I thought I had done a post on enamelling for beginners all about the basics and the 'dos and don'ts' but I've just realised that I never did, so here goes...
The most common mistake crafters make when first starting to enamel is to not put enough Efcolor powder on their blanks.
This is not a problem as all you need to do is cover your blank with another layer of Efcolor and reheat it.
You want to cover your blank with a thick layer of Efcolor (approx 1mm thick and as smoothly as possible).
Top tip: You shouldn't be able to see any of the copper showing through. To make sure of it you need to look at your blank from different angles as your room lighting can make you miss a gap.
If you don't hold your Efcolor tube high enough and so have a bumpy layer of powder you will get a bumpy enamelled surface when the powder melts.
This is not a problem as you can leave it on the stove a little longer to level out or add another layer of powder and reheat it. Ideally you need to hold your Efcolor tube 10cm or more above your blank - that way you'll find it easier to get a smooth layer. (You do need to work in a draft free environment as otherwise you might find your powder ends up anywhere but on your blank!)
If you cover your blank with an even thick layer of Efcolor you should end up with a super smooth glossy finish...
To heat your blanks you can use the Efcolor Tealight Stove which I think is by far the best way to fire the enamel. With just three tea lights the top of the stove reaches 150ºC, the perfect temperature for firing Efcolor powders. By using the stove you have more control in as far as you can see your blank more easily (and so know when it's time to remove it from the heat) and you can also work on your blank whilst it is still being heated e.g. swirling the enamel.
Alternatively, you can use a conventional kitchen oven (not fan as you don't want to enamel the inside of your oven!). When using an oven, if possible, it is best to set the heat to come from below as Efcolor prefers that. If it gets too hot, especially too much heat from above, the enamel can pull or roll back from the edges of your blank or end up looking like the surface of the moon.
This can be a great effect but might not necessary be what you were aiming for or intended.
When new to enamelling it's wise to place your blanks on a U-strip on the firing plate as you will find it easier placing your powdered blanks on the stove and lifting your hot enamelled blanks off again.
If you want to enamel both sides of your blank I would always advise that you enamel the back first. This is because when you enamel the second side you must place your blank on a stand.
If you don't use a stand, when the blank heats up, the first side re-melts and becomes tacky, sticking to whatever it touches.
The reason for enamelling the back first is so that, if you don't position your blank perfectly on the stand, it doesn't matter if one or more of the edges gets a teeny tiny nick in it - it's on the back so no-one will notice!
Don't forget to leave your blanks on the stand to cool too or else they will stick to your spatula. If you're doing more than one layer on the front e.g. adding more colours, stencilling or rubber stamping a design, you must remember to re-place the blank on the stand to re-heat it...
I think that just about covers the basics. For more Efcolor inspiration check out the enamelling section on the website. If anyone has any questions on enamelling with Efcolor please do leave a comment below or contact me either through the Projects 4 Crafters website or the Facebook page.
Happy Crafting everyone!