Enameling is the colorful result of fusing powdered glasses to metal using high heat to form a durable vitreous coating. The first enamels date to the 6th Century BC, in ancient Cyprus.

At The Crucible, we teach both traditional and experimental application techniques, onto various metals—from gold to steel (and everything in between) to make objects ranging from fine cloisonné jewelry to large-scale steel sculptures and wall pieces.

Enameling I

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Enameling Classes
Entry-level. Also check out this class in our Youth Department.

Learn about this ancient art of fusing glass to metal through metal preparation and fabrication for enameling, kiln properties and methods for firing, properties of enamel and dry and wet application techniques.

Enameling II

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Prerequisite: Enameling I or instructor permission.

Learn more in-depth application methods and new techniques, such as torch firing, basic enamel painting, working with precious metals, exploring liquid enamels and working on 3-dimensional forms. In addition to a lot of experimentation, you’ll produce at least three finished pieces.

A Primer in 3D Enameling

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Entry-level

This one-day workshop introduces you to enameling three-dimensional metal forms. You’ll work with soft copper sheet, mesh and copper wire, and learn to plan for adding enamel to the form and how to fire forms. This class involves spray equipment, some industrial enameling materials and traditional jewelry enamels.

The Magic of Decals on Enamels

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Prerequisite: Introduction to Enameling or instructor permission.

Ceramic decals are a wonderful way to make enamel photography. Transfer images from a special paper to an enameled surface to create your own one-of-a-kind pieces. Each student will do 4-5 pieces on both copper and enamel-coated steel. Learn to color your decals with enamel and to make your own decals in black and white and color.

Small Scale Cloisonné Enameling

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Prerequisite: Enameling I or instructor permission.

Combine art and science in the intricate process of cloisonné enameling. Create your own small cloisonné pieces for jewelry or small artwork, while learning the rich, subtle and distinctive colors of transparent and opalescent enamels on fine silver. Painterly shading techniques and high-gloss polishing instruction will also be covered.

Limoges: Painting with Enamels

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Prerequisite: Enameling I or instructor permission.

Learn to “paint” enamels, metal oxides and overglazes mixed with various oils on copper, achieving the fine detail of the hand-drawn line, and simulating delicate watercolor washes. This enameling technique first appeared in medieval Limoges, France, and is practiced most prolifically today in Russia.

Plique-a-jour: Stained Glass Enameling

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Prerequisite: Enameling I & Introduction to Jewelry & Metals I or instructor permission.

Plique-à-jour (meaning “open to light” in French) is a widely admired enameling technique in which enamel is fired into a backless frame, creating a luminous effect similar to looking through a stained glass window. You will design, make and finish pierced plique-à-jour pieces, sawing out metal and filling the spaces with vitreous enamel. You will work with fine silver and various enamels to make pendants and earrings.

Grisaille: Techniques in Medieval Enameling

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Prerequisites: Enameling I & II or instructor permission.

Often associated with medieval French enameling, grisaille (“gray”) is the application of white enamel to a black enamel background; after many applications and firings, the white sinks into the black, creating halftones and shading. You will learn traditional grisaille enameling as well as a few experimental approaches to grisaille. You will apply black enamel to a copper piece to create a smooth, dark background, then use finely-ground white enamels to paint over it, with light areas, taking more white enamel layers than gray areas, creating an impression of low relief. You will experiment with the application of silver foil and touches of gold to enhance the pieces. You will also explore sgraffito-style grisaille and other experimental approaches.

Enameling and Setting
Hydraulically Created Forms

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Prerequisite: Enameling I or instructor permission.

This class will introduce you to the creation of dimensional forms in copper using the hydraulic press. These forms will then be enameled using the torch to fire. The enameled forms will be set in a variety of ways including bezels, modified prongs, and cold connections) to create completed jewelry pieces.

Exploring Liquid Enamels

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Prerequisite: Introduction to Enameling or instructor permission.

Get an overview of how to work with the materials the enameling industry uses for signage, appliances, utensils and architectural elements. We will draw, paint, silk-screen and airbrush on heavy-gauge, pre-coated, specialized enameling steel using porcelain enamel slip, screening inks and various other materials.

Enameling on Metal Clay

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Enameling on Art Metal Clay
Prerequisite: Metal Clay I & Enameling I or instructor permission.

Combine two exciting techniques to design and create 2-3 pieces of colorful fine silver jewelry. First, you will use Metal Clay, which enables you to create jewelry or other decorative fine silver pieces without metalsmithing techniques: you can roll, press or mold Metal Clay to create the perfect base for an enameling process. Next, you’ll add beautiful color to this piece by enameling, fusing glass to metal with high heat.

Working Large: A Journey into
Industrial Enameling on Steel

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Prerequisite: Introduction to Enameling or instructor permission.

Take part in this weeklong intensive class to explore large scale enameling on steel. The enameling industry, sometimes called the “porcelain”’ enamel industry, uses liquid enamels to coat signage, appliances, utensils, and architectural elements for indoor and outdoor use.  In this class we will draw, paint, airbrush, silkscreen, stencil, and much more with these materials.  We will fire onto pre-coated specialized steel panels.  We are fortunate during the class to be able to take at least one field trip up to Santa Rosa, CA to visit the factory that makes enameled signs and has worked with many artists over the last 12 years. Among other smaller pieces, each student work on a larger panel that will be fired at the Santa Rosa factory.

Fred Ball’s Experimental Enameling Techniques

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Fred Ball Enameling
Prerequisite: Enameling I or instructor permission.

Fred Uhl Ball (1945-1985) was an enamelist who lived and taught in Sacramento and whose work is currently undergoing a revival. Once viewed as highly unorthodox, Ball’s techniques and approach to enameling nonetheless created a firm basis for current contemporary enameling. The techniques he wrote about in his out-of-print Experimental Techniques in Enameling (1972) included working with fire scale, creating collages, using liquid enamel and other materials associated with the porcelain enamel industry, over- and under-firing and much more. Explore a wide range of Ball’s techniques with Judy Stone, whose own work was greatly influenced by Fred Ball’s book.

Enameling Open Studio

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Prerequisite: Enameling I or instructor permission.

This class is designed for students who have taken a class (or several) in enameling, and would like a chance to work with the medium in a less structured environment. This is an opportunity to work with enamels on projects of your own choosing with the benefit of an instructor present to offer limited instruction, assistance and advice. Kilns, firing and application tools will be provided. There will be some enamels and some scrap copper available for use, but students should plan to bring their own enamels, miscellaneous supplies, and metals.