Make sure your piece of copper is clean-no grease, etc. You’ll be
working in strips/stripes across a piece of copper. Cover one strip
so no enamel gets on it-paper, card, whatever. Next to that you can
put a strip of white.
Sift clear flux, like Thompson’s 2020 (clear for silver) or 2040 a
hard clear, over all the rest of the plate. Note: with lead free
opaque enamels, we find that putting down a layer of clear first
(and fusing it) makes for a smoother opaque layer, but it isn’t a
hard and fast rule.
A 3 x 3 piece of copper will allow you to do 4 or 5 or 6 colors on
the same plate, once prepared. Torch it to fuse the ‘clear
transparent layer’ (torch from the back side). Air cool. Clean off
the oxides. Leave a strip of bare copper, a strip of opaque white
(Thompson’s 1060-opqaue and very white is a good choice) and then
clear enamel sifted over the rest or you can ‘wet pack’ (allow to
dry before torching). Next, on top of the now mature areas of clear
enamel, lay a strip of silver foil, which tradition says has been
lightly perforated to allow air to escape (between 2 sheets of sand
paper works) over brushed on water or water plus Klyr fire solution
or your choice. Foil is very light and tends to lift.
Last strip is gold foil, fixed & all dried. Fire all this to
maturity. The foil strips will be then tacked onto the base layer of
flux at this point.
MOST of the time, a layer of clear enamel is fired over the silver
Reds, oranges, some yellows can react poorly with the silver. A layer
of clear protects but allows the transparent color to shine
beautifully. You would sift the clear over the silver strip and fuse
it. Clean off those oxides again. NOW you are ready to choose
transparent colors to sift or wet pack over all the strips (cross
wise), maybe half an inch wide? Or an inch if you need a broader
sample. You do need to clean your transparent colors first. A small
amount of color covered with distilled water, let it settle a
little, pour off the cloudy water. Repeat until you have no clouds.
Or if you have graduated sifters, you can sift one color to 150 grit
and then wash the stuff that collected in the 150 mesh. It can be a
You will use the color test plates over and over in your career, so
be as careful as you will doing a project piece.
Eileen Schneegas, Snow Goose Designs