Enameling as an Art

December 15, 2018

Flowers Among the Leaves is an enamel by Pauline Higgins

Enameling is one of the oldest arts in the history of man. Enameling on metal is not difficult. However, it is an exacting art which demands careful attention to such details as cleaning, application and firing.

Halloween is an enamel dish by artist Pauline HigginsTo most people the word "enamel" means resinous paint for decorating kitchen chairs, brightly colored lacquer for a lady's fingernails, a superior automobile finish or the outer covering of our teeth. To the artist, enameling means only one thing - the process of applying a thin coat of glass to a metal which, when heated to a high temperatures, melts and becomes fused to the metal.

Like all artists you must start with a good design and good color combinations. You then clean the metal (I use copper most of the time, however I have done a few pieces on steel) be sure you do not get your oily fingers on the metal after the cleaning. Just about all enameling takes at least 3 and usually a lot more firings. The first coat is the counter enamel which is usually the back of the piece. You fire. Again you clean the metal. You then put your first coat on the front. Often this is a clear coat sometimes called flux. You fire again and clean again. Now you are ready for your design and colors. Firing and cleaning between each. If you are lucky it will come out as you imagined it, and sometimes even better.

Article and art are by Pauline Higgins

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