'Just past the sugar' – Plique-à-Jour with Phil Barnes

Lynette Williams

There were twelve of us who attended the Plique-a-Jour workshop with Phil Barnes at the guild conference in Leicester. My daughter Emily and I were extremely excited we were certainly not disappointed. Phil began the workshop explaining that we were not going to produce a pretty finished piece of plique-à-jour, but he aimed to demonstrate his approach to the technique.

The aim is of Plique-à-jour I believe, is to let as much light pass through the cell as possible. The use of paler colour enamels, a regular cell size to give strength, and to cut down tension problems, will all help to ensure a successful and hopefully better looking piece”.

The principle we used is the same process which Phil uses within his workshop, that is the free laying of enamel, no added gum, no backing, no use of mica, or foil, relying on a finely ground enamel suspended within the cell, using the natural capillary action of water to fill the relatively small spaces. The weight of enamel is important, and even more is the control of firing. While the actual process of plique-à-jour is not that difficult, however we soon realised that patience is paramount when working on a piece of plique-à-jour.