Enamel, organic

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Enamel on steel
MFA# 1984.525


Enamel painting
MFA# 1984.749

A smooth, glossy, wear-resistant paint that is either baked or air-dried. Enamel paints, made with an oil, oil-alkyd, oil-resin, or synthetic resin (melamine, epoxy, Cellulose nitrate or urea resin) binder, may be sprayed or painted. For baked finished the paints are typically applied to a metal surface then heated to drive off the solvent and produce a uniform, dense, tough finish. Black baked enamels are commonly called 'Japan' because of their resemblance to the black Oriental lacquer.

Enamel on aluminum
MFA# 1992.61

Synonyms and Related Terms

baked coating; baked enamel; organic enamel; enamel paint; peinture-émail (Fr.); émail organique (Fr.); Japan; Ripolin 

Resources and Citations

  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • ASTM, "Standard Terminology Relating to Paint, Varnish, Lacquer and Related Products", Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Section 6, Paints, Related Coatings and Aromatics, ASTM, D16, 7-Jan, Jul-96
  • Tom Rowland, Noel Riley, A-Z Guide to Cleaning, Conserving and Repairing Antiques, Constable and Co., Ltd., London, 1981
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996

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