Enameling on Steel

“When Joseph Trippetti returned from the Army in 1946, he studied for three years at Philadelphia College of Art and the fourth year at Sheffield College of Arts and Crafts in England, where he majored in silversmithing. He has been enameling since the 1950s. For some years he taught enameling and painting before concentrating on commissions and gallery exhibitions. The medieval tapestries still influence his designs. His cloisonnés were on domed copper plaques before he turned to large steel tiles.”

Musician: 16″ x 16″, silver cloisonné wires. steel, enamel.

“Design is my main interest. My method of enameling has remained about the same these many years. Originally, my work was mainly of cloisonné on domed copper plaques. I trained as a metalsmith. For the past 15 years I have been working on white pre-coated, flanged, steel plaques, ranging in size from 6″ x 6″ to 16″ x 20″. Using the pre-coated, steel tiles I do not have to be concerned with cleaning the metal and applying base coats. I use primarily 80 mesh opaque, leaded, unwashed enamels, though I also have some 150 mesh enamels and some unleaded enamels that I use when I need those colors. To use them all in one piece, the unleaded enamel needs to be under the leaded enamel and not on top. The enamels, wet with water, are wet packed with a brush almost to the top of the wires, and then the piece is tapped to level out the enamel and fired. Before each firing, any opaque enamel on the wires is removed with a fine pointed brush. It usually takes about 8 to 10 applications of the enamel, tapping and firing for the fired enamel to reach almost the top of the wires.

The final firing, with just a thin sifting of either soft or medium flux over the whole piece, is a healthy firing with the kiln at 1500°F before inserting the plaque into the kiln. I do not wet the piece for the sifted coat.  For me, the most important stage in the making of each enamel is the pen drawing of my design.”

You can read more on his techniques in the book Enameling with Profressionals, by Lilyan Bachrach, and it is posted on Gonaskin’s Webite at www.ganoksin.com

The pre-coated steel tiles he mentioned here, are squares of steel coated with a white opaque flux, ready to enamel. You can purchase them from Thompson”s Enamel.

Excellent Work!

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