Archive for Thompson enamel

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 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

Part II: What Is Missing From This Picture?

This is the second of our two-part series, Challenges and Opportunities for Artists Who Choose Enamel, an essay by our intern Zhou Zoe Yuan. You can read the first part here.

We welcome comments on this article! Do you agree with the challenges and opportunities described here? What has your own experience been? Post in the comments section below or write us at gro.r1513360332etnec1513360332leman1513360332e@gol1513360332b1513360332



Fred Ball's wall installation Valley Fields at the Raley's corporate headquarters in Sacramento, CA - comprised of many smaller pieces

Visitors admire “Valley Fields,” a large-scale wall installation by Fred Ball, at Raley’s corporate headquarters in Sacramento, CA.

Enamel Exhibitions – Where Are They?

In addition to the dearth of educational resources, another major obstacle facing contemporary enamelists is Read More →