Enameling Class

I spent a few hours at The Crucible today, taking an Enameling class that Tom had given me for Christmas. It was interesting, and I had a good time.

The Crucible is a fascinating place in West Oakland. They have classes in glass blowing, metal arts, leatherwork, etc. All kinds of things that people don't do very often any more. None of us has ever taken a class there before, although I do like attending their winter art sale - I always find very unique gifts.

First of all I should say that I had never even heard of enameling before Tom gave me this gift, and I had no idea what to expect, so I went with a very open mind. My class consisted of seven people in a smallish room near the back of the warehouse, equipped with three kilns. All of my classmates were my age or older, which surprised me, since everyone I had seen at The Crucible before this was extremely young and hip. But I fit right in to this crowd.

The teacher explained that enamel is basically ground-up glass, applied in layers and then fired by heat. There is liquid enamel, too - which is how our Le Creuset pots are made, enamel over cast iron. Cloisonné and Limoges china are made by the enamel method, as well.

We used powdered enamel rather than liquid. We were given a small rectangle of copper and we went through four layers of enameling, with various stages in between of cooling and cleaning. The kilns are kept at 1500 degrees (!!!) so there was a good amount of time spent on safety procedures. We all ended up with a product that we liked, and I intend to put mine on our Christmas tree. I'm not sure I'll ever do this sort of thing again (unlike a cheesemaking class, say, which is easy to replicate at home), but I enjoyed learning about it.

Some tools at a workstation. The red things are sifters.

Colors and examples

Colored jars of powdered enamel in a drawer

my rectangle of copper, covered with the first layer of enamel, before firing

a rectangle on a screen, just out of the kiln

The kilns. If you look at the one on the far right, you can see the heat coming out the crack of the open door.

The temperature in the kiln. Yikes!

Finished products. Mine is the one with the poppies that look more like misshapen orange fish underwater.