I hope you have all enjoyed a good rest and some wonderful weather over the last couple of months. I will excuse you for not doing too much enamelling during the summertime but encourage you all to get out your forks, ready for action, right now!
My regular courses finished in May and I then ran a couple of taster sessions along with a busy two day summer school when the sun was at its peak. We were visibly melting in front of four scorching kilns on the hottest day of the year!
But I was struck by the enthusiasm and enjoyment of the learners. It is so rewarding to pass on enamelling skills to such mixed audiences, from my own children, to the wide range of ages and abilities encountered in adult education colleges, to the elderly residents of retirement homes. The lustrous colours and almost instant effects never fail to surprise and enthral the novice enameller.
My own passion for enamelling began after I’d achieved poor results when dabbling in pottery. I would spend hours creating a clay pot and painting on glaze. I found it very frustrating to then be excluded from the firing process, only to return a week later to an unrecognizable item! And I could do nothing to alter it! When I discovered how speedy it is to fire enamel and that I could actually hold the fork and control the process, then add to embellish resulting work, I was hooked! My favourite way to design is to begin with a basic concept, then to nurture and develop the idea with each firing. This tends to be quite an experimental approach and the results can be unique and unexpected.
I try to pass on this approach in my classes and it was a very rewarding experience to see so much enthusiasm shared by tutors and learners at the recent Art in Action event. This is a four day craft event of mammoth proportions, held in Oxford every July. The Guild had a stand manned by volunteer members and practical classes were made available to the general public throughout the four day fair. These classes were all over- subscribed and very successful. It proved a unique opportunity to publicise the Guild and our craft, and my thanks go to all tutors and assistants involved, particularly to Lesley Miller who coordinated the Guild’s activities. It is hoped that the Guild will be able to participate on a regular basis.
Other recent Guild activities include the formation of another new region. I extend a warm welcome to all members of the new Region 10 which covers Denmark. Tom Lundsten, our webmaster, put forward the application to become a region and he is now their regional rep. I believe that many of their members are located in the Copenhagen area, so should you pass that way on your travels, I’m sure Tom will be pleased to welcome you to any of his group’s activities!
By the time this reaches you, the leaves will be beginning to turn, and I shall be back to my lessons. I shall also be busy formalising arrangements for next year’s conference which will be held at Canterbury University (the weekend before Easter, 15th – 17th April 2011). The organisation of tutors, workshops and speakers is well under way, and it promises to be a very exciting event.
I hope to visit some of the regions this autumn, and look forward to meeting some of you. It is an exciting time for the Guild to see our membership increasing, with many young talented enamellers emerging!
I shall leave you with a final thought. When teaching parent & child courses, I have on occasion found it challenging to find suitable positive comments to make about the children’s work! One particular incident springs to mind, when I struggled to enthuse over a somewhat unusual piece of enamelling, settling for “what an interesting piece of work we have here – it’s truly unique, and you’ll never see another like it!” The swift reply came back “Yes Miss, but is that a good thing?”
I think for all our sakes, yes!