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Faux Plique-a-jour Enamel Earrings Tutorial Uses Nail Polish and Resin

You're probably wondering what "Plique-à-jour" enamel is! The French term means "glimpse of day" or "letting in daylight". This kind of enamel technique is considered the most difficult. Glass powder is fired such that the resulting translucent enamel is suspended between wires reminiscent of stained glass. One master of plique-a-jour enamel was the Art Nouveau artist, René Lalique - see this past post on How Enamel Jewelry is Made.


Enamel jewelry making may not appeal to those who are hesitant about working with torches or kilns. But we can attempt a simple cold technique solution using resins and nail polish (a lacquer which contains resins and other ingredients).  Nail polish is convenient because it comes in so many colors.  I've shared the nail polish approach before but this time I wanted to try and test it out.

Youtube has many floral nail polish and wire jewelry tutorials to inspire!  I liked this one by Prabesti where each petal is created individually before assembly.



This tutorial by soOonita inspired me with the wire coil method of making the flower.



But first I tested out the durability of the nail polish on wire concept.  My test piece below showed that the suspended nail polish is easily torn - my nail accidentally poked this hole while I was bending the piece. This led me to the idea of encasing such creations with resin for protection. And to do it on an open frame or hoop for that stained glass effect.


MAKING WIRE FLOWERS

I used 26 G Parawire to make the flower stalk - about 10-12 inches worth.  First I found a conveniently sized mandrel - you can use whatever size you like so long as it fits the open bezel you will be using. Knitting needles are great mandrels.



After coiling the wire around the mandrel for 5 petals, I twisted the wire ends a little at the bottom before taking the coil off. I used the wire ends to wrap around the wire coils 1-2 times so that the coil will stay together. Then continue twisting both wire ends for a short bit.

I found it easiest to peel open each coil first like this :

Then only did I twist and flatten each "petal".

I continued to twist the wire and added a couple of "leaves" along the way.  I made a longer stalk in order to help me hold and later dry the nail polish.


WORKING WITH  NAIL POLISH AND RESIN

I found it very easy to fill small areas bounded by wire such as the leaves.


The trick is not to do quick brushing actions but to actually lay a fairly heavily loaded brush across the open space and keep it there for a few seconds before moving it off. That way capillary action comes into play and the polish flows across the space.


Don't overload the petals because this is what happens during the drying process! Note that I stuck each flower stalk in a bit of sticky tack (blue or white tack from the dollar store) to dry.

Did it make any difference which brand of nail polish I used? They do have differences in their ingredients.  In a previous tutorial (Resin Art Nail Polish Pendant Tutorial), I had trouble with marbling nail polish on water which was probably due to the brand I was using.

However, I did not see any difference working with a couple of well known brands like Revlon and Essie and a discount store variety.  What actually mattered was the consistency. If the nail polish was too thick as with the dark pink one, getting it to flow across the open spaces was a challenge.


Once the nail polish was dry, it was time to fit them into open frame hoops, courtesy of Nunn Design.   The hoops were pressed down onto a strip of contact paper.  I find clear contact paper easier to handle than packing tape but it does leave a frosted look to the resin after it cures. I like that effect but if you don't, then use packing tape.


Then on to mixing up a batch of resin.  I used Little Windows' Brilliant Resin,  an excellent doming resin. It is a low bubble producer which also has a long shelf life.  Get 15% off by using this code : BG1516



Fill the hoops with a thin layer of resin.  Double check to make sure the resin goes right to the edge. The temporary adhesion to the contact paper will prevent the resin from leaking out.


Make sure the flowers are as flat as possible before carefully placing them into the resin filled hoops.


Then carefully add more resin to cover the flowers - enough so the pieces are "domed".  You can always come back and repeat this step if you find that there were depressions after curing.


Don't forget to pop any odd bubble.  I forgot to check the blue flower earrings (see final picture at the end) and there were a couple of bubbles.


Always use something to cover the resin pieces while it cures overnight.  You don't want any dust settling on them!  Once cured, just peel off the contact paper.


MAKING WIRE BAILS

I made my own simple wire bails because I needed something light that would fit behind the flowers.
So I cut 2 1/2 inch lengths of 20 G wire and made simple scrolls on both ends.


Best to bend them in pairs!


Then I scrolled and adjusted the wire so the scrolls met.


I used E6000 glue to attach the wire bails to the back of the earrings.  Super New Glue is not a good glue for resin projects. Notice that some of the pairs had bails facing the same way and some were not. I didn't mind either way.


I then made ear wires out of 20 G wire.  See this tutorial on how to use large bail forming pliers.  Or you can use marker pens or wooden dowels - see this tutorial.



My favorite were the purple flower earrings which were made with glitter nail polish.  As I mentioned before, the dark pink polish was thick in consistency. Not only was it harder to work with, it also thoroughly covered the wire petals. It is much nicer to see a bit of the metal as with the other earrings.




Photography
I used natural light, my iPhone 6S with the Camera+ app and the Modahaus TS400 tabletop studio for final product photography. The tutorial pictures were taken with the same equipment but with artificial lights in my windowless basement studio. I am testing out the Foldio2. Check out my How to Photograph Jewelry Webinar  (currently working on an online class).

Disclosure
This post contains affiliate links. I receive books and products for review.  I do receive a small fee for any products purchased through affiliate links which are provided as resource information for readers.  This goes towards the support of this blog. The opinions expressed are solely my own.  They would be the same whether or not I receive any compensation.

Before You Go:
craftsy wire class review

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3 comments:

  1. I remember coming across a nail polish technique many years ago in you blog and tried it. One of the pair of earrings a I made got damaged the next day and the other still exists as a component. LoL. But the idea of enclosing them in resin is interesting. Does the nail polished wire cause bubbles when submerged in resin?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No. But that is why I like Little Windows' resin so much. Very low bubble producer so I avoid having to use a torch.

      Delete
  2. Those are really neat Pearl! Great tutorial!!

    ReplyDelete

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