Color Reference Tools for Enameling

Check here for a couple of color reference tools that are very helpful for your enameling projects.

One, is a product made for films in photography. It is very simple to over lay the sheets and see how the color changes. I had an inquiry the other day on how an enamelist could darker the red that they had available. It is great to be able to keep moving when you are in the middle of an enameling project.

I can be a bit hard to tell here, the red over the blue darkens the red.

Cool little color reference tool for enameling.

Cloisonne! By Gosche, Amazing


                                                       Gocha Gurgenidze

Let me introduce you to an amazing Artist. “I am Gocha Gurgenidze it has been 15 years since I am working , I started off as hobby but later on it turned out as my profession. Material I work on is pure gold and silver , I do not show my work in galleries only personal orders , a lot of my work is kept in personal collection of patriarch , unfortunately I just started to take pictures of my work recently , obviously I sell them. Everything is handmade. Thanks for appreciating my work”


Gocha's WorkGocha' Work


Gocha's Work4

Wow, wow, wow!! That is what I call cloisonné!! a contact for Gocha

Enameling on Brass, Can you Enamel on Brass

Enameling on brass is the least expensive metal to enamel on but it is also the least friendly.

Enameling is growing again in popularity in the US, and many look to brass because of is low cost.

Thompson’s Enamel sell what is called guided metal which is brass with 5% zinc and 95% copper, = Brass. This is a brass you can enamel on. Caution need to be used to plan you execution of the enameling plan as you only have 2-3 firings before  the enamels like to pop off.

One reason you will see limited colors and opaques used on brass.

Tidbit for the Day

See this little tool, the Deep Throat Dial Caliper?!  This handy little tool will help you measure the thickness of your enamel around the entire surface of your piece.  It’s very important for the thickness of the counter enamel to match the thickness of the top enamels, or you run the risk of cracking.  So, go on over to Contenti Tools and purchase yourself a pair.  Here is the link for the tool:


When to Use Hard Medium and Low Firing Enamels

A question came up today about hard, medium, and low firing enamels.

Hard firing enamels are fired at a higher temperature as in the 1500’s degree range or longer in the kiln.

Medium firing enamels I think of using in 1400’s degree range, or at higher temp as 1500 degrees, but less time.

Low firing enamels maybe fired in the 1300’s or even in the 1400’s with less time.


The purpose of all this is two things expansion of the metal being used and your technique being used.

Start with copper as it is used most commonly in enamels.

Copper oxidizes the fastest of the metals we use in enameling. We balance this by using medium firing enamels so they melt or fuse before the copper has time to oxide. If it oxides the enamel is likely to flake off or just discolor.

Many enameling on copper use the oxidation to get some beautiful colors.

You can fire at a higher temperature so it fuses quickly not allowing the copper to oxidize. Another way to balance this is to use finer grit of enamel. The finer grit will fuse quicker than a larger grit of enamel without allowing oxygen to get to the copper. This allows the enamellist to achieve that beautiful gold or stunning golden orange copper color.

It is best to know the fusing points of all your enamels so you know which ones to apply as a base or flux. Your base coat of enamel or known as flux, should be the hardest enamel you are applying to your base metal so you do not have these problems.



Above the flux was a lower firing enamel than the top coats. So as the top layers melted the flux rose up and the top layer of enamel sank down.


2) Same here,




The flux coat of enamel was not hard enough to prevent the following layers of enamel  from touching the sliver. And the brownish color of enamel is just burnt.

In cloisonné we never want our warm colors to touch the silver. It causes burning. Silver is going to hold heat longer than copper so we use a hard firing base. And in some incidences we will use several layers of the hard firing flux before layering in our warm colors to be very sure the red never touches the silver base.


A comment to address

“I’m torch-firing, I always have my work in my sight so I just watch for signs of melting, which happens very fast.  I’ve had “pull through” with Titanium White.  Titanium White really reacts nicely with copper and you can get some really lovely, but unpredictable, effects.  With a little overfiring the enamel turns a beautiful rust color and in spots will be green.”

Yes these effects can be used to your advantage, this is the oxidation of the copper coming through. And in torch firing I realize you are not going by temperature and have the advantage of seeing all that is happening.


Enameling on copper, as in painting enamel  in this piece,


It is necessary to use a hard firing flux as it will be fired many times and I do not want the painting to disappear into the base coat of flux. Also in repeated firings the copper can still oxidize through the enamel and show a color change after many firings.  As I paint in my image I need the painting enamel to adhere to the base coat of flux by firing the piece, then I can continue layering my painting with enamel colors (soft firing enamel)that fire at a lower temperature or less time. The domed metal add strength or less expansion. So it can handle a harder firing enamel without so much expansion or movement in the enamel. If the base coat was a lower firing temperature it would become soft enough in firing the image would distort as the enamel base or flux would move before the image enamels fuse. Painting enamels are a soft or low firing enamel= as they are ground to a face powder grit.


A color plate is a very good answer to help you know which is which when you are not sure.

The enamel dot fourth from the left is still grainy after all the rest are fused.


This color plate shows the top row, second from the right, as becoming liquid so much faster than all the other enamels it is completely flat.



If you have three enamel on a plate, one hard firing, one medium firing, one low firing and fire the plate once you will see they melt at different speeds.

If you want to use them all in one project just remember the hard is on the bottom then the medium and then the soft or low firing enamel. This is also why you can use unleaded with leaded enamels as long as you put the unleaded on the bottom as it is a high fire enamel.

Happy Enameling!


Enameling on Steel

**** Glass on Metal has a great article by Charles Winkle, Enameling on Steel. ****

Order this today

The enamel used here is a liquid, called Ground Coat. It is a bit had to find on Thompson’s site so here is a direct link

Painting Enamels

Hi Wayne,

You asked about making flesh colors. This hula lady is an enameling technique of cloisonne. This mean the wires are forming the figure. Inside the wires I used Bovano’s flux #3 on fine silver, then the following layer are 209 Bovano’s. It is a opal enamel and you have the be careful not to over fire it, too hot too long or gets muddy. When finished and polished it should look like it is transparent enamel, that is the color of flesh.

Alohi Lani Designs, cloisonne jewelry


Below is a color plate of mine of opaque flesh colors from left to right, the lower row.

Bovano =B

B157 is a soft enamel, B88 hard enamel, B220, B226, B224, B233, B227 With these opaque enamels you could make figurative work.



Below is a figure  jewel is by Larissa Podgoretz. She uses painting enamels. You can get a kit from Thompson. The way she accomplished the look of flesh is to start with a plate of copper.  And apply and fire a hard white opaque enamel such as Thompson’s 1010, or Bovano’s 101. A hard enamel is used so the foundation is harder than you color layers, this assures the layers of colors will not sink into foundation and look washed out. As their pigment is very thin.

Once you have this base coat of the hard firing white enamel, you sand and polish it to make a smooth canvas to paint on. Now you would take the painting kit and mix colors to get the shades you are imaging.   As if you were doing an oil painting.

As you fire many layers of color you do loose a little intensity of the colors, so the last layers will be the darkest.


The photo below is one I have started and you can see how you start painting. First I am paint an outline of the lady. And I fired it. Then I start adding my background color, and fire it. The colors you want to be more subdue  you apply first as they fade into the base enamel a bit.The later color applied will be more intense. With painting enamels you can mix them together, say brown and white with a little orange to get a flesh color. It is something you have to play with and learn how to make colors. Any painter using water colors or oils or acrylics have to learn what to mix to get the shade they desire.

To apply the painting enamels you have to play also with them to see how you like the effects of the medium to mix them with.  You choose water or oil. I prefer oil. Once you get the kit I recommend you order the enameled steel tiles and mix colors and fire them just like any test plate to see what you like or don’t. And the same theory applies to these enamels as all others, reds and yellows burn. So you will be applying them toward the end of you journey.



Hope you can get the idea here, Good luck, Patsy

Looking for Enamel Repair Artist

Here are two artist wiling to look at your repair needs.

John DeSalvio CompanyLorraine DeSalvio repairs all types of enamels – She also works with resins. 17 W. 45th #804 * NY, NY 10036 * 212-840-6654

Glass on GoldJoan Strott-Alvini all types of vitreous enamel repairs. Also works with resins . 709 Sansom St, Suite 202, Philadelphia PA, 19106 * 215-625-0504


Enameling Groups Across The US


These organizations are listed alphabetically by name as some cross state lines.

Cloisonne Collectors Club (est.1974)
Kay Whitcomb, Editor & V. President
115 South Street; Rockport, MA 01966
Enamel Guild of Creative Arts Group
108 N. Baldwin Ave.; Sierra Madre, CA 91024
email Suzanne Kustner with inquires
Enamel Guild of New Jersey
Marian Slepian
5 Overlook Drive; Bridgewater, NJ 08807
Enamel Guild South, Inc. (est. 1975)
Donna Buchwald, President
Audrey B. Komrad, Newsletter Editor
600 Biltmore Way, PH 109; Coral Gables, FL 33134
email Marilyn Tendrich with inquires
Enamel Guild/North East (est. 1992)
Members are from Maine to Florida; meeting in NJ
Kim Geiser, President
Lois Grebe, Secretary
9 Woodside Circle; Yarmouth MA 02675
508 362-4528
Enamel Guild: West
Jean Kreutzer (619) 276-4901, President
Jean Vormelker, Editor-Vitreous Voice
1333 Clear Crest Circle; Vista CA 92084-3745
Great Lakes Enamel Guild
8040 S. 66th St.; Franklin, WI 53132-9030
Phone: 414-425-2465; e-mail
Guild of Worcester Enamelists
President is Sarah Hudson who can be reached at
Worcester Center for Crafts
25 Sagamore Road
Worcester, MA 01605
Houston Enamelist Society
Edith Koeppen, Coordinator
Northern California Enamel Guild (est. 1975)
Evelyn Markasky, Newsletter
Chris FInch, President
National Enamelist Guild (est. 1973)
Ray Parisi, President
3004 Iona Terrace; Baltimore, MD 21214
Texas Enamelist Guild
Jan Nathan
Ohio Valley Enameling Guild
Lydia Morrison – President
Patricia Westby – Secretary (contact person)
Meetings at Thompson Enamels
650 Colfax Avenue  Bellevue, KY  41073
San Diego Enamel Guild (est. 1981)
Rick Schneider, president
Phone: 858-272-3708
Studio 5 in Spanish Village Art Center; Balboa Park, San Diego, CA
619-233-3672 11am-4pm daily
Washington State Enamelists
Mary Stafford

Preparing Your New Kiln

A new kiln is most likely the most important investment an enamelist will make. It pretty simple to be sure it will have a long life by preventing the enamels from sticking to the floor of the kiln.

First you need kiln wash. You can purchase this from a ceramic supply store. Very little is needed. Kiln Wash 4Add water, to the consistence of thin pancake mix. The firebrick will absorb the solution quickly, thus you need it on the wet side. Apply first to the kiln floor.  From here some artist buy shelf paper, again from your ceramic supplier. Or you can have ceramic shelves that you apply kiln wash.

Kiln Wash 2


Let the kiln wash dry over night. I have tried to dry it by heating my kiln only to have it pop off. Over a period of time you have spilt enamel on the shelf. Just scrape it off and reapply kiln wash and enamel away. Shelf in place and I am ready to enamel!

Kiln Wash 9

Hard Firing Flux

Why do you need a hard flux? Your flux coat is laid down first on the metal of your choice. You want a hard flux which means it will not become fluid as quickly as you color layers that are applies later. This is specially important when using warm colors.

As in this pendant, of cloisonne it will be a deep layering of colors I need an enamel base flux that will hold up for many firings.  Bovano 3# is a hardest firing leaded flux I have found for silver.D-Bird This will protect my warm colors from mingling with the base metal and turning the enamels the color of mud.


Champleve Techniques

Champleve is a beautiful technique used in enameling where you create recess compartments or cells, in metal to  receive enamels. These recessions can be achieved several ways. One grave out the area using gravers or chisels in any metals of enameling.  A second option is the use acid, which has been popular in the past few years. Ferric nitrate works on copper, sulfuric acid on fine silver or sterling silver, to achieve a cell to enamel in.

You place a resist on the areas you do not want the acid to removed such as asphaltum varnish, applied with a paint brush. Now you are ready to float the jewel in the acid. It is rather slow maybe 24 hours to remove the desired depth of metal.

Coral from Enamel Works Supply as a great book out on etching metal for Champleve.

Relief Etching for Jewelers and Enamelists here is the link to her site,

 Engraving takes some time to learn and the acids are a nice thing to avoid. My choice is to create a jewel in the Champleve technique using two plates of metal  one for the bottom or foundation and one for the top to create an edge. The easiest metal in my opinion is fine silver. And fuse them together. This process is used in granulation buy adding copper to one of the sheets of metal.

The ring will act as a stop for the enamels, also creating the recession create champleve. The first image one part is plated with copper. The second image shows the pieces of fine silver fused together. You can use a torch or kiln.




The third image here I have soldered on a bail with hard sliver solder. And after graving out the background to add some sparkle , I laid in two thin layers of enamel, and polished.



Sharing The Beautiful art of Enameling  Patsy Croft

How to Make a Test Plate of Enamels

Demo for the Week! Making Color Test Plates.  

How to make a test a plate of enamel. There are many ways. But first most enameling artist do ,so you can see the true enamel color once fired. What you see in the container un-fired is not what it looks like when fired.

Here is the way I like to make them. One big reason I go about it this way, is all colors of the same family are here. I can see how close the colors are to each other and use them to shade from light to dark. Another reason, and even more important is to see the different melting times of each enamel.

These enamel dots were all applied at the same time and fired all at once. One did not melt = means it is a harder firing enamel.  If you lay it down next to one that melts quicker you will have cracking between the two enamel colors.




On to making the plate,

You can pause the slide show when you need to.

Clean the Copper sheet of 18ga.using comet cleanser or penny brite. The copper will be bright and the water should run off. A good sign the metal is clean.

Add counter enamel to the back.Remove excess liquid with the brush. My counter enamel is moist then I add a mixture of one part Klyre-Fire to five parts water. The counter enamel acts like glue to keep the enamel from falling off when you flip it over the add the flux on the front side of your test plate.

Sift on clear flux for copper on this front side.

Fire the enamel test plate, I use 1450 degrees, for 1.5 minutes.

Next prep fine silver foil, using 120 grit sand paper.

This is accomplished by burnishing the fine silver foil on the sand paper with a small flat tool, like a ruler. This puts small holes in the foil so it will not trap air bubbles when fired.

Gently brush off the back of the fine foil so no sand from the paper is on it.

Lay the foil on the fired fluxed plate of copper.

And fire in kiln.

After removing the plate from the kiln burnish the foil down.

Now I am ready to apply flux for fine silver. I am only applying flux here to one side, I want to leave some of this fine silver exposed as I want to use this plate also to test some enamels directly on silver. There are a few that you can fire directly on fine silver with no flux, but you have to test to know.


Add my color dots of enamel I want to test. These enamels have been washed in distilled water.


And now you know how to make a test plate for enamel. This test plate is for enameling on Fine Silver. If you want to enamel on copper just skip adding the fine silver foil. Also if you are enameling on copper turn the temperature up to 1550 and fire to get a beautiful gold color to the copper sheet.

I would like to mention this plate with all the pink colors on it is .5″ x 3″. And the dots are small that would equal one layer of enamels. Not very much. Just remember you want to see the true color of the enamel and be able to see through it specially if you are enameling on fine silver.  If this is one layer think about how much it will darken also with 4-5 layers.


Color Plates and Understanding Expansion of Your Enamels

Enameling on Brass

Everyday someone visits this site asking if they can enamel on brass. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Barbara Lewis whom has not only developed torch firing enamels but has produced a line of brass jewels for enameling.

Here at her store you can pick up and the supplies and instruction you need to achieve enameling on brass! She sells Thompson’s Unleaded Enamels for this so if you already have your enamels get some of her brass jewels and get started playing!

Happy enameling!