Before you do, make sure the torch is placed beneath the mesh firing screen, and in a comfortable enough position for you to work with. Enamelling with your torch Holding your metal piece in place with tweezers, paint or spray on a thin layer of your holding agent. Sift the enamel powder onto the metal surface. This will ensure that the enamel particles are distributed evenly by filtering out larger particles. When sifting enamel powder it is recommended that a respirator mask is used. This is to avoid the inhalation of any glass particles.
This can be done quickly by very gently heating the underside of the metal with your torch on a very low flame. Start moving your torch in a circular motion, moving the flame across the piece of metal gently. As the metal begins to heat up the various stages of enamelling will begin to emerge. The Four Heating Stages of Torch Enamelling The four stages that enamels will move through during the heating process are sugar, orange peel, full fuse, and over fired. You will then need to let your metal cool before adding any other layers of enamel to your piece.
It is recommended that you enamel both sides of your metal work also referred to as counter enamel as this can help to reduce the chance of any warping or cracking.
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Applying the First Coats of Enamel
The number of layers and firings depends on the design you envision. This is a good technique for learning how one transparent looks over a number of transparent enamels. First fire the base coats in an enamel of your choice. Using the Indian sand painting method, apply about four 80 mesh enamel colors in bands of color close to each other.
First try enamel colors that are in sharp contrast to your base coat. Black and white are strong colors to combine. Put the point of a sharpened chopstick just beyond an outside band and drag the point through the other colors. If you raise the chopstick a little as you get through the last color, that color will end in a point. Pull through as many times as you like. Fire a base coat of flux on the front of a shallow plate and counter enamel the back.
Spray the piece with diluted gum and sift a light coat of white or a light color opaque 80 mesh over the whole piece. Place different sizes of soft fusing lumps over the whole piece and press each lump in place, which will move aside the sifted opaque enamel under the lump.
Tiny lumps can be close together because they will not spread as much. The larger lumps will expand to cover more area. When the gum is dry, the piece is fired to maturity. If you place enough lumps on the piece they will almost touch each other when they expand and spread in the firing. The opaque enamel will frame each lump. After the lumps are fired, the piece should not be fired again upside down because the lumps might droop down to the floor of the kiln.
If your lumps are too large, put a few of them in a brown paper bag that is inside a plastic bag and put the bag on a scrap of wood. Bang on the lumps with a hammer. The lumps will scatter unless they are in a bag. Doris Hall Kubinyi was an artist and an innovator in the field of enameling.
In the s they concentrated on enameling. They had a gallery and studio in Gloucester, Massachusetts, then downtown Boston, and a final studio move to Stockbridge, Massachusetts. They received many awards and commissions, the largest being the enamel globe at the Babson Institute. Doris and Kalman are remembered as warm and gracious friends. This paisley design was a commercial enamel that Doris Hall and Kalman Kubinyi produced.
You do not have to worry about burning up the fine silver wires as you do when you fire fine silver wires on copper. The fine silver piece only needs to be cleaned in the kiln because it does not form a firescale coat as does bare copper when fired. My experience is only with leaded enamels, so the results may not be the same with unleaded enamels.
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