Sharing my experiences selecting a Mortar and Pestle for Enamelist
Here are three sizes of mortar and pestles I have tried. The largest one is from Thompson Enamel = 4.5″ ID. The middle size one has an ID of just under 3 “. from Siga-Aldrich. And the tiny one, super cute is 1.5 ID from Thomas Scientific.
For me The 4.5 just a little too big and heavy. Unless you are needing to grind large amounts of enamels.
The tiny one is just a bit too small but the cost is a bit over the top for a more comfortable one.
So this brings me to the medium size one. And my best fit my needs best.
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.
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.
Available at Contenti Tools and purchase yourself a pair.
I am sure you have come to a point at some time, that the enameling project you have created will not fit on the standard trivets for enameling available to us. So we are pushed to be inventive, and make your own trivet for enameling.*)
You can see this is an odd shape Plique a Jour Necklace, and in the enameling process, it needs to be turned different directions. I wanted to share the trivet I made from kiln fire brick and heat tempered wire. There is ordering information under resources for the wire but you can find it on Amazon.
Make your own trivet for enameling.
Another option here is a trivet for enameling that I have created for a long thin cloisonne jewel. If I were to use standard trivets the enamel jewel would warp as the side could not be supported.
The base is fire brick trivet. You can use your jeweler’s saw to cut these shapes, then a half round hand file to make a grove to place the cloisonne jewel on. The sides are supported and the back is not touching the enameling trivet. This way the counter-enamel that is required in this cloisonne jewel is just as pretty as the front. I have a fire cloth lying between the brick and the enamel so I will not have any of the firebrick dust in the enamel back.
This week as I was enameling cufflinks and needed a way to fire both sides at once and not have the enamel touching anything the high temp wire came in handy again. This enameling trivet allowed me to achieve just what I needed.
Enameling trivets can also be a challenge when enameling in a trinket kiln. I see enameling artist searching the internet for a trivet to fit. The first image is a one inch square of stainless steel, with the corners bent up. Using a pair of needle nose pliers you can easily place this trivet in and out of a trinket kiln.
The next small simple trivet is made from the Heat Tempered Wire you can bend to your needs. This fits easily into the trinket kiln and the trivet will not disturb any of the enameling surfaces.
Tuff Break is the name of “That Rubber Stuff” for setting enamels. Several reasons why this product is great.
One, Tuff Break adds protection to the counter while setting enamels. How you might ask, by giving the enamel piece a cushion, that rubber stuff, against the metal as you are pushing to close the bezel over the delicate enamel edge. After many firings, one needs to be gentle while setting enamels.
Second, that rubber stuff removes that clingy sound of the enamel against the metal once the piece is complete.
Many enamelist use types of glue or a piece of plastic behind the enameled piece and even sawdust in setting enamels. I feel this adds a more professional element to the cloisonné jewel.