Sunday, January 4, 2015


My friend and I spent several afternoons last week enameling. This time it was a completely new experience, as we used a small Paragon kiln instead of the torch. What sparked our interest, you might ask? Have you ever seen the work of Angela Gerhard? Enough said!

While we didn't know what we were doing, we had an idea. We made plenty of mistakes, most of them fixable. There were two ways of drawing patterns in enamels, that we knew of. You can first counter-enamel the back of your piece, then enamel a base coat on the front. Brush Klyr-Fire to the front and sift on a contrasting color. Then using a small brush or pointed scribing tool, draw your design in the enamel. When the piece is dry, carefully place it on a trivet and firing rack, then load into the kiln, which has been waiting at 1500 deg. F.

Here's what we did last week. We counter-enameled the back by putting on a fairly thick coat. Then added a thinner base coat to the front and fired again. Instead of using Klyr-Fire and a coat of enamel powder, we mixed a small portion of white liquid enamel with distilled water until it was a thin yogurt consistency. We brushed this mixture over the top of the piece, sifted a coat of enamel on top, and immediately started the drawing process. A very tricky business! You need to have a plan and work fast. If you make a mistake, it can be fixed by using some of the enamel mixture and sifted enamel ... sometimes. But most of the time it didn't work and you had to clean the piece and start over.

The enamels we used are from Thompson Enamel. The white liquid enamel was BC-1070.

Our worst mistake was on the first day. After we counter enameled the back of the piece, we didn't like it. So we added more enamel to try cover it. Remember, we had already given the back a heavier coat. What happened next was that most of the pieces cracked and the enamel fell off the back. Duh. The next day we were able to save those pieces by chipping off the excess enamel, adding a thin coat and quickly adding a coat to the top. It was a matter of surface tension.

I can't count the number of times we dropped the piece we were working on or it fell sideways off the trivet. The third day was an improvement. We had several nice pieces. I'll share a few here. I think what kept us going into the third day was my friend's piece. It had just been removed from the kiln and was gorgeous! The black dots are very small black glass beads!

Here are her earrings from the third day:

I had my successes too. I enameled a number of hearts and a few rectangular pieces.

So much to learn, but we felt we were successful in our first attempt. I want to try scribing zentangle patterns next.


  1. In the current glass on metal magazine I get from thompson - there is a great article on scrafito which is applying enamels in a random colorful application for the back ground then firing - then putting your white coat over top and letting dry (completely or it will chip chunks ) before scratching the pattern into it to give your a sort of random rainbow effect - also try using paper punches to punch gold foil or silver foil as well - there is a great bead enameling tutorial somewhere I'll have to find. Enameling on copper was my very first jaunt into a real craft hobby when I was about 16 (now almost 60) the small kiln from amaco is my favorite I have had since then - and after almost 40 years I fired it up and the same element still worked - check out the glass on metal site - hast other tutorials too

  2. Thank you so much for the info! I have just subscribed to Glass On Metal. Hopefully I'll get the current issue with the article you mentioned. Did you ever get to screen printing your daughter's dog photo? My daughter and Tim loved the coasters of Conan!

  3. Not as yet - I did go and give myself for christmas the new Brother Scan and Cut and only got to play for about an hour with it before having to put it away - now that my daughter and grand kids have moved out I just need to clean up and I can start working on some projects - so many ideas - full time job really interferes - but looking forward to getting some things done before spring ...... I have a lot of enameling books on the shelf that need to review again to give me some ideas and a lot of enameled beads I have not finished as well as making copper beads using the micro folding technique by jack berry that I need to solder and then enamel still sitting (10 years) at least - I just love seeng what your up to

  4. I remember the micro folding stuff. I looked on Amazon and saw his book for sale for $125! Ha. But after looking some more, found I had a book that was recommended ---- Metal Corregation by Patricia McAleer. We did a lot of fold forming in my college jewelry class and bought the book then. I have a few things tucked away too I should get out and revisit. Deborah, you get so much done ... And work full time too. Amazing!

  5. Yes the Patrica McAleer is a great book - and really the fold forming and micro folding are quite fun to do- and using a simple tube wringer for under 10.00 - I have articles and projects by Lewton-Brain I have tried - and love making leaves - I hop around from technique to technique and try and produce and compile parts that will go together eventually - looking forward to see what your up to next