Enameling is defined as the fusing of glass onto metal. This process is centuries old.
The oldest enameled piece was found on the island of Cyprus around 750 B.C.
Enameling techniques have been used for both practical and decorative purposes.
The fused glass creates a jewel-like effect on objects.
The base metal can be gold, silver, bronze, copper and even aluminum.
The base metal I use in my wall sculptures is copper.
When the basic form has been forged and welded, enamel (finely ground glass powder) is meticulously applied to the surface.
The enamel is sifted or wet packed onto the surface.
Sifting gives a fuzzy-edged effect. Wet packing creates more precise edges.
I use both techniques.
All pieces are "counter enameled" on the back side. This will insure an equalizing tension of glass on both sides of the piece. The bare copper front must be coated with a special solution that prevents oxidation and will readily flake off after firing.
After counter firing, the piece must be placed on trivets for each subsequent firing to the front side.
Since glass is a rigid substance the base must be sturdy enough to withstand expansion and contraction due to heat changes.
The rule of thumb is that the thickness of the enamel can be no more than the thickness of the metal base.
If the enameled surface is too thick, it will "pop" off after cooling.
The piece is placed into a hot kiln (1450-1550o F.)
After "baking" for 3 to 5 minutes, the piece is removed and allowed to cool.
This process can be repeated any number of times.
My wall sculptures are fired 25-30 times, or more.
The creation of a wall sculpture is labor-intensive. It is not unusual for the design, construction, and enameling process to take 200 hours or more.