Enameling on Copper Prep
Copper is one of the most popular metals to enamel on. Whether using transparent, opaque or opal enamels you usually need a flux, as you do when enameling on most metals. There are some colors of enamel you will find, you can get by with out flux when enameling on copper, but you will have to run a test to find out.
To prep your copper for enameling your flux coat used should be very fine ground enamels, 150 mesh, this will ensure quick fusing of the enamel coverage and eliminate oxidation. =little brown spots on the metal.
Copper is the one metal that can be fired higher also. I fire my enamel on gold or fine silver at 1425 degrees where as copper is better suited at 1500 and even higher. I have see enameling artist fire at 1550 degrees and higher to achieve a beautiful gold color.
One complaint of copper is the oxidation. But some artist use this to their advantage of design. Leaving the oxidation and enameling over it. You can get some very beautiful colors in the copper, complimenting the enamels.
It is best when working with copper and enamel, to apply enamel to both sides of the metal and fire at once. You can do this by adding Klyre-Fire to the enamel on the back. This is called the counter enamel. A few drops of Klyre-Fire added to your wet enamel, makes the enamel stick to the back so you can flip it over and apply enamel to the front and have one firing. The real advantage to this is you will have less copper flakes floating inside your kiln which can cause specks in your enamels only to show up after fired.
Above left is a cleaned piece of copper, of 18 ga. by using penny brite. In the center photo the wet counter enamel is applied that has Klyre-Fire added. I have used the brush to remove the excess moisture and now can flip it over. The third photo on the right enamels are being sifted on. I have washed the enamels and dried them prior to sifting to have even grain coverage. Once you have full coverage fire at your desired temperature from 1500 – 1550 degrees for approx. 1 minute and 15 seconds. Or until the enamels appear smooth.
This is the base layers applied to copper to to get you started on your enameling project of enameling on copper. If you do not plan to use transparent enamels you can follow the same steps with a hard white or other hard firing enamel base so oxidation does not seep through.