Monday, 19 December 2011

Enamelling - a new adventure

Expanding one's artistic and creative skills by trying out a totally new medium, can be exciting and enervating. It can lead to important self-discoveries as you try out new ideas, finding some which will inspire you,  and some which are hugely challenging for you, as you work outside of your usual "comfort zone" .   

I have just returned from doing an enamelling course.

Enamelling, in the way I tried it, was a magical fusion of art and craft. Creating an enamel image on a piece of flat copper, or decorating a copper bowl, was like drawing and painting all at the same time.  I was able to create shapes, edges, and drifting colour effects by manipulating the enamel powders, which are, simply,  fine particles of coloured glass, which are fused to the copper by heat in a kiln. 

I found myself unable to respond quickly and immediately to the changing "needs" or demands of an oil, pastel or watercolour image. This was uncomfortable and disturbing for a dyed-in-the-wool painter of figurative subject matter!  However, what I discovered instead was that the alchemy of heat and glass and metal led to surprising and unexpected results,  which, for me, was all at the same time scary, novel, and charged with excitement. I had to learn to expect the unexpected, and to respond accordingly.   

As you can see from the photo above, I produced both bowls and flat panels.  The bowls were heart-stoppingly unpredictable;  I truly had to learn to "go with the flow" - bit of a pun there, since enamel on a curved surface will flow, often in unexpected ways.   I discovered that every bowl is unique, and in some of my bowls, there is an unseen story of emotional turmoil....some bowls which emerged from the kiln causing despair and despondency, were only successful after many a deep breath, and further firings with heart in mouth.  The panels, on the other hand, were easier to control, and provided me with a way to work small - something I have never done successfully before - and I will certainly explore this further; I love the strength of the colours, some of which are opaque, and some transparent, built up in many layers which gives them great depth.   I also enjoy the finish of the works - they glow, like small jewels, and look like small, beautifully varnished oils, with impasto effects in some cases, or watercolours behind glass in others.  

I feel these little panels will look rather special either framed or perhaps displayed on a miniature easel on a I have decided to acquire a small kiln and spend a proportion of my time exploring this fascinating new medium .


apologies for the poor photography...I have yet to find out how to photograph shiny panels!

 I would encourage all who read my blog to try out something new once in a while.  you just might discover a new path to follow, one which may provide new insights and ideas which will, in turn, feed into your other work.

Christmas is fast approaching, and I am sure many of you will be busy for a time with family and friends. I hope I may be forgiven if I miss a week, tho I will try to find the time to write over the holidays.  I wish you joy.


  1. oh wow these are really lovely

    I'd love to do that

    I agree totally about trying new things. Last year I tried kiln fused glass (curved, slumped dish/plate, jewellery,flat images) and this year I'm booked to try stained glass :>)

  2. "Glowing jewels" certainly describes these beauties. No wonder you've been captivated by this medium.

  3. thank you for your interest and comments, everyone! So glad you like them, very encouraging.

  4. These are absolutely seems you definitely overcame any despair and despondency you may have felt to go on and produce these gems.


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