Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Etched copper and Basse Taille Enamel

Lately, I've been experimenting with different etching techniques to incorporate basse taille enamel into a new line of jewelry. Well, it's been months and months of etching now, and it's time to take this kind-of-in-progress-but-I'm-still-doing-it-just-for-fun project off the backburner and into the world of serious enameling potential.

Basse taille (low cut in French) is an enameling process in which transparent enamels are fired over metal that has been textured or cut in low relief (e.g., by engraving, chasing, etching, guilloche). When the enamel surface is smooth and level, the relief of the metal underneath creates incredible depth differences in the transparent enamel, almost like pebbles at the bottom of a stream from shallow to deep. The color of the enamel is more saturated where the relief is cut or etched deep, while the higher points of relief are covered with a thinner layer of enamel and are more clear. And when you catch it in the right light, the metal underneath reflects back up like a mirror through the enamel and shows its true brilliance.

Anyway, along the way of playing with this technique, I keep coming upon the realization that even the etched copper alone, without any enamel, has a certain beauty of its own. It's a completley different look when I'm so used to the glossy, rich, look-at-me colors of enamel and glass. It's more earthy, more raw with just copper ... and thus... an off-shoot line of etched copper jewelry is on its way. So stay tuned. It's on the front burner now.