Time to get all your brightest enamels out and start working on your piece for the themed exhibition at this year's conference "All the fun of the fair"


David Alexander-Smith

The Funeral is Friday 16th November, 12.00 at City of London Crematorium

Many of us were aware that David, of Diatherm Vitrum Signum, was very ill and it was with great sadness that we learned of his death on 23rd October.

Together with his wife, Mo and daughter Rebecca he has been running Diatherm Vitrum Signum for many years and he has cheerfully given a great deal of time to helping the Guild in many ways. His expertise was mainly concerned with kilns, while Mo and Rebecca dealt with the enamelling side of the business.

We were so sorry that he was not well enough to join us as a guest, together with Mo, at our Conference last April. He was kind enough to do the electrical safety tests on our kilns at recent Conferences and he and Mo have always given a warm welcome to members visiting the works in North Chingford

I remember the first time I met them when they visited the Guild stand at a Hobbycrafts Show at the NEC. They were very modest and unassuming about their knowledge in the field of enamelling, but in spite to this they have managed to give enormous support and help to members of the Guild in many different ways.

We have all felt great sympathy for David in his sufferings as well as for the rest of his family and it was good to hear that they were with him when he died. We extend our deepest sympathy to Mo and the rest of the family in their loss and will all do our best to support them in the future.

Lesley Miller

BAGS AND BOXES by Anita Dakowski

Workshop by Linda Connelly

Guild Conference 14th April 2012. Reaseheath College, Nantwich, Cheshire.

MATERIALS: Copper shim and copper wire. Wet process enamels: flux and white. Enamels of own choice. Klyrfire, Pennybrite/Ajax cleaner. Flock and applicator (optional).

TOOLS:. Embossing tools (steel), ruler (steel), cutting mat, old thick soft material (blanket) to emboss on, old leather gloves (protect against sharp edges). Scissors: large and small. Marker for metal. Wooden pottery knife tool. Tweezers, sieves, paint brushes and and toothbrush. Water spray bottle. Paper towels for drying. Line patterns for inspiration or copying. Glass seed beads. Knitting or crochet hooks. Hole punch or darning needle in a cork. Tracing wheels for patterns.

DEMONSTRATION: Linda showed us examples of boxes and handbags she had made, providing an information sheet with two sheets of pre-printed patterns showing tried and tested box models.

For Boxes, Linda showed us how to make up our own designs, suggesting that if we do, best first make them up in card to make sure all pieces fit; advising that the lid should be 5% larger than the pattern, due to the expansion of copper and the addition of enamel to the surface.


For Handbags, front and back should be cut; with 3 gussets longer than the sides. Cut to size on the item. N.B. The mouth of the kiln must be large enough to take the Bag side-on with a little space to spare for maneuvering (this improves its strength in the kiln).

Linda then demonstrated marking out the copper through the paper pattern. By pressing hard with embossing tools you define the ends of the lines with dots. Then, accurately join up the dots with a marker so that all the parts to be cut out, as well as the folds, are clear. Cut the shim with the large scissors. Placing the copper on the piece of old blanket or thick soft material draw your design in the copper using the embossing tools. It can be worth experimenting with a small piece of shim and the different sized tools, to get the right sharpness of line for your design. Turn the shim over and emboss the other side, following the lines you have previously made, to get distinct marks. The embossing strengthens the shim.

Linda also showed us how to use a paper crimper to get a different effect. Using this method the copper becomes hard to work after passing the shim once through the crimper and needs annealing (heating the copper to a point in the kiln where it becomes soft once again). You can pass the shim through the paper crimper a second time at right angles to get a square pattern.


Once the embossing is complete turn in the corners and make folds in the shim. To create the sides of the top of the box, fold through 90. Make sure the corners are even and as tightly pressed together as possible. The sides and corners should be crisp and straight. Use the tweezers on the corners. Repeat for the bottom of the box. On pyramid form boxes it is necessary to sew a few stitches in copper wire into the sides, to hold them together. In this case it is easier to begin from the inside which means there are fewer stitches made from those difficult to get to areas!


They need sewing together. Put wrong sides together and overstitch. With the sides of the bag and the gusset together make holes with hole punch or needle-in-cork. First attach the bottom gusset by threading the copper wire through each hole, as if you were sewing but being careful not to pull the end through; just bend the wire at the ends rather than trying to knot it. Do not pull too hard; just secure the sides, as the enamel will hold the wire in place.


Choose firing stilt first as you won’t easily be able to handle the piece once the enamel is applied.

Clean the item using the toothbrush with cleaner, getting into corners and all crevasses, work from the inside out. Rinse well and dry with kitchen paper. Handle by edges to avoid getting finger marks on it.

Apply a thin coat of wet process enamel with a paint brush - either white or flux - making sure that the enamel is even on both sides. Water it down if necessary. Start from the inside,suggest white or coloured enamel for this; do not let the enamel puddle or you won’t get an even finish.Dry and enamel the outside. The aim is to cover both sides of metal to avoid getting firescale on bare metal. Before the flux was dry, we lightly sifted some transparent leaded jewellery flux through a small sieve which “held" the enamel better. We then dried the boxes on stilts or meshes, on top of the kiln. When dry they were fired at about 780- 800°C. for a few seconds. The second coat could be further wet process enamel or dry powder, applied after gumming the surface with mist from spray bottle containing water and a little gum. When this was dry the item was fired again.

When desired finish was arrived at, the final stage was to flock the inside. This was achieved by gumming the interior and using a flocking gun. Enclose all safely in a plastic bag and puff with flock via applicator.


We all decided to use Linda's pre-printed Box patterns due to the time constraints of the workshop. We found that it was most important to make sure the edges were as square and as sharp as possible.I found it was important not to emboss the bottom too heavily as it could result in the finished item not sitting evenly. On larger pieces this could be got around by making the bottom slightly concave so that the box sat on its edges. We used different enamels. Some used coloured wet process throughout; this gave a more solid look to the boxes. Some let them burn out which brought the oxides through and I covered mine with transparents which ended by giving a misty finish.


Anita Dakowski


Hopefully you have all found time to put towards activities you enjoy over the summer. A new term is about to start and, as usual, the holiday period has flown by with only half the targets set in our household being achieved. I expect we’re not the only ones who underestimate the time available during the summer to squeeze in work, family fun and that precious ‘me’ time.

Thankfully there have been several lovely days and the summer hasn’t been a complete wash out. On sunny days we have, like many of you I’m sure, enjoyed walks in the woods and days on the beach. During those times I have been reminded of talks by designers such at Ruth Ball and Sarah Macrae at past conferences when they spoke about how artistic inspiration can come from everyday observations of different colours, effects of light and shade, shapes and textures. A notebook accompanies me on such days, in the hope that amongst the sketches an enamelling ‘masterpiece’ may be forthcoming.

Enamelling makes up much of my ‘me’ time, and being chair of the Guild has given me permission to indulge myself a little more over the past five months. Attending Art in Action near Oxford was a highlight as it gave me the opportunity to view a wide array of arts and craft and get together with many people I met through the Guild. If you haven’t been yet, keep your eyes out for next year’s Art in Action, it really is a must see event.

While at Art in Action, I was able to thank Angie and Paul Boyer from craft&design magazine for their continued support of the Guild. They have agreed to once again part fund the 2013 bursary prize (along with WG Ball & Vitrum Signum) which is worth over £1,000 and awarded to students/graduates who want to develop their enamel skills and careers. The closing date for application this year was 31st July. Results will be published later in the year.

The Pannett Art Gallery at Whitby and the Danish Jewellery Museum have also had Guild members’ work exhibited over the summer. A list of events, exhibitions and courses involving Guild members can be found on our comprehensive website www.guildofenamellers.org.

It was possible for me to attend some regional workshops recently, two local to me in Shropshire, region 4 (‘torch firing’ with Maureen Carswell and ‘beads’ with Janet Notman) as well as meeting up with some of region 6 members in Somerset (‘pewter backing’ with Jeanne Crosse); thank you to all those who made me feel so welcome.

I look forward to attending more events and workshops and meeting more of you over the next few months.


I am honoured to take on the role of chairman for this coming year and would like to thank those who nominated me.

I have gained so much from the Guild and am grateful for the opportunity to ‘do my bit’ to promote the wonderful work the Guild does for enamelling.

I had my first taste of enamelling in 1997 while attending a course run by Bonnie Mackintosh and will be forever indebted to her and Louise O’Neil for opening my eyes to the world of enamelling. The range and breadth of uses to which enamel can be put never ceases to amaze.

I am not an enameller by trade but enjoy it as a form of relaxation, though must admit to many hours of frustration when pieces don’t quite go to plan. Still, it allows me to focus on something artistic and quite different from my working week as a Speech and Language Therapist.

In retrospect, my first conference in 2000 was a real turning point. Only knowing one person made me a little nervous, but I shouldn’t have been worried as I was soon made to feel welcome, learnt so much and made some good friends. This Guild is always welcoming to enamellers, irrespective of length of time enamelling or level of ability.

This year’s conference was another resounding success, thanks to the team for all their hard work in organising it, with particular thanks to Tilly and Liz. The facilities were excellent and the workshops, speakers and masterclass were thought provoking and stimulating.

It was good to meet with the tutors and speakers, especially Carmen Lombardi and her husband who travelled from Brazil to join us. Also to meet David Bainbridge who was awarded Honorary Membership at conference for all his work related to the proposed EU restriction on the use of lead in jewellery. We have recently been informed that the derogation for vitreous jewellery enamel is now official which, in lay terms, means that leaded enamels can continue to be used within jewellery production.

I look forward to meeting as many members as possible over the coming year, especially those who are not able to make it to conference, and to attending more of the events and exhibitions represented by the Guild across the country. A list of events, exhibitions and courses involving Guild members can be found on our comprehensive website www.guildofenamellers.org. This website has gone from strength to strength: thank you to all those involved in its creation and upkeep.

Lastly a date for your diary for next year as the conference returns to the Thorpe Underwood Estate in York (Queen Ethelburga’s College) over the weekend 5th-7th April 2013.