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