What is enamelling?
Enamelling is the art of fusing glass onto metal. It is durable, lustrous and tactile. A traditional craft, my approach is fresh, clean and contemporary, using hand-cut stencils and sifting techniques.
My inspiration comes from nature – from the world I see around me, from books and from magazines. Recurring images include seedheads, trees and birds.
I absorb everything I see and then interpret it in drawings which I make onto card. Everything I do is designed with the final piece in mind, as I like to cut my stencils directly from my original.
Sifting and Firing
When the stencil has been made it is placed over a piece of copper and powdered vitreous enamel is sifted over the stencil. The stencil is then lifted and the copper panel placed on a trivet (a metal stand with prongs on which pieces can sit). Using a long handled fork and wearing goggles and a glove to protect my eyes from UV rays and my hand from the heat, the piece is placed in my kiln where it is fired to around 800°C. Firings are very short and I love the way the piece glows as it is taken out of the kiln, though it very quickly cools down.
This process is repeated until the design is finished and the whole surface of the panel is covered with enamel. On panels where copper is showing, this has been coated with a sifting of clear enamel known as flux which seals the colour. Once the panel is finished the design and colours are set and will not fade.
With my panels, framing is important to me. Having tried lots of styles in the past, I now use 18mm MDF blocks painted with a toughened endurance matt white paint that can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. I also use this for the bases of my standing figures and for my clock cases. Whilst I now outsource the undercoating of my panels, I still do the top matt coat myself at my dining table to ensure that I get the finish that I want.