Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Learning Vitreous Enamel Painting.

Something that has always fascinated me. How to paint with glass enamel.

I bought the Thompson enameling kit some time ago and eventually I got serious. There is very little information on the technique. There are very few people that actually do it.

Let me first say I have no time for ‘abstract art’ in this medium. Simply because any abstract art shows a lack of discipline or skill, or both.

My opinion, for sure, but a Picasso is the biggest load of horseshit in the world, bought by victims of the art delusion at the price of a hospital wing—gah.

Anyway, my first few attempts in this medium were dismal failures.


I pulled a simple picture off the net ,  a Crimson breasted bush shrike (Laniarius atrococcineus),desaturated it and shrunk it to 50mm x40mm. I fired a copper plate and gave it a couple of coats horizon blue as a background.


I put a pencil layer on the back, and then when one traces the front of the picture the design is transferred onto the enamel.


I’m not going to list ALL the failures. Let’s just say there were multiple ones, this one more spectacular than the rest.

This is where bright eyes fired the wrong colour too quickly.  Whenever I teach myself anything, I do the same thing over and over, as in the same picture, same colours etc. So then standard parameters are set, and it is easier to see incremental progress.


The cigar box comes from my grandfather and it is at least 45 years old. I made a glass pane that lifts out and when it is closed, stops dust from coming in. I paint in oils with a 0000 size sable hair brush and of course a Optivisor no 7.

This is the first layer ready for firing.


This is the first firing. Red is a fugitive colour. If you fire it to high or long, it turns into sepia. Then it’s start again factories. I fire at 780C, but I take it out every thirty seconds until I judge it just before gloss.


This is what it looks like when it’s firing.


This is the second firing. I simplified the picture, since I was more interested to refine my procedures and technique. And not start AGAIN from the beginning.


I think this was my fifth firing. The background enamel had a couple of cracks in the beginning, but what the hell, I’m not making a competition piece, so I left them. The crack can be seen in the chest of the shrike. Also, for some reason I got some contamination in the white wing bars. Ag sies man…


This was my last firing, I think 7 or 8. I didn’t want to push it any further.


And finally I fired it with a soft fusing clear, very slowly at 800C


Finished. I was really chuffed. Even the dot in the eye was there. Previous attempts came out looking like a bad X ray picture.

There was some loss of definition, like the thorn is not as crisp as it was, but for a first semi  successful piece, the knowledge gained was well earned for myself.

Pat pat….

Post a Comment