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Painting with wet-process enamel

Hello. Could anybody help me? I’m trying to paint on base layers of enamel using wet-process enamel. I can’t for the life of me figure out how thick it is supposed to go on on each layer. Any tips?



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This is one of the processes where if you don’t have the patience for thin layers, it won’t turn out as well as you want it. Been there, done that, but I have gotten better at it. :wink:

The glib answer is, “not thick at all”. The detailed answer is, you want to cover the surface of the metal so that there is not one spot left uncovered. That doesn’t mean you must have anything thicker that a grain of enamel, though usually, the coverage is thicker than that. In other words, you don’t want to see metal shining through and neither do you want it to look like peanut butter thickness. Are you doing cloisonné or champlevé? If you are trying to cover open areas, it might be best to sift the enamel onto a moistened surface, rather than wet-packing the enamel. Either process will work, but for open or non-contained areas, sifting is easier and quicker and can produce smooth enamel bases for subsequent layers of enameling. Might I suggest that you get a copy of Karen Cohen’s new book, The Art of Fine Enameling or Linda Darty’s book, The Art of Enameling, both of which contain clear and detailed information on the subject. If you are using metal clay, check out Pam East’s excellent dvd’s on enameling on metal clay. Also, Rio Grande offers many quickie enameling dvd’s taught by Ricky Frank that will help you see the processes in action, rather than simply reading about them.

Thank you all for the responses.

I’ll keep at it until I have a better feel for the control of it; I was curious about the thickness of it as it is rather gloopy stuff, almost like pva glue in thickness. I’m just doing tests on copper blanks just now to keep it as simple as possible. I’ll dig out Darty’s book and have a read again.

You can get a cheap paint sprayer from HF. “auto touch up” Then use one of the Thompson enamels that has a bit of polymer. Maybe they call that liquid form. Just make sure that the lower layers melt at the same or higher temp as you top coats.

You have to get the water ratio right, put a rock or stainless ball in the sprayer so you can shake stir the enamel mix. You can put the pieces on screens so the excess spray will go past. Use a heat gun to set the sprayed enamel.

cheers m

It is unclear to me what you mean by “wet process enamels.” Thompson sells “wet form enamels” which are a combination of glass and clay and are opaque. Is this product what you are using? Or are you using glass enamels and “wet-packing” them by adding water and placing them on the metal with a small brush or a metal spatula? Wet-packing is the technique for transferring enamel into the sections in cloisonne.

This is the stuff I’m experimenting with. I’ve not gotten around to trying wet-packing yet (I’ll be trying it real soon though).

I’ve not got space that I can set up for spraying, but I’m going to try dipping something into it like you would a pot into glaze. I still haven’t had much luck painting this stuff yet. I’ve tried watering it down a bit, but it sort of burns off in the kiln if I do that.