Tracing designs onto enameled surface

Linda – I always used graphite paper. I was working on (fluxed)
copper but I should inagine it would work just as we.lle on silver –


Linda, First, you mention that the project was on silver then you said
that the wires had to be placed on a flux base. If you are using
silver [or gold] wires on a silver base then the first coat of flux is
unnecessary. That is required when firing on copper to prevent the
silver wires from "alloying’ into sterling where they touch the
copper. This does not happen with silver/silver or silver/gold.

Now, how to transfer the design? You will be working on the soft pure
silver base. You can transfer your design by using tracing paper with
the design applied and poking through the paper with a scribe at
strategic spots. The scribe could be a needle. These spots would
probably be points where the ends of wires meet. The points would be
quite small and would disappear under the wires or the enamel. Even a
small scratched line would be helpful to know the direction of the

If you want to use a transfer paper I would use graphite paper rather
than carbon paper. Carbon paper is greasy, graphite is cleaner. You
must do a test to be sure that the graphite burns away under any

I place my wires directly on the silver base and attach them with
Klyrfire. You could use diluted white glue. When the whole thing is
dry I sift a very thin layer of flux over the whole thing and fire. As
the glue burns away the flux begins to fuse and then holds the wires
in place. This flux layer does not even completely cover the metal
base. Its’ job is only to hold the wires.

When bending the wires, keep them in their relative position to each
other until ready to apply them to the base. At this point all the
wires would be sitting on a card or piece of paper waiting to be
applied but they would still be in the configuration of the design. It
is important that the wires be bent and cut to size as accurately as
possible. If they are off by even a smidge then they will not go
together well. This is one of the easiest ways to “lose” a design.

Orchid Rules! Karla in sunny So. California

I have had trouble with Thompson’s Blue Stick causing air bubbles
next to cloisonne wires in subsequent firings. Of course, they only
begin to appear in the final firings. It has been very difficult to
eradicate the bubbles. Alana Clearlake, Emeryville, CA

Hi Linda, What works very well for me is to lay down my first layer of
flux, fire, then trace the design on with Dritz wax free tracing
paper. I then lay on my wires with Klyrfire and let dry before firing
the wires in. The outline is a little fragile, but at least on the
Ninomiya enamels it burns away cleanly in one to two firings. So far
none of the colors have posed a problem. You can get the tracing
paper in the notions section of any fabric store.

Good Luck!


Linda- I have used Pigma pens and others which are fluid to act as a
glue to hold sifted enamel to create designs - ie, you have a layer
such as flux, you roughen the surface by etching, sanding, sand
blasting, etc, and you can then write on the surface with a pigma or
other pen. YOu then can sift enamel over the writing and it sticks to
the written design - you dump the rest of the sifted enamel off and
fire to obtain the design placed in pen - My thinking is that you
could avoid the sifting step and simply use the design as placement
lines for wires - the disadvantage is that the surface must be
roughened but that “rough” surface might also be obtained by firing
the flux layer only to “orange peel” - then writing, then the wire,
etc. Other than using something to scratch the design in the surface
it would seem you would need to roughen or dull the surface in order
to write on it or it will be too “glassy” to retain the design.
Hope this helps!.

First and foremost, I would like to thank all the enamelists for
their suggestions on tracing the drawings onto the metal or flux. I
thought that graphite paper was the way to go and that is what I
originally suggested to my student. Since there is usually many
solutions to a problem I thought I would ask for others experience.
Again thanks. I did learn some things that I haven’t heard before.
And learned that we do all have our own techniques! I fire my flux
onto my silver and then lay my wires on. I learned this technique
from two different teachers that I worked with (we worked strictly
with silver) It is not to protect the silver from the metal, but to
attach the wires to the metal. I find this easier and cleaner way to
work. (my preference) I don’t dry sift any of my enamels onto the
metal, another preference. It saves me time. ( I wet pack my enamels
and clean all my enamels before firing) When I apply my color I like
my wires to be set in place. It also helps to keeps my flux below my
colors where they belong!(unless I do the unmentionable and over
fire) Some of the colors in the enamels I use require a flux on
silver, so this saves me time as well. Also, if I have a stubborn
wire that refuses to lay just right, (I do a lot of beads and half
bead shapes) it allows me to adjust the wires and refire until the
wires are in their proper place. I like room for error and correction
and anything that saves me time! Take Care and Happy Enameling.

Linda Crawford
Linda Crawford Designs
Willits, CA
“Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.”

Carbon paper is your best bet as it will burn off during firing and
does not deposit any oils onto your surface.

Michelle Mina

 I have had trouble with Thompson's Blue Stick causing air bubbles
next to cloisonne wires in subsequent firings. 

I’ve never had that problem, but I don’t paint Blue Stick on the
silver, I take tweezers and lightly touch the wire bottom to the Blue
Stick, sometimes only getting a tiny amount on, not even covering the
whole wire base, so that none of it shows on the silver (none squishing
out). Then I make my first few fills very thin. Haven’t seen any
bubbles. Some people will tell you that using too much Klyr Fire will
also cause bubbles and I’ve seen that happen. Donna in VA