Wet process enamels

2015 Conference – John Ball’s workshop

Catie McNeil

John, very generously, provided sets of pots of various wet process enamels for use in the workshop and to share out and take home afterwards – to continue our experimentation.

Included in the sets were two groundcoats: one for use on steel and one for use on copper. He showed us how to apply a groundcoat to scraps of steel he had brought with him. In our workshop the coating was applied with a brush, by dipping or by pouring the liquid over the steel and manipulating it until it was fully covered. (The steel must be thoroughly degreased first.) It is important to have a good coating over the whole of the metal piece to prevent small areas burning out. The other enamels will not adhere to the steel unless it has groundcoat on it.

The wet process enamel must be fully dry, not just on the surface, to prevent a ‘crazing’affect when it is fired. This crazing cannot be remedied by further coats of enamel, although it can be disguised. Firing is at 820 oC for 3 minutes!