What Is Enamelware?

Here at Dooney & Daughters we like our enamelware. Light, functional and attractive it's great to cook with, to serve on and to take on picnics. As we have been collecting it in our homes and for the shop, I thought it would be interesting to look at the history behind the popular product and to find out what enamelware is.

Enamel tea pot in the traditional colours from Sweden of cream with green detailing

Enamel tea pot in the traditional colours from Sweden of cream with green detailing.

Enamel is made by fusing powdered glass to a substrate, e.g. metal, glass or ceramic, by firing at a very high heat (usually between 750 and 850°C). The powder melts, flows, and then hardens to a smooth, durable coating. Firing the enamel at such high temperatures also makes the product incredibly durable and suitable for use on every cooker (including induction) and in the dishwasher - but please don't put it in your microwave!

Cast iron pot that has been enamelled

Cast iron pot that has been enamelled.

Ancient Egyptians applied enamels to stone objects, pottery and jewelry and over the centuries the practice continued with it being a popular technique for jewelry and objects. However it wasn't until the 1760s that the history of enamel cookware begins in Germany. People were looking for a cooking surface that wasn't porous or likely to rust and enamelling was seen as a way to solve the issue. Initially the enamel was applied to the inside of a cast iron pot and it wasn't until the 1850s that mass production really started. From the late 19th century, when enamel was applied to steel instead of cast iron, it became very popular with big variations in colours and patterns across Europe, Britain and North America.

Highly decorative bowl with lid.

Highly decorative bowl with lid.

Enamelware saw a decline after World War 2 as new products were available. However it has definitely seen a resurgence in popularity both across New Zealand and around the world. With new items being produced in classic colours and second-hand pieces being very collectible.

White with a blue rim enamelware is traditionally from England

White with a blue rim enamelware is traditionally from England.

We hope you enjoy your enamelware as much as we do!

Nicolette


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