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How do you prepare copper for enameling?

Enameling is the process of fusing glass powder to copper, silver, or gold. The fusing temperature is 1450°F/787°C. A small front-loading kiln, a kiln with a bead annealing door, and the Paragon QuikFire are suitable for copper enameling. You will also need either a pyrometer or a digital controller.

The first step in enameling is to prepare the copper.

Enamels come in transparent or opaque. They can be purchased directly from Thompson Enamel at

Start with one of the many pre-shaped copper forms available, or shape and trim the copper to your own design.

You will need an enameling wire rack, available from your kiln supplier. Heat the copper on the enameling rack inside the kiln to about 1400°F/760°C. This will burn off oil or grease. Burning impurities on the copper will form smoke. When the oil and grease have completely burned away, the smoke will disappear and the copper color will change to a purple-red-pale green iridescence. Do not fire the copper any longer than this point. Otherwise excess fire scale will form.

After the copper cools, brush any loose scale from the copper. Use a brush or paper towel, being sure that you do not put any grease or oil onto the copper, such as fingerprints. Clean the copper with a 3M Scotch-Brite® pad. This pad does such a good job that in most cases no further cleaning will be required. Additional copper cleaning products are available from Thompson Enamel, including Sparex No. 2. It is best to clean the copper just before you decorate it. If you wait too long to decorate after cleaning, the copper could collect dust and dirt again.

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