Pat Johnson Enamels


Enameling FAQ
First Steps on Making an Enamel Image in Copper

CONTENTS
Background Information
First Steps
Firing
Backing
About Trivets
After Firing

SOME WORDS ABOUT TRIVETS

 Trivets are the bugbear of all enamellers. There is no perfect trivet. Each piece of work, unless a mass production run is in hand, requires a different shape and size of trivet and even with the best fit, it is almost impossible to disguise firing marks in a piece of enamel. Ideally a work being fired should be supported only by resting the edges of the metal on the edges of the trivet. In particular, a piece with enamel on the back must never be balanced on the points of a trivet unless its back is covered with another coat of gummed, dried, unfired enamel. Without the dried gummed enamel on the back, the piece will certainly slip off the points, either on the way to the kiln or during the firing process.

The edges of the metal piece being enamelled should lie between all the points of the trivet and rest on the slopes leading up to the points. If the work starts sliding around after several firings and won't stay in this position, this means there is enamel on the trivet. Stone the enamel off the edges to solve the problem.

If a trivet is too big, the work will slip down and stick to the trivet's base. If too small, then the work will fall off. To get the best fit possible, a trivet closest to the desired size should be found and then bent into a shape which will cause the edges of the trivet to meet the edges of the enamelled metal. The exception is the case where relatively large pieces of copper, i.e. bigger than six inches square, are being enamelled. These tend to sag and require support in the middle as well as the edge. Two trivets are sometimes called for, but then there is the problem of putting too much metal into the kiln thus causing the temperature to drop too low has to be dealt with. Its a dog's life. Often the only resort is to give up and lay a large picture on a piece of stainless steel mesh and later covering the unsightly trivet marks in the back with wood.

There are two styles of trivets. One has the sides of its base bent down so that the firing fork can be slid underneath in order to lift the trivet plus the work into the kiln. The other kind of trivet needs to rest on a mesh platform before it can be put in and out of the kiln. In this case it is important the mesh base be as flat as possible, (the stainless steel meshes become soft and bend out of shape after many firings) and strong enough to bear the weight of the second trivet and the work. But care must be taken to keep the mass, i.e. size and weight, of the trivets low so as not to cause too great a heat drop when the work is put into the kiln.

C O N T I N U E

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