Thursday, March 13, 2014

Book Review - Enameling Made Easy

By on Thursday, March 13, 2014 5 Comments

Vitreous enameling is a decorative art form which dates back thousands of years. The durable material is made by fusing powdered glass on metal with high temperatures. Gorgeous jewelry can be made with this technique.  Some historical examples include cloisonné (both Chinese and European) where the glass is melted with wire cells and the work of Art Nouveau masters like Rene Lalique.

Those wishing to learn how to enamel metal need not invest in a kiln for firing.  Anat Silvera's book, Enameling Made Easy, which I received for review, shows how beautiful enameled pieces can be created with just a hand held butane torch. The simple way of using a torch to heat the pieces hot enough so the glass melts is perfect for small pieces.

The book is a definitive guide for enameling beginners covering the basics like how to fill the torch, type of enamels as well as specific techniques used in the 27 projects. The spiral bound book makes it easier for beginners to have this reference book on hand. Some metal smith techniques like punching holes, soldering, drilling, dapping, filing and riveting are also covered in the basics section.

Anat is an experienced teacher so she included FAQ (frequently asked questions) and troubleshooting sections.  Toolkit lists were also very helpful as are the tips and safety considerations.

The book starts with some easy projects where the student learns how to create enamel by first sifting the enamel powder over metal pieces. Each piece is placed on a metal trivet set on a firing brick and fired from below. It just takes a couple of minutes to fire each time. The discs are first enameled at the back (this is called counterenameling which helps stabilize an enamel piece) and then at least 2 more coats on the front.

The remaining projects show many fun creative ideas.  Using stencils when sifting the enamel powder is one easy way to add design patterns.

Sgraffito,which involves "scratching" designs into the top layer of sifted enamel before firing, is another way.

Sgraffito Tab Set Pendant and earrings
Objects such as glass beads and wire can also be added to the pieces. Firing will melt the enamel around them so they too are permanently fused onto the pieces.

Even rubber stamps can be used as a means of adhering the enamel powder to the inked areas only before firing.

The author demonstrates some wonderful cloisonné projects using wet packed enamel in between the bits of wire as shown in this Cityscape pendant design - one of my favorites! 

Another  project (not shown) shows off the Plique-à-jour (French for "letting in daylight") enameling technique where the enamel is suspended in small holes in the metal piece. The light can thus shine through the enamel like stained glass. 

Although the book was thorough, the accompanying 25 minute DVD demonstrating some of the key techniques was very helpful.  Nothing beats seeing how it is done. The combination book and video makes it a worthy buy for those who want to venture down the enameling path with some metal working on the side.

Before You Go
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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  1. Sounds like a great book! I evenutally want to get into torch enameling.

  2. I already have a torch so this book really opens up new possibilities! You will find the DVD very useful.

  3. The book looks amazing and is obviously full of information and how-to-dos.
    I have always admired enamel work and marveled over the beautiful and intricate detailing of cloisonné beads, bowls, vases and objects de arte.

  4. Looks like a great book. I've always liked the enamel jewelry I've seen, and wanting to try it for myself one of these days.

  5. Pearl...funny you are sharing this subject. Friends of mine gave me all their enameling stuff and I don't know where to start. I would love to win this one! Thanks for always sharing something new.