How to Enamel
So, you want to learn how to enamel? Enameling on glass can be achieved in several different methods.
Glass enamels come in a powder form, and it is very uncommon to purchase them premixed. Made from ground glass that is mixed with different colored pigments, this powder is applied in a variety of ways before being fired inside a kiln to make them permanent. There are different COE of Enamels available, so be sure it is compatible with your particular type of glass. In general, glass enamels are different from glass powder in that they contain more intense colorants and other ingredients such as fluxes.
They can be used dry and sifted or sprinkled onto glass, but most individuals prefer to mix them with a binder to form a liquid mixture. With a moist mixture, the enamel can then be painted or airbrushed onto the glass. Use an applicator bottle with this liquid mixture and write or draw on glass.
Low fire enamels can thin out or disappear when fired to fusing temperatures on the surface. There are better results when they are capped. Some of the colors take overheating better than others.
Although this powder comes in a multitude of colors, it is fun to experiment and come up with different shades of color. Add some white to lighten dark colors, while some darker colors can help to add some depth to a lighter tone. By experimenting with these colors, you can achieve an entire rainbow of colors in your enamel art work.
Ok, now for the safety issues. Enamels are very fine particles and it is important that you use every precaution when handling this product. This involves not only how they are stored, but care when using this powder. Containers that are airtight with a clear top should be used for storage purposes. These minute razor-sharp pieces of glass can be easily breathed in and it is vital that a respirator with sufficient NS rating – NS97 and good ventilation are available during usage. Wear a respirator when cleaning up an area and use only wet rags, damp wipes, or moist paper towels. Use good judgment in handling this potentially dangerous material. Your product should have come with the Material Safety Data Sheet from OSHA. Read it for any safety precautions and information. Remember when learning how to enamel be safe!
Use only lead-free glass enamels for food bearing surfaces and jewelry. When learning how to enamel, check when purchasing your product to be sure that you are obtaining a safe product for your particular project.
Mixing with a Binder
A binder is a liquid that is mixed with the dry powder. Binders can be oil-based or water-based. Some of the binders used are pine oil, clove oil, Thompson’s Klyr-fire,
, Fuse Master Water Friendly Medium II and even drug store purchased Aloe Vera.
Although the water-based binders are the easiest to clean, the oil-based binders mix better with the powder. In fact, getting it too thick is just as bad as getting it to thin. When learning how to enamel, try different binders and see what works best for you and your projects.
To mix with a binder, you will need the following supplies:EnamelSmooth clean glass palette Palette knife or spatulaBinder
Start by placing a small amount of the enamel on your clean glass palette. Make a small depression in the center of the powder and fill the area with a few drops of your chosen medium. Using the palette knife spread the liquid into the dry mixture. Mix completely until you don’t see any more dry powder. Smooth out any lumps and add more of your medium if needed.
The mixture should be about the thickness of cream. Place some of the mixture on the palette and allow it to drop back onto the glass. If it doesn’t drip, the mixture is too thick, but if it drips quickly then it is too thin. Add either more powder or medium depending on the need to get the correct consistency.
There are many ways to apply enamels to glass. The technique you choose depends on the end result you are trying to achieve. Some other methods commonly used are:Salt shakersRed little siftersStamping glass with perfect medium using a rubber stamp and then applying the powderMixing a little mica into the enamel to give it some sparkleApplying with
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How to Enamel to Glass Fusing Made Easy