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Washing, drying, and storing enamels

BASICS_washing enamel 1
Figure 1
BASICS_washing enamel 2
Figure 2
BASICS_washing enamel 3
Figure 3
To prevent transparent enamels from appearing cloudy after they’re fired, you must wash them before you use them. Washing removes the porcelain-dust by-product, or “fines,” left by the manufacturing process.

Place the enamel powder in a small cup, and fill the cup with distilled water. After a few moments, the enamel grains will settle to the bottom; the water will be cloudy (Figure 1).

Pour the cloudy water into a coffee filter that you’ve placed in a large cup. The filter will catch the fines (Figure 2). Refill the cup containing the enamel with distilled water, and repeat this process until the runoff water is no longer cloudy. You can save the fines from the coffee filter and add them to your counterenamel.

If you are using the enamels for wet-packing techniques (such as cloisonné), you’re ready to go once you’ve cleaned them. If you are going to sift your enamels or save them for future use, you need to dry them.

To dry enamels, place the clean, wet enamels on a creased sheet of paper. Cover the enamels with another sheet of clean paper while the grains dry; this prevents dust or other contaminants from getting into your enamels. When the enamels are dry (they’ll look like dry sand), use the crease in the paper to pour the dry powder into a container that has a tight-fitting lid or stopper (Figure 3). Label the container with the enamel color code and mesh number.
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