Types of Enamel
Enamels are made up of tiny particles which is then applied to precious metal metal through a variety of different techniques.
There are a number of different enamels powders which we will explore in this article.
Many enamels contain lead to enhance colour, but leadfree versions are less of a health and safety risk, especially suitable for students and hobbyists.
Leadfree enamels come in a variety of different enamel finishes include: opaque, transparent and opalescent.
Flux Enamel Powder
This is a clear enamel, used as an undercoat to prevent interaction between the metal and enamel and to keep the colours bright, can also be used as an overcoat.
Wet Process Enamels
Wet process enamels involves mixing the enamel powder with water, which can then be applied to the metal like paint. With wet process enamels can also be applied by spraying and dipped into metals.
Counter enamels are also known as practice enamel and are commonly applied first to a piece as a base to prevent warping post-kiln fire.
Painting Enamels are very finely ground enamel powders, and are perfect for finer and detailed enamel work. To use mix with your painting medium of choice, this can be an oil based or water based medium and then applied to the metal using a paintbrush.
What are the different decorations you can add to your enamel?
As well as applying different enamel colours to your jewellery designs, you can also add decorations underneath the enamels to add more depth and texture to the finished piece. These include:
- Millefiori – Cross-sections of glass rods with decorative details (similar to seaside rock) which can be applied to a layer of enamel and fused in to create different.
- Threads – Thin rods of glass for decoration and can be used for scrolling or adding straight lines of colour in enamel designs.
- Beads – Small glass beads for decoration or creating texture.
- Decals – Ceramic transfers (similar to temporary tattoos) applied to the surface and fired in.
- Foils and leaf – Fine silver and gold leaf and foil can be fired into the enamel to create interesting and beautiful effects. Foil is more robust than leaf, can be manoeuvred, and used under a transparent enamel or flux. Leaf is very fine and used as a finish, generally in the final firing, with no flux or other layer on top.
Want to get started? You will find what you need to get started in Cooksongold’s extensive range of enamelling supplies and, for an extra helping hand, why not browse our selection of enamelling books?