Back to Basics Workshop, with Phil Barnes

Dafydd Evans

It was with some excitement that the 12 of us streamed into Phil Barnes' workshop. Imagine, a whole day’s tuition from one of Britain's acknowledged top professional enamellers. Sure, the workshop was titled “Back to Basics”, but then they had to call it something, didn’t they? What tips, tricks, wrinkles, short cuts and secrets might we learn from this Master!

Phil outlined the day; we’d be preparing enamels, and then wet laying them on a domed surface, and then a bead. One colour; no shading, no transitioning, no champlevé; just a smooth perfect surface was to be our goal. One brave person voiced the thoughts of several; “But that’s hard, and I don’t bead!” Phil was patient; ‘No, he didn’t bead either, but it wasn’t about the bead, it was about the technique. Like practicing scales. If you can prepare enamels properly, and then wet lay a bead to achieve a perfect fired surface, everything else is easy’.