Curved enamels


Can anyone tell me how to avoid the curvature that happens when I
counter enamel my 20 ga. fine silver. It’s very hard to set pieces
that are arched.

Sheridan in Chicagoland


Your silver should be slightly domed in the first place and countered
on the back side. The dome doesn’t have to be extreme, but when you
counter the piece it “sets” your enamel so that it won’t crack. Your
bezel should be tall enough to set your piece.

Jennifer Friedman
enamellist, jewelry artisan
sunny southern CA

Hi Sheridan,

You may need to tell us more. In theory, you counter enamel in order
to NOT have that bowed effect. If the enamel on both sides of a piece
are very close to equal it should keep the arch out of the piece if
it is relatively small.

Karen (also in Chicago)


Question; are you enamelling the backside of your piece first and
then noticing the arching? That is to be expected. An article
written by W. Carpenter in “Glass on Metal” explains why this occurs
and why it is necessary for this to occur. I don’t have an index to
help you locate the appropriate article.

One possible suggestion is that work around your problem by
designing so that it does not arch. For example, one could fold down
the edges. However, spalling may then occur.

I’m sure others will have a more adequate solution.


Sheridan, we always put a weight on the piece as soon as it came out
of the kiln. This kept it from warping.


The best way to avoid curvature in enamels, especially with a
thinner gauge like 20, is to have an equal amount of enamel on the
front and the back to balance the stress. You can also place an
unblemished heavy object (heavy antique iron or steel plate with a
handle) on the enamel, but the timing is crucial. You have to remove
it from the trivet, place it on the cement floor, or other hard
surface, and put the iron on it very quickly. It has to be hot
enough that the metal is still malleable, but beyond the point that
the glass is in a melted state. You leave the iron on until it cools.

Linda Gebert

Regarding the steel plate or antique iron technique - it really
works, but I have always put the piece on a piece of granite
countertop, a piece of heavy stainless steel or a heavy marble tile.
That way if your timing is a little off (enamel still in somewhat
molten state), it mars less and you don’t pick up all kinds of
miscellaneous dirt.

For small pieces, you weight can be an unmarred bench block or small

Just my 1 cent worth. (i used to have 2 cents, but then the price of
gold went up!)