Three Musicians

I made this enamel piece for the cover of James Olin Oden's upcoming album.  The concept behind the piece was three good friends playing music around a campfire in the evening.  There was some talk of a nice forest, and maybe some wagons, but in the end I choose to focus on the three figures.

Here's the sketch I came up with.  Although it looks like a lot of different colors, I tried to keep the palette pretty restrained (for me anyway).  It's mostly browns, oranges, and blues.  Originally, I was going to do a cobalt blue sky, but I felt that take the punch away from the browns and oranges, so I went with a clean opaque black for the sky.  That would allow the other colors to really pop.

Next, I made my wires.  I decided to use 24K gold wire for the fire and environmental elements and silver wire for the figures.

 Then I created the base using 20 gauge fine silver.  I cut out the top, then fused it to another sheet of silver:

Before any wires get fired into place, I counter enamel the reverse and put a nice coat of clear enamel on the front.

Then I fire the wires in place.  I do this in several stages.  I put down some 24K gold leaf where the fire was going to be.  Just for some added sparkle...

Finally time to add some color!  I did a couple of layers of the foreground and the figures before adding any of the opaque black.  I didn't want the black to seep in under the wires or contaminate the adjacent cells, so I waited until later to add it.  It's easier to clean up bits of black specs from the top layers of enamel.

After many layers of color, I did the first grind.  It's so easy to accidentally grind off all the enamel because you want it to all be smooth.  I could see that this was going to need some filling in with more enamel, so I resisted the urge to overdo it.

I actually did several coats of enamel to finish building it up to the edges.  You can see that I've added some more opaque black in the sky and clear enamel over the fire and the figures.  It always looks like a mess at this stage...

Ready for the final polish!

I had already soldered a loop on the back so it could be worn as a pendant, but I wanted to fabricate a setting for it so it could also be worn as a pin.  I used sterling silver and cut out some moon and stars.  Reminds me of a spaceship...

Then I just attached it to the back using the four prongs I created:

And here's the final piece.  I'm taking it to get photographed this week, so check back soon for the glamour shot!