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I Forge Iron



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My wife's an enamel artist. She mostly uses copper for a base but steel can certainly work. Lots of large pieces are done on steel. Enamel powders are indeed colored ground glass.

You'll need to look into counter-enameling. That is when you need to enamel both sides of the piece to keep the enamel from coming off over time. She says that you always have to do this but I don't think that's completely true because there are techniques which violate this rule. It may be related to material thickness and/or heat conductivity.

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I used to work in an appliance factory that still had one enamel on steel line running for hospital refrigerators.

Quite a lot of work to get it to stick well and massive safety issues. As I recall it was one of the first lines to be sent to Mexico.

Results can be quite nice but I can't believe it would be cost effective.

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I have seen sheet metal appliance skins, and cast iron sinks/tubs that were only enameled on one side, so it may depend on the application.

Get some glass, grind it up, and try it out.

One thing to remember about glass is the coefficient of expansion. Different COE's cannot be mixed, as they will crack away from each other. If you use scrap bottles, etc just use one color to be safe, otherwise buy new known glass. A website that may be of help is warmglass.com

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You can still try the ground glass, as an experiment. My Dad, and I made some glass beads years ago by melting seed beads together. Take a bottle, crush it up, and play around with some scrap steel. You may be able to get some neat bumpy effects with chunky bits , as opposed to powdered. Get a bar hot, and try dipping it into the glass, sprinkle it on, roll the bar across some glass spread out on a table, try mixing different bottles to see if does crack -or not, just try some stuff out. You may find that you can get an effect that you like through recycling. But,by all means experiment.

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I did an experiment once using Theophilus as a basis (Wrote Divers Arts in 1120 A.D.).

First I tried 12 different samples of stained glass ground up---they all spalled upon cooling.

Then I tried adding a bit of borax to them---even worse spalling

What ended up working for me was a piece of 1930's? brake light lens found in a spoil pile near the river in the city I lived in. It did not spall upon cooling and yes I was cooling fairly slow.

You may want to track down Oppi Utrecht's "Enamelling on Metal"

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