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The Story Begins in the 60s

Ruth, the mother of a friend of ours, created enamels in the 1960s. When she died some years ago,  she still had this wonderfully preserved kit. When I started working with glass again in 2018, her daughter brought this box of treasures to us to see if there was anything in it that I could use.

An Enamelers Kit from the 1960s

Yes, I Want

Even if I couldn’t use it, I wanted it. I mean, look at this catalog. The cover alone is worth the price of admission.

Thompson Enamel Catalog

Thompson Catalog

Just wanted to show you a page from the inside. This is from the days when “cut and paste” was literal.

Thompson Catalog Interior

Blast from the Past

This is how I know that at least part of this material is likely from the 60s. Apparently Ruth bought some part of her enameling kit locally. Studio City is just over the hill from here. For non-locals, it’s where Universal Studios is located.

Kit Kraft 1964

Kit Kraft Catalog

Again, I just wanted to show a page from the interior of this ultra-cool catalog.

Kit Kraft Page

Glass Powder

I had no idea that enamel is essentially glass powder. But when the Google told me that, I set to making a few tests to see what they might look like when fused with other glass. I’ve laid out my test grid with the numbers of the enamels at top left. I’ve cut some white glass tiles at top right. On the green glass tile I’ve put some GlasTac Gel (the blue squeeze bottle at top right). At bottom left I’ve put two white tiles across two pieces of ceramic dam (to elevate them and make them easy to pick up). I’ve painted the tiles with glue, then used the tiny red sifter on the white paper to sift enamel over them. The paper picks up the excess enamel powder, which I save.

Set Up Enamel Test

Tile Layup

Using my numbered layout, I place the powdered tiles in a matching grid, and separate them with blank tiles.

Powdered Tiles

A Tale of Two Tests

I’m doing two almost identical layups. The only difference is that I’ll put the test tiles on top of clear glass (the one above) and also below clear.

A Tale of Two Tests

Ready to Fuse

I’ve also bordered the tiles with strips of white glass just because I thought it looked better that way. These two tests are ready to fire.

Ready to Fuse

Tests Complete

The version with the enamel on the surface is on top. The version where the enamel is capped with clear glass is on the bottom. The difference is stark.

Two Tests Complete

This Is In Focus

The enamel on top of the white tiles has come up as shiny as the rest of the glass, and it has also blurred at the edges as it melted and spread. The variations in color are likely due to the fact that my sifting of the powder was not even: thicker in some spots than others.

Enamel on Top

Capped With Glass

Even with glass powder, there will be bubbles if precautions aren’t taken. Since I’d never used¬† a powder of any type, let alone enamels, I didn’t know what to expect. Even so, I like how contained and vibrant the colors are.

Capped with Clear Glass

Also Cracked

I know you saw above that the glass had actually cracked over the one tile. Again, I’m not particularly bothered by the look, as long as the cracks don’t affect the structure or penetrate to the front or back of the piece. I also wanted to show you the teeny tiny bubbles that the powder creates. I really like them!

Yes, It's Cracked

Square It Up

Although it’s just a test, I’ll have these color guides around for a while. I was bothered that the edges weren’t straight so I sawed them off with a wet tile saw.

Make It Neat

Final Result

This isn’t my usual glamour shot of the end result, but this is just the first step. In the next blog post I’ll actually use the enamels in a project.

Thank you, Ruth.


Tests Finished


SEGMENT RATE (deg F / hour) TEMPERATURE (F) HOLD (hours:minutes)
1 400 1112 :30
2 200 1250 1:00
3 600 1480 :10
4 AFAP 900 1:00
5 150 700 OFF

Everything was fired in a Paragon GL-22AD.