Debbie Williams | My Enamelling Process

My Enamelling Process, by Debbie Williams

Far more technical than than other crafts I have enjoyed, for me, enamelling falls within the realms of science. I think this because there is an awful lot of cause and effect involved. I am referring to the use of heat and water, the effects of transparent and opaque enamels and the 'rules' I have to be aware of. To help me concentrate on the process I usually listen to Ed Sheeran. At least I only become distracted by alternate tracks.

Debbie Williams Designs Enamelling Process

I work in a fairly small space as my kiln is a small jewellery makers kiln, the same as those used for   Precious metal clay firing. Another technical craft I am trying to master. Even so, the small kiln is scarily hot. I work at 800 degrees. Heat gloves are a must. I also wear glasses to protect my eyes as you must not look into the hot kiln as this will damage your eyes. Other rules have to be adhered to such as do not consume any powder by eating before washing hands as enamel is carsogenic. Oh and do not touch hot enamelled pieces. Molton glass is very hot.

Enamel comes in powder and liquid form. I love the creativity of powder. Many different effects can be achieved by sprinkling various colours onto copper, using stamps and stencils or firing at different temperatures. 

Debbie Williams Designs' Enamelling Process

So basically the process is this:

*Clean your copper piece and dry it. Do not touch it as enamel does not adhere to greasy finger marks. 

*Build up thin layers of enamel. Use flux under transparent colours. 

*Firing times depend on heat levels and size of pieces. Enamel is 'done' when it looks flat and shiny having passed the orange peel look.

However, this is  a very simplistic description. The skills involved in creating beautiful enamel pieces has to be practiced and developed. If the kiln gods are being good to you the results are extremely satisfying.

Debbie Williams

Debbie Williams Designs