Sunday, 23 May 2010

Enamelling colour palettes

Palettes are necessary tools in order to control the outcome of a particular colour in enamelling, since there are many factors that can alter its appearance. I like to make very complete palettes wich show me how the colour will look over different metals and over other enamels. This has to be done with every colour.

Here the process is illustrated in three videos:

The annealing, pickling and rinsing of the copper bases.

By the end, you can also hear someone cutting vegetables in the kitchen.  Sorry about that ;)

This video shows the process of the the first layer. I apply tragacanth gum to the back of the copper, then counter enamel with a spatula and dry it a bit with absorbent paper.

Then I wet pack the fronts with flux, opal, opaque white and transparent enamel. I then fire the first layer.

After the next layers, these stripes of different enamels will show me how this colour looks over different backgrounds and direclty over the copper.

Here, after firing the first layer, I am cleaning the edges of the palettes with a lapidary stone, this, when working with copper, has to be done after every fire to remove oxide flakes, but I only show it once in these videos, because it is not a lot of fun to watch ;) I am then applying stripes of silver and gold foil, and firing them.

While the enamel is still hot and viscous out of the kiln, I press the foil into the enamel with some tissue, and fire again for a moment to fire the residue off.

Then I apply silver flux to half the surface of the silver stripe, and (not shown) fire it and clean the edges.

Next I apply a layer of transparent enamel all over, and (not shown) fire it and clean the edges. Some palettes have scratches because I used the lapidary stone to remove some impurities attached to the surface of the previous layer.

The following step is a layer of transparent enamel on half of the palette.

Once the palettes are finished, they show me how one and two layers of the transparent colour looks directly on copper, over opaque white, over opal white, over copper flux and over gold foil. I can also see how the colour looks directly over silver foil, and over fluxed silver foil. Here is my palette layer diagram:

These are opaque enamel palettes. Opaques do not let the light through, and so look the same on all surfaces. Therefore these palettes are much simpler.


  1. Sorry I didn't comment here before- I forgot it was a feed. :)

    Thanks for the information! I'm particularly interested in the labeling, because, like you, stickers have fallen off.

    What metal thickness do you use? I'm asking both because I'm looking at making a ton of new samples myself, but also so I can keep an eye out for shapes similar to this for you, if yours are discontinued. Thanks. :)

  2. Oh, now I realised that syndicated entries can be tracked, so I shouldn't miss any new comments anymore. I am so new to blogger, I don't know how to subscribe to one reply thread, will you get notification for this?

    Anyway, for reference, link of your previous question:

    To answer your question, I haven't measured (and don't have a tool to measure at the moment), but these premade ones must be around 0.5 or 0.6 mm. I don't think the thickness matter so much if they are domed. I will probably use the thinner sheet I have around after I run out (its maybe 0.3 mm).

    Thanks for the offer, but if you find them they should be the exact measurement (do you want me to take it?), since I plan on making a special drawer for them. That would probably be quite difficult. I think these kinds of things can be ordered to be stamped it you want a lot, though.


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