Enamel is so beautiful when done correctly and so hard to remove when done wrong! Lately I'm getting a lot of practice with removing enamel. The technique I'm using came from Pam East's book "Enameling on Metal Clay." I've viewed this as a learning curve so as to have this skill in my toolbox when the day comes that I need to remove enamel from silver or copper clay. At the moment, I'm not removing enamel from metal clay at all. In fact, I'm working traditionally with smooth, sheet copper for my painted enamel, then mounting the enamel in silver via rivets. Even in this simpler situation, removing enamel is laborious and messy. Indeed, sawing a new piece of copper would be much easier, but not as educational. I expect that removing enamel from metal clay might be significantly harder, due to porosity of the metal surface, even if burnished heavily.
This particular brooch has been a torturous project. Sometimes, pieces just have a mind of their own. The enamel I used for the first pass at the center layer bled into a black blob, causing me to embark on this enamel removal training. Then I reapplied the enamel carefully and successfully with a different material, only to realize that somewhere along the way I'd rotated the copper so that the text was upside down. I tried another coat of white enamel to see if it would cover the black well enough, but the results were not very successful. Daunted, but determined, I embarked on enamel removal number two.
- Mix equal parts of cream of tartar and salt. Add just enough distilled water to make a creamy paste.
- Cover enamel with the paste. Place the work on a sheet of mica.
- Pop into the kiln at enameling temperature, where the paste will proceed to burn, blacken, bubble. and smoke.
- Repeat until enamel is gone. Then clean up the copper with a metal brush, sandpaper, pickle, etc.
|paste on enamel on mica|
|cooked removal paste on enamel|