I wrote a brief article about this topic and it is found in "The
Enamellist" the newsletter of the Canadian Enamellist Association.
So you might try there to get more details. In the meantime, hope
To begin, I have no doubt that your question will start a debate. If
you put four enamellists in a room and ask for opinions, you will
likely get five of them.
I don't bother washing opaques because I (personally) can't tell
the difference between washed and unwashed opaque enamels that have
I have found that washing does make a difference with
transparents, and yes many of us have complained that 50% of the
washing appear to go down the drain.
a. What I did is apply Stoke's law (use Googol) to the problem
when I need to wash a large batch.
b. Do you have a graded sieve set? If not get one and sieve
your enamels and store each grade in a container. Use a mask
when sieving, regardless of whether the enamels contain lead or
not because the colouring agent is generally a heavy metal
oxide and as such can be toxic too. Besides the silica isn't
great on your lungs either.
c. Get a tall vase, fill with water, add some enamel powder and
time how long it takes the graded powder to reach the bottom.
(You'll have to take the 25%, 50%, and 75% completed falls).
d. Repeat for all grades.
e. plot the data, time to fall (vertical axis) vs size of
powder (horizontal axis). Join the dots.
f. Now you can take ungraded powder pour it into your long
skinny vase and slosh it around to thoroughly wet the grains.
Turn the vase upside down with your and clamp tightly over the
top (now bottom) and let the powder settle into your palm. When
most of it has settled quickly turn the vase over and start
taking time. Let the time run until those grades that you
desire have settled out. Now decant the rest, I use a coffee
filter to collect the fines for use in other projects.
- Now the alternative. When doing small work (cloisonn=E9, champlev=E9=
I take a small amount of enamel and place it in a rounded
tablespoon, add water and swirl it around to raise the fines (the
white stuff consisting, I believe, of very fine grains of enamel and
abrasions of the mill) which I then decant.
Please contact me off-line if you have other questions. And please
forgive me I am sounding a little too pedantic, better to provide
too much info than not enough.
David in Victoria BC where it is supposed to rain and it hasn't.
Please send some.