What is enamelling?

Enamelling is when tiny glass particles are fused with heat to form a solid layer of colour onto a variety of different metals, such as copper, sterling silver, fine silver and 18ct or 22ct gold.

The enamels themselves are tiny particles and can be used dry as a powder, which is often sieved onto the metal surface, or wet as a paste or liquid, which is created by adding a binder (such as an organic gum) that can then applied with a fine brush. Particles must be ground to an ultra-fine consistency with a pestle and mortar, and thoroughly washed with distilled water at regular intervals to keep everything scrupulously clean.

Depending on the enamel powders used, the finish and colour can be matte, shiny, opaque or translucent. The two most popular enamel finishes are as follows.

The Types of Enamelling

Opaque enamels

These enamels are non-transparent in colour and so once fired are a more solid colour on the enamelled pieces. Opaque enamels are supplied in a variety of different colours and come either with a matte or glossy finish.

Opaque Enamels

Transparent enamels

Transparent enamels are used to layer, shade and blend different colours into enamelled pieces. As you can see through the transparent colours, they can also be used with other media such as silver and gold foils or millefiori to create different effects.

Transparent Enamels
Turquoise blue transparent enamel on copper and silver

Apply heat on your enamel pieces

In order to fuse the enamel powders to the metal, heat is applied to the piece. A high temperature torch can be used especially when fusing on smaller pieces, but most enamellers find using a kiln preferable as these provide the stable hot temperatures needed to fuse. Different enamel powders require different temperatures, but as a guide it can be anything between 700 and 950°C.

Depending on the enamelling technique, there may be multiple firings in a single piece as the enamel is applied in layers.

You can learn more about the different enamelling techniques here.

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?

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