How to Make Cold Enamel Jewelry

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Enamel on glass is a jewelry making technique that dates backs to ancient man. You can find detailed examples of enamel jewelry and artifacts in both ancient Greece and ancient Egypt. Cold enamel is a modern technique that mimics the look of vitreous enamel without requiring the use of heat. Cold enamel is a less expensive way to add color to metal. You can make your own cold enamel jewelry by adding a colorant to epoxy resin and then painting the colored resin on your metal jewelry findings.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal finding
  • Acetone
  • Distilled water
  • Epoxy resin
  • Commercial or homemade colorant for epoxy resin
  • Lighter or heat lamp (optional)

Sketch out your jewelry design. Identify the colors you will need for your cold enamel. Plan where you will place each of the colors you use in your design.

Purchase or create a metal finding that has one or more cells that can be filled with colored epoxy resin. Cold enamel works best when placed inside a contained cell. The walls of the metal cell need not be very high. Rather, the cell walls need only be high enough to contain the epoxy resin when it is painted and protect the epoxy resin from chipping once the resin is cured. The finding can be made of base metal, sterling silver, vermeil or gold so long as it contains one or more walled cells.

Prepare your metal for the cold enamel by using a two-step process to clean. First, clean the metal with acetone to remove all dirt and grease. Second, rinse the metal with distilled water to be sure all traces of the acetone are gone.

Mix the epoxy resin according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Add color to the epoxy resin. If you are using a cold enamel color kit, then add the colorant according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you are mixing your own cold enamel colors, then add shavings from eye shadow, pastels, colored chalk, mica, glass frit or even glass vitreous enamel and stir until the epoxy resin has reached the color saturation you like.

Pour the colored epoxy resin into the cell of your metal finding according to your sketch. If unsightly bubbles form when you pour the resin, then you can wave a lighter over the resin or set the resin under a heat lamp to remove the bubbles. Be sure not to place the resin close to the heat source as epoxy resin is flammable.

Allow the resin to cure.

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Repeat Steps 4 to 7 until you have added all the colors of cold epoxy resin in your sketched design.

Tips & Warnings

  • Take proper safety precautions when using jewelry making equipment.
  • Always works in a well ventilated area when working with epoxy resin.
  • Be sure to wear a dust mask to protect your lungs when working with particulates.
  • If you use heat to remove bubbles from the resin, be sure not to allow the heat source to get close to the epoxy resin as epoxy resin is flammable.
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