Vitreous Enamel

I have a new box of crayons! Okay, not so much crayons as enamel.  I’m talking about vitreous – that’s glass  enamel – not glossy enamel paint.

Let me give you a quick tour through the world of enamel. Enamel powder is made from a special kind of colored glass, very finely crushed.  When working with enamels it’s always a good idea to protect the lungs with a mask, so as not to breathe in any glass dust. These are jars of raw enamel colors.

Of course, what you see is NOT always what you get.  The substrate and heat affects the final color.  It’s always wise to make a test strip on the type of metal that will be used.  Since I work with a lot of silver clay, which is 99.9% pure silver, I used pure silver, (commonly known as fine silver), as a test strip.  In this photo you can see the crushed glass layered on the fine silver.

Enamel Test Strip

This is what it looks like after a minute or so at 1450°-1500°

Enamel test strip after firing

The high heat melts the crushed glass, leaving it very smooth, hard and level.  These colors are transparent – the shine of the silver is visible through the color.  Transparent colors are the best to use when there is a texture on the surface of the silver, as the texture is visible beneath the surface of glass.  This makes for very cool effects!

Enameled earrings

Ok, this is not a great photo and I will try to post better examples – but you get the idea – you can still see the pattern in the silver beneath the grass green enamel.

So the idea of enamel is easy – but how much enamel is used, the firing temperature, the time at temperature and many other factors affect the final result.  That’s were the art comes in – although I think it’s art along with a strong will to get it right!  There’s much more to learn about enamel and I will share my journey here.  Stay tuned, the colors are going to be great!

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9 Responses to Vitreous Enamel

  1. Loretta February 4, 2011 at 6:30 am #

    I really like these. I can see a whole new fun adventure for you.

  2. Maria Paray February 5, 2011 at 3:49 am #

    Thanks Loretta! Still experimenting, hoping to have more pieces up soon.

  3. Dee February 11, 2011 at 4:05 am #

    Love it..how’d I miss this?/ wondering now if your feed is still coming through to me…these are really cute!!

  4. Maria February 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    Thanks Dee! Did you see about going to the bottom of you FB page – click on “Edit Options” and make sure it is set to “All your friends and pages” – or else you will just get feed from the people/pages you interact with most.

  5. Linda Leyble March 9, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    Hi! Very beautiful Maria! I love all of your work!

  6. Linda February 8, 2012 at 3:19 am #

    Absolutely wonderful! I’m glad you’ve gotten this accomplished.Love the items I’ve purchased so far and plan to visit again in the future. Midnight Sky is GORGEOUS! as is so many of the other items I see here. Going to praise your site on fb now. 🙂

    • Maria February 8, 2012 at 3:33 am #

      Thank you for your kind words, Linda. The pearls on Midnight Sky are lovely quality – you
      have a very good eye!

  7. Vicki Bensinger February 8, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    These are amazing. I love the colors and how vibrant they become. I guess you need to have a kiln though to use them or better yet, I could have you make something!

    • Maria February 8, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

      Definitely need a kiln, Vicki! The enamel must be fired to about 1500° F for the glass to melt and form a smooth surface. I enjoy custom work, so don’t be afraid to ask 🙂