These earrings are ready to enamel!
Before filling the cells, the enamel needs to be washed . This step cannot be skipped or skimped on- unclean enamel will lead to cloudy cells. I rinse the powdered enamel with tap water 10-12 times, followed by another 4-5 rinses with distilled water. Once the water remains perfectly clear , the enamel is ready to use.
Using a very small paint brush, I flood the top of the piece (convex side) with wet enamel. Using the brush handle, I tap the edges of the pieces to help the enamel particles settle into the cell and pack together more closely. After drying the brush bristles on a paper towel, I use the brush to absorbe some water from the cells. Next is a tedious process of carefully brushing all stray grains of enamel off the metal surface of the piece. Here’s a video of this process. Both earrings took a little over and hour to fill.
I wear gloves for this because I prefer leaded enamels for their bright colors, and don’t want that on my skin. Additionally, oil from my hands can prevent the piece from firing well.
CMC can be used in place of water while filling the cell, but although it gives more security after the enamel is dry (a sharp accidental tap can send all the enamel flying out of the cells) it discolors the enamel slightly so I try to stick to water only.
These earrings are ready for the kiln now. After their first firing, I will stone the surface, clean the piece and then repeat filling the cells as needed. This is repeated until the every cell is fully filled.