I am doing a lot of experimenting this summer while I can have the windows open and the fan system going. Most of the enamels used below are old Thompson lead-based enamels that I wet pack. Even when I use non-leaded enamels (like on the beads. You can’t wet pack these; I use the dip and fire method), I wear a respirator, and use eye protection.
It’s kind of tricky wet packing on curved surfaces but it can be done with a little practice. I’ve tried Klyr Fire, gum tragacanth, gum arabic and water as a binder. I think I prefer the gum tragacanth. I was wandering around in Dick Blick the other day and saw something in the ceramics department called Amaco Gum Solution. The directions say it can be used for dry and wet enameling. Since it sells for half the cost of Klyr-fire, I might give it a try in the future.
There are two relatively new Ning enameling groups. One is Painting with Fire moderated by Barbara Lewis. Her eagerly awaited (by me) book torch-fired enamel jewelry is due out in September. The other group is Grains of Glass moderated by Trish White. This group attracts every level of enamelist from all over the world. I belong to both groups and highly recommend them.