[Enamel Bits] Newbie

Kieran, I did a brief search of the books on hand & few mention
even in passing torch firing enamels. One thing, you are
getting “burn out” at the edges, as the enamel is thinner there.
Also, white, red, green & some yellows are more prone to
burnout in thin areas than other colors even when kiln fired.
Take a file & file off the burnt areas, try to build up a little
at the edges with extra enamel powder before firing. You might
continue to have the burn out, but it should get less as the
layers thicken there from multiple application. I use a diamond
file, as it works faster to get off the enamel you don’t want.
But you can use an alundum stone, regular files, etc. Make sure
that the enamel is returned to a very clean state after all
that. You need to remove the contamination that any removal
method may leave behind. Whites often have low acid resistance
as well–I just don’t put them in acid for cleaning, ever. I
only “know” Thompson colors. 1006 & 1010 are low acid
resistant. 1020 is touted as super opaque titania white, low
expansion. It is what they use on their steel panels. 1055 is
very opaque, developed for commercial badges. But 1045 is a
white “that does not reduce or gray in a propane flame.” So, a
part of the problem may be the kind of white, its expansion
rate, etc. that you are using. (quote from Thompson Enamel
Workbook) Matthews, in “Enamels, Enameling, Enamelists” states
that the “advantages of torch firing are that you can constantly
watch the enamel mature…” You might want to only mature the
first coat of enamel to the “orange peel” stage, clean it, add
more enamel powder (especially at the edges), torch it to
maturity. This may help avoid some of the burnout. Another
book which mentioned torch firing (which the heating is
typically done only from the back of the piece) said that you
can get “luster” affects from torching the enameled surface
(also called it discoloration!). If you want to experiment with
different discoloring, first mature a base coat of enamel. Cool
& clean, then try a flame over the enamel surface. Or you can
decide that brown edges remind you of toasted marshmallows & let
it work as a design element! Hope this helps.

in currently sunny Middlesex, England

To all; I hope that someone mentions proper eye-protection with
all these threads on torch-melting enamels. Dydidium (sp)
glasses or something rated for sodium-flare, I believe, should
always be worn.

I don’t think anyone has mentioned using the trinket kiln for
the small enameling job. It is less expensive than a large kiln
and does a pretty good job, probably better than a torch for your

Frances Gross

Visit me or “beam me up” at:

I don’t think anyone has mentioned using the trinket kiln for
the small enameling job. It is less expensive than a large kiln
and does a pretty good job, probably better than a torch for your

Well, to reply to that, Frances, I’m working from a college, not
work while only in first year (which is not endearing me to my
profs, but… :slight_smile: ) I’m not permitted to use the kiln, large or

More thanks in general, everybody, for the tips on safety. I
always wear safety glasses (green ones) when using the torch at
all, but nobody told me ANYTHING about hazardous fumes. I don’t
have the cash for a good canister mask, so I’ll just open the
window…I’m having lots of fun layering the colours for a 3-d
look, although I’m having a heck of a time on one piece that’s
soldered, and the solder runs when I’m firing it…somebody
suggested white-out to stop solder from running. Any comments?


Kieran There is a special grade of solder for enameling that has
a very high flow temperature it is called “IT” solder and is
available from Allcraft in New York. You must be careful with it
as its melting point is just below that of sterling silver it
is designed for use on fine silver with its higher melting point
it also works on copper.


James Binnion Metal Arts
4701 San Leandro St #18
Oakland, CA 94601

To JagularGirl and other friends - PLEASE! Do not assume that
just an open window is enough safety for your lungs! Is it just
one window, or at least 2 for cross ventilation? What is the
weather outside? Light & breezy or laying heavy with no

I worked in a chem lab for about 20 years. The jobs always
provided ventilation what was thought to be “at least good
enough” to pass OSHA regulations. My health is paying for it
now! Don’t let it innocently happen to you too. Because for the
most part, You won’t see it happening now, but it will show up

Judy Shaw

    I'm having a heck of a time on one piece that's soldered,
and the solder runs when I'm firing it...somebody suggested
white-out to stop solder from running. Any comments? 

In the case of enamelling silver, most folk know that hard,
medium soft and Xeasy solders are available. But you can also
get enamelling grade too, but don’t try to use it with sterling;
the sterling tends to reticulate or even melt at temperatures
only a little below the melting point of enamelling solder.

       / \
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 /  /__| \      @John_Burgess2

At sunny Nelson NZ

Kieran - When you solder a piece, before enameling it, you must
use at least a “hard” solder, and preferably an IT solder -
harder than hard. Many enamelists do not like IT solder because
it doesn’t flow easily, though a German jewler friend of mine
just offered me some IT solder a German friend of hers had just
brought from Germany. She said it flowed beautifully, and I was
reluctant to accept it because of a fear it contained Cadmium.
She said it was marked Cadmium free. I’ve yet to try it. Bottom
line - the solder will flow if you get the piece too hot -
normally, enameling temperatures are about 50-75 degrees below
the solder flow temps - you just have to be careful. White out
will only destroy the enamels - though many claim it works fine
for ordinary soldering to prevent previously soldered joints
from re-flowing. Sheridan Reed