I am new to the Orchid community, and looking forward to meeting
everyone. I have a question for any enamelists out there, with
regards to commercially available enamel powders. After sifting the
contents of a jar of enamel, I almost always end up with very little
80 mesh, but 80 mesh is the particle size that I wish to have more
of than any other. Are there any specific manufacturers whose
product tends to be less pulverized? Or, will I have to learn how to
grind my own? Thanks,
I suggest you call the manufacturer. They might be able to
accommodate you with a custom order of enamel that is truly all 80
I do a lot of enameling but I can't imagine having the patience to
grind my own, although I admire those who do!
I'm curious why you want enamel powder to be made of only 80 mesh
grains? My experience is that after removing the fines (finer than
200 mesh), I prefer there to be a range of particle sizes. The enamel
grains pack tighter that way, leaving fewer air bubbles and pin-holes
after firing. The finer particles fill in around the larger ones. In
my experience this does not degrade the clarity of transparents, if
that is your concern.
Coral Schaeffer at Enaelworks Supply sells a clear flux (N3) that is
only large grains. I tried it once and didn't like using it. When
wetpacking a thin first layer I got pinholes, and when sifted it
bounced off the metal!
all the best,
I want to come in here. I spent and did enamelling for around 7 yrs
Most of my enamels were purchased from Schauer. Et Cie in Vienna.
And, I still have all of them here.
I found for my way of enamelling, I used the sifting technique, no
wet packing, and Schauer supplied all my transparent powders in 80
mesh size. This worked fine, however it all depends on how you enamel
your metal, whren doing cloisonne i dsid do wet packing, on large ie,
say 12in sq copper plates it was sifting.
You need to do what delivers the results you seek.
Schauer make a very high leaded transparent enamel. I developed this
in a deep technique on fine gold and and silver to good financial
Amy- I use different mesh for different projects. If I want to sift
enamel on a rounded or sculpted surface rather than flat, I use a
much finer mesh.
If transparency is really important then I use a lager grain and
always wash it thoroughly. I like to grind my own enamels to the
consistency I want depending on the project. I have mesh sieves from
60 to 200.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
I have never had a problem wet packing with N3. As far as sifting
with N3 or any size particle of enamel I sift as close to the base
metal as possible so the enamel does not bounce. Using a little water
on the base metal helps. It is interesting reading how other people
approach enameling. What I have learned in 35 years of enameling that
nothing is written in stone. The same goes for metalsmithing. When I
was teaching I always told my students that this is the way I
approach the material and that there are many teachers that approach
teaching from a different point of view. It kept the questions at a
Sorry, meant to add to the problem of having air bubbles in enamels.
There all all kinds of reasons for this problem. Enameling requires
a very clean environment. A little dust particle, using organic
binders, not firing foils properly, old enamels, and a myriad of
other things can add to the problem of having air bubbles in your
fired enamel. As they say, a hammer is only as good as the person
using it......keep your area clean for enameling but a slight bit of
wind can find a dust particle to your enamel and make you crazy. It
is such an anal technique if your looking for "jewel like" effects.
Also, the N3 enamel I was speaking of is a clear enamel and is made
by Ninamiya. A Japanese company. I use it exclusively with the other
colors they make.
Thanks for the tip, Amy! I am wanting more of the 80 mesh for
transparents, and while I use the finer grain as well, when I sift a
new jar of powder I almost never seem to get any more than 1/2 a
teaspoon of 80 mesh from the whole jar, if even that much. The bulk
of the powder tends to be 100-200. I'm still pretty new to enameling
(self-taught, torch firing only), and am still doing a lot of
I have found some suppliers of 60 mesh, but they are all overseas. I
was curious if I would get more 80 mesh from sifting a jar rated
Thompson Enamels used to sell sifted enamels - you could special
order the mesh you wanted. You might want to give them a call. Here
is their website. but it is a mess and has been for years. I'd call
or send email. Good folks to do business with for unleaded enamels.
Chris- I'm curious. How does enamel get old? I thought that lump and
ground enamels/glass is just that. How does it age and what happens
to it? I inherited a avery old, 1950s/60s enameling studio and the
enamels are working just fine for me. I'm just sure to wash them
thoroughly. Please don't tell me they need to be thrown out. I have
some very lovely old colors.
Thanks Chris, I will look for the N3. By the way, I have your torch
fired enameling video. it was an enormous help for someone just
getting started! I have a question relating to using an
oxy/acetylene torch for firing (I have read that it is generally too
hot for torch firing, but I have had some success with it)...Is there
any way to measure the temperature of the torch flame? I spoke with
someone at Smith (makers of my torch) and all they could provide was
BTU's per tip size. I have no idea how to convert BTU's into a
temperature range. Hope that doesn't sound ignorant!
What I meant by old enamels are enamels that have been washed and
have not been used for a while. They degrade from reaction to water.
I start with newly washed enamels every other day. Your vintage/older
enamels that have not been washed should be fine but even those
sometimes can degrade. If you see white spots or sometimes material
floating when you add water then it is time to change enamel. Some
people will lightly grind with a mortar and pestal and wash again to
clean the enamel up a bit and have adequate results. One last note. I
use distilled water to wash my enamels. Though some people use tap
water I find that the solids and additives in city water or well
water will degrade the enamels sooner.
Oxygen/acetylene torches are fine to torch fire enamels with. If
your having trouble with it getting too hot then just hold the flame
further away from the enamel when firing. I found that any torch, if
it gets hot enough to melt the enamel, is adequate. Sometimes, when
I am firing a large piece I need to use 2 torches to adequately heat
the piece up to melt the entire surface of enamel.
Alicia. Thanks so very much for buying the DVD!! Am glad it is
helpfull. I have contributed to several art/craft organizations in
the past but I feel this one is the most worthy of causes because of
the archives and the generosity of it's members in helping those
just starting out. I have learned and been inspired by The Ganoksin
Meant to add to my last post that the chemicals such as cadmium,
lead, etc and oxides used for color in enamel react to water over time
and can cause clarity issues if your wet packing the enamel. A lot of
people use tap water to wash enamels and are perfectly happy with the
results. I feel that the enamels are degraded sooner by not
usingdistilled water. This is one of those issues that can be talked
to death.....like Art verses Craft. I do not know what the total
chemical breakdown for enamel is. It is like the race care driver
says about racing.. "I just drive the car. I do not fix them". Hope
this helps Jo.
Your right about Thompson Enamels selling any mesh size. Tom Ellis
is the person you want to talk to if you have any technical
questions. Very nice person. They have been a bit disorganized
lately and they will be the first to admit it but I think they are
getting back on track. Everything comes full cycle. they recently
lost Bill Helwig who was an icon in the enameling world.