How necessary is counter enamelling?
I have just started doing some enamelling, and I have a question about counter enamelling. I read all 4 of the books on enamelling in the library, and I 'm sure I read somwhere that if the pieice is over 1.2mm thick or domed you dont necessarily need to do it. I have made a few pieces from 1.5mm copper which seem to be fine only enamelled on one side.
But I have having difficulty with some domed bronze I am trying to champleve enamel.
I did a couple of pieces which were slightly curved on the edges or a very shallow dome , they were fine. I dont however know anything about the enamel used for those, it was some anymous stuff given to be years ago by someone having a clearout. I then tried to do dome with a more pronounced dome (think largest cicle in doming block) the middle of one piece is fine but the edges keep cracking . This is using WG balls enamels I have tried using with and without flux as a bottom coat. The other piece which has a more solid metal edge is cracking out in the niddle.
Do you think if I counter enamelled the back it would help? I dont really want to as I like the bronze finish, they are made out of old pennys and you can just about tell this if you look closely at the back. Is the problem the doming , is it ok with a shallow cuve as opposed to an actal dome?
Any advice welcome
Hi Mandy and welcome.
I tend not to counter enamel any of my pieces but I think it depends a bit on the thickness of the enamel you use. A light sifting should be OK but any more than that and it will crack. It also depends a lot on the particular enamel you use. Some are more forgiving. Are you using opaque or transparent enamels?
It also depends on the size of the piece. You can probably get away with it on a small piece. A shallow curve is probably a better idea. I normally enamel on the inside curve, rather than the outside.
There are a lot of variables with enamel and sometimes a piece will work and sometimes it won't. That's the fun of it!
I have been using opaque enamels mostly Balls but now I've bought a few Lathams from Cooksons to try. I was originaly trying to do transparent red to give the impression of garnets like the saxon work, but I decided that the reaction with the bronze made it come out too dark. So now for one type I've been aiming at medieval, red/blue like in manuscripts and then bright colours for some birds I'm trying to do. I just find it very frustrating as it will crack but wont come out easily so i I can have another go! I was wondering if I could stabilise one that just has small cracks in with resin then I could at least wear it myself .
Try rubbing it back to thin the enamel down and fire it again. I'm not saying it'll work, but its worth a try.
Hi, When I used to do enamelling I always counter enamelled, especially on larger pieces and those that I wanted to remain flat.
this evens out the stress on both sides of the piece so preventing cracking.
For Champleve enameling, leave the upstand at the very edge so that the enamel has something to cling to, and can't get chipped.
If you want the back to show try using a clear glass. (Just out of interest - we used to grind our own enamels from lumps - hard work!)
if you are after a garnet type look, you could try using a small lump of red. I've done that pretty successfully in the past. It ends up like a paste cabochon.
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