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Using syringes to place enamels?


Has anyone ever used an industrial syringe to place enamels in a
liquid suspension? If I’m intending to use 80 mesh enamel powder,
what interior diameter needle should I consider?

Andrew Jonathan Fine


Nope, it is very difficult to keep enamel suspended in water, it
likes to seep to the bottom. You also have to know how much enamel
you are applying to your piece. Good luck, I’d like to know if it
works. I use a brush to apply wet enamel.

Jennifer Friedman

This is way beyond my 20 years of dabbling. You might consider asking
Bill Helwig at Thompson’s Enamel. I have no clue what you want to
accomplish by your question-I’m assuming Bill might know and can
answer. Just saying. There are ‘liquid form vitreous enamels’ the
liquid is often water and sometimes organic oils. This question
brings to my mind something like a lava lamp effect, and I don’t
think you’d necessarily need ‘vitreous enamels’ for that, but maybe
I am seeing something not there…

is the website, they have phone and email contacts (contact us
section). I’d be curious what it all means. you can also ask other
questions…Otherwise many answers are written across many books and
many decades. Best of luck and have fun.

Eileen Schneegas

Nope, it is very difficult to keep enamel suspended in water, it
likes to seep to the bottom. 

Jennifer, you’re an Enamelist… what about using gum as the binder?

Regards Charles A.

Hello Andrew,

As a retired nurse, maybe I can jump in here about the use of
syringes/needles to place enamels. The problem with using a syringe,
even with a large bore needle like an 18 gauge, and using very finely
ground enamels, is that you will have many clogs. You cannot get a
real even grind in the “mesh” shall we call it, when grinding your
enamels down really fine. You can rinse them & strain them, and go
through all those motions of trying to get as even a mesh on your
glass particles as possible, and to find a mesh that will go through
the needle. But that is VERY time consuming and then you need to
store all the different mesh sizes of the same color, and that takes
a lot of space, too.

I DID try to use an 18 gauge needle, (which btw the largest common
needle you can get on a medical floor unless you plan on trying to
get your hands on spinal needles and those are expensive), to
"inject" enamel into some very tiny places inside the cloisonne
wires, and the amount of time spent cleaning out the clogging needle
was too much of a hassle. Having very tiny brushes and placing your
enamels exactly where you want them is just as or even actually more
precise and requires much less fuss.


80 mesh is too coarse to keep in suspension. Even 1000 mesh will drop
out of suspension after a few seconds so I would suggets another
method of placing your enamel where you want it. Mix your powder with
a mixture of gum tragaganth and water. this is available from cake
decorating shops and is used as a glaze. It forms a glue that you can
control the consistency of and then you can use a dropper to apply it
where you want it. The gum will dey and when burnt off leave no
residue. A similar technique is used for enamelling curved surfaces
or rings. A book on enamelling by Jinks McGrath describes the
technique well.


Thanks for telling me about the problems which enamel powder has in
water. That would imply that I likely need to try suspending them in

Oh, if we could only load bubble-jet cartridges that way!


An additional problem is that the finer you grind your enamels the
more cloudy they will be appear they are fired.

Hello Andrew,

What you are looking for is either a deflocculant or emulsifier to
suspend the 80 mesh glass frit in water or some other “vehicle” which
will allow the enamel to be passed through a syringe.

Deflocculent is a pottery term. Emulsifier is usually used with food.
They both do the same thing, to keep particles suspended in a
liquid, this is called an emulsion. There are several choices but they
all have draw backs. Great examples of emulsions are milk and butter.

Here is a good starting point…Something to get your feet wet.


Bentonite clay is used in pottery glazes to keep glaze formulas in
solution. It is referred to as a deflocculent because it keeps the
components of a glaze (glass, flux, and colorants, metal oxides) in
suspension. However bentonite will probably make your enamel opaque.

Also if you use too much bentonite it could cause your enamel to
crack or craze.


A great emulsifier is lecithin. I am not sure it it is strong enough
to bind 80 mesh enamel frit.

The problem with using an organic emulsifier is that when it burns
off it may leave carbon behind which will darken your glaze.

A great organic emulsifier would be corn starch, but I am not sure
it can carry 80 mesh glass frit.

80 mesh is almost 0.2mm so while this is huge for a particle, it
still quite small…

There are a lot of things to consider…

If the enamel is going to be opaque, go with bentonite.

If the enamel is going to be transparent then you will need to find
something that completely burns off before the glass gets to its
melting point.

I hope this helps you find the solution you are looking for.
Take Care,
Kenneth, DynastyLab