How to Make a Test Plate of Enamels

Demo for the Week! Making Color Test Plates.  

How to make a test a plate of enamel. Necessary to see the true enamel color once fired. What you see in the container un-fired is not what it looks like when fired.

First big reason I go about it this way, is all colors of the same family are here. Making a color test plate as you see below allows me to see how close the colors are to each other which gives me the opportunity use them to shade from light to dark.

Second and even more important is to see the different melting times of each enamel. These enamel dots were all applied at the same time and fired all at once. One did not melt = means it is a harder firing enamel.  If you lay it down next to one that melts quicker you will have cracking between the two enamel colors.

Third, I can see which pink enamels have yellow in them or blue in them. This tells me the ones with a yellow base will burn sooner than ones with a blue base.

Color-Plate

 

On to making the plate,

You can pause the slide show when you need to.

Clean the Copper sheet of 18ga.using comet cleanser or penny brite. The copper will be bright and the water should run off. A good sign the metal is clean.

My counter enamel is moist and I add a mixture of one part Klyre-Fire to five parts water. The Klyre-Fire acts like glue to keep the enamel from falling off when you flip it over the add the flux on the front side of your test plate. Add counter enamel to the back and remove excess liquid with the brush, turn the plate over and add flux.

Fire the enamel test plate,  I use 1450 degrees, for 1 minute to 1minute and 15 seconds, in my kiln.

Next prep fine silver foil, using 120 grit sand paper.This is accomplished by burnishing the fine silver foil on the sand paper with a small flat tool, like a ruler. This puts small holes in the foil so it will not trap air bubbles when fired.

Gently brush off the back of the fine foil so no sand from the paper is on it.

Lay the foil on the fired fluxed plate of copper.

And fire in kiln.

After removing the plate from the kiln burnish the foil down.

Now I am ready to apply flux for fine silver. I am only applying flux here to one side, I want to leave some of this fine silver exposed as I want to use this plate also to test some enamels directly on silver. There are a few that you can fire directly on fine silver with no flux, but you have to test to know.

Fire,

Add my color dots of enamel I want to test. These enamels have been washed in distilled water.

Fire,

And now you know how to make a test plate for enamel. This test plate is for enameling on Fine Silver. If you want to enamel on copper just skip adding the fine silver foil. Also if you are enameling on copper turn the temperature up to 1550 and fire to get a beautiful gold color to the copper sheet.

I would like to mention this plate with all the pink colors on it is .5″ x 3″. And the dots are small that would equal one layer of enamels. Not very much. Just remember you want to see the true color of the enamel and be able to see through it specially if you are enameling on fine silver.  If this is one layer think about how much it will darken also with 4-5 layers.

 

Color Plates and Understanding Expansion of Your Enamels

9 thoughts on “How to Make a Test Plate of Enamels

  1. Lisa

    Hello, I was wondering if you could give me the name of the brand of transparent enamels you use I’m in the uk and struggling to find any brighter colours for example pinks yellows etc, I’m perhaps not searching correctly but your pinks test plate looks beautifully bright! Is there a best brand?

    Reply
    1. Patsy Croft Post author

      Hi Lisa,

      I use Ninomiya and Soyer 90% of the pinks are Ninomiya, you can order them from Coral at Enamelworks Supply. She is in Seattle Washington. I know she will ship to you.

      Thanks for the visit!

      Reply
  2. Marielle

    Hi Patsy,

    Thank you so much for all this amazing information. I’m just starting with enamels and I’m so happy with my early results! I intend to order a kiln very soon because I’m not thrilled with the Paragon I use for metal clay. I chose the Model #55F-TEW, because I also want to play with fusion. Am I making a good choice or should I stick with a kiln for enamel only?
    Also, I’m trying to find Bovano #3 flux and I can’t seem to be able to have it shipped to Canada. Do you know of a supplier who would?

    Thank you! :o)

    Reply
    1. Patsy Croft Post author

      Msrielle,

      I think with metal clay you need to ramp and hold and then go down like the 55F-3bkw. If not then the 55F-TEW is great for enameling and fusion.

      Patsy

      Reply
    2. Patsy Croft Post author

      Marielle,

      I forgot you asked about the Bovano #3. If you call Bovano ask for Sharon and see if she will ship it. If she will not let me know and I will try to help you.

      Patsy

      Reply
  3. Sher

    Hi Patsy,

    I’ve decided to completely reorganize all of my enamels. As part of this project, I am going to redo all of my test plates so that they are by color family like the way you have all of your pinks lined up. In your slide show, you show putting flux on one half so that you can test on fine silver and on flux. I am trying to determine if I want to do this on all of my plates.

    My questions are: when you are enameling a cloisonne piece, how can you put your warm colors directly on the silver while building up other cloisons that have a flux base. It seems like the color on the silver would receive too many firings and could burn out. Are you adding paler colors on top to keep the level of that cloison up to the same level as the other cloisons? Does the hard flux under the other cloisons next to the ones that do not have flux cause uneven pressure throughout the piece and increase the chance of cracking or does the color going directly on the silver need to be as hard of an enamel as the flux being used in the other cloisons? Does the color that is directly on the silver need to be in it’s own cloison or can it sit next to flux in the same cloison and must it be the same hardness?

    Thanks,
    Sher

    Reply
    1. Patsy Croft Post author

      Hi Sher,

      Having all my plates showing all the enamel in a family helps me gradate in that color from dark to light with a prefect transition. It is a good bit of work but to me really worth it.

      I use flux Bovano #3 for fine silver in my cloisonné. Once in a while I come across a need to work directly on fine silver as in Champleve. So I test enamels at that time without flux. If that was my primary enameling technique, then I would test them all.

      To answer this…My questions are: when you are enameling a cloisonne piece, how can you put your warm colors directly on the silver while building up other cloisons that have a flux base.

      I do not. If I am doing cloisonné all cells have flux. Some cells will have 2 or even 3 layers of flux before a warn color goes in. I decide this by how deep the cell are, how many firings I will be doing, so I do not burn my warm colors.

      2nd question… Are you adding paler colors on top to keep the level of that cloison up to the same level as the other cloisons?

      YES, as I work up to the top of a cell wall, I continue rouse enamels in the color family getting lighter and lighter. I find if I do this instead of using a finishing flux I get riches colors to my work.

      3rd question….Does the hard flux under the other cloisons next to the ones that do not have flux cause uneven pressure throughout the piece and increase the chance of cracking or does the color going directly on the silver need to be as hard of an enamel as the flux being used in the other cloisons? Does the color that is directly on the silver need to be in it’s own cloison or can it sit next to flux in the same cloison and must it be the same hardness?

      It would cause problems, but all cells have flux.

      Happy Enameling!

      Reply

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