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Fire glazing enamels on flat pieces

Once more, out of the lurkers corner…

I have been doing some experimenting with fire glazing enamels onto
copper and silver and have had success with tubular pieces. My
question is whether or not this can translate into flat pieces. So
far, I have been trying to work with a flat piece on a tripod but
I’m having trouble controlling the enamel (using Klyr-Fire as the
wetting medium) and preventing it from forming unevenly. I know there
will be some difference in thickness (not using any channel/cloisonne
wire) which will have to be stoned down but this is beyond that. So
far, I haven’t found this addressed in any of my references since
most of them concentrate on kiln-firing.

Anyone have any ideas/suggestions? Is it better to concentrate the
torch on the bottom of the piece rather than playing across the
enamel? All comments are greatly appreciated!


On flat pieces try plain wet-packing with clean pure water. After
loading the enamel gently tap the piece and you’ll find it levels
out. Use a piece of kitchen paper to blot up the excess water from
the EDGE of the piece without disturbing the enamel. Don’t use
Klyr-Fire. Fire the piece and then apply the enamel again. Do this
in several coats. Stone it down under running water and, last of all
when it’s level and even, fire the surface until it’s glossy. Don’t
expect the enamel to even out in one application.

The lumpiness is mainly due to the wetting agent you are using.


In my experience it’s better to heat with a torch from below. One
reason is the dirt from the gases. The thickness of the enamels
across the surface should be determined by how evenly you apply it in
the first place, not especially how you fire it. ( If you’ve got it
on an angle and are heating for a long time, you might get some
flow). On flat pieces, you don’t need klyr fire. You can just use any
enamel compatable oil. Klyr fire is much thicker and that could be
your problem. Sometimes enamel powder can “float” on the surface of
the klyr fire. Also, it’s easy to have thick and thin areas with klyr
fire which can also affect how smooth the finished firing will be.
You do not need to stone every enamel piece. You can use the layers
as a design element.

Check into the Enamelist Society website for help/info. NOTE: TES
Conference is coming right up at Arrowmont in Tenn.

Marianne Hunter

Susan - depending on the complexity of your design, sifting is the
easiest way to get an even coating of enamel on a flat (ish) piece.
Use a graded mesh sifter of 60, 80 or 100 mesh. You can also use
quite complicated stencils on the second or subsequent coat,
sgraffito and other fun procedures.

Since gravity is in your favour you shoul not need any klyr fire. I
only use this glue when enamelling vessels or rings, and then rather

If you are wet-packing for better accuracy, when you’ve completed a
section about 2-3cm square, draw off most excess water and very
gently tap the piece - lift the support with a firing fork and GENTLY
tap it down on the work table. This brings the remaining water up,
sits the enamel down, and gives a more even covering. Then go on to
the next section. For less complicated designs you can also tap the
side of the piece lightly for the same result - but use the vertical
method for any exact pattern, like stripes, to avoid displacement of
the wet enamels. And yes, you will probably have to stone down after
the final coat to get a good smooth surface.

As to torch firing, put the piece on a mesh and tripod (or use
firebricks up on their side to give room underneath) and use a large
’fluffy’ flame from UNDERNEATH. If you apply the flame to the top
surface you will burn the enamel. However this can be used to get an
interesting raku effect.

If you have mastered enamelling on tubing, you should find flat
surfaces much easier.

As many times before, recommended books are Ruth Ball’s 'Enamelling’
and Linda Darty’s ‘Art of Enameling’, both of which answer many
similar questions. Happy firing!


1 Like

I might suggest getting a bee hive kiln, they’re cheap. I have a
poor success rate with a torch, and usually just pit the enamel when
directing the torch down at the piece. Tough call…