Vitreous Enamel Painting – An Overview of Materials and Technique with Tom Ellis (2 DAY WORKSHOP)

So many choices for Enamel painting! Learn from our in-house expert how to use ceramic pigments, acrylic enamels, watercolor enamels, enamel marking crayons and carefree lusters to paint vitreous enamel (glass) on copper and steel.



Who would enjoy this course?

Anyone age 18 or older with basic art enameling experience (such as taking our Intro I course) who wants to learn about materials used in enamel painting and the procedures used to create your inner vision.

What you will learn

Note that all the references to “painting” or “painting enamels” refer specialized vitreous (glass) enamel, not to enamel house paint.

This workshop consists of three projects that will cover many different painting materials and products including ceramic pigments, acrylic enamels, watercolor enamels, enamel marking crayons, and carefree lusters.  We will work on thin copper and enameled steel plates as our ‘canvas’.  Techniques will be practiced using three different projects described below under “What’s Included.”

We will teach you:

  • What are painting enamels
  • What are ceramic pigments
  • How they are made
  • How to use various types of painting materials including ceramic pigments, acrylics, watercolors, enamel marking crayons, and carefree lusters
  • How they are prepared for painting
  • What kind of painting mediums you should use
  • How to prepare painting enamels for application
  • What mixing mediums to use in different situations
  • How to mix painting enamels to broaden your color palette
  • How to apply painting enamels to achieve fine details or washes
  • How to determine the best firing time and temperatures for painting enamels
  • What kind of enamel surfaces are best for painting
  • How to use a crow quill pen for fine details
  • Which additional materials are available that can add beauty to a painted enamel piece
  • How to apply silver or gold foil and carefree lusters for highlights
  • How to transfer a permanent line drawing of your image to a steel tile
  • How, why and when to cover a painting enamel with a clear coat
  • How to create a complete composition using color and contrast
  • How to paint on pre-enameled steel
  • How to paint on thin copper

What’s included

During this two-day workshop you will receive instruction, handouts, demonstrations, hands-on practice, some individual guidance as needed, and time for most students to complete three painting projects:

  1. Project I is a painted custom shaped jewelry pendant or brooch using thin copper, acrylic enamels with silver and gold foil accents. Crow quill pen for needle thin lines will be demonstrated to achieve fine details.
  2. Project II is a 3” x 3” or 4” x 4” 18-gauge enamel on steel plaque using ceramic pigments to achieve shapes, texture, line and colors to create abstract or real imagery. Layers are built up one over the other with clear transparent enamel used in thin layers between coats to create a feeling of depth.

III. Project III is a 4” x 6”, 18-gauge steel plaque that will be used to work on an image that you provide. Your image’s primary outlines will be permanently transferred to the enameled steel tile. Using acrylic enamels, carefree lusters and gold and/or silver foil you will bring your image to life.

Costs include all materials and supplies. In addition, you will get:

  • Access to painting enamels, ceramic pigments, watercolor enamels, acrylic enamels, carefree lusters, enamel marking crayons and more for use during the workshop
  • Use of the extensive Foundation equipment, furnaces, and tools needed to complete your projects
  • On-site access to one of the few retail stores in the US offering enamel and enamel supplies
  • Exposure and inspiration during our breaks from hundreds of beautiful ancient and modern enameled art pieces in our world-class museum, the largest diverse collection of art enamels in the world

What’s so special about Enamel Painting?

Vitreous enamel “painting” has been used for at least 800 years (Grisaille and later Limoges enamel are types of painted enamel, for example), but modern enamels, base metals and materials, and application tools available today expand the possibilities for us.  In fact, without these advantages, it is astounding how 16th and 17th century artists could produce the finely detailed, beautiful enameled portraits and pictures like the ones you will see in our Museum!

With this approach a design is drawn or painted on metal or enamel, using some of the specialized enamels that are available today.  A variety of application approaches can be used, and some of these will be demonstrated.  The result can be a piece of enameled art that has the fine detail, color and variety of composition that you might see in a line drawing or painting but has the beauty and durability of enamel (glass).

About the Instructor

Tom Ellis is our Chief Workshop Instructor and a true expert – he has 45 years of experience with enameling! Tom is an excellent artist and teacher, but his experience is especially deep in the process and techniques of enameling. For many years, he has served as a technical consultant to the only manufacturer of vitreous enamel in the Western hemisphere. He understands the enamel products in great depth, how and why they work, how to use them in combinations, and how to solve problems when you don’t get the result you expected. Frankly, we know of no one else in the world with this type of experience and knowledge.

Here is what some past participants have said about Tom:

“Tom Ellis is an excellent teacher, and I learned more from him in two days than I had in a semester at the art center where I was taking classes…I realized that my teacher here in Chicago doesn’t know how to use the…enamel products properly.” Sheila S., Wilmette, IL

“The hands-on experience added to the expertise of the Instructor, and his willingness to answer questions is invaluable.”

“Excellent instruction, enjoyable projects…one of the best workshops for any medium I have ever attended.” Karen, Heber Springs, AR

“Tom is a great teacher, very patient and funny. Easy to understand.”

Tom Ellis, Our Renowned Instructor

Where it will be held

The workshop will be held at the Carpenter Art Enamel Foundation headquarters at 645 Colfax Avenue in Bellevue, KY, right across the river from Cincinnati.  We are about ten minutes from downtown Cincinnati, but in an area of northern Kentucky that has less traffic and is a bit easier to navigate than the big city.  Although our headquarters is housed in one of the largest facilities in the world dedicated to art enameling, we enjoy being a part of the small river community of Bellevue on the “south bank” of the Ohio river.  In fact, the mayor is on our Board of Directors.

We are tucked away in a small, quiet industrial park off Berry Avenue.  You will find plenty of parking alongside our building and in a large gravel lot in front of the industrial building next door.  For a map and more information, <click here>.

How you should prepare for the course

We recommend you bring photos and photo copies of ideas you may have for a painted piece. You may want to search online or in magazines or to take photos for design inspiration.   We will discuss how you can use these materials for blueprints or inspiration.  If needed, Tom will provide some specific design options for you to follow.

Please do not wear sandals, open-toed shoes, scarves or other clothing with tassels or loose ends that could get caught in tools or equipment.

How to save the cost of this workshop

Young and old of various economic means attend our workshops.  All are welcome!  If you want to save money, we can help.  Of course, you will want to start by becoming a Premium Member and saving 15% off the cost of the workshop <click here to join>.

Travel will be the biggest part of your cost unless you live close by.  Cincinnati is one of the lowest-cost metropolitan areas to visit, but we can help you get the cost even lower!  See this resource page for money-saving travel information that could help you save the entire cost of the workshop, maybe even more: <click here>.  If you don’t have a car when you are in town, we might even be able to give you a ride from a nearby hotel.

In addition, you may want to stay a few days extra days to enjoy some of world-class attractions that the Cincinnati area offers (in addition to our workshops!).  We have listed some of our favorite places here: <click here>.

Cancellation Policy

If cancelled within 30 days of the workshop, no refunds are issued.  If cancelled more than 30 days prior to the workshop, a refund (less a $60 service fee) may be issued if the workshop is fully booked, not including your registration.

If you qualify for a refund, you may apply the total amount to a future workshop conducted in the next 12 months (service fee waived).

Registrations are not transferable.

Class Registration Policy

The Foundation reserves the right to cancel any workshop due to insufficient enrollment and will notify students of any cancellation at least three weeks prior to the start of the workshop. In the event that WWCEF (The Foundation) cancels a workshop the student will receive a full refund.

The Foundation cannot be responsible for airline tickets or other travel costs in the event of a cancellation.

Safety Procedures Policy

The Foundation is committed to the safety of all students. A series of informational safety procedures have been established for all studio areas that involve some risk of injury in the use of certain equipment. Your instructor will go over safety procedures during your workshop but we would also like for you to be aware of your workshop’s risks before you register for a workshop. As a condition of registration we ask that you read the ‘Safety Procedures Policy’ and acknowledge that you have done so upon registration.

Release of Liability

The Foundation makes every effort to ensure students have a safe and meaningful experience while participating in our activities. However, some aspects of work done at The Foundation can involve a certain amount of risk. Work is done with hot equipment i.e. furnaces, kilns and torches. To safeguard The Foundation we ask students to release The Foundation from liability and voluntarily take on the assumption of risk. As a condition of registration we ask that you read the ‘Release of Liability and Voluntary Assumption of Risk’ and acknowledge that you have done so upon registration.

Registration Agreement

By clicking ‘Buy Now’ you acknowledge that you have read and understand the terms above including the ‘Safety Procedures Policy’ and ‘Release of Liability and Voluntary Assumption of Risk’.

This website has a secure website payment system. You will receive a confirmation email after payment.

You also have the option of calling us and paying by check or credit card. A $35 fee will be charged for cancelled checks. Call 859-291-5901 and ask for Tom.

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