Porcelain enamel is an ancient decorative, coloring technique which fuses finely powdered glass to metal. Using intense heat, the glass melts, flows, and then cools to harden into a smooth, durable, and decorative, colored surface.
What Metals Can I Use?
Almost any metal can be enameled, but the most common are copper, fine silver, and high karat gold. Metal clay is a perfect material to use for enameling. It’s easy to texture, shape and form and can be sintered with the same torch or kiln used for enameling.
Copper is a great sub surface when using opaque porcelain enamel. If the metal itself is not a feature of the final work, using an inexpensive material like copper reduces the cost of the project.
Many porcelain enamel suppliers carry milled copper, untextured shapes (also known as ‘blanks’) which are useful for practicing on.
However, when copper or copper bearing metals are heated an oxidized surface develops. This oxidation creates a barrier that prevents the porcelain enamel from fusing to the metal surface unless it’s been properly prepared. See below for cleaning options.
Fine silver is brilliant and reflective under transparent colors. Because it doesn’t oxidize, it is easy to fire with a torch or kiln.
Lump gold metal clay is an expensive option but would provide a beautifully rich under layer to transparent enamels, especially those in the warmer color range. You can achieve the same luscious glow by first applying a foundation of clear porcelain enamel to a fired silver clay base, then add Keum Boo foil, and finally apply the porcelain enamel colors.
Gold is infinitely soluble into silver. With each successive firing, more gold will absorb into the silver until it disappears, negating any effect. If you are only firing on one or two layers of porcelain enamel you might be able to keum boo directly to silver, but if you are doing a deep porcelain enamel with multiple firings the keum boo gold would eventually completely absorb and disappear, which is why it’s advised to apply a coat of clear porcelain enamel first.
This article comes from amcaw edit released