Welcome to a new series of articles to do with enamelling and making jewellery that I intend to publish. I hope you find them useful. I plan to write them weekly, so keep checking to see my latest words of wisdom!! Seriously, I intend to write about issues and problems I have experienced (and hopefully overcome), and tips and shortcuts concerning enamelling and making jewellery that I have come across in the course of the past twenty years or so.
Counter enamel is the term used to describe enamel on the reverse of a piece. When do you need to counter enamel? Generally if you are using a mass produced copper shape you will need to counter enamel in order to minimise stresses and to avoid the enamel ‘pinging’ off the front. In these cases I usually chose to use liquid enamel. This has the advantage over sifting powder enamel, because you can enamel the reverse at the same time as the front. I generally apply the front coat, fire and then add liquid enamel to the reverse and dry it thoroughly. Before I fire it I then add more enamel to the front and fire both layers at the same time. If I am using silver, I always use a thicker gauge so I can have plain silver on the reverse. If I am cutting my own copper shapes, I prefer to use at least 1.2 mm, as then too I don’t need to counter enamel. This means I can solder findings to the reverse before I enamel. A more satisfactory piece of jewellery I always feel.
I hope this helps.