Friday, October 17, 2008

Enameling Tutorial IV: Sift and Dump

"Sift and Dump" is a rather inelegant name for a super useful technique. Remember back in grade school when you made drawings with glue and glitter? This is the same concept, except instead of glue you use ink or oil, and instead of glitter you use powdered enamel.

-Basic enameling materials listed in my Intro To Enameling tutorial
-Something to draw your design with:
Pen with liquid ink. You'll want to pick something that draws a fairly thick line of liquid ink and doesn't dry too quickly.
Brush and squeegee oil or A-5 oil. These are special oils made for enameling- available from enamel supply companies like Thompson Enamel
A-5 oil marking pen. This is a special ball point pen filled with A-5 oil. It is very convenient for this technique. Also available from enamel supply companies.

-Start by firing a layer of counter enamel on the back of your piece. Then fire a base coat on the front. You might need two or three coats to get a smooth surface and consistent color.

-Use your pen or brush and oil to apply a linear design to the fired enamel. Immediately sift a thin layer of a contrasting color over the design. Pick up the piece and carefully tap off the excess enamel powder. The enamel should stick to the wet ink or oil, and fall off everywhere else.

-Dry the piece thoroughly and fire it in the kiln or with your torch. Try experimenting with different types of pens and brushes to get different line qualities. You can also overlap multiple layer of designs or combine with sgraffito or stencils.


ozmommi said...

H Alison,
Thank you for the great tutorial on copper etching. Your short yet complete article was straight to the point and gave us all the information needed to get started and immediately begin etching. Thank You.
Now, Ihave just begun enameling. Painting with Fire book is a torch firing method. Fantastic fun and a shorter less complicated way with beautiful results. Iwas wondering if you have any experience with vitreous liquid enamels? I have a few , but don't really know how to use them.
If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them.
Thanks again,
Bayou Crab Metals

Copperheart said...

Hi Ozmommi,
I don't have a ton of experience with liquid enamels but I have used them a little. There are several different formulations available, but basically you either dip a piece of metal into the liquid enamel, or pour or paint it on. Make sure it dries completely and then you fire it the same way you fire powdered enamels. Liquid enamel is great for 3-D pieces and base coats, and it can give you interesting effects when applied over other enamels. It's perfect for doing sgraffito work over a fired layer of another color. Just apply a coat of liquid enamel, let it dry and scratch through to the color underneath. Do a little experimentation and see what you can come up with. I would recommend checking out Linda Darty's book The Art of Enameling. Have fun!