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[Enamel Bits] Getting your Lumps


Hi all,

I need to make some of my own lumps…I use them to do kind of a
mosaic thing and I want to be able to control my colors rather
than take the “Thompsons choice” assortment of lumps.

I have come up with two plans, anyone who has made lumps before
or sees an obvious flaw to either please jump in!

  1. Coat a clean piece of copper with a way too thick coat of the
    desired lump color…fire, press and then crunch up the resulting
    shard that ping off, maybe help them along with a hammer.

  2. heat some of the enamel desired in a crucible until flowing,
    try to scoop out with steel tool onto my granite surface…let
    cool, take to it with a hammer.

The assumption is of course that I am graceful and careful in all
these actions, use proper eye protection and gloves.

Any suggestions?

Karen, Northern Illinois…currently recovering from a
trip to what they wrongly called a fine art fair
"Wyandotte" (any comments on that debacle would be
welcome as well)


Karen, Another suggestion for making lumps is to mound your color
on sheets of mica and fire; the mica residue is easily removed
with a stone. I have made my own threads with a scrolling tool.
While we are on this subject, any idea how those flowerlets
Thompson sells are made?

Donna in WY


A couple of other way to get some lumps.

  1. Apply enamel to a piece of copper foil. The thickness of
    your lumps dependent on the number of applications of enamel
    fired. Multi-color lumps could be made or lumps that have
    silver or gold foil or leaf. When you are happy with the
    application. Let the piece cool and then peel the copper foil
    off the enamel. The enamel can be broken up.

  2. If the idea is a concenrtation of color in a location. Wet
    pack a mound of color on your piece.

Hope this helps -Joan

May you always enamel with passion in your heart

Joan Schlaifer
Schlaifer’s Enameling Supplies
1441 Huntington Dr.
PMB 1700
South Pasadena, CA 91030
800 525-5959 626 441-1127


I also make lumps from time to time my loading enamel onto a
clean piece of mica, just like in color testing, firing it and
then carefully peeling of the result trying to keep the glass
mica-free. If a little mica sticks, I sand it down and clean it
with a fiberglass brush. Then I put the glass in between layers
of clean paper and hit it with a hammer over a steel bench plate.
For experiments, I also like to smash up glass beads and test
the colors with Thompson 2030 flux to see if they fire well and
keep their color, but i would be very cautious about using these
lumps and their dust mixed with your regular enamels and expect
everything to turn out hunky-dory. The more you test, the more
you know or at least can guess. I usually have no clue what kind
of glass is in the beads and whether or not it’s compatible in
firing temperature or in it’s coefficent of expansion with the
enamels I have. Whole beads fused to the top layer of an enamel
piece look great for mosaic-type work! Juliet Gamarci


Karen: How about starting with a glass rod which can be cut
into any manageable size, then placing it in a cloth packing and
hammering the heck out of it. These rods come in all colors.
Its glass, just like enamels. Whadayou think? Frances

Visit me or “beam me up” at:


I’ve used frit–broken glass bits–from a bead supply with
success for lumps. Also, you can take Morretti glass rods, cut
off small pieces, and grind them to the appropriate size with a
mortar and pestle. This allows you to keep a supply on hand. I
haven’t seen the flowers in Thompson’s catalog, but my guess is
that they are cut from glass canes used in lampworking–which is
how they are made. Any advanced bead making manual will show how
this is done.



I would bet that you can actually buy most of the Thompson
Enamel colors already in lump form. Have you asked them? As a
bead maker, I always buy my enamel in 6/20 mesh. It’s about
rocksalt size lumps. Twice they have accidently shipped me
unsifted enamel and some of the lumps were as big as marbles.
I’m guessing that if you requested it, you could get "lump"
enamel in any color you want. Be sure to talk to one of the
techs, not just the person who takes the orders. A tech will
have more and leeway than a clerk.

Pam East <@Pam_East>

Tattoos - While you wait!


Karen, On page 3 of the Thompson catalog you will see that you
can order all of their colors ground to several different mesh
sizes OR as lumps. You can even order the individual colors as
6/20 mesh for bead making. This greatly increases your color
selection from their “mixed lumps”. Unless you are planning to
make your own colors somehow, this should make things much
simpler for you.

What torch/fuel system are you using? Are you getting good clear
colors? I’ve tried all the system combinations available except
the Minor burner that glass bead maker use. So far the best has
been a “turbo torch” that is propane/air. Unfortunately Sears
(where I bought it) says it has been discontinued and so the
second choice set-up that I recommend to students is an
inexpensive propane tank with tip from the hardware store. Have
any better suggestions?

In Japan I had brief glass bead making session. The teacher
annealed her beads in ash. Don’t know if this is any safer than
vermiculite for the lungs, but just another option to explore.
The glass she uses is much softer than the Moretti glass, melts
with a bunsen burner type arrangement. Some of her beads were
faily large.

Hope this helps.

Carol Holaday


Yes! I’ve used lots of lumps from Thompson. Sometimes they
were even what appeared to be a small custom size, and even a
mixture of several colors, so I appears that can get about
anything you want. But you might have to buy a rather large
quantity. margaret


As I recall, the “flowers” are called “millefiori” (or something
like that), and I got the impression they came from Italy. Come
in sticks (like a miniature of the old-fashioned Christmas
candy); you just nip off a piece the length you want. There is no
hole in the center, so they are not made by the usual bead-making
technique that I am aware of. But, then, I’m not a bead-maker and
thus certainly not an expert! Margaret


Well, first you’d have to consider that the melting point might
be very different from the enamels. (which may be no problem,
depending on how you’re going to use it) Also, you don’t know what
it has in it – lead, other things that may be a problem? what
does it have in it that gives it that color? Or does it have
something in it that might contaminate the regular enamels you
use with it? Or does the color separate out of it when it’s




You can end up with an expansion coefficient problem if you
aren’t careful about combining glass, because believe me I have

I make wall pieces (although I make beads for friends once in a
while) and use the lumps to texture the surface. I find the best
way to not experience any pinging and problems in the future is
to use the same glass/enamel for the surface as for the lumps. I
do use beads sometimes, crushed and uncrushed but once again you
have to be careful or they cool at different speeds and cause
crazing where they meet.

Buying flat out lumps from Thompson as some have suggested is a
great idea for the few I know I will be using on a regular basis.
I will try the copper foil idea (which is a good one, I’ll just
apply the enamel real lumpy to the foil) because I don’t always
know ahead of time exactly what color lumps I want.

Thanks for your help everyone,