In this digital workshop I will show you how I shape metal bases with very simple hand tools, and how to clean them in preparation for enamelling. I also explain the technical aspects which make a domed base interesting in your work.

This is a downloadable three hour HD video class (7.1 GB)

+ Handout (1.4 MB)

what you need to know

Complete beginners can follow this class, and more seasoned enamellers might also find content of interest (see below).

If you're a beginner, I recommend that you watch and read my video and article Introduction to Vitreous Enamel. Once you have shaped and prepared metal bases, you can begin enamelling. I focus on kiln firing, so you need access to an enamelling kiln in order to get started, or follow instruction on torch firing elsewhere.

You can follow up with my Wet packing & gradations class and my free video How I make colour palettes.

You can buy my classes with a 20% discount if you join the Intermediate or Producer tier in my Patreon. This is a good deal, you get to view all of my Patreon content and get the class for less. Once you’re logged in to Patreon, visit this page to purchase.


You can view the contents of the class in the chart below. This is also a handy navigation tool to follow the class at your pace, using the timestamps (and is also available as a PDF when you download the class). Click on the screenshots to enlarge. In part 2, tools, you can see the tools necessary to follow this class. In addition you need a pickle pot and a kiln or torch for annealing. I have strived to keep it simple so you don't need a big investment to get started.

timestampscreenshotchapter / subchapter
00:03:22why dome?
technical aspects
00:07:28thickness and size
00:08:35selecting shapes: sketch
browsing & selection
geometric shapes
cutting out templates
00:12:48transferring shapes
onto copper sheet
00:14:09cutting shapes off
the copper sheet
00:49:27making wooden shapers
01:01:48shaping thin bases
with hand tools
small circles
large circle
trillion triangles
rounded corner triangles
ovoid with two corners
shield and beak shapes
freeform shape
02:13:29shaping thicker panels with hammer and anvil (traditional enamel panel)
02:36:14shaping a silver blank
with two hammers
02:50:57bonus content:
versatility experiment
02:56:00end credits

Versatility experiment

During filming of this class, I conducted an experiment to test the versatility of hand shaping methods. I cut 5 extras of the pentagon blank, and shaped them in different ways to achieve varied results. I then enamelled them all the same way and compared them. I added this as bonus content to the class, and you can view the results below. With hand tools, the possibilities are endless, since you don't have the limitations of a machine. The only limit is your creativity.