Enamel Colour Tests
Written by Mark Morris
These are the set of enamel colours that I got from Milton Bridge's British Enamels set. It was quite a lot of work but worth doing. I've got an order for some cloisonné work and need some compatible non-painting colours. The top three rows are the transparent enamels and the bottom two rows the opaque.
The transparent enamels have been sieved to remove the finer particles and then washed to make them as clear as possible. The strips are done on silver since this reflects the light back through the enamel from behind. I've put a square (or whatever shape I happen to have cut out!) of gold foil at the bottom of the strip to see the difference when the enamel is on gold. Some of the reds come out a bit yellow when on top of silver but are nice and warm on the gold.
The opaque strips have copper as the metal base.
I should do two more rows for the opalescent colours, which will be from the fine particle transparent enamel. When the enamel grains are very small (less than 75 microns) then the vitrified enamel traps tiny air bubbles. The result is a semi-transparent, milky colour, quite useful in some applications!
I suspect like many others, I always enjoy trying out new colours. I have recently been trying out some new additions to the list of colours produced by Milton Bridge including a number of yellows, transparent reds and a beautiful transparent purple.
The first I tried was T253 Forsythia. I found this worked best on fine silver with the temperature kept below 750C. It has great clarity and is a really pretty transparent yellow, slightly greener and deeper in tone than LJE214 Ochre. Used direct on sterling silver in a single layer T253 has a slightly greyer hue and two layers produce a greenish brown. It is a golden colour when fired directly onto copper, slightly greener in tone on copper over 263C10 Flux. The copper sample I fired at 795C. I hadn't used that particular flux before and am still uncertain about it as I didn't really have consistent results. I need another set of tests to learn how to achieve consistent clarity with it.
T255 Amber is also beautiful on fine silver, producing a slightly warmer tone. Again it works well directly on fine silver and over LJE200 Flux and is a great addition to the list. I fired this one at 800C without any adverse effect. I also used it on copper over LJE200 Flux and MB202 White. I had a bit of breakthrough of the white, which is probably a bit soft for a base for this kind of test.
016377 Dark Amber produces a brown when direct on sterling silver, a golden brown direct on fine silver but loses transparency. Over LJE200 Flux it has a deeper and more golden tone than T255. I still need have more tests to do over fluxes and on copper.
DB6475 Purple is a glorious rich purple. My first test was over LJE200 Flux and direct on fine silver and both are beautiful. I don't have anything like this shade of purple. It worked well over LJE200 Flux and MB202 white on copper, this slightly softer white breaking through slightly. I also tested it on copper over SJE1012 Flux and MB020064 Opal White and had issues with cracking so feel I need to do some more tests for compatibility with other colours.
261A27 Ruby was an exciting set of tests. Initially I tried it direct on sterling silver, firing at 780C and got a very dark, almost chestnut brown. My second sample I only fired to 770C and had a slightly brighter result. With one layer on sterling over 263C10 Flux and reducing the temperature to 760C I started to achieve a more reddish colour. Two layers direct on fine silver and fired at below 750C produced a much better red and has good transparency. It is a very nice red on copper over 263C10 Flux, this time fired at 780C.
T254 Raspberry is very slightly darker than 261A27 Ruby but also works well when used directly on fine silver and on art clay silver, achieving good transparency. Once again I had better results by keeping the temperature below 750C. The deeper shade is more apparent on copper over 263C10 Flux, again fired at 780C.
I also tried three opaque yellows but have so far only done one test of each on copper. These samples were sifted on and fired at 800C.
DB6647 is a warm yellow, perhaps with a faintly green undertone and I found it fired the most smoothly of the three, possibly being slightly softer firing than the others.
263H55 is a bright primary yellow, possibly slightly harder firing as my first sample isn't quite smooth.
DB6359 is slightly paler yellow and fired well at 800C.
It is quite difficult to describe the differences between these three and I am not sure my photographs will show the slight variations in hue. I have really enjoyed the process of trying these out and although my trials have not been extensive I can see that these colours will all be useful additions to the range. Look out for them, they should be available from Vitrum Signum in the near future.