Vitreous enamel is a kind of glass known already at least since ancient Egypt. It is applied in powder form to a metal substrate and fused at high temperature (750-850°C) to form a smooth, hard and resistant coating. Across the ages, enamel has been used for its artistic, protective and strengthening interests. Enamelled objects are not only beautiful, they survive the wear of time for centuries.
A variety of metals can be enamelled, including base metals (copper, brass, bronze, steel), semi-precious metals (titanium, niobium) and precious metals (silver, gold, platinum). In each case, an enamel composition chemically and physically compatible with the metal must be used.
For our creations, we use enamels suitable for silver. They come either in powder form, or as glass chips.
Before being usable, enamels must be crushed to the consistency of fine sand and washed multiple times to remove impurities. It is then mixed with a liquid medium, such as water or lavender oil, to facilitate subsequent manipulation.
Prepared enamels are then laid atop the metal piece, which has been previously cleaned from dust, oxides and grease. One colour at a time, layer by layer, the piece is fired in a high temperature kiln.
A piece can require 10 to 20 passes through the kiln before completion. The order and duration of each pass must be decided carefully from the properties of selected colours. For some colours, especially reds and pinks, a few seconds too long can ruin an entire piece irremediably.
The art of enamelling is therefore a subtle game of patience and precision, which however rewards a hundredfold the effort made to tame it.