Plique a Jour: Enameling a Cordial Cup

Recently, while enameling a cordial cup I thought it would be interesting to document the process. I start with a framework built out of sterling silver.

I begin to apply the first course of enamel. Enamel, powdered glass in different colors, is mixed with water and a small amount of organic glue to hold it in place on the sterling while firing in the furnace.

I begin to apply the first course of enamel. Enamel, powdered glass in different colors, is mixed with water and a small amount of organic glue to hold it in place on the sterling while firing in the furnace.

Here is the cordial after the first firing. The enamel must be added a little at a time, and fired between applications.

Here is the cordial after the first firing. The enamel must be added a little at a time, and fired between applications.

I am beginning the fourth course of enamel. The center section and top and bottom are almost filled, and now I am filling the two bands with the yellow dots and purple background. When firing, I am careful to underfire the enamel.

I am beginning the fourth course of enamel. The center section and top and bottom are almost filled, and now I am filling the two bands with the yellow dots and purple background. When firing, I am careful to underfire the enamel.

Here the fourth course of enamel has been applied, and the cup is ready to fire.

Here the fourth course of enamel has been applied, and the cup is ready to fire.

After seven courses, I fire the piece long and hot to fully fuse the enamel. This is when it smooths and becomes transparent. Often, a few holes appear where there wasn't quite enough enamel.

After seven courses, I fire the piece long and hot to fully fuse the enamel. This is when it smooths and becomes transparent. Often, a few holes appear where there wasn't quite enough enamel.

The holes are filled in and the cup is fired again, long and hot, until it becomes very glossy and transparent. The enameling is completed! The cup will be cleaned up and a matt finish applied to the silver. Then the cup is attached to the sterling base, and it is done.

The holes are filled in and the cup is fired again, long and hot, until it becomes very glossy and transparent. The enameling is completed! The cup will be cleaned up and a matt finish applied to the silver. Then the cup is attached to the sterling base, and it is done.