What is Vitreous Enamel?
Vitreous enamel is glass
bonded by fusion to a metal surface. The most common glass is a fusion of
silica, soda, lime, and a small amount of borax. Though normally
transparent, various amounts of opacity can be produced by adding or growing
crystals within the glass structure. A wide range of colors are produced by
incorporating certain elements, mostly transition metals. The physical
properties of glass can be controlled to permit bonding to most metals, for
example: gold, platinum, silver, copper, steel, cast iron, aluminum
Who Does it?
Utilitarian enamels are made in large factories, while artistic enamels are made by thousands of individual artists throughout the world. We see enamels exhibited at schools, arts and crafts shows, art galleries, museums, and rare examples have sold at auction for more than 3-1/2 million dollars.
What is a quality enamel?
A quality work of enamel art
should have a sense of design, a feeling for proportion and appropriate
color and texture.
How is it done?
Enamel (glass) is crushed to a powder somewhat finer than granulated sugar and somewhat coarser than flour. This powder is applied, by one of several methods, to the metal surface. Next, the article is heated to 1000-1600ƒF, either in a preheated furnace, or with a hand-held torch. After 1-1/2 to 10 minutes, the article is removed and allowed to cool to room temperature. Subsequent coats, normally different colors, are applied. Sometimes 10-20 firings are required to bring about the desired results.
What is it's history?
We do not know when or where enameling originated. The earliest known enameled articles are six enameled gold rings discovered in a Mycenaean tomb at Kouklia, Cyprus. The rings date from the thirteenth century B.C.
The Greeks were enameling gold jewelry as early as the 5th century B.C. Caesar found the Celtic inhabitants of Britain enameling in the 1st century B.C. During the Byzantine era, 4th through 12th centuries, numerous enamel religious works were made. Fifteenth century artisans in Limoges, France, perfected the use of enamels in a painting technique. The 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and the early decades of the 20th century saw the production of a great volume of luxury and decorative enamels, made in many different centers. Since the last third of the 19th century, both Japan and China have exported an abundance of enamel as cloisonne. The name of the technique.