Archive for Technical

A Wealth of Experience: Pat Johnson’s Landmark Book, Enamelling on Copper

 Enamelling on Copper by Pat Johnson

Crowood Press

reviewed by Judy Stone


The simple title, Enamelling on Copper, suggests the two most important aspects of this landmark book. Pat Johnson, who lives in the UK, has written a book that draws directly on her wealth of experience with enamel and its interactions with her chosen metal substrate, copper. Perhaps most significantly, she takes the oft-denigrated technique of sifting, or enamel layering using dry applications, and re-introduces it to young enamelists. Read More →

Tools and Supplies: A Conundrum, Part 1

Here is a conundrum: If vitreous enamels, and related tools and supplies, aren’t readily available, people can’t enamel.  If people can’t enamel, suppliers can’t sell supplies.  This chicken-and-egg problem is a huge obstacle for the growth of enameling in the U.S. and worldwide. How do people who use vitreous enamel deal with this conundrum? How does it shape enameling today, and how will it affect enameling’s future?

Share the Heat is pleased to announce a series of blogposts about tools and supplies for the enameling community. We will be examining the state of supply availability in interviews with several small independent U.S. suppliers, including Coral Shaffer of Enamelwork Supply, and Scott Ellis of We will also be posting insider tips on how to find supply resources.

  • Part 1 of this introduction will give a little background and recent history in order to put the tool/supply conundrum into perspective. It will focus on why supplies, especially enamel powders  are not easy to find; why there is not much diversity in enamels that are available for sale; and why quality and customer service are sometimes problematic.
  • Part 2 will be about industrial enameling supplies and tools specific to enameling, such as firing  and application tools.
  • Part 3 will focus on how the internet has changed availability and information about supplies and supply sources.

The Center for Enamel Art is committed to helping enamelists in their professional development. We believe strongly in the sharing of resources of all kind. We hope that this series of posts begins a much-needed discussion about one problem that has hindered the growth of enameling as a recognized art medium.


Where have all the manufacturers gone?

putting enamel in a ball mill

Before Thompson

First, let’s look at the evolution of enameling in the U.S. over the last hundred years.  Read More →

Kat Cole Enamels Her Work at KVO Industries, Part 3

This is the eighth in a series of guest posts by the enamel artist Kat Cole. This post previously appeared on her blog

kvo-3-1The process of enameling at KVO was a bit of a fast – slow – slow pace. I would have windows of time that I would have my spray gun ready to hop into the spray booth and get a coat on during the workers’ breaks. Their workday would usually begin at 6am and go until 3pm. I got into the habit of getting there around 7am, enjoying the time just being in the space and listening to the guys chat. They were all helpful and knowledgeable about the various processes. Read More →

Kat Cole Enamels Her Work at KVO Industries, Part 2

This is the seventh in a series of guest posts by the enamel artist Kat Cole. This post previously appeared on her blog


Grey panels

By the end of my first day at KVO Industries my crate had still not arrived and I was beginning to panic.  My time was limited to this one week in Santa Rosa, and if the crate did not arrive and I did not get the work done, I would have no option but to pack it back up and send it back home to Dallas unfinished. And, while I was renting time and space at KVO, I still had to be courteous of the workers’ spraying and firing schedule. 


The memorial panels in process

The week I was there was a busy one.  They had just begun on a big order for a large number of blank grey panels that would be used for changeable vinyl signage at a university. Also that week, they were working on a series of prototype photo collage panels for a funeral home that would be mounted on headstones. The use of durable enamel signage for grave makers was not a use that had occurred to me before, but turns out to be a growing market.

I began my second day at KVO with still no crate, and spent the morning calling the freight company and working on samples. I would be using a combination of Thompson Enamels and KVO’s in-house mixed enamels. I had worked with this combo at home, but knew you could never do too many samples, and something new always comes up working in a new space.

To clean the surface of small parts, they taught me to take old liquid enamel and rubbed it all over the piece, allow it to dry then brushed it off. Worked like a charm, all oils and dirt removed.

kvo-2-3Finally midday my crate arrived and work would really begin.  The panels would need to be sanded in the areas where rust had begun to form and a few needed additional tabs added for hanging.  The interior of the KVO kiln is eight feet long and seven feet high and three feet deep.  There are hanging tracks on both sides so during high production they do not have to wait for a load to cool and be unloaded before doing the next firing.  By the end of my second day the panels were washed and ready to begin work.

Panels going into the parts washer for a good cleaning

Panels going into the parts washer for a good cleaning

Kat Cole Enamels Her Work at KVO Industries, Part 1

This is the sixth in a series of guest posts by the enamel artist Kat Cole. This post previously appeared on her blog

Note: It is at this point I would like to say thank you to the people that were integral to making my trip possible, those that were so generous to open up their homes to me and share their knowledge.  Judy, Brooke, Linda, Steve–you all were my cheerleaders through what was both an incredibly stressful and exciting experience and I cannot thank you enough.


Installation by Ellen Forney in Seattle bus station, made by KVO Industries

KVO Industries is located in picturesque northern California in the small town of Santa Rosa.  This operation has been fabricating porcelain enamel signage for the last 16 years and grew out of a larger factory that re-located away from Santa Rosa in 2000. KVO is a small company running impressive facilities with incredible possibilities.  They have made signage for the state and national park systems, large-scale outdoor images for cities and museums, and worked with artists to re-create images of their work in enamel for public projects. Read More →