver sheet

This drawing was traced and pasted to thin paper, then glued to the sheet silver ready for cutting out.

The finished sweat soldered bracelet focal on leather band

The finished sweat soldered bracelet focal on leather band

Cutting, filing sanding and soldering the pieces together, adding a couple of silver straps on the back, so it could be easily attached to different leather bands and that was one piece finished!

Same design, different technique

Same design, different technique

Heide decided to use the same drawing for the next project, large scale filigree made from flattened 1.5 mm wire.

For this project the wire is passed through the rolling mill until it is to the thickness required, then shaped and filed to fit nicely.

Starting the soldering of the sterling wire elements

Starting the soldering of the sterling wire elements

Cleaning up after soldering: pickling – filing and sanding and finally tumbled to polish.

Finished class projects, silver bracelet and filigree pendant

Finished projects

It was a fun journey, for Heide of course, but also for me, observing the progress, this was a nice example of where one simple line drawing could go. Nice work Heide!

Heat Colouring Copper Experiments

After last week’s workshop with patinas I decided to experiment a little more with the Jel Flux technique, it is so much fun to do and I love the results!

Heat patina on copper

1″ drawing – Blown up a bit – Patina & bent into shape

First I used it on a piece that had been sitting on my bench for a while. This was the blown up version of one of my little squares, design drawings I like to do at times to take a ‘snapshot’ of where I am at the time.

Using a stamp to apply the Jel flux

Using a stamp to apply the Jel flux

The trick is in the torch firing, you need to get the copper red hot, then wait a little bit before quenching in water. As soon as you take it out of the water the colour is there! Magic!

Left: Toaster Oven 'baked'   Right: Torch fired

Left: Toaster Oven ‘baked’ Right: Torch fired

Applying the heat can also be done in a toaster oven, set to 180 C ( 350 F) the piece on the left was cooked for 30 minutes. You’ll need to time this visually as the weight and size of the copper will play a part in the time required.

This is a very strong colour for copper, no sealing wax required and the red stays vibrant for years. The oven baked copper stays shiny, while the torch and subsequent quenching gives a nice matte finish that would contrast nicely with shiny silver elements. Polishing the torch fired piece works well too, the colour is in the metal and doesn’t polish off.

I really did go nuts for a day or so, I’ll post more to my Facebook page: GC Jewellery Studio in the next few days, come and have a look and Like the page while you’re at it:)  I hope you’ll try this technique, I’m sure you’ll love the variety in colours you can get, especially with the oven bake method, enjoy!



Testing Patinas on Copper

Copper is a favorite in my workshops. It’s a versatile metal, beautiful just as it is, but extending the colour range with different patinas creates even more possibilities.

Desiree's copper patinas

Desiree’s Patinas


We used a variety of patinas:

  • Chemical – these react with the metal
  • Non-Chemical – these are applied to cold or preheated metal
The same patina (Baldwin's) applied to smooth and textured metal

The same patina (Baldwin’s) applied to smooth and textured metal


Interesting effects were achieved by applying the patinas in layers, a base coat of Lime Sulfur gave a darker background for the brighter patinas.
The non-chemical patinas were all from the Sculpt Nouveau range, the application is simple, brush or sponge onto the metal and allow to dry in between coats.

Jan's Patinas on copper

Jan’s Patinas

Copper also responds well to applied heat, forming a great range of colours, not all predictable, but the element of surprise adds to excitement!
Heat patinas are usually very reliable, even unsealed, some of my red heat patinas are still as bright as ever 6 years later.


Demo using Jel flux

Heather’s Demo using Jel flux – with Miranda, Jan and Bernelle

Last Tuesday Heather gave a demo of using Jel Flux  which was applied with a rubber stamp and then torch fired, this was the most exciting process for me, I had not tried it before. Further experiments with Jel Flux gave different results, more testing is needed!

Jel flux torch fired colours

Jel flux torch fired colours

Patinas might be used on copper & steel in the extended project  we’re working on Tuesday nights, nothing concrete is being produced for a while yet, testing materials and techniques will occupy us for some time yet!





Finding a New ‘Intention Word’ for 2013

No Limits!

A few weeks ago Helga van Leipsig posted something on her blog that really got me thinking……

Her ‘Intention Word’ for this year is: ‘Playfulness’ and knowing Helga, there will be some interesting results to come from it! Can’t wait to see!

So…. what should my word be? With my usual New Year’s practice of looking at the year just past, what was right and what could have gone better, and then thinking about what I would like to happen this year. Goals in general don’t really work for me, but I set them anyway just to see what that picture would look like and this gave me plenty to think about!

I looked at all kinds of words and what they meant to me, but In the end it had to be ‘No Limits’. This year I am going to question myself where I set my comfort zone!

  • What I DO to limit myself… and
  • What DON’T I do that limits me!

This will apply to all areas of my life, personal, relationships, work, creativity and a whole lot more !

It’ll be interesting to see what will come of this, a little introspection goes a long way, this year is about doing things I’ve put off for a long time, about trying new things or joining new groups, who knows where this could lead!!! I’m excited about my word for this year, it’s making me think about all the possibilities

Skill & Creativity from Ken Bova’s Students

You know how ‘they’ will tell you not to spend to much time on Facebook etc?
Well, let me tell you it is not always a waste of time! I’ve got to know some amazing people and had some interesting conversations, even though I’ve never met them in person…. yet…

One of these people I met in a roundabout way was Ken, it was through some of his student’s work, which he shared on Facebook. That post got shared by someone else, who then came up on my home feed, the student’s work was enamel on copper, one of my favourite techniques! (I’ve nearly finished my next ebook and it is on that subject!!:))

All this work was well made, as you would expect, but there was something quiet different about it, it was very inventive and amazingly quirky sometimes, not just a couple, but all of them! This is very unusual, for such a large group of students!

So I had a look around and found out a little more about Ken Bova, who was their teacher. His Facebook photo albums had lots more work by his students, all very inventive and ‘out of the box’  I don’t think Ken has a Facebook ‘page’ so you might have to ‘friend’ him to see the work, check it out for yourself, it might be visible to anyone.

So when ALL the students do fantastic work, you just know there has to be a great teacher behind them, one who encourages a more creative approach.
I decided to go to Ken’s web site to see some of his own work. I love Ken’s enamels, liquid enamel on copper, rich surfaces and textures. Another thing I found very interesting were a series of brooches, made with hand ground pigments, applied to paper, a historical approach to color, this was how the old masters made their paints, these brooches are just beautiful!

Ken Bova Handbook - Cover

Ken Bova Handbook – Cover

Then something caught my eye, the Ken Bova Handbook! This book contains Ken’s teaching notes going back 20 years or more. I think this is just pure gold, not only for people learning traditional metalwork, but also for teachers! I just had to have it, it’s the next best thing to being in his class!

It took a while to organise, me being in Australia and all, but I was patient and my book came at the best possible time, during the Xmas holidays, so I had some time to read. I can tell you now that my notes at college were never like Ken’s, and I must admit that mine, to my students, aren’t either! I need to lift my game!

Ken Bova Handbook - Page 92 Wood die forms

Page 92 – Wood Die Form

The information is thorough and presented in a fun way, with great illustrations, hand drawn, and pages that have fun bits of clipart to liven things up. I think I’m officially jealous of Ken’s students, I wish he was a little closer so I could do some work with him!

Ken Bova Handbook - Page 65 Patinas

Page 65 Patinas

And… while you’re at his web site, have a look at the workshop his students at East Carolina University, in Greenville, NC, have access to, and all the great facilities available to them there. Not even mentioning the other tutors there: Linda Darty, Tim Lazure, Robert Ebendorf and Mi Sook Hur, all legends in their own right! What an amazing campus that must be! I can only drool, and be super jealous!!!

Maybe we’ll get him to Australia some day….. for some very creative enameling classes perhaps! I’d also like to do some electro-forming with Ken, for some nice organic enamel forms! Hmmmm, don’t get me started!

So go and have a look when you have a bit of time, I think you’ll be blown away too!

Setting enamels and finishing off

We’ve been having a lot of fun over the past few months,  mainly opaque enamels on copper.
This is as close as you can get to ‘Instant Gratification’ simple shapes and a willingness to play by the students, made for the most enjoyable series of classes for all of us!

I love all kinds of enamelling, working on silver or metal clay, using fine cloisonné wire, or the bold lines of Champlevé, all with beautiful Japanese transparent enamels is like meditation, peaceful and calming. Not so much these workshops…..

The energy was high every night and although I had a fairly set curriculum planned, very often the students just ‘Looked – Listened & Learned’ then kept going with their own ideas and developing them further. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be! I love it when people get excited by their own ideas and find new avenues for their creativity.

I’m lucky with my students, all are lovely people and very sharing of their ‘finds’ have a look at the Jewelry Artist Journal Facebook page for more examples, like Desiree Kenafake’s Decals on Enamel & Jan Brown’s chain with enamel links.

A few weeks earlier Rebecca England was here, flown in from the Hunter Valley, she did some amazing enamelling, on silver foil on copper and another beautiful piece on silver. Laughing all the way:)

This week I’ve finally taken a bit of time to set some of my ‘samples’ even though they were simple and quickly done, I love the way the firescale adds an whole new dimension to the work, the kiln becomes the ‘Zen’ in the work, you never know what you’re going to get!


We’re deep into dimples at the moment, they show off firescale in such a nice way…
I’ve dimpled the ring shank of this ring for good measure! This ring uses the Spider-Setting technique (LOL) tab setting (the spider) in a copper piece that has been riveted through another bit of copper and onto the wrap-around ring.

It’s liberating to be able to love firescale, jewellers will know the feeling of getting it after heating sterling silver – Not Nice! But here in the enameller’s studio it is encouraged by controlled overfiring. It shows off its colours best on the lighter enamels, we then etched these to get a Satin or Matte finish.

The etching liquid takes the colour off, to a certain degree, also playing its part in the design, it was like opening a present every time something came out of the kiln or the acid:)

I wish the weather would stay cool for a bit longer! I should have a summer home in the USA and keep cool in their winter!

The Delicate Art of Diem Chau

Diem Chau-porcelain bowl


Yesterday I came across the beautiful & delicate work of Diem Chau.

Diem works in a variety of media – but stays true to ‘Tiny Things’ across all of these, her beautiful little carvings on top of a pencil, carved Crayolas and the beautiful lines on her porcelain pieces.

Her show at Milan’s Galleria Patricia Armocida opened recently – a beautiful exhibition, making every piece stand out like the treasure it is.

Originally from Vietnam, she studied and lives in the USA, where she has exhibited widely. She describes herself as an artist, doll collector, tinkerer:) She had a rough start as a child of only 6 year old, fled from Vietnam together with her parents, via Thailand and the Philippines as a refugee. Read more about her experiences here:

And as the refugee debate still rages here in Australia, we’d do well to remember the contributions of so many of our own refugees, from all countries, and the hardship they had to endure to be able to secure a better future for their children!

Diem-Chau-Crayola Carvings

Crayola Carvings

Diem-Chau-Porcelain bowl - Toothpicks & Paper

Diem-Chau-Porcelain bowl – Toothpicks & Paper

Diem-Chau-Pencil Carving

Diem-Chau-Pencil Carving

Diem Chau-porcelain bowl

Diem Chau-Porcelain bowl-Silk thread

Check out Diem’s blog, allow a little time when you do, there is much to see, read and get inspired by!


Week 2 Enamel Palette – Soft Colors


This week I wanted a slightly different, softer color palette. Enamels can be any color, too many to choose from!

Pinks are in the more expensive range of enamels, and they can be a problem if you’re working on silver.
Using a layer of flux underneath these colors can help there.

I think it’s essential to test them on the metal you will be using, testing can save you a lot of headaches.

Enameling - Soft color palette


The rose was at its perfect stage, shot while wandering through a friend’s garden. A palette that has memories of a lovely day.

Hope you love it too, have a nice weekend!

More Converts to Enameling on Copper!

Week 2

This week’s class focussed on stencilled enamels.

We used all kind of stencils, from hand-cut paper,  pierced metal, to found objects. More work got done this week and there was a great spirit of adventure and experimentation all night!

I’m not sure I should get paid to teach this class, it is way too much fun!  For the group, but also for me!
Miranda swore she wasn’t going home that night, too addicted to the colors and all the things she wanted to try!

Enameling with stencils

I tired to get them to incorporate last week’s sgraffito, with this week’s stencils, but that didn’t quiet come off. Everyone was totally carried away by the possibilities of the stencils:) Here are some of the first results:

Stencilled Enamels


That was Tuesday night…..

Now fast forward to the Wednesday night metal work group……

We were sitting around in class, having a cup of coffee, when I told them about the enamelers. Who was in the group and how much fun they were having.
They had seen some of my enamel demo pieces on my bench of course and were intrigued.
So I showed them the samples for the course, anyway, long story short, they felt they were missing out and want to start enameling as well!
As you can imagine, they didn’t get much opposition from me, as you might have deduced already:)

Blue-White-enamel pendant

So, next week they are going to prepare their shapes, do some doming and when they think they have enough, we’ll start the enameling course!
Yay!!! I would be perfectly happy to teach nothing else, hmmm there’s a thought!

Exciting times in the studio:)

My new enamelling course started this week!

I’ve been working flat out making samples, test tiles and generally getting the studio ready for my new enamelling class!
The students are all people who for one reason or another had to drop out of my metalwork classes, missed being creative with jewellery, and are now back for some fun! We’ve all been looking forward to it!

Enameling Kiln
My love for enamelling is greater in winter than it is in summer, sitting next to a hot kiln has its own attraction this time of year:)
Copper enamelling is the focus of this class, it’s been nearly 4 years since I taught this class with my ‘Gang’ in Melbourne. Great things can come out of working with inexpensive materials and a commitment to experiment. Copper and Opaque enamels are fun, can be very colourful, or muted, the thing is to just play and see what comes out, then plan ahead and use what you’ve done in a more ‘designed’ piece.

I love the enamels of Angela Gerhard, Angela’s website was down when writing this, but you can ‘Like’ her page on Facebook and have a look at some of her work there.
And Christy Klug.

Angela uses more colour, Kristy’s pieces are usually monochrome, both are beautifully made and I can only wish for a chance to go through their stock and pick something out for myself….. one day……. “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride” :)
In the meantime I just them inspire myself and my students!

Last Tuesday it was mostly learning about enamels, what they are, how they are made and how to safely handle them and the kiln. Copper shapes were cut, and a little bit of enamelling was done. Expecting a lot more this coming week!

Basic Sgraffito was on the menu last week, next week we’ll add stencils into the mix. I love working with stencils myself, from very simple to complex, they can add an exciting element to your basic design.

I’m looking forward to see what will happen on Tuesday, and I’ll keep you posted!