A very old project

There will be sewing Friday, I promise, but it being summer I’m trying to have a couple of solid days each week playing with metal. This week it was only an afternoon because I have sewing to do for Friday.

Last week I found a box under the bench that I’d completely forgotten about. Inside was this.


Pretty grotty looking, innit?

id forgotten all about it. This was my second ever enameling project. Champleve On copper, inspired by, but not directly copied from the valence casket. Yes, running before I can walk is a thing that I do.

anyway, I decided to see if it was worth cleaning up and rehabilitating.


Its actually not as awful as I remembered. Yes, some of the enamel is pitted and a bit burned, but…

I can’t really do anything about pitted enamel, as I no longer have access to a big kiln. This was before I learned about grinding and re firing, it being my second attempt my teacher ( a jewellery teacher, not really an enamel teacher) taught me to just try and fill the copper rather than overfilling and then grinding back – champleve is not really a technique in the modern jewellery repertoire, so she taught me the basics and I’ve learnt a lot by trial and error since.

the two end pieces are random medieval tile patterns


And the top and sides are taken from the same zodiac I’m currently embroidering.



I think I will never quite be happy with the enamel, but on the other hand it seems a waste to let it just rot in a box, and let’s face it even if it’s not perfect no one has a better version to show me up. Therefore I’ve decided to get it gilded, and Gareth is making a little wooden box to mount it upon. I’ve dug out the hinges and fittings and just need to fiddle a bit before everything gets gilded. I’m going to leave the copper as it is, even though it’s a little scratched, because taking those scratches out will mean loosing a lot of detail.

ill update after it’s gold.

i also decided to tidy my gem stash in new containers after loosing those expensive peridots the other week. Still haven’t found them. I erred on the side of caution and bought one more box than I thought I’d need.

Obviously need more boxes, but these are far easier to see what I’ve got


rubies and garnets


Amethysts and citrines


Mother of pearl, blue topaz, banded agates and corals


Iolites and tourmalines

need more boxes, ( this is my version of everybody else’s bead stash. Don’t fib – we all know you have a bead stash. Organising it is part of the fun)

in other news, Gareth reckons my cat is training for a new career in the circus


~ by opusanglicanum on August 12, 2015.

12 Responses to “A very old project”

  1. This may be a stupid question but why do you use summer as a reason for playing with metal several days a week?

    I like your enamelled copper pieces. Apart from the first (which looks dirty) they look wonderful and I think one has to know quite much about the technique to spot mistakes.

    Your gem stash also looks wonderful. I don’t have a bead collection, I own some beads (mostly tiny ones) but they are not as neatly organized.

    • Most of the year I work five or six days a week, and I like my embroidery in the evenings because I can watch telly and not have to think much. But in summer I’m usually working one day a week at most, so I feel I can really get my teeth into some silver.

      I think I’ll always see the inadquacies of this piece, but I can live with it as they seem less with hindsight and experience

  2. Wow, that’s something to accidentally come across in a box! I think the overall effect is stunning and the pitting just makes it look more antique! Can’t wait to see what it looks like put together. Am also very envious of your gem stash because I’m a magpie and pretties/shinies always appeal. If the circus doesn’t work out he could always become one of those pole-sitting hermits…

    • Column sitting is stilites? Stylites? It always sounds uncomfortable, like you’re going to spend years being poked up the bum, but then when tou visit the temple of Olympian Zeus where lots of people did it, the columns are so big you could easily fit a barrat starter home on top. A lot of these medieval aesthetic lifestyles turn out to be surprisingly luxurious when you look closely

      Finding it was a bit of a surprise

      • That’s it – couldn’t think of the word! Surprisingly luxurious sounds like it would fit a cat perfectly. Sitting on top of a column, close to passing birds, with people looking up at you adoringly…. But I know what you mean. I would love to be a Carthusian monk if I could live in something as amazing as the reconstructed cell at Mount Grace Priory.

      • I’ve never understood why they don’t rent that restored one as a holiday let. I’d go for a week and I only live fifteen minutes away. If only the average barret box was as luxurious as a hermits humble cell!

      • Me too – like a shot!

  3. Running before I can walk is something I do, too. And yes, I have a stash of beads, and I don’t even do very much beading!

  4. I know from nothing about any of this stuff but I would be very happy to give it a home if you think it isn’t up to your standard, lol. It looks pretty stunning to me…..

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