Back to Home


This chapter describes an extensive list of various Supplements and Add-Ons, including such weirdo material as cat hair. The information on this page provides either more information on ones in the book, or new materials that can be added to your enemaels.



Button Wafers

These are larger versions of the Floral Wafesr, both sold at and made by Tim Ellis. They look strange as they are a puddle of glass with a stem in the middle - you fire them with the flat side down about 1 min 10 sec at 1450°F and voilá - you get a flower. Here is what I did with one:

button wafer use


Dichroic Extract Powder by CBS

This product is mentioned in the book. It is a high quality coating that will give your enamels the look of dichroic glass. Here is a video on how to apply Dichroic Extract to glass. Of course this will have to be adjusted for working on enamel, but I don't think the change would be too difficult. For example:The video states that to brush on this powder, it's best for the glass to have a texture to it. She shows what to do for glass, but for enamel, try this adjustment: sugar coat using clear enamel. In fact, my guess is that Thompson luster powders can also be applied this way. But experimentation is needed - just something else to try!

Dichroic Glass Frit Flakes Dichroic Glass Frit Flakes

These are small pieces of Dichroic Glass that either come in clear or with a black backing. In general, I suggest the clear because if using the black backed pieces and they flip over, you will not see the color. Note that these are not the normal frit - these flakes are smaller. Embed them as with other small/flat Add-Ons as described in the book.

As you can see, these are 96COE and manufactured by CBS. But they are available at many glass fusing suppliers.

Here is a piece I made using these flaks.

Dichroic Frit Flakes

glitter enamel useGlitter Enamel by Cheryl Anne Day-Swallow

Here's a new product to consider when you like a little bling in your enamels. These glitter enamels come in 3 colors (silver, gold and bronze) and 3 sizes (small, medium and large) and are compatable with all Thompson Enamels unleaded enamels. Developed for torch firing, they can be used in a kiln, of course, but cannot be used with a sifter. A sealer coat is also required and this mixture can be sifted. Check out Glitter Enamel and watch a video on using it. See the background of the peacock to the right for a sample.

Another type of "glitter" can be created - see Jazz Enamel below.


Fine Line Pens

Cat earrings by Lydia MorrisonVarious types of pens can be used to draw fine lines with liquids such as Underglaze or Overglaze or the "ink" that Lydia Morrison describes in the book on page 34, made out of BWC cake watercolor enamels. Typically the crow quill pen is used. But Lydia has found two other pens she prefers. One is the Ruling pen (originally used by draftsmen) which she feels holds more liquid than the crow quill. See the cat earrings that she loaded her black "ink" only once to do all that drawing. Watch a video on use of the Ruling Pen, which can be adjusted for line width. One place to get it is here.

Ruling pen

Another pen, that also would hold more "ink" for enameling, is the Kemper Gold Pen:

Kemper Gold Pen

Sandenameling by John H. Killmaster III

The book discusses John's use of sand, but he is taking it to a new level... sculpting with sand and enamel and calling it Sandenameling!

Sandenameling Killmaster

The book: Killmaster - Art And Soul is all about John's work. Written by art critic Christopher R. Schnoorm the photos are sure to wow you.


Stone Setting in an enamel - with a bezel

The Supplements and Add-ons chapter in the book discusses a few ways to embed stones in an enamel. For example, James Malenda wrote an LLT on his method he calls Champavé - how to embed a heat tolerant translucent stone (like a CZ) in enamel with light behind it. But Jean Vormelker has a method not described in the book for any type of bezeled stone and it is presented here.

Jean is an experienced enamelist who has a series of pieces where the enamel mimics a stone's beauty. She does this in both Cloisonné pieces (see photo to right) and enamels without wires (see finished piece below). But in either case she follows these basic steps (differences are noted where appropriate):

  • Form a fine silver bezel to fit the stone and solder it closed with either Hard, IT or Eutectic solder. The bezel must be taller than any Cloisonné wire being used in the piece so the bezel can be pushed over the stone later. Carefully check the height and girth fit before going further. Note that the bezel can also be fused, as described in the book.
    • Hard solder will withstand the 1335°F firing temperature used when copper is the base metal. If using a silver base, you can fire up to 1450°F.
    • IT or Eutectic solder should be used when the base is fine silver and firing will be at 1450°F or above
  • A Cloisonné wire is then tightly fitted around the formed bezel and soldered separately to control any springiness (note this in the Banded Agate photo to above). But it is the enamelist's choice to solder or not solder the Cloisonné wire - if the Cloisonné wire is behaving properly and fits snuggly around the bezel and stays there, no soldering is necessary. However, if the wire isn’t properly annealed and not soldered, it can jump out of place during firing and attach incorrectly in the base enamel. In which case nasty words may then spill forth. (Note: All Cloisonné wires in the piece should be the same height.)
    • The purpose of this wire is to give a visual reference for the height the enamel needs to reach and also frames the bezel and guides the stoning around the bezel at the end. (More about this later) This wire is used whether the piece will be Cloisonné or not. She rarely omits the cloisonné band around the bezel, and then does so only for specific design reasons.
  • The bezel with its Cloisonné wire (looking like an inside-out step bezel) are embedded into the enamel as one would embed any other Cloisonné wire. This can be done with the first layer of enamel when the bezel and base are both fine silver, firing approximately at 1500°F. If the base is copper, a base coat of enamel is required before adding the bezel and its band. Firing the wires in the enamel at 1335°F for about 2 minutes and no higher for the rest of the piece (see photo to the right).
  • Cloisonné wires are added to follow the pattern of the stone (or whatever your design is) and fired in place (see photo of Banded Agate pendant above. See what a great job Jean does in matching the enamel to the stone!).
  • Enamel, inside and outside the bezel, is completed as per the technique you are using, firing as needed. Note: Adding enamel to the same height in the stone area as around it helps to secure the bezel.
  • Enamel is finished as you would normally finish the enamel with cleaning up the edges and grinding if needed. To do this Jean normally finishes by hand, using various grits of diamond hones with a hard, flat backing, dipping in water to keep diamonds cool and to rinse away debris, although in the past she has used alundum stone. Be very careful doing this as you want a good even surface on the enamel and do not want to damage the bezel. Tape on the bezel will help protect the bezel if in doubt. The Cloisonné wire around the bezel is your guide for evenness so you can bring the hone close to the bezel to make sure all the wires and enamel are even and any stray enamel is removed from the Cloisonné wire.  3M finishing papers by hand or Bristle Disks in your Flexshaft will smooth any scrapes in the metal before flash firing for a shiny surface.
    • If there is no cloisonné wire around the bezel as in the Pathways to the Sea, no stoning was required as the enamel was allowed to undulate to the bezel and around the piece to fit the sea theme. Also, if the enamel is purposefully underfilled, only a light stoning to even the wires is required.
  • Set the stone in the bezel using normal bezel setting techniques. In addition, Jean makes a setting for the enamel and sets that, too.

Jean's work can be viewed on her website.

Mona SzabadosStone Setting in enamel - with a gold ball

Mona Szabados sets small diamonds in a unique way - she embeds a 24K gold ball in the enamel and then drills out a space for the diamond, leaving a thin wall that she uses as a bezel to hold the stone in. Diamonds can take the heat of the kiln, but cannot be ebedded directly into the enamel as the enamel will craze. Mona says she uses the highest quality diamonds because lesser ones will lose their sparkle after a few firings. See the detail of the woman's earring below.


Jazz Enamel

This is a supplement developed by Sydney Sherr, an award winning designer, goldsmith, sculptor, illustrator, and educator (although all her 2020 classes are canceled because of the Coronavirus). Sydney is happy to share how you can make this yourself. Here are some pieces that she used this Jazz Enamel in:

Jazz Enamel can be made in small pieces and fill a space much as glitter does. See the silver space aroudn the top circular piece.   Jazz Enamel can be made into strips as in this piece by Sydney Scherr with a detail of the Jazz Enamel.

Instuctions Coming Soon!


Ink Pad for Enameling

There are quite a few metallic inks that work with enameling, like liquid gold or mica pens (Skura Gelly Roll Metallics - gold, copper and silver), but what about stamp pads so one can use rubber stamps? Lydia Morrison found this ink pad:

ink pad for enameling

Note the sample chip in the upper left corner of the label that Lydia did. This is made by Tsukinek who also makes other metallic ink pads. But Lydia has not yet found another that fires and holds its color. If you try others, please contact me with your results.

The book does talk about normal black ink pads that can be used for the Sift & Tap (pg 84) to get a stamped image onto your enamel (see page 93).

Opal Jewel Effect

This is a Thompson Enamel product, #2001, only comes in lump form and is medium fusing for copper, silver or gold enameling. Here are two suppliers - and Enamel Warehouse. These lumps can be fired over colors to produce a jewel like effect, especially like opals.

If fired to full fusing, a few together will dome up into a mound like a cabochon, and then when fired for a shorter time, will be sort of milky. Irmgard Carpenter (wife of Woody Carpenter who used to own Thompson Enamel) developed a process for these lumps that looks like an opal. See the photo at the right which was a pendant done by Tom Ellis, Technical Editor of my book. When purchased, you might get larger lumps than needed (see below on how to make them smaller) - if possible, order size 6/20 mesh of #2001 Opal jewel Effect lumps.

Here are the steps to get this interesting effect.

  1. Prepare a a clear base of enamel on your fine silver piece and fire.
  2. Bend fine silver Cloisonne wire into the shape you want, like a circle or oval, and fire this onto your base, as you would for any Cloisonne wires (see the Cloisonne project in the book for details).
  3. Cut small pieces of gold and silver foil and place inside the wire fused in the previous step and fire.
    To look like an opal, place these close together to form a mosaic - see the LTT on page 43 "Cutting Foil To Use As A Mosaic Pattern". Variations at this point are to cut larger pieces, don't place pieces totally next to each other or use only 1 type of foil.
  4. Wet pack thin bits of transparent blue, green and red over the foil, keeping in mind that the warm colors have a reaction to silver. Do not fire yet.
  5. Load inside the wire area with #2001 6/20 lumps, on top of the unfired enamel. Now fuse fully until the lumps form a dome over the colored foil. Fire at 1450°-1470‚ for maybe 2 minutes. Cool. Variations are to use another type of clear lumps or to underfire the lumps so they remain bumpy.
  6. Now fire the piece again for a shorter time at less temperature than the full fuse (maybe only 1 minute). This resuls in a milky coating over the foiled colors. Note: this should be the last firing of your piece, no matter what else you are doing as you want to preserve the milky look you get which could go away with another firing.

You will have to determine when this should be done on your piece, taking into consideration the other part of the design. For example, if the piece is a full Cloisonne design, you might want to do steps 4-end after you finish your cloisonne and have ground down the top. Also, this can be done with a copper base and silver wire, but care must be taken you do not get the Eutectic Effect. Have fun!

How to Make Lumps Smaller

Sometime you buy enamel lumps and they are too big for how you want to use them. One way to make them smaller is to put them in a thick plastic bag and hit them with a hammer. But that frequently breaks the bag or you get dust instead of lumps. Here is a way that Lydia Morrison crushes them with a mortar and pestel. The main thing is to not hit too hard and to cover the mortar - Lydia uses cardboard from a cereal box - check out her video:

Sakura Gelly Roll White Pen

The book talks about the Sakura Gelly Roll Metallic pens that work with enamel, but not the white. These white pens come in 3 sizes and work great on enamel, matte or shinny. Check this out for a sample. These are oil based pens.

tereesa kiplingerLiquid Gold

In my book, page 48, I have information about LIquid Metals. Gold is the typical one. It shows a sampler of it's use and how wonderful it looks completely overfired. But to get it solid and even is not an easy thing.

Teresa Kiplinger does a great job of getting Liquid Gold solid. She says: The liquid gold is applied very thinly and evenly; one smooth layer; don't go back over it when it's wet. I read on Ganoksin that this is the key to using liquid metals and I've found it to be true. I also torch fire, so I can observe progress and remove the heat as soon as it turns metallic. (This can be seen through safety glasses.) I think this might make it easier to avoid over-firing. The surface must also be absolutely completely spotless clean for liquid metallics. I love the look, but it's never precise... Sometimes there are dark spots within the gold, but I enjoy the imperfections, so it's not a bother to me. Teresa's piece at the right is called End of Days and uses her style of black washes painted on a white surface - Stunning!

Make Metal Balls

The book, on page 50, has an LTT about making metal balls. I have done it the way described for decades. But Merry-Lee Rae has a video of Tips and Tricks in which she shows a different set up that I think is an improvement over just using a hard charcoal block in a metal pan. See this photo of her set up below, but see the free video for more information.On retrieving the balls - Most end up in the groove on the white block or still on the charcoal.  She pours them into a soup bowl. Then a mighty blow and the charcoal dust flies out and all she has left are beautiful little granules. BTW - she has quite a few other terrific tips so this is worth watching for more than metal balls!

Merry-Lee Rae set up for making metal balls

The book talks about making coils to get balls of a consistent size. But Merry-Lee uses this gadget designed by Kent Raible.

Enamel Leaf

On page 40 of the book, Liana Pattihis has an LTT on her invention of Enamel Leaf. One could also call this enamel lace. Liana tells how to make this lacy looking fused enamel that can then be fused onto another piece, usually it as a supplement. I have been experimenting with it. Liana always uses it on either her wirework or chain pieces, but I fused it to a flat surface. My test firiing resulted in a fabulous granular texture that so far I have not been able to duplicate! But I still like my results. Here are some photos.

Test piece - Enamel Leaf
ready to be fired. Ths is not as Lacy as I wanted,
but it was a test so didn't matter


Enamel Leaf
fused to my flat piece (purple bottom center)

Test firing
see the granular texture in upper right corner

Ghost Images and water based vs oil based pens

Enamelist Kay Yee uses a water based pen to efffect a "ghost image" of white on enameled Blackboard steel. She can then draw on top of that with an oil or water based pen to get a design that is quite unusual. Kay can be found on FaceBook and Instagram: yee.kay

Here are two ways Kay makes a ghost image...

1. The background is a graphite & a mica wash and fired at 1400°F. Note: only the mica that touches the blackboard will stick so you'll need to rub off any mica that is not adhered. Don't overfire. Some graphite might also rub off and that's ok.

2. Using a water base paint marker (FlyMax Paint Marker), the word 'test' was written. It was dried and underfired at 1400°F. The underfiring allows some of the white to adhere to the black background, but not all of it...

3. After firing the sample was washed with a 3M scrub pad & Dawn soapy water to remove what white pigment didn't fuse. The white "ghost" of the pigment can be somewhat uneven since this is fired on a layer of graphite and mica underneath. But that's fine for a ghost!
4. Details were added on this layer with an oil based gel pen (Sakura Gelly Roll white), because the nib size was smaller than the water based marker I have. One could also use water base pens. What I am doing is adding another layer of detail with pigment.This is then fired at 1425 °F to completion.
Final test image after firing.

Here is the second way that Kay does "ghosting". In this case she is making a wash of the white...

1. This is a test of the night sky using the ghost technique. But I did this one somewhat differently - I laid down a layer of water and then used the water based gel pen to add the white and mixed it with the water to get the blend, using brushes and cotton swabs. Then it was dried and underfired at 1400F. 2. After the first firing, as before, I wash off any pigment that doesn’t stick. Then I fired at 1425°F to completion.
Final image after firing.

More To Do:

  • Kay has not tried other water based paints to try this ghost effect, so it is left to the reader to try either enamel paints or other fireable materials like mineral based inks. On page 34 of my book, there is a LTT for making Thompson Enamel water color cake colors into inks that can be used with a pen - I'd expect these would work.
  • This should also work on regular gloss fired enamel, but it is left to the reader to experiment with the ghost technique on glossy enamel.

Please note: if you try either of these, please contact me to let me know how your test worked - either yes or no - and I can post your results.

mllefiori in multiple sizes

Millefiori - multiple sizes

For many years, millefiori came in one basic size (3-4mm). How SES has multiples sizes (1-2mm and 2-3mm) plus both opaque and transparent of each size. I find the opaque ones more to my liking, but if you use the transparent ones effectively, please send me a photo. Here is my sampler of using 3 sizes in graduated lines...

All millefiori are made of hard glass and come as slices from a "cane" with squared off edges - it is always best to slump them first before firing into your piece so that the tops are rounded. This takes about 8-10 minutes at 1450°F, but check each minute as you only want to round the tops. This is discussed in the book on page 54. Always include them in a firing before softer supplements like flower wafers, metal balls and almost anyting else!



Contact the Author

Return to Bk Ext Site Home