Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel, Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies. Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry. Separation enamel is applied to a piece following the application and firing of several coats of enamel.
Torch Fired Separation Enamel
by Karen Meador, Ph.D.
  • Category: Enamel
  • Technique(s): Enamel
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
Separation enamel is applied to a piece following the application and firing of several coats of enamel. After firing the separation enamel, you will see indentions into the other coats. Thompson's Enamel Workbook explains that the indented areas are usually less intense in color while the space between the indentions appears more intense. You will want to select colors that have considerable contrast when doing multiple coats. When separation enamel is applied over multiple colors, you should see a bit of each color below. I have provided several examples of separation enamel over one or more colors of enamel in the examples following this tutorial.
The information provided is based on the assumption that you already have a basic knowledge of torch enameling and does not go into much detail on customary enameling steps.

Materials

24 Gauge 0.020 Dead Soft Copper Sheet Metal - 6x6 Inch
MET-705.24
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $6.93
  • Gold Club Price: $5.20
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counter enamel
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
White 1030 enamel
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
White 1030 enamel
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
Transparent 2435 Turquoise
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
Separation enamel-SE2
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
Klyr-Fire Holding Agent for Enamel
G11-7
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Price: $7.60
  • Gold Club Price: $5.70
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Tools

Half Round Sanding Sticks Set of 6
BUF-751.98
  • BUF-751.98
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  • Price: $11.57
  • Gold Club Price: $8.68
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Very small paint brush for making dots or lines
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
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Euro Tool Metal Hole Punch Pliers, 1.8 Millimeters
PLR-133.50
  • PLR-133.50
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $11.98
  • Gold Club Price: $8.98
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6 1/2 Inch Solid Stainless Steel Ball Peen Hammer
G3-18
  • G3-18
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
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  • Price: $5.97
  • Gold Club Price: $4.48
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Blazer Big Buddy Turbo Torch, Black
TRCH-8010
  • TRCH-8010
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $40.00
  • Gold Club Price: $30.00
Out of Stock
6-1/2 Smooth Curved-Point Tweezers
TWZ-945.00
  • TWZ-945.00
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
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  • Price: $3.95
  • Gold Club Price: $2.96
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Fire Brick
SOL-485.00
  • SOL-485.00
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  • Price: $15.95
  • Gold Club Price: $11.96
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Xuron Sheer - Non Serrated
SHR-691.81
  • SHR-691.81
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
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  • Price: $24.95
  • Gold Club Price: $18.71
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Thompson 40 Mesh Sifter Small - Pack of 3
G11-4
  • G11-4
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  • Price: $15.95
  • Gold Club Price: $11.96
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Sandbag, Round, 7 Inches
DAP-570.08
  • DAP-570.08
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
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Face Mask - Pack of 50
G21-2
  • G21-2
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Price: $5.97
  • Gold Club Price: $4.48
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Safety Glasses
G21-1
  • G21-1
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  • Price: $2.97
  • Gold Club Price: $2.23
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Cool Cup
SOL-700.00
  • SOL-700.00
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  • Price: $15.97
  • Gold Club Price: $11.98
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apron
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Thompson 1.25 Inch Trivet - Pack of 3
G11-2
  • G11-2
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  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Price: $11.25
  • Gold Club Price: $8.44
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Instructions
Step 1
Separation enamels come in both dry and premixed liquid form. I am using the dry form in this tutorial because I like the control I have over the thickness. I’ve been told that the premixed separation enamel is mixed with pine oil. It definitely has a very strong odor. The premix has seemed a bit thicker than what I prefer; however, either product should work for you.

*Torch Information: Try the hottest torch you have available for this project. Separation enamel requires extreme heat for a longer-than-usual period of time in order to work. I was not able to achieve suitable results with a butane torch and therefore used either a propane or map gas torch on my pieces. I did not have access to an acetylene torch, but believe this would be fine also.

Following a great deal of effort and experimentation, I felt I was not getting enough heat for the separation firing. I was always left with a definite ochre spot in the separation enamel indentions and felt I should achieve something lighter. I had seen pictures of pieces done by other enamellists on which separation enamel spots didn’t show. I learned that the ones about which I inquired were fired in a kiln allowing for a constant hot temperature. Based on this information, I made a temporary “oven” atop the fire brick. You will see this in the tutorial. It made a nice difference in what I was able to achieve with either the propane or the map gas. I was never, however, able to completely get rid of a center colored spot in the indention. (It is possible that you may not need this little oven with an acetylene torch.) You do not need it if the ochre spots don’t bother you.

Note: The procedure explained in this tutorial may not be what you usually use for your enameling; however, it is what works for me. For example, I place my trivet atop a fire brick while others may use a tripod. Use what you are comfortable with if it works for you.
Pro Tip: Safety: Please use appropriate safety precautions. I advise wearing a fire-proof apron and appropriate safety glasses when firing. It is important to wear a mask at least while sifting enamel to prevent inhaling the fines which can’t usually be seen, but are definitely out and about. It is, of course, important to have a fire extinguisher nearby.
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, separation enamel
Step 2
Use a precut copper blank or cut a shape from a copper sheet.
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, copper blank
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, hole for hanging
Step 3
Sand the edges and the hole if needed. Use a hammer and sand bag to give a slightly convex shape to the heart. I like the convex shape which turns the edges away from the skin when worn.

Pro Tip: It is not necessary to clean this piece as the heat will burn off unwanted oil, etc. If, however, you are accustomed to cleaning your pieces, do what seems right for you. I do not clean mine.
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, sand the copper blank
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, hammer
Step 4
Sift and fire two coats of counter enamel on the back of the shape. After sufficient cooling, dip the piece in water and dry it to remove any loose fire scale.

Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, sift two coats
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, torch the enamel
Step 5
Sift and fire a coat of White 1030 enamel on the top of the piece. Each time I fire a piece post counter enameling, I like to sneak up on it starting the flame well below the piece and gradually moving up. In my opinion, this gradual heating helps prevent burn out on the counter enamel.

Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, sift white enamel
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, torch fire the white enamel
Step 6
Repeat step 5 with 1125 Nut Brown.

Then repeat step 5 with a light coat of Transparent 2435 Turquoise.
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, sift enamel
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, fire
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, sift and fire a light coat of turquoise
Step 7
When the piece is cool, apply the separation enamel. Mix equal amounts of Klyr-fire and water into the dry product until you get the consistency you desire. I try to achieve a consistency that is similar to honey. If it is too liquid, you will see the application site spread considerably which is not necessarily desirable. I want it to stay where I put it, but it does expand somewhat as it dries. Use a small brush to create marks on the piece as shown in the picture. I suggest dots or lines. These should not be more that 1/8-inch-wide and about ¼ inch apart. Let the piece dry or use a heat gun before proceeding.
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, mix separation enamel
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, mix separation enamel with KlyrFire
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, mix
Step 8
Use a small brush to create marks on the piece as shown in the picture. I suggest dots or lines. These should not be more that 1/8-inch-wide and about ¼ inch apart. Let the piece dry or use a heat gun before proceeding.
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, paint on
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, paint on
Step 9
If desired, create the temporary oven as shown in the picture.

Fire the piece beyond maturity. The duration of firing depends on the size of the piece, the gauge of the metal and the number of coats of enamel used. I watch for the piece to become completely red hot and then continue for about a minute and a half on the smaller pieces. Look at the piece to see if you can view the separation and determine whether most of the separation enamel has cleared. If you are not satisfied, continue firing, but watch for the piece to sag on the trivet indicating that it is melting.
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, create a temporary oven
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, create a temporary oven
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, fire the piece
Step 10
Carefully remove the hot piece, let it cool and admire your work. Add a jump ring or other type bail to hang your pendant.

Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, let cool
Karen Meador, Ph.D.'s Torch Fired Separation Enamel - , Enameling, Enamel Jewelry Supplies, Enamel, Enameling, Enameled Jewelry, add a jump ring to hang