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Enamel Thimbles

  


The word “enamel” in our context refers to one coating (usually shiny) over another surface. The enamel we’re referring to is the form called vitreous enamel. This is the result of the fusion of powdered glass to a metal base through the process of heating or firing. At a high temperature (usually between 750 and 850 degrees Celsius) the powder melts and flows and then hardens as a smooth coating over the metal.
 

Once cooled, the enamel needs to be polished to achieve a glassy finish. It can also be applied as a paste and can be transparent or opaque when fired.

 

Vitreous enamel has many wonderful properties: it’s smooth, hard, chemically inert and can take on bright, jewel like colors that last through the ages. The primary drawback is its tendency to shatter or crack when struck or when the metal base is bent. This is probably the reason we have no examples of enamel thimbles prior to the 18th century, even though we have

written records of some made as early as the 1500s.
 
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