Research Enamel

Notes: Painting Enamel

I'm creating a series experimenting with translucent enamel, enamel paint, and color saturated materials.  This piece was fabricated using a die formed 22g copper shape and a white enamel base (1030 white at 1450).  I applied lavender, olive green, and turquoise translucent enamels on the sides with a fine sifter ( fused 1350).  I then painted layers of painting/screening enamels from Thompson (fused 1250-1300).  Green, yellow, and red like to burn out; blue and black are stable.  
The black will become matte if applied thickly.

Fishing lure materials are an excellent source for bright colors and textures.  This piece also has an acrylic insert between the front and back sections (Tap Plastics).  I drill holes into the acrylic to combine materials. 


The enamel on this piece was inspired by Botticelli's work and completed with  painting/screening enamels from Thompson.  The figure was cut out in 18g copper and counter enameled.  The front has a white base (1030).  

There is considerable warping with the piece.  I curved the copper in the opposite direction before adding the enamel, but with subsequent firings it ended up curving.

I have three enameling kilns in the studio and each reacts differently with the enamel.  Figure out what works and stick with it.  I fuse the counter enamel and base coat at 1450 in a small Paragon Kiln with imbedded elements.  I fuse layers of painting enamel between 1250-1300 in a larger Skutt kiln with traditional elements.  The smaller kilns fire hotter and burn out the reds and greens.

The flowers are an opaque scarlet over 24g copper that I wet packed with a brush. 


Notes: Feed Them Series

The enamel on these pieces was applied using an airbrush (spraying 3:1 parts Klyr-fire to distilled water) and 100 mesh sifters.  Spray then sift, spray then sift... until the object is evenly coated.  

I used two thin coats of opaque Thompson Melon on the caterpillars fired to 1450 and black Sunshine painting enamel 1435 for the lines.  Too much enamel (Melon) will cause thin areas to pull from thinner areas.  Too thick application of painting enamel will cause the paint to crack.  Allow the paint to dry, then scratch around areas to clean them up (or use just the medium and a brush along the dried edges).  The caterpillars were ectroformed from wax duplicates I made using the Micro-sculpting technique.  

For the petals, I applied a white base coat 1030, then transparent Pink, Geranium, and Rose in different layers.  I used an X-acto blade to sgraffito lines into the sifted enamel for a textured appearance.  The layers produced a heavier application, but had the desired effect.

Enameled sections of these pieces are held to pieces with micro-fasteners.  For the caterpillars, bolts are soldered directly to the metal before enameling.  Enamel is sifted over the object, then cleaned with a brush to keep bolts enamel free.  The petals have multiple holes drilled into sections for cold connections.  These areas are held together with nuts and bolts, or tapped.

Notes: Nurture Series

I'm experimenting with a technique Keith Lewis demonstrated at the Enamelist Conference 2022.  These pieces use 22K gold leaf over a base coat of opaque cobalt blue.  I use needle tools to scratch through the leaf to produce a drawing with delicate lines, and different tools create a variety of marks.  A small glass brush will remove the excess gold leaf in the negative space. This technique is predictable and has good results.  The only issue can be small air pockets trapped under the leaf.  I  scratch through most areas to prevent this.  Once the leaf is glued to the enamel, you can spend several days working on the drawing.  No need to rush the fusing.


The enamel on this piece began with medium clear over the copper form (1450).  White 1030 was then sifted over the left side (1450).   I then painted layers of painting/screening enamels from Thompson (fused 1250-1350).

Sifting opaque enamel onto clear tends to create more pixelation (with the white) from multiple firings.

I use my clay figures as models for the work.  I can paint from life and alter the position for multiple views.     

The porcelain flowers were hand-built using Laguna P-550.  Each section has a hole in the back that was epoxied onto a large square prong.  

A matte clear glaze is applied over the flowers to keep them clean.  Oil from hands and dirt from wear will soil the porcelain if the forms are not sealed.  I wear gloves when handling bisque fired porcelain.


This piece was created using porcelain, fine silver, cloisonn√© wire, and Thompson enamels.  I etched a lovely skeleton under the enamel but had some issues with  the fire polish. 

Note: fine silver etches faster than sterling or copper. (10 min 

Note: it is better to fire polish something from the back side.  Place the piece up against a fire brick at an angle and heat with a fluffy torch.  The front will be cleaner and more luminous.   

The sea green color in the negative space is definitely one of my favorites, and mixing the opaque white with the translucent colors was very effective in the pelvic region.  

Also, having a blast with my new Cricut.  Thank you Harlan Butt for your fabulous workshop at Arrowmont, and the Enamelist Society Conference was truly amazing.  Also, thank you to Keith Lewis and his incredible gold leaf technique. 

Cant' wait until Little Rock.