Week 2: Education Encore Enameling

Last Friday our focus in my enameling class was using watercolor enamels. I started out by telling my students to put their perfectionist self on the shelf temporarily. With watercolors sometimes you just need to go with the flow.

Graciela, Kim, Bonnie and Jenni busy at work

My demo piece still needs some work. I am happy with the sky, the green mountains and the foreground, but the other mountains need more color as they are pale in comparison to the sky. I think that bright of a sky needs bright mountains. And the trees are a mess. I usually have to finish my demo pieces at home to get them to where I like them. This edit will be a challenge because if you fire the watercolor enamels too much, the colors will turn to mud.

Enamel watercolor demo

Bonnie brought in an article by Dorothy A. Stephenson on “Watercolor Techniques,” which is worth a read. Ms. Stephenson starts with a base of flux, fires and then adds white. She mainly works with transparents as her colorants. I definitely want to try her technique.

Theresa asking Nancy her opinion about a piece she is working on.

After class, I found another article, this one by Lilian Bacharach on “Portrait with Enamel Watercolors.” Both articles were written in 2004, so they are almost 20 years ago. Some of the supplies we have now were not available then, but the techniques are still applicable. In this article she talks about sifting, which is a discussion we have been having in class. It seems that every enamelist sifts just a little differently. She sifts three times, first with a 60 mesh sifter, then with a 100 mesh sifter and finally with a 200 mesh sifter. I was taught with first a 60 then followed by a 100 mesh sifter. but I have been experimenting and will try her methodology next.

Caren and Phyllis at work

I also introduced the use of Red Saral Transfer Paper to transfer an image to the enamel surface. I wanted an alternative to using Armor Etch and pencil. I did learn the hard way that the red paper is the best for enamel. Not knowing I had ordered the blue color and it just did not work. Graciela was generous in giving a sheet of the red that she had ordered. Here is another link for hints and tips on its use.

Marianne and Deb at their desks watercoloring

Next week we will be working with Thompson Enamel’s Acrylic Enamels, which are nine pre-mixed glass colors in a water emulsion of acrylic polymer resin. Thompson Enamel suggests “paint thin or buttery thick using brush, palette knife, spatula, etc. Dry one color, overlay with a second or third – one fire.” And if time permits we may experiment with crayons for enamel.

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