Tag Archives: Debora Mauser

Keum Boo Mistakes

On the same day that I took an enameling class at my friend Eva Sherman’s studio in Rocky River, (Painting with Fire), I also took a class in Keum Boo. This is also a technique that I had wanted to learn for a very long time. When this class became available, I signed up instantly.
The class was taught by Debora Mauser, Certified Painting with Fire Instructor, our instructor for the enameling class.

Keum Boo, the art of embedding gold foil into fine silver, is an ancient Korean technique.

The class went very well. The gold embedded beautifully.

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Then came the real test – performing the technique at home.
I already had the beehive kiln, but there wasn’t a flat top. I ordered one.
I ordered sheets of fine silver and a sheet of gold foil.
I had an agate burnisher.

When I had all the necessary supplies, I was ready to go. I choose earrings as my 1st project. I cut 1″ circles and drew a design. The design consisted of 3 pieces, a horizontal piece and 2 vertical pieces. With all pieces of foil cut, I heated the kiln, put the circles on it and proceeded to attach the top horizontal piece of gold foil on each earring. I burnished it without incident. So far, so good. I attached the next piece without incident. I’m doing well. Lastly, I began attaching the 3rd and final piece. I cast a glance at the first parts of my handiwork and noticed something bizarre. The first 4 pieces I attached had faded away and were barely visible. Only the last piece remained bright.

What was going on? I took them from the kiln to a fire brick.

Reviewing class literature, it seems I missed the part “Note: When you’re finished adding gold, remove your piece promptly. At these temperatures, the gold continues to diffuse into the surface”. It’s called Accidental Diffusion. “If left on the kiln, the gold will pale as it continues to diffuse into the surface of the silver”.

So basically, my pieces of gold foil had sunk into the fine silver. I sure learned that lesson well. It won’t happen again. One piece, one piece of gold foil and off the kiln. That’s overdoing it, but I don’t care. I don’t want to lose any more designs.


“Painting with Fire” – Now I Get It!

I have been experimenting with enameling for several months and finally just about nailed doing flat or gently curved surfaces. Using a torch under a tripod, I created some rather lovely pieces. My ultimate goal, however, was to learn to enamel beads. This technique simply eluded me.

I had been reading and studying Barbara Lewis’s book, “Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry, a Workshop in Painting with Fire”. Her beads, discs and bead caps were magnificent. Her set-up was ingenious, with the anchor piece being something called a bead pulling station. I ordered all of the pieces, but couldn’t create a single bead. I knew it was related to the amount of heat generated by my torch. So frustrated! All of this money invested in a technique I so badly wanted to conquer and I couldn’t.

Imagine how excited I was when a Painted with Fire class was being offered locally by my friend, Eva Sherman, at her studio, Grand River Beads. The day long class was taught by Debora Mauser, a Certified Painting with Fire Instructor. She finally pulled all of the pieces together for me. The first step is to put a bead of your choice-copper, brass, iron-on a mandrel. The bead is heated until it glows and totally immersed in a can of enamel. Add 2 to 3 additional more layers of enamel. When done, pull bead from mandrel by placing bead in “V” of bead pulling station. Beads cool in a bed of vermiculite. Many other techniques were discussed.

I am so thrilled at everything I learned at the class. I have been able to reproduce much of what I learned, but I have lost a few of the finer points. Enameling has added a new dimension to my jewelry making.

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Metalsmithing Poodle

This blog has morphed into an observation and reflection of life as an artist. I am a Denver based metalsmith who works in a call center by day, sells jewelry by night, and fills the rest of the waking hours practicing parkour. I am the founder of Purple Poodle Designs and I am the events coordinator for the Colorado Metalsmithing Association.

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