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topic 25637

How to enamel tin plate, silver, and plated metals?

A discussion started in 2001 and continuing through 2020 so far.
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Q. Is tin plating generally considered a good substrate for painting with an organic enamel? I have some input saying that oxides of tin are generally weak and that enamel over tin isn't a good idea. The part base material is a copper stamping so the whole material set would be organic enamel over tin over copper.

Thanks in advance for any insights.

Vern Rieck
- Concord, New Hampshire, USA

Need gold plating and ceramic enamel on cast iron


RFQ: I am a homeowner/amateur restorer who recently acquired, thru an antique dealer, a cast iron charcoal burning wood heater, probably 80-150 years old. It was labeled as "Chinese" because of the ornate patterns in the casting, and it's color. It has what appears to be two layers of ceramic enamel: green over white, so the highlights appear yellow. I have several needs/questions:
1) I need an abrasive powder or paste to buff out the chalky areas of the good enamel.
2) I need two or three pieces re-enameled with a color match(apparently illegal in California)
3) I need three handles gold plated.
4) I need one missing piece replaced.
5) I need a shop that can help me with conversion to gas.

David LeCount
hobbyist - Petaluma, California, U. S.

Enamel sterling silver jewelry


Q. I would like to know how to coat a piece of sterling silver jewelry with enamel paint? After brushing paint on jewelry, do I heat it to make it adhere, and if so how long and at what temperature?

Mike Franklin
- Elizabeth City, North Carolina

September 28, 2008

A. Actually you cannot use heat as the silver would melt. Enameling would have to be an inherent part of the original manufacturing process. Cold enamel painting works BUT it does not last as it eventually flakes off. However this method is used on cheaper costume jewellery on occasions. HTH

Merrily Willis
- Mt Colah, NSW, Australia

January 30, 2010

A. Actually, when you enamel on sterling, it is not enamel paint you are using. It is actually a silicon like substance that is fusible to the metal. The enamel is made into a paste like consistency and then is fused to the metal using heat (typically by using a kiln). It takes a lot of practice to get it right, but the results are well worth the effort.

Cheryl Titcher
Inspire Designed Jewelry - Newark, Delaware

February 28, 2011

Q. Cheryl - What do I need to buy to enamel on silver? What is the silicon like substance you are referring to?

Barbara Yuson
- Howell, New Jersey

April 5, 2011

Q. Hi Cheryl, do you know what the silver substance/product used to coat the outer sides of crystals used in jewellery?
One jeweler told me it's --- silver plating over copper {the copper makes silver plating stick}. Another one said it's sterling silver. Do you know of any other product that can be painted on or applied like this as I'd like to try it. I spoke to a silver clay artist/teacher she ruled that out because the amethyst would loose it's colour under the heat needed to fire the silver clay. I wondered about a paint, then marine lacquer for lastability.?

Kaye Hanger
Kaye's Kreations - Hastings

Enamelling of electroplated metal

December 15, 2013

Q. I'm thinking about enameling metal that has been electroplated. But, to do so requires the piece to be put into a kiln at a temperature to melt glass. When the piece cools a certain tension is produced in the piece caused by different coefficients of expansion of metal and enamel. So, is it possible to enamel on an electroplated piece of metal, say nickel-plated brass? I am trying to obtain a definite answer, but will do experiments if it is not clear that what I wish to do is do-able. Thank you.

Richard Rogalewski
Designer (of necessity) - UK

December 25, 2013

A. You must heat your objects to 750 - 850 °C; that's too high temperature for electroplated objects, and I am not sure that nickel can be enameled. Copper, gilding metal, silver, gold and steel are metals that can be enameled.

Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia

July 26, 2020

Q. Hi. Is it possible to enamel silver plated items? Would I have to know what the underlying metal is? For instance, a silver plated bowl? I assume the plating is over copper, but it may be steel. Anyway, is this possible? Thank you

Anne Neeb
- New Orleans Louisiana

August 2020

A. Hi Anne. It can depend on what the word 'enamel' means to you :-)

It is certainly possible to apply a clear coat paint or even a colored 'enamel' paint to silver plated items. But if you are thinking of molten glass 'enamels' like used in cloisonne, Goran (who is a metals conservator at a museum) is telling you that the temperatures required to melt the glass are not compatible with plated products and I think he's right :-(

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
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