Melting Colored Glass On Metal
Just when I thought of every conceivable way to add to the methods of enhancing metal sculpture, I discover a whole new world of artistic exploration. This time, encouraged by my father, I am examining the world of vitreous enamels. More specifically, the enamels designed for metals. In this post, I will be applying a transparent enamel directly to copper. Below, you will see the supplies I have for applying enamel. I have a bottle of a gum solution used as an adhesive. The gum solution dries fairly quickly and when the powdered enamel is fired at roughly 1500 Fahrenheit, no residue of the gum remains.
I also have a 2 ounce jar of Thompson Enamel 2410 Copper Green, a small sifter, and two fold formed copper panels.
I first brush on the gum solution straight from the bottle onto the fold formed copper panels. Without wasting too much time, I get my sifter and extract some of the enamel powder from the jar. I gently sift onto the panels.
I shake off any excess enamel and put it back in the jar for later use. I have a defunct toaster oven preheated to 250 Fahrenheit. I place my enameled panels in there to dry the gum solution. I usually wait fifteen minutes to be sure the copper is thoroughly hot and the adhesive is completely dry.
I then get out my heating stand and very carefully hold a neutral oxy acetylene flame near the panels. The oxy acetylene is actually too hot for enameling so you must be alert and intently focused to prevent burning through the copper. A transparent enamel allows one to see all the phases of torch enameling. First the copper oxidizes under the enamel as it begins to fuse. Just then, the enamel will acquire a orange peel texture. It still needs more heat at this point. The next stage is some of the opacity is changed into a more transparent affect. It looks as if you are driving tiny bubbles out of the enamel. Also the oxides will start dissolving into the enamel. This allows for a more metallic look under the enamel. When the desired look is achieved, the torch is turned off and the panel is allowed to cool.
After the panels are cooled off, I place them in a copper chloride etching solution. I made the etchant myself from water, muriatic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and scrap copper.
For the first ever try at torch enameling, I did not do half bad. They look rough due to the lack of metal prep but I am after the brutalism look anyway.