Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Enameling - Beyond Jewelry

Significantly beyond the realm of jewelry; however, still the same
artistic medium although used on a much large scale. An outdoor
mural by Narcissus Quagliata “A Brushstroke of Discovery” is
depicted in the December/January 2004 issue of American Craft
magazine (pgs 24-25). This mural consists of seventy-six (76) 4ft. X
8ft panels produced for the artist by Alfhers manufacturing in
Mexico City. Regards, Mark

While we are talking about going beyond jewelry…

I would enjoy hearing from anyone else on Orchid that enamels on
panels, steel or copper. I don’t really get to talk to any other
artists who work that way. I have always improvised how I am mounting
them to hang and would really like to hear from other people about
what method they use other than framing. I have a fairly good
enameling library but they usually say “mounted on lucite” without
talking about how it is mounted, I wish I could find something
written on a variety of ways of mounting enamel panels, especially
the heavier ones. Frighteningly enough I often hear from beginning
enamellists that consider me expert in these matters because I have
found a way to work out some of these issues, while I am still
hoping a real expert will come along and tell me the “right way”.

A conversation about adhesive choices would be wonderful. Currently
I use only 100% silicon for mounting…how about the rest of you?
What do you mount your enamels on? I am fine on small pieces but
finding an easy way to mount the larger ones that doesn’t involve
woodworking skills, painting and staining mounts would be nice.

Lastly, if anyone had a great idea for quickly cutting a clean edge
on 18 ga. copper sheet I would like to hear about it. I have used
jewelers saws (slow), attempted on many occasions to use the scroll
saw I bought for this very purpose (I snap blades constantly despite
mounting the copper on something to cut down chatter), a jigsaw (a
rippled edge) and a “nibbler” (which leaves a really hideous edge to
clean up).

Any and all discussion on enameled wall pieces welcome!


Karen, how welcome your query is, and how great to find someone
with a n interest in enameling as well as jewelry. I do large scale
enameling on copper and steel. I Prefer the copper even though
there is a problem wi th warping, because there are times that I
want to have the glow of the metal shining through the
transparents. My works are fairly large 20 by30". My kiln
however,is only 12"X12X8" I join the pieces jig saw style. (see
below). Mounting depends on where the co mpleted enamel is to be
installed. For outdoor installations, I use waterproof plywood, the
edges of which are wrapped in copper foil Some use fiber glass, but
I ne ver have. I have found G.E. silicon Sealant to be the most
reliable. For indoor installations I mount on birch or other smooth
face plywood, and either bring the enameled copper pieces to the very
edge, or I will leav e a border which I will paint—sometimes
with acrylics and the border wi ll incorporate elements of the
central design. Sometimes I cut the plywood in a rectangular form,
sometimes in different shapes, depending on the subject matter. On
the back side of the plywood I put runners of 1"x1" and put my
hanging screws in these, and attach the hanging wires to the se
screws. I use carpenter glue and nails to hold these in place, and
so fa r have never had a problem. I have a Beverly shear and can
cut my copper into any shape, and then the pieces can be assembled
jig saw fashion. Some enamelists grout between the sections, but I
don’t as I have a very tight fit between the pieces. Sometimes, I
even have wide separations between the pieces, and fill them in with
bare copper, copper screening, etched brass, whatever is suitable,
or I will paint the background with acrylic paints etc. These are
all artistic decisions.

If the work is small–about 10" or so, and one does not want to
mount i t on wood, one can have copper brackets brazed onto the back
of the copper If one is working on steel, one can have iron or
steel brackets welded to the back. I find it simpler to mount my
pieces on wood. I am sure you will get a lot more suggestions
from other enamelists, and I am glad you started this thread, as i am
always eager to learn how others do things. We enamelists often
work in seclusion, and don’t often get good chances to exchange

Hope my suggestions help. Alma

   enameling library but they usually say "mounted on lucite"
without talking about how it is mounted, I wish I could find
something written on a variety of ways of mounting enamel panels 

Hi: Karen: I don’t know if you belong to any Enameling Guilds or the
Enamilist Society…but they are a great resource for that kind of
I am sure you will get other responses that may
answer your questions directly. But, I was talking with Judy Stone,
who is a member of our guild and part of the Enamelist Society,
regarding outdoor installations, and she was very helpful with

If you have a local guild they are a great resource. We have a
conference in California once a year with all kinds of demos and
workshops…a great place to gather The enamelists that I
know are more then happy to share … Also…remember
there may be no “right” way. If I always tried to go by the “book” so
to speak, I wouldn’t have run into some great ideas and
creations…sometimes ignorance is just what is needed for the job.
Of course, there is always the argument of not reinventing the
wheel…but your wheel may be what others want to copy. My 2 cents.

Linda Crawford Linda Crawford Designs Willits, CA

"Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it."
Lastly, if anyone had a great idea for quickly cutting a clean
edge on 18 ga. copper sheet I would like to hear about it. 

A shear. It’s like a paper cutter, but for metals. Metal shops
should have them, MicroMark makes teeny ones, but I don’t know where
to get middle-sized, “just right” ones.


Karen, I am a beginning enamelist and just starting to learn to about
PNP paper and acid-etching on copper and other techniques. My
instructors, Kathy Wood and Sally Wright do some mounting on wood.
If you like I can pass along your email and perhaps they can answer
your question. Joel

A conversation about adhesive choices I used to exhibit doing only
wall pieces in enamels from 5" x 8" to 12" x 12" plaques of the
enameling iron Thompson Enamels sells and also on copper sheet,
which I used to buy in 4’ x 8’ foot sheets. I lived overseas in
South America and Africa and adhesive selection was not abundant. I
used to glue the smaller tiles to plexi using contact cement. I
still have a couple around and the glue is fine. Larger wall pieces
I put into frames; first using a local white glue like Elmers
painted all over the back of a piece of suede and glued down to the
1/8" plywood panel insert for the frame back. I let this dry
overnight and then simply used the same white glue very thickly on
the back of the plaque leaving a 3" x 3" border of suede showing. I
didn’t even take the time to rough up the backing enamel before the
glue went on. I still have 4 or 5 of these pieces hanging after
some 25 years with no problem. Once I wanted to re-use the
suede/frame for a new exhibit and used a serrated bread bread knife
inserted between the plaque edge and the suede to saw the plaque off
the suede. Hard work! My mom has some of my earliest work mounted on
suede and nothing has ever fallen off. These pictures have lived in
dry humidity in the Andes and also in the high humidity of the
Caribbean without having the glued panel come loose. For cutting
those huge sheets of copper (18 ga.) I had a wonderful Bosch
electric cutter, looked like a big flashlight with a duckbill cutter
that took out a 1/4" strip as it cut. It left nice edges. I have a
good friend who bought a guillotine cutter from Harbor Freight and
it cuts perfectly (only up to around 12" x 12") so that you don’t
have to file the edge at all. Donna in VA

Karen, there is a metal shear that I have; it’s called the mini
nibbler. Have a look at this as a starting point for further
searching…think autobody repair…

Also, originally I should have included this link

Interested readers can follow all the various pages from this URL.
and might also like to check out these too:

Out of all the questions I asked one of the most frequent responses
I have received (both on list and off) is about the cutting of
copper. I should have specified that I want to be able to cut curves
smoothly and with minimal clean-up. I am pretty familiar with what it
takes to cut in a straight line.

The responses include a hand operated non-power tool from Harbor
freight that cost only $19.99, a bench mounted throatless shear which
is also called a Beverly shear, and a power nibbler (duckbill) sort
of tool I investigated some time ago when I saw some silversmiths
using it to cut sheet. Does anyone have experience with all these
tools and have some wisdom to offer. I usually use 18 ga. copper and
find myself limited in how complicated my pieces can be due to the
prices I need to charge if I hand cut much. My guess would be that
the most expensive, the Beverly shear might be the best, but pretty
pricey for someone who is wanting to investigate new ideas rather
than doing large scale work. I am home with a new baby right now so
I have gone from full-time to a few hours a week in the studio right


Look at Bench shears for example

go to:

Wholesale tool also has these called a lever hand bench shear. My
12" one came from there In my case the freight was much less than
from Grizzly. Their website doesn’t work well for me:

These the bench shears I first bought,an 8" one and later
bought a 12" one. I have modified them with a simple in feed table
and will e mail a photo of the modification off list on request. I
have also used the little $19.95 rotary type to build a simple disk
cutter that will make 3" to 12"round disks in the present
incarnation. I have photos of these but no drawings.

There is also another Simple bench shear called a Beverly shear
that is used to cut curves. For US made originals see:

Harbor Freight sells a cheap Chinese knock of for much less –
about $90. I have one. see:

The blades are very hard and can use a little tempering in you oven
. On copper and silver this is not a problem.

There is also a European designed shear that cuts up and bends up
to about 7 inch wide thin stock. I have never seen one pricey in the
original cheap from Asia. For the original --Frei & Borel in
Oakland Ca. It is called a Profiform. There is a larger version
of the original and the original version is very versatile I have
trouble with their website.

Grizzly shows the knock of as the mini 7 -1/2" shear brake at the
reference above.


Thanks for those website addresses. I met Stephen Knapp in Germany
and have a catalog he gave me of his large enamel works, but I hadn’t
seen his glass before.

Karen - The best way I have found to cut 18 gauge copper or any
other metal is to use a plate shear - Enco has a wonderful 8 inch
one for 72.95 or you can get a “precision bench shear” from Rio at 295.00 .

Hi, Karen & Tas,

Last year, while I was out at the Revere Academy, Ronda Coryell
turned us all onto the fantastic kitchen shears made by Joyce
Chen, which can used for an amazing range of gauges, and will cut an
incredibly sharp, clean edge, without curling or otherwise
distorting the adjacent metal. When I’d showed them to my wife, she
said, “Cool, but I bet couldn’t it cut through a penny!” A few
moments later, it did! (I think I still have the grooves in my
fingers, somewhere, to prove it – I don’t recommend trying this, but
it is possible, after all.) Anyhow, the Joyce Chen shears are
available at most kitchen and chef’s supply houses for somewhere
between $20-30, as I recall, and have blades about 2" long. (And,
Ronda, if you’re out there lurking, “Thanks!” {:o). )

All my best,
Douglas Turet
Turet Design
P.O. Box 242
Avon, MA 02322
Tel. (617) 325-5328
eFax (928) 222-0815