Enamel is durable, but not totally infallible. Handle finished pieces with care.
Do all metal shaping, stamping, punching, etc. before adding enamels.
Thoroughly clean your metal before enameling. Penny Brite works great!
Before sifting enamel onto the piece, spray on a light coat of Klyr-Fire to help enamel stay in place with an even coating.
To paint instead of sift, mix with Klyr Fire or approximately 40% water (to get desired consistency) and paint with a small sable paintbrush. You may want to fire a layer of Opaque White Undercoat first.
Sift or paint enamel in desired pattern, carefully transfer to your firing station, and fire!
If torch firing, watch closely: when the enamel begins to melt, you'll see a glossy "orange peel" stage where the enamel beads up before slumping to a smooth enameled sheen. Fire a bit more, but don't overheat - some colors will scorch.
Allow to slowly cool. A warmed pan (or small crockpot) of vermiculite works great.
Clean as necessary - Penny Brite or a brief pickle, maybe a little underwater grinding with an alundum stone.
Keep all your leftover / spilled enamel powder. If the colors get mixed, save them in a separate bin for use as a counter (back side) enamel. Place a creased paper on your sifting worksurface, so you can easily dump excess enamel back in the container or a mixed jar.
Eye protection and a fine-particulate mask are recommended when working with enamels.
Wash hands thoroughly when done, and avoid rubbing your eyes.
If working regularly with enamels, we suggest protective gloves to prevent irritation from small glass particles.
Prepare a fireproof work area, and remove clutter.
A fire extinguisher nearby and good ventilation are important.
Consider wearing an apron, closed-toe shoes and natural fiber clothing, and avoiding loose hair, flowy clothing and dangling jewelry.
Keep food, drinks, pets and small children away from your enamel and/or firing workspace.
Metal Compatibility & Color:
Copper "paint chip" in image shows how this enamel looks on copper. Opaque colors are on their own. Translucent and opalescent colors have Foundation White on the bottom portion, and then a layer of translucent or opalescent color over the Foundation White and part-way up the bare copper. The color number was stamped on each strip of copper before enameling.
The firing temperature range for our enamels is 1,400°-1,500°F (760°-815°C), and they have a coefficient of expansion (COE) from 258 to 360, cubic expansion. Metals that work with these enamels must have a higher melting point, and a similar COE. Otherwise your metal may melt before your enamel, or the enamel may pop off when your jewelry is exposed to temperature changes.
Specifically, these enamels work with copper, gold, low-carbon steel and fine silver. This includes fired copper clay and fine-silver clay. (And some alloys of brass work -- we've had good luck with Vintaj brass blanks and our 24g brass blanks, especially with the higher COE colors, but color results have been unpredictable with brass -- they often require a 2nd layer and 2nd firing to get the color you were aiming for.)
Specific COE for most colors is listed in the "Additional specs" field on this page. For more information about why COE is important for people who like to experiment with alternate metals, see the Thompson Enamel Workbook.
Thompson Opaque 80-mesh Enamel for Metals - Butter Yellow, Sample
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Opaque Butter Yellow sample of Thompson 80-mesh lead-free enamel for copper, gold, low-carbon steel, and fine silver. Also excellent for fired copper clay and fine-silver clay. This medium-temperature vitreous enamel can be kiln fired or torch fired at temperatures from 1,400°-1,500°F (760°-815°C). Sample size is approximately a teaspoon. Exact quantity varies.