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Counter Enamel

Hi everyone. I’ve been learning how to torch fire enamel recently. I am finding that by the time I finish a piece, the back, where the counter enamel is, is no longer pleasing to the eye. It has a patchy dull brown look to it (occasionally a bubbly texture). Is there any way to improve the appearance of the counter enamel on their back of a piece without compromising the finished front?

I do not have a kiln, just a butane torch.
Thank you in advance for any help.

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I’ve had that happen also and I was told I wasn’t putting enough enamel on. You just need to make sure to apply a lot of enamel on the back.
Good luck!


Thanks so much for your help! I will try that :slightly_smiling_face:

Good luck Grace! Let us know how it turns out!

Just remember, you need the same amount on both sides.


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re: bubbles- usually means it was still too wet when putting in kiln. Perhaps klyr fire wasnt dry enough, evaporated under heat, and caused air bubbles. I have to be more patient and let it dry longer.
brownish color can be due to insufficient enamel or using a more delicate enamel color (reds, purples) as a counter enamel and firing too many times for color to last. Greens and blues work better.

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Unfortunately, when using a torch for enameling, direct fire from the torch onto the enamel is what you are seeing. My suggestion after you enamel the front of you enamel “piece”, and when you counter enamel the “back side”, heat just to a “sugar” surface.

I have attended many workshops at The John C. Campbell Arts and Craft School and three of workshops pertained to torch “firing”. The simple avoidance of problems is on the “back” side is firing in a kiln. Many folks are using a torch so as not to having to buy a kiln. If you google, Bee hive kiln, the expense is relatively low in comparison to a more expensive kiln.

Hope this helps, Tony


Hi Grace,
I agree with Tony but suggest that when you are ready for a kiln, consider a small kiln with a regulator( for safety and accuracy), instead of the beehive. A kiln seems like a daunting purchase ($800 and up), but they last forever with basic care, and you can easily sell a used kiln in good condition if you decide you are not using it enough. It’s more sturdy and larger than a beehive, so you have more versatility. There is nothing wrong with a beehive, but if you t think you will continue to enamel, a kiln is a good investment.

But back to the original problem: are you using opaques on the back ? Try using dark transparent colors on the back. Blues ad greens are generally more stable. Or maybe try Thompson 1995 black.

Experiment with different enamels to see what works best with the flame. The old leaded enamels are not good. Also you may want to design to take this into account by setting it in metal, or doing other things to conceal the back. Another possibility is to grind a texture or pattern on the back with diamond bits in the flex shaft. Hope this helps. Best of luck in your enameling adventures!


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