Pat Johnson Enamels

Enameling FAQ
First Steps on Making an Enamel Image in Copper

Background Information
First Steps
About Trivets
After Firing


 All enamel work needs to have enamel covering both sides. Enamel fused on the back gives physical strength to the piece and prevents flakes of copper oxide from popping off and landing on the picture surface. See below for a discussion of copper oxide.

The enamel used to cover the back of the tile is called backing enamel. It is made up from odds and ends of enamels which are too mixed up to return to the stock bottles. When the work bearing the previously fired front layer of enamel is reversed, the backing enamel can be applied directly on to the top of the red and black surface. The depth of the backing enamel should be one and a half times that of the front layer. The work is then placed in an appropriately shaped trivet, which will suspend the tile by the edges and keep the face of the work off the base of the trivet, and the piece is fired until the enamel is fused enough to resemble orange peel..

The big problem when beginning to make an enamel image is deciding which side of the copper piece should be enamelled first: the front or the back. This depends on whether or not the first layer of an enamel design/picture will be opaque or transparent. If and fire until the flux is clear. Otherwise, it is best to put the backing enamel on first. This will avoid damaging the face of the enamel with small trivet marks. It is also possible to fire both the front and the back of a piece at the same time.


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