I wanted to learn how to enamel so badly and was frustrated I could not find classes in my area for the longest time. So, I bought a couple of books on the subject and began to work my way through them. All was good as I began work on opaque enamels, but when it came to transparents, things got a bit more complex.
Some opaque enamels need to be washed first, but all transparents must be washed. As I read through the details on how to wash and then either dry them or store them wet, it seemed terribly complex.
Then I saw someone do it and it cleared things up immediately. The photo above shows some enamels I am washing. Basically, I use a clear cup, add water (I use tap, but depending on the mineral content in your water, distilled may be better), let it settle, and pour off the water keeping the enamel in the cup. Repeat until the water is clear.
I store my enamels dry so I put the wet enamel in a little aluminum foil pouch and set it on top of the kiln. The heat from the kiln helps speed up the drying process. Here are two bags of the same enamel; one has been washed and one has not. The white powdery substance (called the fines) is what you are washing away.
Reminds me of when I was pregnant with my son. I read books on how to give the baby a bath and thought – oh, my goodness, I’ll never get this done without killing the baby. All it took was watching my mother do it one time, and things were just fine.