That Rubber Stuff

Hi Patsy,

Hope your new year is turning out well and I hope you are having fun in the studio.

I was wondering if you could tell me what that stuff was you use as a cushion when you set your enamel pieces.  You used it under the enameled element so the enamel would not break if the setting was hit with a hard object.  It was some sort of plastic cushion.  I hope I’m making sense.  I would really appreciate this tip.

thanks a lot Patsy!  Hope to see you again some time

-Tara Turner

Hey Tara,                                                        

Hope you also are busy enameling!

I do not mind at all,

The rubber backing is called Tuff Break and Fred Woell sells it. The last I ordered his number was 207-348-5267.  I like it for several reasons. Not only does the rubber add to protect the counter enamel while setting, it also gives the enamel piece a cushion during setting which help me not crack the piece during this process,  and it take care of that tinny sound of the enamel against the metal once the piece is complete.

Many enamelist use glues or a piece of plastic behind the enameled piece and I feel this is a more professional element of the whole jewel.

I will be back to Mendocino in July, Come join the class!

Patsy Croft

Cracking Enamels While Setting

Dear Patsy,

I found your site while doing a search on orchid.
I am in some sort of trouble with mounting an enamel piece (a pendant) to a setting. I do not know what to do.
So, this is the problem: I made my enamel piece, then I made a bezel to go around it; I soldered the bezel to a sheet and pierced out the back, but leaving a rim as I wanted to set the enamel from behind. I then saw out prongs in the bezel – most of the bezel will disappear – and then I set the piece in the setting and push the prongs down at the back of the enamelled piece. That’s where it goes wrong. I ruinded two pieces today.
Could you please help? I think that mounting enamels is really difficult.

Kind regards and thank you for reading,


Hi Alicia,

I would be happy to help. And it should not be hard. But a photo would help me understand better how you are going about this. Can you upload as many photos as it takes for me to see. And if you would include a phone number I will call at your convenience and walk you through this.

Are you using fine silver for the bezel? Did you sand and polish the girdle = the outside edge of the enamel piece?

How are you pushing over the bezel? I find it is best to have a bit of height to the enamel at the edge = a girdle just like setting a stone. If the enamel slopes down to meet the fine silver to a point around the edges, the fine silver that is under the enamel, is soft from many firings, it is very easy to crack.

Happy Enameling, Patsy

Another thread suggests setting an enameled piece in a bezel for a more professional appearance. I am new to enameling, but am an experienced stone setting, so bezel setting is fine with me. However, two issues present a challenge. First, I am not used to setting a flat or near flat object. Second, I’ve cracked the enamel on several occasions when I’ve bezel set a disk. Any suggestions that you have to help me with these issues would be appreciated.


If you makes a bezel-setting, make the “frame”  unconditionally from fine-silver and not thicker than 0,2 – 0,3 mm (0,01 –0,015 inch). The fine silver frame should only maximum 1 mm (0,04 inch) higher than the rim of the metal/enamel surface. File with a carborundum- or diamond file  the edging of the enameled workpiece in an angle of about 60-70 degree. Press the frame in several steps over the enamel.

I use 90 degree angle, but I think either can work.

All that has been said should help you and add this,  be sure you create a girdle on the edge of the enamel piece. On the girdle you want to see some counter enamel, the base metal and some surface enamel. Hope this makes since.

See  if you can see what I mean about a girdle. If the enamel comes down to a very thin layer at the edge of the fine silver or copper, which ever you are using, with the metal being so annealed it is very easy to crack. Here I have to sand down the top just a bit before setting. But my girdle is very thick. Also, the rubber stuff would help you. When you are setting it allows the enameled piece to go down when you are burnishing the bezel over it. Then as you release it raise back up. You can read about where to purchased it below.

Good luck!