and speaking of enamel, as I was earlier this week…

Experiments in enamel. On steel. With rust. Steel rust. So it’s steel on enamel on steel. A steel sandwich.

I’ve made a steel sandwich.

I have finally applied some of my collected rust to some white enamel. The substrate is from a steel can (Ok, you got me, it was a can that held a whiskey bottle…) that I sandblasted, so the metal is not perfectly flat.

Rust on enamel on steel. Test sample on steel can, Melissa Cameron, 2013.
Rust on enamel on steel. Test sample on steel can, Melissa Cameron, 2013.

As you can see there are two sets of markings visible on the piece that are a result of the process. There is the maroon-brown tiny specs that have good coverage and then there are some black larger pieces, which I think are actually interference. The way I collected the rust was to rub some quite fine-mesh steel wool over a rusted piece of steel, capturing it in the little bag (yup, that one you can see in the image, behind the sample and my lovely tweezers. I’ve been practicing ‘signing’ my works, so you can see also on them – to the right hand side – that I’ve labelled my tweezers and added the date. BTW, I did not make my tweezers! I find 3’s hard to engrave, so I had to include the date in my practice… But I digress…) I have a feeling that the black marks also on the surface are actually smallish sections of burned steel wool. On the piece these black particles have more texture than the red coloured section of the ‘real’ rust, which adds fuel to my idea that they’re larger steel particles, which brought with them more substance than the actual rust dust.

When I applied the rust dust it was really fine and powdery, so it settled in clumps on the surface of the enamel. Worried that I wasn’t getting much coverage (and I would lose that which was only sitting on the surface and not actually in the enamel) I then stirred it into the still-wet enamel fairly thoroughly. I remember thinking at the time that I should have stopped combining earlier, as there were some nice track marks of clean enamel through the rust surface earlier in the process, which got lost as I kept combining the two. Still, that’s something to work on for next time.

Also, having had a go at an old-fashioned dip-pen on enamel thanks to Nancy Bonnema at my recent enamel class, I’m now wondering if the super-fine rust dust would mix into a pigment to be drawn with easily.

I’ve added this experiment to the usual place for enamel news, the Enamel on Steel section of this blog.