Hope you all had a Happy Easter and haven't made yourselves too sick on all the yummy chocolate!
Eleonora posed a very good question via the contact form and I thought I'd share it with everyone:
"I would like to know what is the main difference between Efcolor and the high temperature firing enamels, apart from the temperature that is. I guess my main concern is the quality of the final product because if they were exactly the same nobody would bother with a kiln."
Efcolor powders are resin based whereas traditional enamelling uses glass powders, hence the need for a kiln and high temperature firing. As such, Efcolor enamelled objects will not be quite as hard wearing as glass enamelled ones. I ahve some traditionally enamelled pieces I created over 20 years ago that are still fine although, that said, they can still 'chip' and loose embedded items (one of mine has).
I have found that Efcolor powders work perfectly well for jewellery and embellishments etc. If you have something that is likely to get a lot of hard wear you will find that some Efcolor powders are stronger than others. For examples, I ahve a phone charm (Project: EN/0005) that has seen a lot of daily wear over the last six months or so. The copper glitter heart is still as perfect as the day I made it but the red transparent heart is showing some wear at the edges as well as a couple of fine cracks on close inspection. Whether traditional or Efcolor powders are used enamel, when cool, is brittle by nature and so needs a strong backing to protect it. Copper metal blanks are perfect for this purpose as they also conduct heat well.
The Efcolo range makes it possible for many more people, including youngsters, to try their hand at enamelling without having to make a huge financial investment. With the tealight oven it also means you can do it anywhere. However, I would recommend that anyone who wants to get seriously involved in enamelling, especially in combination with silver-smithing or precious metal clay, consider investing in the traditional glass enamel powders and a kiln. Efco also do a small range of kilns as well as the glass powders, tools etc. so contact your local Efco stockist if you are interested as they should be able to order them for you.
If you're not sure what system to invest in then it's worth starting with the Efcolor powders to see how you get on. This way you won't have a huge financial outlay at the start. The principles of enamelling are the same whether you are using Efcolor powders or traditional enamel powders. The only difference when working with them is that the glass powders need firing at the higher temperature and the glass chips and rods melt properly when embedded in the powders. When using glass chips and rods with Efcolor powders they don't melt but get 'locked' into the enamel in the same way that the metal jewellery does. The other benefit of using the low melt Efcolor powders is that you can combine them with other elements such as Tim Holtz Alcohol Inks, Swarovski gems, chipboard, fabrics and fibres, all of which will not be damaged by heating at 150ªC. You don't even need to invest in the tealight oven as an ordinary domestic oven will do when using Efcolor powders although I definitely think it's worth its less than £20 price tag if you want to give enamelling a real go. If you then find that you are getting more serious about enamelling, you can invest in the traditional powders and kiln etc. knowing you will not be wasting money.
I hope this helps anyone who is still unsure of the difference between Efcolor enamelling and traditional enamelling. If you have any questions don't hesitate to drop me a line.
Happy Crafting one and all!