Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Enameling Tutorial III: Stencils

Stencils are a great way to create multi-colored designs in enamel. I find that they are especially good for bold geometric forms or allover patterns. You can cut your own stencils out of paper or use found materials (screen, lace, anything with holes)

-Basic enameling materials listed in my Intro To Enameling tutorial

-Paper to cut stencils- plain white copy paper works well, as does brown paper toweling.

-Razor knife, small scissors, or paper punches to cut stencils


-Found materials to use as stencils


-If you are using a paper stencil, cut your design out with scissors, a knife, or hole punches. I made this polka dot pattern with a standard office hole punch.

-Fire a layer of counter enamel on the back of your piece. Then fire a base coat on the front. This will be the background color of your design. You might need two or three coats to get a smooth surface and consistent color.

-Spray or brush the fired enamel with holding agent and place the stencil where you want it to go. The holding agent will soak into the paper and hold it in place.

-Sift your second color of enamel over the stencil. You can sift a thin layer to allow the base color to break through, giving you a softer effect, or sift a thick layer for a bolder contrast.

-Carefully lift the paper stencil off the enamel piece. If any little crumbs of enamel fall off the paper and land on your piece where you don't want them, carefully brush them away or pick them off.

-Dry your piece thoroughly and fire it in the kiln or with your torch.

You can experiment with different combinations of transparent and opaque, different thicknesses of layers, and different firing times. Overfiring the piece will give you a soft fuzzy design. You can also try sugar-firing (partially firing) the stencilled design, giving the stencilled design a raised texture.

Check out my sgraffito tutorial to learn another way to work a multi-colored design in enamel!


Unknown said...

Wow, looked through this and some of your other stuff, You are an amazing artist!

Copperheart said...

thanks Joanna!

Unknown said...

Hi! I love your work! But I did have a question...You mentioned sugar-firing; how do you do this with a beehive kiln?

Copperheart said...

Hi Constantine to sugar fire enamel, just watch the surface of the enamel as it is firing, and remove the piece from the kiln when enamel is just starting to fuse, while the grainy texture of the enamel is still visible. Just check the enamel frequently during firing to get the timing right.