Have you considered grinding your own? Find a color you want at a
stain glass store, see it they have a scrap.
This is not quite the answer. After working in stained glass for
years I slid over to enameling. As with the poster I thought this
would be a great way to use up my scrap glass and extend my regular
supply. Let’s just say I was disappointed.
Window glass and enamels have different melting temperatures. After
spending much time grinding then firing a piece that contained both
materials I was saddened to find that the enamels were shiny and the
"stained glass" still felt sharp. I believe a better solution is to
decide which enamel manufacturer you prefer and use that particular
brand whenever possible. Most suppliers offer sample sets of colors
for purchase in small quantities.
The reason for staying with a particular brand is that their enamels
are usually compatible with each other. You certainly can use
different manufacturers but the COE [coefficient of expansion] may
be dissimilar enough that you will be left with cracks within the
enamels. Or, one enamel will require a higher heat that will put
another enamel under stress [or burn it]. The reverse of the same
situation…one color matures and another sits there in the orange
The above situations can occur when multiple enamels are being used
on the same piece. Obviously, if only one color is being used then
incapability is not an issue. [but don’t we love to mix the colors
You mentioned Thompson. Since you are new to enameling realize that
care must be taken when using old and new Thompson colors together.
The “old” colors, usually with numbers below 1000 are colors with
lead added and melt at a lower temperature. The “new” colors,
usually with numbers over 1000 contain no lead and have a higher
melting temperature. If there is any question then ask the person
you are purchasing from.
I love Ninomiya, not only for the range of colors but also because
they are so compatible with each other. As I use up my old Thompson
stash I replace with Ninomiya because I prefer to stay with the
leaded enamels. I have also been purchasing Soyer when a color is
required that is not in the Ninomiya palette. With the work I do now
I seldom mix the colors, they don’t even touch each other on the
piece so the COE between manufacturers is not as important as with
standard enameled pieces.
I have not tried any of the Milton Bridge enamels.
Schauer used to be a reliable brand but I have had enough
disappointments that I will not purchase them. I was working on a
piece using transparent red. After firing I discovered white specks
that remained hard and sharp after the rest of the enamel matured
and went glossy. In the granular form transparent red appears to be
a light pink so the white specks were not obvious [I would have
picked them out]. After trying other reds I found this to be
consistent with the brand. I have spoken with other enamelists with
similar stories regarding other Schauer colors. It seems that their
quality control is not what it used to be.
No matter which manufacturer you choose, you will have to do test
firings for yourself to get a feel for them and understand how they
will react with your applications.
Karla Maxwell from sunny Southern California