A page to bring together a novices exploits in enameling. Starting with the absolute basics and building from there. When I say basic, I’m starting with little knowledge. The knowledge I have is at the dangerous level.
Steps to Enameling
A very basic list of steps:
- Metallic material
- Not aluminium as this will melt before the enamel
- Clean metallic surface
- free of grease
- free of particulates
- Surface texture
- give the surface of the metal some texture using emery cloth/sandpaper
- sandblast the surface – recommended for steel
- pre-heat to ~810°C (check enamels you are using)
- abrasive clean the metal surface
- pickle the metal (acetic acid or white vinegar)
- rinse with water
- apply a thin coat of enamel liquid or powder
- for powders use a sieve and just tap the sieve
- place the piece in a pre-heated kiln
- let the temperature come back to the set point (eg 810°C)
- leave for ~1-2 minutes
- remove part and place on a heat proof surface to cool
Enamel powders, liquids and powders suitable to be used used in liquids are readily available to various colours. You can fire a part multiple times and so build up layers with opaque and transparent enamels. I find the WG Ball enamels from Cooksongold work really well and are very vibrant in colour.
There are many different types of kiln available. One option is to find a local college or art studio where they teach enameling as they will be able to teach and advise.
Prometheus Prog-1 – a small electric kiln plugs into a 13A socket and can reach temperatures up to 1000°C.
The temperature, ramp rate and hold time are all programmable.
The only downside is that this is a small kiln with a small working volume. However, that small working space is ideal for enameling.
Enamel Buttons – using simple copper blanks it is possible to make decorative buttons.
Steel – a great readily available base material. However, getting the enamel to stick to the steel and not ping off is tricky as I found out.
Enameling on Steel – a first go at making homemade enamel signs.
Vitreous Enamel – an opaque or transparent glaze, generally coloured, which adheres to a suitable metallic surface when applied in a powder or liquid state.