Sunday, 1 May 2016

Efcolor and Wet Packing

Hi Everyone

I've been experimenting with wet packing and Efcolor powders this week and it turns out that it doesn't work very well. I had a feeling that this might be the result but felt I just had to check to make sure.

Wet packing, for those who may not have heard of it before is then you mix water in with your enamel powder. This is usually used when you want a more controlled application of enamel as in the cloisonné technique. Having packed the enamel paste into your jewellery backing you have to dry your piece thoroughly before firing it. With traditional enamel powders made from ground glass this is easy as you can heat it with a torch or on a lower setting in your kiln before firing at the correct temperature to produce a smooth and glossy enamelled finish.

However, as Efcolor powders fire at such a low temperature (150ºC) it's not so easy to heat them to dry them out before firing them. But I thought it was still worth a try and here's how it went...

When you first start mixing Efcolor with water it appears not to mix at all...

 but if you persist it will eventually turn into a paste...

Having packed my jewellery backing I then heated it in the oven on a low temperature until the powder was dry again.

As you can see the packed powder cracks, loosing it's smooth surface.

When fired on the tea light stove the enamel did become glossy but with little pot marks where either residual water or trapped air escaped.

A slightly better finish could be achieved if the wet powder was left to dry naturally over night but you must make sure that the jewellery backing you use can withstand the moisture content for that length of time (as you can see the backing I used started to rust). However, not only does this way take a long time to achieve (as you will need to do more than one layer to build up the depth of enamel so it takes several days) but it is also not guaranteed for success...

I'm not sure that it shows up in the photo but this too had slight 'pot marks' in the enamel when fired for a second time (and of course was affected by the rust from the backing).

As an alternative I thought I would try mixing Efcolor with the Efcolor adhesive to see if that faired better...

The Efcolor certainly mixed with the adhesive a lot more easily.

When it was dry it was very solid and had a slightly crazed appearance.

Sadly, when fired, it still looked the same. It didn't matter how long I left it to heat it never got that usual smooth, glossy finish. 

So when using Efcolor adhesive you need to use it as directed i.e. painting it on, leaving it to go tacky so that it's no longer wet before applying your powder. :)

Happy Crafting!

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