[Enamel Bits] Cloisonne help

David: Just thought I would add my 2 cents to your enameling dilemma.
I am going to assume your are having this trouble with transparent
enamels. You might be having trouble with your binder. This happened
to me when I first started enameling with a transparent enamel. It
looks as though there are hundreds of minute pinpoint bubbles that are
trapped within the enamel. Luckily for me this happened in an
enameling class I took several years ago. The instructor had no idea,
but she contacted someone who did. The solution was to use no binder
at all while applying the enamels or, you can also dilute your binder
to reduce the concentration. It seemed the binder was the culprit.
It worked for me. Happy enameling.

A sunny day in Northern California.
Linda Crawford
Linda Crawford Designs
Willits, CA

I find that Latham Silver Flux (sold through Allcraft) has wonderful
results on silver–perfectly clear with no bubbles. I use it for all
silver cloisonne work.

I have heard the same things about the binder causing bubbles, mostly
with Klyrfire. You definitely need to dilute the Klyrfire with
distilled water in at least a 1:3 ratio or not use it all. Another
suggestion would be to grade sift your enamels with a sifting pan set
because commercially ground enamels contain many grits in them and you
want to remove the finer grits from your sifting enamels to make them
clearer. Marilyn Druin grade sifts her enamels and it really helps a
great deal in producing clear and luminous transparent colors. You can
save the fine grits (100+ mesh) for other techniques like painting
with oils, etc.

Hi David, After you pack your enamel, (that is if you are wet packing
and not sifting) vibrate all the grains of enamel in place? You can
do this by rubbing the textured part of a tool (eg the grip of a
dental pick) against the edge of your peice after you are done wet
packing each layer. If you don’t, what may be happening is that air
is getting trapped beween your grains and then stuck under the molten
enamel. You may also want to experiment with the thickness of your
coats of enamel. You may be able to go thinner than you think, which
will also help with the bubble problem.

Good luck!

Hi David, If you are using any kind of a binder, be it water or
klearfyre, be sure that you dry your piece thoroughly before firing.
If there is even the slightest bit of moisture you will have tiny
little explosions of steam and this is the cause of many of the
pitting problems. I dry my work under a heat lamp until it is
completely dry. Also, if you are using a film of oil to hold the
grains in place, be sure that the oil is wiped almost totally dry,
before dusting on your enamel, as even a smidgen too much oil will
result in small eruptions which when heated and will cause pitting.
Also, Nikki’s suggestion that you apply thin layers of enamel is a
very sound one, expecially if you are wet packing. She is right, you
can go very thin. In fact, if you are working with transparents,
thin layers–even multiple ones, will result in greater
transparency, and greater clarity of color. Good luck–Alma

Hi Linda, thanks for the about the Ninomyia enamels. I
will be trying them. Incidentally, a way to remember the order in
which to layer the lead free and the lead bearing is this simple
memory trick—"-Lead FREE FIRST, and the leaded come BEARING down on

There is a great variation of expansion rates among the leaded
enamels, and one has to be careful when layering them so as to get
them on the in correct order.One of the things I do is to write the
expansion rate of each of the lead bearing enamels on the jar and am
careful when I am layering them to get the higher expansion ones on
the bottom—saves a lot of unexpected surprises such as
cracking—expecially with the lavenders which are high expansion,
and need a higher expansion flux under them. As you say, happy

    There is a great variation of expansion rates among the leaded
enamels, and one has to be careful when layering them so as to get
them on the in correct order 

Alma, Hey, what a great way to remember the order of unleaded and
leaded enamels. Also, thanks for the advice regarding expansion rate
of enamels.

As to the Ninomiya. I should have added that they can all be fired
with each other and with other “medium” firing lead-based enamels.
Firing temperatures range from about 1450 - 1550 degrees over copper
and about 1400-1500 over silver or a flux undercoat. (though I fire at
1375 - 1400 according to my kiln pyrometer) The opalescents are easy to
fire and they fire opal each time. The transparents are clear and
very beautiful and they have a variety of shades and are excellent for
shading. With the Ninomiya I can fire all of them together with no
thought to expansion rate. Of course, when I add an enamel from
another company I do need to be aware of the expansion rate. As I
said before these enamels are very user friendly. Happy enameling.

Another overcast day in Northern California. The pine trees are
sprouting their lime green new growth, very beautiful. (Hey, Ninomiya
has this color. Just in case your wondering, no I don’t work for the

Linda Crawford
Linda Crawford Designs
Willits, CA