Enamel Glue for Steel

The WG Ball wet process enamel steel ground coat is quite frankly “Enamel Glue for Steel”. This is a metal oxide based primer that you can mix with water and either spray, dip or paint onto steel. This is then fired at 800°C-820°C. 250g of this costs approximately £13.50 (July 2021) from CooksonGold.

WG Ball steel ground coat

A previous trial of enameling onto steel was hit and miss. I found that it worked reasonably well if I used an enamel flux. However, even 24 hours later some enamel flaked off the surface of the mild steel.

More reading on the internet about the process and I came across this WG Ball steel groundcoat product. This is a wet process enamel and I had never used anything like this before.

WG Ball steel ground coat powder

The powder is very fine and shows signs of clumping. This is fine though as it is a wet process powder.

On the back of the container there is a warning label for Jewellery Enamel Leadfree:

  • Harmful by inhalation and if swallowed.
  • Keep only in original container.
  • Do not breathe dust/fumes/gas/mist/vapour/spray.
  • Do not get in eyes, on skin or on clothing.
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke when using this product.

You need to treat this with care and respect. Keep your workspace well ventilated. I would also use a mask and gloves to protect myself.

Wet Process Application

WG Ball steel ground coat wet process

Mixing the powder with water is easy. Here I used tap water and it worked fine.

It is best though to place a small amount of the powder into a container and then pipette a small amount of water. This way you can control the process.

Applying the ground coat in this wet form with a brush was easy. At first there was some tension on the surface of the steel that stopped it spreading. However, a few brush strokes and this issue disappeared.

I applied just one thin coat to the steel.

Update: at this point it is best to let the coat dry before firing.

Firing

I fired the 0.9mm thick mild steel sheet at 810°C, letting the temperature of the Prometheus kiln recover to 810°C after the door being opened. This recovery takes a few minutes and during that time I found that this enamel ground coat properly adhered to the steel.

After firing there is a swirled coating on the mild steel sheets.

fired WG Ball steel ground coat

Update: at this point you can use wet and dry paper, in it’s wet form, to just take the surface back to a smooth surface. Use an offcut of wood to wrap the wet and dry paper around, drop or dip it in water and gently sand the surface of the ground coat. After sanding, wash any grit away and clean with acetone or methanol.

Next step is applying the glass enamel.

Leave a comment