Stage V

The coating of the plate with white is the next stage. The temperature of fusion of the white glaze is lower than that of the gray, so that the plate will remain a shorter time in the stove, or be submitted to a somewhat lower temperature. The latter system is to be strongly recommended in order to prevent any possibility of fusion of the ground mass. The white should be made as liquid as possible consistent with good results. The advantages of thin coatings have already been explained, but if the mixing is too thin the ground coating will not only be irregularly covered, but, in fusion, bubbles will be produced, owing to the steam escaping, and these are fatal to the sale of any kind of enameled ware. When the plate has been thoroughly dried and fusion has taken place, slow and steady cooling is absolutely essential. Special muffles are frequently built for this purpose, and their use is the means of preventing a large number of wasters. Before putting on the glaze, care must be taken to remove the gray from any part which is not to be coated. The temperature of fusion should be about 1,890° F.,* and the time taken is about 5 minutes.

Stage VI

The stencil must be cut with perfect exactitude. The letters should be as clear as possible, proportioned, and spaced to obtain the best effects as regards boldness and appearance. Stencils may be cut either from paper or from specially prepared soft metal, called stencil metal. The former are satisfactory enough when only a few plates are required from one stencil, but when large quantities are required, say, 60 upward, metal stencils should be used. The paper should be thick, tough, and strong, and is prepared in the following manner: Shellac is dissolved in methylated spirits to the ordinary liquid gum form, and this is spread over both sides of the paper with a brush. When thoroughly dry a second protective coating is added, and the paper is then ready for stencil work. The stencil cutter's outfit consists of suitable knives, steel rule, scales of various fractions to an inch, a large sheet of glass on which the cutting is done, and alphabets and numerals of various characters and types. For ordinary lettering one stencil is enough, but for more intricate designs 2, 3, and even 4 stencils may be required. In the preparation of the plates referred to in the paragraph preceding Stage I, only 1 stencil would be necessary. The paper before preparation would be measured out to the exact size of the plate, and the letters would be drawn in. The cutting would then be done, and the result shown at Fig. 1 would be obtained, the black parts being cut out. The lines or corners of each letter or figure should be perfectly clear and clean, for any flaw in the stencil will be reproduced on the plate.

* Melting a piece of brass will represent this temperature.

Stage VII

The next stage is the application of the blue enamel. The operation is almost identical with that of the white, but when the coating has been applied and dried, the lettering must be brushed out before it is fused. The coating is generally applied by a badger brush after a little gum water has been added; the effect of this is to make the blue more compact.

Stage VIII

The next operation is brushing; the stencil is carefully placed over the plate, and held in position, and with a small hand brush with hard bristles the stencil is brushed over. This brushing removes all the blue coating, which shows the lettering and leaves the rest of the white intact. When this has been done, the stencil is removed and the connecting ribs of the lettering—some of which are marked X in Fig. 2—are then removed by hand, the instrument generally being a pointed stick of box or other similar wood.

Stage IX

Fusing follows as in the case of the white glaze, and the plate is complete. One coat of blue should be sufficient, but if any defects are apparent a second layer is necessary.

The white and blue glazes are applied only on the front side of the plate, the back side being left coated with gray only.