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Enameling


#1

Hello - Have only been enameling for about 4 years now & really
consider myself a rank beginner, but I have found that the book
Enamels, Enameling, Enamelists by Glenice Lesley Matthews to be
quite good - starting from the very basic and moving on from
there. It can be found through a number of sources, including
the catalogues I’ve listed below, which are pretty fundamental
resources for supplies:

  1. Thompson Enamels 1-800-545-2776
  2. Allcraft Tool & Supply Co. 1-800-645-7124

Have fun !!! Laura


#2

Val, I want to get into metal smithing and enameling. Off Orchid,
I got a wonderful suggestion about Thompson Enamel. I called the
800 number and left a message that I would like a catalog. Got in
within just a few days. They have kilns, tools and enamel. It is
based here in beautiful Kentucky, and I don’t know if you want to
only find some place in Canada. But it looks like a good resource.
The number is 1-606-291-3800. Mailing address is P.O. Box 310
Newport, Kentucky 41072. They have several types of kilns. (1)
Thompson Electric for $175, (2) Thompson Hotplate Furnace $100, (3)
Dual temperature enameling furnace $137, (4) Paragons for $305 and
$580. I am wondering if it is necessary to by a Digital
Controlling Pyrometer to regulate the heat. Dang! that’s $210!
Let me know what you think. Sally from the Blue Grass


#3

Sally,

I teach two different methods of enamelling: 1) Using a kiln and
2) Using a normal bench torch. Both methods are excellent and
produce good results. The kiln is really only necessary if you are
going to be covering both sides of a piece with enamel or if the
pieces that you intend to fire are very large. Many of the
standard books on enamel illustrate the torch method, but if you
want more details, mail me.

As to the pyrometer, you CAN use it for enamelling, but I never do
and if you are looking to economise, it is not necessary. I set
the kiln to about 1000 degrees, put the pieces in and WATCH THEM
LIKE A HAWK. This method is also used by Kempson Mauger, the
largest specialist enameller in the UK, a company that I had the
privelege of visiting last year.

Yours aye,
Dauvit Alexander,
Glasgow, Scotland.


#4

Hi All- Another good source of enamels is Enamelwork Supply
Company. Their number is 800-596-3257. I think the catalog and
color charts cost $3.00 but well worth the price. They stock the
incomparable Schauer enamels as well as Ninomiya (fabulous
opalescents). They are lead bearing, however, so if this is a
problem for you then stick with Thompson. The Thompson lead-free
enamels do come in some nice colors, and they are a little harder
than the lead-bearing enamels so the finished product doesn’t
scratch as easily (although they are hell to stone), but Thompson
just doesn’t make certain colors, like a rich transparent cobalt
blue. I’ve been told that the main hazard is in manufacturing
leaded enamels and that if reasonable caution is exercised they are
not hazardous to work with, and the Enamelwork catalog gives pretty
good safety info as well as a complete listing of any hazardous
materials present in each color. Thompson is still the source for
kilns and most tools and supplies, though, because Enamelwork only
stocks enamels and a few harder to find supplies.

Elizabeth C. Wilkinson
Los Alamos, NM

e-mail: @wilkinso


#5

Hello Dauvit,

I would much appreciate info on torch enameling. I wouldn’t be
doing both sides. Will I have problems with cracking if the piece
is flaT? How about if it is small? How small? Really my main
concern is about hanging my face over something that is giving off
fumes. Is this a problem.? Or is it only a problem is I fire it
too long? How about when I do repeated firings of subsequent
layers? Susan


#6

Dauvit, can you go into a little more detail about torch
enameling, (I am just starting) my basic book talks about kilns,
so I am getting ready to buy a little kiln with an opening where
I can watch the pieces, what tools do you need to do the torch
methods, please list everthing, are you talking about a basic
jewelers torch, the ones i see in lapidary magazines? lynn

PS: all help will be appreciated greatly


#7

I would much appreciate info on torch enameling. I wouldn’t be
doing both sides. Will I have problems with cracking if the piece
is flaT? How about if it is small? How small? Really my main
concern is about hanging my face over something that is giving off
fumes. Is this a problem.? Or is it only a problem is I fire it
too long? How about when I do repeated firings of subsequent
layers? Susan

Susan,

Torch enamelling involves resting the piece to be enamelled on a
gauze and playing a torch over the UNDERSIDE of the piece, bringing
it up to temperature and fusing the powders. If you do this slowly
and in good ventilation, there is no danger from fumes, provided
that you don’t overheat the enamel. The important thing is not to
let the flame touch the surface of the enamel as it creates an
irridescent sheen which renders the colours murky.

The sequence of firing for repeated firings is the same as in a
kiln, ie: hard first, followed by soft, then paints, then
colourless and lustre, if you are using those.

Hope that this helps.
Dauvit Alexander,
Glasgow, Scotland.


#8

Lynn, Eileen here (cloisonn� enamelist, new to Orchid list). A
small kiln will seem too small very soon if you ever want to do
larger pieces. The “peep” hole in the door should NOT be used to
view your enamels, heat will come out & you can do injury to your
eyes. I was taught to open the door of the kiln to check & use
dark green glasses to protect against UV. Yes, opening the door
does lose some heat, but done quickly isn’t a problem. Also, I time
with a minute timer all my pieces. 1 & 1/2 minutes is a good start
before checking. Besides, that peep hole is too small to view
anything anyway. One thing you want to do in the beginning is
make a “chart”. Fire opaque colors to small pieces of copper. For
transparents, you will want to make a larger piece so you can see 4
treatments & color result. (1) band of color over bare (clean)
copper; (2) band of fired flux (clear) with color over that (2
firings); (3) band of fired flux which then has a strip of silver
(its almost silver leaf thin), flux fired over the silver then
color over the flux. (4) Band of fired white opaque then the color
over the white. This chart is more accurate in giving you a handy
reference when ordering colors & you can check in your piece of
work which color may be best next to others you have chosen.
Thompson’s sells their unleaded enamels in sample sized lots of all
colors. Start there. Other companies also sell sample sizes of
their colors. Most of Thompson’s enamels will fuse at roughly the
same temperature (as stated in their catalog). Two colors which
need higher/longer firing are Oil Gray & Hazel. You’ll find the
trouble & time to do your chart invaluable over time! I just glued
my samples with their color names & any other particulars onto a
board for handy reference. I could go on all day about enameling!
I have found the small hotplate furnace outlives it’s usefulness
very soon. You will want to set counter enameled pieces onto
trivets made for this purpose & it is very awkward in a top loading
kiln. Enameling both sides of a piece (don’t have to for your test
board) equalizes the tension, so the top side enamel won’t pop off.
Just my two cents. Which beginners book do you have? I have
collected a small library of books dealing with enameling. Jinks
McGrath’s is very clear & good & not expensive, titled “First
Steps in Enameling”. He lists kilns & basic equipment, etc. &
takes you through some projects. Write me if you want more
Eileen Schneegas @D_A_Schneegas Snow Goose
Designs


#9

info on torch enameling.

I am wondering if this could be used to create color in small
areas of a larger silver piece as you might use a stone.

Deb


#10

To Eileen, I do have the Jinks McGrath book, and the Kiln Im
speaking of i s where the top comes off, and you put pieces in,
is sold by AMACO for 125.00, I have seen the quik fire kiln for
200+, but the AMACO one takes a little bigger project, and the
viewing area looks about 320 or 4 inches square, from the
description, it is supposed to be safe looking at your project this
way, thanks for all your info, i have a lot to learn…lynn


#11

I am wondering if this could be used to create color in small
areas of a larger silver piece as you might use a stone.

Some of my students have been enamelling pieces of silver and then
setting them as if stones in rub-over settings. The settings must
be an excellent fit and extremely thin, as the enamel cracks and
chips easily.

Yours aye,
Dauvit Alexander,
Glasgow, Scotland.


#12

Dauvit,

I would love to know more about torch enameling. I have never
seen it done, or read anydthing about it, and it sounds intriquing.
Any you can supply, including book recommendations
would be appreciated.

Ruth
Los Angeles in the Mud


#13
I am wondering if this could be used to create color in small
areas of a larger silver piece as you might use a stone.

It depends on the space…I have used it on cast enamel pieces
where there is a lip to contain it…kind of a built in cloissone.
If you try to use it without a lip you usually end up with thin
edges which are a yellow or burnt out color. When I used enamel for
constructed pieces I usually made the piece and cold joined it to
the rest…bezel it in,tube rivet, miniature screws, etc.

Karen

@karenworks1


#14

Go take a look at some of the early Celtic enameled bronze pieces.
Although usually in bronze, not silver, they are quite like what
each of you have mentioned – areas of color, either in a
depressed area of the piece, or bounded by a lip that is integral
with the object, and not applied. One good book is Megaw and
Megaw’s “Celtic Art” (sorry, I don’t have the publishing info at
hand at the moment). Really beautiful stuff, most likely produced
over a (charcoal?) fire or brazier, and therefore adaptable to
torch-enameling, if I understand my reading about both these
processes.

Marrin Fleet
@Marrin_and_Mary_Dell
Memphis, TN


#15

Hi Folks, There were some posts about enameling several days ago. I
don’t know much about the process. I was fortunate to have several
days to visit many of the shows before I set up at the Tucson Gem
Show. There was a booth at one of the shows that had the most unique
cloisonne I have ever seen. Those of you who are interested in this
process should check out on itsmagick.com. It shows the process of
enameling that is carried to the extreme art form. About the show.
Attendance was way down for the wholesale shows. Bad for the
vendors but great for the artists wanting to buy. Most of the raw
material suppliers seemed to do well. Not too many people wanted to
fly I guess. The attendance at the Tucson Gem Show was about
average. This show is retail and does not attract many out of state
people other than snowbirds. I may get to meet some of you next at
the orchid dinner. Wish all good health and prosperity. Lee Epperson


#16

Can someone please tell me what else can be substituted for adhering
enamel to copper, other then a solution of Gum Tragancanth or Gum
Arabic. Thanks !

Shirl


#17

Call Coral at Enamelwork Supply Co – 800-596-3257. She will be
able to help you. Laura.


#18
Can someone please tell me what else can be substituted for 
adhering enamel to copper, other then a solution of Gum Tragancanth
or Gum Arabic. 

Hello Shirl, I guess the answer might depend a bit on the enameling
application, and reason for the a Holding Agent to adhere the enamel
to the copper surface. For example is the enamels being used on a
flat or on a curved surface? Dry sifted, wet packed, painted etc…?

However, for many applications you can use Klyr-Fire which is water
base Holding Agent. I find it works well for adhering cloisonne
wires & for holding enamel wet or dry on lightly curved/domed metal
surfaces prior to drying & firing. It’s also useful for dry sifting,
and good for securing foils in place prior to firing them to a fired
enamel surface. I always let the KIyr-Fire completely dry prior to
firing. I don’t use it for wet packing enamel in the closion
chambers, as I find water works well enough to hold the grains until
they have dried & are fired.

Some people use mixing media oils to hold their enamel in place for
firing, and there are several to choose from, each with specific
characteristics.

You can check with Thompson Enamel, Inc.They carry Klyr-Fire and
several other Holding Agents, and in their catalog you will find
them on Page 14. You can call or check their website for information
on how to order them. They may also be able to answer some questions
regarding which Holding Agent might be helpful for particular
applications. Thompson Enamel Inc. 650 Colfax Avenue, Bellevue, KY
41073 USA 1-859-291-3800
http://www.thompsonenamel.com/welcome/safety.htm

You can also purchase Klyr-Fire and other Holding Agents from
Enamelwork Supply Co. Enamelwork Supply Co. Seattle WA 9815 Orders:
1-800-596-3257 Information: 1-206-525-9271 Coral the owner, is very
helpful & knowledgeable, and she also supplies Leaded Enamels.

For on what other enamelists might use for particular
applications, have a look on the eNAMEL Online Newsletter
http://users.netconnect.com.au/~enews eNAMEL archives a lot of great
and articles. Go to “Useful Stuff” on the main page for
many additional online enamel & how to articles. Useful Stuff:
http://enews.heywoodenamels.com/common/eNAMEL_useful_stuff_01.html
Past Newsletters: http://enews.heywoodenamels.com

Best Of Luck! Happy Enameling!
Sharon Scalise
@Ornamental_Creations
http://users.netconnect.com.au/~sscalise/


#19

Why? The enamel adheres when fired. If you want to mix it to wet
pack with something else. Why? I would suggest two things, one,
cheap hairspray which burns out without a trace, or two, Vaseline. I
guess honey also works. Think it would be a mess however.

Pat Diacca Topp


#20

You can use Klyr Fire with water, and A 1 from Thompson Enamels
(take a look at their catalog for more ideas) or you can even use
hair spray, the least expensive one in a pump bottle.

Donna in VA