"What goes into your enamel work?"
I’ve been asked what type of materials go into my enamel work, and if I use leaded enamels.
While many enamelists use both leaded and unleaded vitreous enamels, I use only unleaded. There are some advantages in leaded enamels as they can have more vibrant colors; but for me the risks outweigh those benefits. The enamels I use are Thompson unleaded enamels in both opaque and transparent. Made in the USA, I can be sure they contain no lead and will be much safer to work with. Leaded enamels have not been produced in the US since about 1990 due to health concerns although they can be acquired from Japan & France.
As far as the metal goes, I purchase all my metals from Rio Grande Jewelry Making Supply located in New Mexico. The copper I use in my enamels is CDA #110 copper; which is 99.9% pure. I never use plated materials in my enamel work…never. In general I use no plated materials at all and on the rare occasion I have, I’ve stated it clearly in the description.
The ear wires I use are sterling silver, 14k gold filled or niobium. Niobium is hypoallergenic and used to manufacture pacemakers and other medical devices.