From 16 April – 9 June 2019
An exploration of the use and application of enamel as a material featuring new collections of jewellery and glass by Guild Members.
Enamel is one of various surface treatments I can use to add colour and/or detail to my glass vessels and sculptures. The enamels I use are specialist glass enamels, some of which have been in use in stained glass applications since the Middle Ages. They can be sifted onto the glass dry, but are more usually mixed with a medium and applied with a brush or other tool, and then fired in the kiln to fuse the colour into the top surface of the glass. Enamels can be used in a whole variety of ways with glass. I often use enamels to add colour to my pieces, rather than, or as well as, coloured glass, because I can create a more interesting surface, and a more subtle colour, with variations in tone and texture. Enamels are also good for adding small but significant detail, or for creating a thin colour layer which can be scratched into before firing (scraffito) or engraved with a drill afterwards. The colour of glass enamels depends very much on the temperature at which they are fired – too much heat, and you can lose them altogether – and different colours fire at different temperatures. So a piece with several different colours can require a lot of careful planning.
Vitreous enamel is a wonderful versatile medium to work with and lends itself to a huge variety of creative sensibilities. Historically, enamel has been used for street signage as well as Lalique’s exquisite jewellery. It can also be both a rewarding as well as a frustrating medium to use and requires much patience and persistence.
I use vitreous enamel as a material that can help me to strengthen delicate and often fragile metal pieces; to introduce colour, texture, mark-making and monochrome drawing to my work. I’m interested in how the qualities of vitreous enamel and the metal can be worked in partnership often with intriguing and unexpected results.
Recently i have been looking at the beautiful roundness of form of letters, when put together. Not so that they spell anything in particular, but just for their abstract, positive and negative shapes.
I have worked in enamel for a number of years and have recently started to produce a fruit and veg range of enamel panels. Enamel works well because the bold designs really lend themselves to application with stencils. Vibrant colours and the excitement of seeing what comes out of the kiln is what makes me love enamelling.
Enamel is the fusion of powdered glass to metal via a red-hot kiln for a few minutes, transforming the materials to something else. Unlike ceramics, results are seen almost immediately and you can watch the colours change as the metal cools down. There are also so many ways that enamel can be used from tiny silver stud earrings, to great big underground station signs on steel. It is so fascinating.