Enamel Verses Steel

In the workshop, I have been back at the kiln testing out enamelling on steel. I had previously stumbled across some interesting posts by Melissa Cameron on the subject of enamelling on steel, but overall I have struggled to find substantial technical information on the subject. Having previously only worked with powder enamels on copper and silver,  I thought I would just have a play and experiment.

I decided on starting with sheet steel groundcoat supplied in dry form from WG Ball, which in theory would then allow any enamel to be applied on top. I also bought a small selection of painting enamels, which can be intermixed and ultimately allow a broad range of colours. The groundcoat seemed to work similar to a ceramic slip, and then needed to dry before going in to be fired. My first few attempts were terrible, but as I slowly changed the consistency of the groundcoat and brought the temperature of the kiln down, it started to work.

On top of the groundcoat I tried the painting enamels, these took a lot longer to dry than the groundcoat, and I just couldn’t get them to work for me, the results were quite discoloured and patchy. Hopefully if I dig a little further with my research and persist at the kiln, I am hoping to get some better results.

I moved onto the wet process enamels, these instantly worked for me. I enjoyed layering the white and black, working back through the layers with the alundum stone and re-firing gave some nice effects, reminiscent of the vintage photos I am looking to use. I am hoping the bright colours will become a nice backdrop to to some of my decals. I also had a little play with some enamel threads – which kept their colour beautifully.


My aim was to produce some sample tiles, I could then experiment with by either transferring images and text by laser engraving or through decals. My next stage will also be to attempt to enamel onto a 3D object.

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