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What is enamel?

Enamel is a glass coating that is baked onto a metal surface.

However, this procedure is not as easy as it sounds. The “glass” is ground and it comprises various metal oxides. It is these oxides that generate the colours.
The metal surface can be of all kinds: iron, copper, silver, gold etc. The enamel is laid on the surface. This may be done by sifting, with a brush or with a spatula depending on the requirements of the situation. Then at a high temperature – between 800 and 900 °C – the coating is dissolved on the metal.

The history of enamelling dates back thousands of years. 

It was used by Egyptians and by Celtics, too. During the time of the Roman Empire, Byzantium was the reputed centre of enamelling.
The enamel-technique used by me is similar to the French Limoges paint-enamel type developed in the 16-17th centuries but it is not the same.
Every enamel artist uses the knowledge accumulated throughout thousands of years and enriches it with new methods based upon his/her personal experiments. The possibilities in enamelling are endless. Throughout a lifetime one can learn just a couple of enamelling procedures.

I use a paint-enamelling technique on my pictures. 

They are built up in layers which mean that a picture may include from 10-20 wispy coats melted on each other. Each and every layer has to be dissolved on the base separately therefore the ready-made picture will have a relief effect.
This working process takes a lot of time, thus only a small number of pictures can be made during a year.

 

István Vágó
enamel artist