Let’s jump in and learn more on a fabulous technique “Painting Enamels”
A student called for some help to learn more about painting enamels. And it seemed that I had never shared much on the technique.
Thompson’s Enamel Painting Kit
Thompson’s Enamel Painting Kit Test Plate
Check out the Sunshine Enamels as they are very bright.
Painting Enamels by Sunshine Enamels
Now let’s use these in our enameling projects. Shirley has a project request from a customer for a dog portrait and I think the painting enamels is a great possibility. She mentioned making the hair and sent a beautiful drawing she made.With helping her visualize the hair and how to create them I referred her to my jewel I made for Andre 3000 shown here.
Enameling on Steel
The enamel easiest to use for enameling on steel is a liquid, called Ground Coat. This liquid enamel can be found on Thompson’s website and here is your direct link.
Read what they have to say about mixing, applying and firing of liquid enamel for enameling on steel.
Coating Large Steel Panels by Spraying – Outdoor Sculpture and Signs
Larger works can be made from coating low carbon steel panels for sculpture, architectural panels and signs. Most often a ground coat (GC-16) is applied as the first coat. The ground coat adheres well to the steel and other enamels applied as subsequent coats adhere well to the ground coat. Low carbon steel is required as other types of steel create too much fire scale for good adherence of the enamel. Low carbon steel has a carbon content of .02% to .04%. Thompson carries low carbon steel in various sizes.
Steel should be free of rust, grease or oil. Grease and oil can be burned off at a low temperature and heavy rust removed with emery paper. The entire surface of steel should be coated prior to the first fire. Although enamel powder can be sifted on, it is easier to use liquid form enamel for the first coat. Both sides can be coated by spraying or dipping and fired at the same time. Subsequent coats can be applied with normal techniques used on copper, silver, etc.
Mixing Instructions for Dry Powder:
For small items a simple way to mix is to place a half teaspoon of powder into a plastic spoon. Using an eye dropper add drops of water until the mixture is the consistency of ‘milk’. Apply to copper with a brush. Always make sure the powder and water have been stirred right before application as the glass falls out of suspension in the water very quickly.
For larger quantities mix 1/4 cup water to 5 oz. powder. To make a gallon of liquid, mix 14 lbs. of powder to 2 qts. of water. The water to powder ratio may be adjusted up or down if needed for your particular project. If the liquid dries out, you can grind it back smooth in a mortar and pestle to re-constitute.
Tips for Using Liquid Form for Enameling on Steel
- Before application, always mix well as the glass quickly falls out of suspension in the water.
- The water content is extremely important to the application firing result you get. Too little water and your result may look like cottage cheese. Too much water and the coating may fire dark with little color.
- Colors can be intermixed when in liquid form to create new shades of color.
- Left over liquid form enamel that dries out can be re-constituted and used again. Take dry material and place in a mortar and pestle to break down any dried clumps. Add water and use again.
Make sure enamel product is completely dry before firing. For small pieces (less than 2” in diameter) fire at 1450 degrees F. for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. For larger items (up to 6” in diameter) fire at 1450 degrees F. for 2 to 3 minutes. For much larger work firing times and temperature should be determined for your specific project. Firing times and temperatures are meant as a guide only. You may need to adjust up or down for your own situation/equipment.
Yes, Two of the most important things of Enameling an artist needs to learn is:
1-Understand your available fluxes.
2-Test all your enamels.
I was young once, ha and still am at heart, and remember how anxious I was to make something beautiful. I also did not want to take the time to really understand what enamels were. So instead I jumped in and made plenty of messes.
There was only one book I could find and no classes or instructors in my area.
But today there are many books and many classes. Do yourself a favor and cut many years off you bad side of the journey. Study first.
Start here https://alohilanidesigns.com/vitreous-enamel-flux-comparison/ and read my site. I have shared here for 12 years.
And if you would enjoy a one on one class join me or contact me and I am happy to help you find a great instructor in your area.
Gillie Byrom’s Book Painting in Enamels
Gillie Byrom Book new for us on the Technique of Painting in Enamels. This is not a style of enameling I use often but I always love to learn anything new about enameling. And I highly recommend this one! Check it out.
Here she has shared a beautiful painting enamels color chart to give you an idea of all the color you can create with these enamels.
And next one page that caught my attention is how she transfers her image to the enamel. There are many ways to transfer your designs and this one is very helpful and one you need to try.
Enameling to me it truly an amazing art with so many varieties and techniques. Visit Gillie here. And let me know what you think.
The Art of Champleve by Phil Barnes is a wonderful book. Well written, simple, clearly explaining the art that he and his father mastered.
Master of Champleve Phil Barnes
Engraving and Enameling The Art of Champleve
One to have in your enameling library! Master of Champleve Phil Barnes
Check out The Mighty Trees at Sunrise
View other artist Techniques of Champleve