What is Enameling?
Enameling is the ancient art of fusing glass onto metal. Enamel was widely used and prized in the ancient world for its brilliant colors and for its durability and resistance to wear. The process involves dry sifting or wet packing enamel onto a prepared metal surface, then heating the metal to about 1400 degrees Fahrenheit, either in a kiln or with a torch. It is a demanding and time-consuming process, as the enamel surface is generally built up through multiple firings. Today, enamel is sold in powdered form and consists of ground vitreous glass combined with metal oxides and pigments to produce an array of colors. It can be transparent, opaque, or opalescent. There are a number of specialized enameling techniques, including cloisonné (wet-packing the enamel into cells made out of flat ribbon-like wire), champlevé (in which the enamel is fired into cavities in a metal surface), plique-a-jour (in which the enamel is suspended in cells, as in cloisonné, but without a backing, giving it the look of stained glass) and Limoges (fine-grained enamel painted on a prepared enamel surface). Enamel was popular in the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts periods, both in jewelry and objects produced by notable firms and artists such as Faberge, Liberty and Co, and Renee Lalique. It is used today in a variety of both contemporary and traditional designs and techniques.