This chapter discusses how to fire enamels in a kiln. Torch firing is discussed in the project by that name. There are two Learn the Technique mini-projects: how to fire your first layer of a transparent enamel directly on copper and a high firing technique, which we call HIgh Firing Webbing Design. The high firing technique can be accomplished in more than one way - the book discusses one way, but I've found another that didn't make it into the book so that is listed here.
The High Fired Webbing Design is based on Pull-Through where the bottom layer of enamel is visible through the next layer(s). This can be achieved in a few ways. The book discusses the various ways for Pull-Through. It also lists the High Fired Webbing Design (by Trish White) using a leaded enamel base with at least one un-leaded enamel over that. But the High Fired Webbing Design can also be achieved using all un-leaded enamels, IF the base is very soft. This update listed below only discusses Thompson enamels as I'm not familiar with most of the other brands.
One such soft enamel by Thompson is 2008 (named Crackle Base Clear), a soft fusing clear transparent, which was formulated as a base to be used with the Liquid Form Enamels (LFE, ex: 533 white), which used to be called the Crackle Enamels. However, of course it can be used by itself without the LFEs. 2008 is called Clear Crackle Base. But note: unless it is used with the Liquid Form Enamels, any use of it should not be called Crackle Enamel as for that name, one of the Liquid Form Enamels needs to be used.
That being said, let me tell you that there is confusion between Separation Enamel, Pull-Through, Crackle Enamel and HIgh Fire. This is address in the book and will not be discussed here. These are all different, are achieved differently via different reactions (chemical or otherwise), and actually don't look alike if you are familiar with all four. The book shows side by side photos of these so you can see the differences.
Back to High Fire Webbing Design. Trish and I made up this name just to be able to give it a name because other forms of high firing produce other results. Ex: if you overfire Thompson Hunter Green opaque enamel you will probably get a turquoise; overfired white usually shows some green and maybe blue, etc. These have nothing to do with the Webbing Design.
Consider the information like a blog as I have already been adding various testing results that I have done. There is a lot to figure out in this new form of enameling and most of it is all really nice!
All tests worked, resulting in the fact that 2008 can be used to achieve the High Fire Webbing Design. Here are my results, the step numbers show the layers. Each layer was fired at about 1450° for about 1.5 - 2 minutes until the last firing which was done at 1600° for 2.5 minutes. Timing varies and one has to look to see if the fusing is done and on the last layer if you have achieved what you wanted (otherwise keep on firing!).
I also ran two other tests using differnt bases...
Conclusions: My thought is that almost any combination of colors would work as long as there is a soft base (like 2008). I do like using a mixture of opaque and transparents. Keep in mind that opaques, when high fired, could turn transparent (more discussed about this in the book). And sometimes I use more than one color on a layer. One cannot control what you get and so you have to be satisfied with whatever happens. More experimenting is needed as sometimes the web openings are large and sometimes small and Trish and I cannot figure out why one forms over the other. If you figure this out, please contact me! The instructions for the HIgh Fire Webbing Design that is in the book using leaded enamel has a slightly different look. I like that look best (see the moon photo to the right, which also shows overfired white (I used Foundation White)), except for the test using Titanium White.
The frist set of trapezoids used the leaded way of doing this and except for the 2nd row, they all worked fine. I'm not sure what happened in this row, the color over the base was Geranium Pink, but as you can see from the 2nd set, 2nd row, I didn't get the same thing! In fact, the 2nd set used Titanium White and I expected to get the gorgeous design I got in my first try with Titanium White. I didn't even get any openings in set 2, but I did get the "lines" on the edges, which I really like. I think maybe I sifted the layers too thick for the 2nd set. So, I will have to try again!
The high fire for the octopus was done only in the inside of the wires; the high fire of the bug was done as a background 1st and then the wires were set and cloisonne finished.
In talking with Tom Ellis, he told me that n layerng this, on the last layer, you can add some small lumps (like 6/20) of either 2008 unleaded or almost anything that is vintage Thompson leaded enamel and you will get a surprise! I haven't tried it yet, but when I do I'll post here what happened.
April Wengren found a way to inhibit enamel to sticking to her trivets - use regular blackboard chalk! Although some people use kiln wash, April feels chalk is easy to use and works every time. Just rub the chalk on the area of trivet where the piece will rest - easy peasy. She also has another tip - file the edges of the trivet arms with a diamond file to make the edge that touches your piece thinner - thinner=less surface to touch your piece. Both good tips.
There are many many types of trivets and which one is best is truly a personal issue. I found these trivets that I've never seen before... By Pearly Karpel on ETSY.com. This ETSY store also sells enamels and other related materials.
Not ready to invest in a regular kiln? You can fire enamels or metal clay in an Ultralite Kiln easily and affordably! This YouTube video by Pam East will show you how.