Do you enamel? I do and I love it! If you don’t maybe I can inspire you to try.

The process of melting finely ground glass powders onto metal is a technique which stretches right back to the 13th century BC and there are many styles and techniques. The name enamel is thought to have come from the High German word smelzan (to smelt) via the Old French esmail and most of the traditional techniques still have French names such as cloisonné, champlevé, baisse-taille, plique-a-jour and grisaille.

My first experience of enamelling was at school. I was 12 and in our art room was this large metal box in the corner which was never used. One day we were suddenly allowed to play with this and try some enamelling. We had some simple copper blanks and sprinkled on a bit of enamel with some little millefiori, put them into the hot kiln and melted them on. With health and safety these days we would never have been allowed to have a go like we did then! I certainly don’t recall any protective clothing, but this brief taster stayed in my memory and I was entranced by the whole process.

Many years later when I took up jewellery making as a hobby I decided to teach myself how to enamel from books. I torch fired for the first year until I could afford a kiln and used fine sheet silver and traditional methods. Then along came silver clay into my repertoire and I was fascinated with all the new things I could achieve. Suddenly there were a whole range of extra ideas which didn’t always fit the traditional labels but were great fun!

By using silver clay and now also copper clay we can simply create surfaces to enamel on which would be technically quite challenging with sheet metals. Low relief textures can give wonderful patterns under the enamel. The enamel appears a darker colour in the lower parts of the pattern which gives a lovely light reflecting quality. Not quite Faberge but not bad! Deeper textures will create cells to put enamel into, and this can also be achieved by using syringes lines on the surface of the clay. Cut out card shapes by hand or with paper punches and use on top of a low relief texture or plain paper and roll the clay onto it to create recesses for enamel. Fine silver wires can be fused to the surface of fired silver pieces to create areas for enamelling.

I enamel because I love to add colour to my work. Real glass vitreous enamel has stood the test of time so I know it will last and it is a lovely thought that just maybe some of my pieces will still be around long after I am gone :-)


Joy Funnell is a Senior Art Clay Instructor and Craftsman of the Guild of Enamellers in Hastings UK. She taught at the Guild conference in Canterbury, April 2011 and at MCWC in Chicago, July 2011.

Guild of Enamellers’ Bursary Award for 2013


Congratulations to the winner of the Guild of Enamellers annual Bursary Award – Scarlett Cohen-French, who has recently graduated from Glasgow School of Art, where she successfully gained a BA Hons in Silversmithing & Jewellery. It was during her final year she became fascinated with enamel, experimenting with copper and liquid (industrial) enamels.


The Selectors for the Award were particularly impressed by Scarlett’s strong sense of style and use of liquid enamels, creating very textural pieces. During her BA, she worked along the theme of spontaneous colour and pattern derived from her experimental film work. Movement, pattern and colour were her main concerns when trying to find solutions to her degree show work.


Scarlett will be artist in residence at Glasgow School of Art from September and exhibiting with Dazzle and DJG (Designer Jewellers Group) at the Barbican over Christmas.

The Guild of Enamellers is proud to support Scarlett’s ambition to further develop her enamel skills.


The Guild is extremely grateful to joint sponsors - W G Ball Ltd, craft&design Magazine & Vitrum Signum for continuing to fund the Bursary Award and we look forward to introducing Scarlett at the 2013 Guild Spring Conference where she will have the opportunity to exhibit her enamel pieces, assist a workshop tutor, attend lectures and the master class.   In addition to a free place at the popular annual conference, Scarlett will immediately benefit from free membership of the Guild and the opportunity to join any of the workshops in her region and around the UK in the course of the coming year.   A programme of events and interesting contributions from enamellers are regularly advertised and reviewed in the Guild’s quarterly journal and on the website.   She will also receive a set of Guild teaching DVD’s to help develop her enamel skills & knowledge.

Another award benefit is free editorial and promotion in craft&design Magazine, a one year’s subscription and a one to one business mentoring session with Rachel Chambers, along with £275 vouchers from Vitrum Signum for enamel equipment and supplies.


Runners-up, Sophie Bonakdar, Helen Hulbert & Bryony Gill have also been awarded free membership of the Guild of Enamellers for one year, along with a set of Guild teaching DVD’s and a voucher from Vitrum Signum.  


With 24 applicants for the Bursary it was a very challenging role to select one winner, but by having 3 runners-up we hope to share the awards to enable as many of the applicants as possible the opportunity to explore and develop their enamelling skills further.


Such enthusiasm for enamelling expressed by all entrants for the Bursary Award gave pleasure to the judges on the selection panel who meticulously examined each application followed by close discussion.   All those who were disappointed not to win the Bursary should not lose heart but continue their personal journey with enamelling and possibly consider re-applying in the future. Thanks to our generous sponsors this year, we are able to award each applicant a one year free subscription to the Guild of Enamellers which we hope will help them continue their exploration of enamelling, in every way possible.


Bursary applications for the 2014 Award will be available on line from next Easter, and the closing date will be 31st July 2013.  


Carol Griffin

Bursary Secretary


Stronger Together: Case studies

Keeping it simple makes light work of leadership

Erika Speel, Publicity Officer, The Guild of Enamellers

In many crafts, apparent simplicity of design often disguises a highly organised process. The same might be said of the thousands of voluntary groups that represent those who take part in arts and crafts – like The Guild of Enamellers. And as with many others who are actively involved in such groups, Erika Speel, their Publicity Officer, doesn’t think of herself as a leader.

Erika first became involved in the Guild twenty years ago when, as a student at the Holborn (now Central) School of Art and Design, she met the group’s founder (see box out). Erika’s training provided her with the craft skills, but not about the history of the subject, so she set out to teach herself, collecting books, visiting museums, and eventually finding work with art dealers.

Erika’s level of involvement has varied – and she has taken time out for work and family – but she has consistently stepped up to the mark when asked to take on various roles. Now a professional enamel restorer and published enamel historian, she has served on the executive committee as Chairman, Vice Chair, Retiring Chairman, and for the past six years, as Publicity Officer and Historical Advisor, and has regularly been a member of the selection panel for the group’s annual awards.

In her current role, Erika is responsible for promoting the Guild by supplying information and occasional articles to the media, responding to enquiries from the general public, schools and researchers, arranging advertising in the Guild journal, and exploring new avenues for publicity: “if there is an opportunity, I introduce myself”.

A strong framework of roles and responsibilities

Although small – the Guild has around 250 members – responsibilities are spread widely amongst a committee of 14 elected members with specific roles, and additional regional representatives, and this is clearly one of its strengths.

The Chair has a three-year active involvement: they are made Vice Chair initially, when they begin the planning of their main task, the next year’s annual conference. Then after their year in post, as Retiring Chair, they continue to have a responsibility in assisting with the following conference. Clearly the roles and responsibilities are well thought out, and have in fact been in place from the beginning.

“Our founder, Hans, was a great one for simplification, even with his enamelling,” says Erika. “So his approach stuck. The secret is not to put too much work on any one person. For example, we have a secretary, but also a separate membership secretary … and if necessary, we will sub-divide tasks.”

The committee meets three times a year, but members communicate regularly by email to allow decisions to be made swiftly when necessary.

To assist the spread of influence and support, the Guild is also divided into geographical regions in the UK, with one representative per region who organises events, welcomes new members and is a link with the Committee. In 2008, a new region was set up in the Channel Islands and in the future they hope that others will be established internationally.

Small is beautiful

A new, more interactive website, allowing members to join online has encouraged growth in membership after a static period but generally the membership remains steady at 250, which includes a certain number who leave and are replaced by new members.

There’s an argument to be made for staying small, explains Erika: “We’re not trying to prove anything, there’s no drive to expand our membership. It is an optimum size. If it was bigger, we would have to involve more people, perhaps even employ professionals, for example to set up the conference … and that would involve charging more. We’ve found that the level of membership works well…It’s important to be satisfied with something that is running well, not trying to get too big – because that’s not what drives us.”

However, as a relatively small group, and one that’s set up purely for pleasure without external funding, Erika feels that they are often undervalued by other organisations “A lot of organisations that get support and promotion are about improving the lives of disadvantaged people, young people … what about groups like ours that are just for pleasure? People are always saying, why don’t you want to expand, increase your membership, become a charity – but it’s found its own ecology, and it works.”

Encouraging others

Nevertheless, the Guild is keen to encourage new enamellers. Nine years ago, they launched a Bursary Scheme that offers a year’s free membership and a place at the annual conference. The hope is that this level of involvement will encourage the recipient to join the committee. Initially the scheme worked on an ad hoc basis, when suitable candidates were found. However, more recently the scheme has been formalised with an application deadline and a thorough selection process led by the Bursary Officer. It is open to all people of any age and qualification . The Guild has developed links with many schools and colleges who help promote the initiative, and in 2008 eleven applications were received.

The Guild also supports the development of individual members through the ‘selection procedure’ that encourages members to put together a body of work that will then be displayed in the group’s journal and at its annual conference.

A truly non-profiting society

Those who are most actively involved take up their roles, Erika believes, because they are asked to, rather than as a result of a desire to lead: “In our Society, it is usually that the person approached is prepared to take on the leadership role or roles as regional organisers or the central executive committee, in order to maintain the smooth running of the society… The people involved have willingness to take on the responsibilities and give up time.”

Erika sees the committee as a group of people who were simply willing to step up to the mark: “Everyone is aware of the genuine decent attitude that exists. The reason we’re involved [on the committee] is because we want to enjoy what we do, and help each other – it’s about unification: and if we didn’t do it, it wouldn’t exist. There’s no gain and no loss and we don’t take on any more than we can deliver.”

She continues: “The universal truth is that if you work with hands you’re practical and you also appreciate other people – you don’t tyrannise. People just naturally want to share information and tips – because you have something tangible to talk about, and no-one’s trying to prove anything or get an advantage from it. Even the advertisers in our journal do it to support us rather than to get business. There’s less competition than perhaps in dance or theatre. It’s a truly non-profiting society.”

It is for this reason that Erika does not see herself as a leader, or that leaders really ‘fit’ within the Guild: “I can make decisions and give suggestions and work within a committee, but in my role within the Guild, the leadership question is not really appropriate.”

“The notion of leaders does not actually fit in with our group – what people mainly want is someone to do the hard work, so they don’t have to. Leaders don’t appear very often, you’re lucky if you get one or two people who stand out, inspire people to follow them. And sometimes you don’t know at the time that they were a leader – it’s only with time that you can tell who was a good leader.”

The Guild’s own own website attributes its strength to: “the way it organises itself to achieve its aims and long term goals…” and says that “…its ability in recognising the breadth of its membership, responding to its changing needs along with the ever-evolving craft industry and spreading the load of responsibility through its executive committee, developing a strong framework, has allowed achievement and realisation of it’s aims.” ‘Leaders’ may not appear to have a place in the Guild, but its ways of working mirror many of the roles and practices involved in ‘leadership’.

Facts about the group


Established in 1978 to promote and encourage enamelling, and influence its quality standards. Founded by by Hans Theilade, a Danish journalist who came to Britain in 1965, and discovered enamelling through his job selling arts and crafts materials. He saw the craft industry booming in places like Germany – as a result of newer, more easily accessible materials and tools - and set up his own enamel shop, selling his products and teaching enamelling. Hans’s enthusiasm and charisma made him an excellent facilitator and he soon established a steering group on whose principles the foundations for the current organisation were laid.

Size and reach:

250 members drawn from across the UK. The Guild is open to anyone interested in enamelling. Some members sell their work, but there are few people who can make a viable living out of enamelling alone, and members join to share information and support each other.


To encourage and promote the craft of enamelling and the work of members

To seek to exert a progressive influence on standards of workmanship and design in enamelling

To foster good public relations and develop links with other crafts


An annual conference including workshops, talks, awards

A quarterly journal of information, tips, techniques, sources

A library of books and videos/DVDs

Regional meetings, workshops/events

Factors contributing to success:

Hans Theilade was an excellent facilitator – as well as having traditional leadership qualities such as charisma and enthusiasm

Members are encouraged to stand for election for 14 clearly defined roles: Chairman/Vice Chairman/Retiring Chairman, Honorary Secretary, Conference Secretary, Awards and Selection Secretary, Membership Secretary, Bursary Secretary, Treasurer, Publicity Officer, Web Master, Journal Editor, Librarian, Technical Officer

The wider membership can influence decisions through eight regional representatives, which each have a representative on the executive committee, or direct to committee members. Details of regional meetings are posted in the journal and some have their own local newsletter, organise workshops and training, and have local committees to share the work. Others meet informally in small groups for a day’s enamelling.

New committee members are encouraged and developed through the Bursary Scheme, and the role of Chair is developed and supported through the three-year role of Vice Chair, Chair, Retiring Chair.

The Guild has developed links with organisations for mutual support – it has reciprocal memberships with other enamel organisations such as the IVE (Institute of Vitreous Enamellers) and the BSOE (British Society of Enamellers) and, as it website states, it “recognises the benefits this brings with the interchange of ideas and joint projects”.



In my last letter I was resisting the onset of winter, the dark nights and low temperatures of the previous two winters were still uncomfortably easy to remember. However, here in the North West at least, the season so far has been a mixed one with the wind making itself felt far more than Jack Frost. To those members who I know had property damaged some weeks ago, I hope both the insurance assessors and your builders have made life easier for you rather than harder. Thankfully the nights are slowly starting to lengthen and the cotoneaster outside the window has 5 Field fares busily guzzling the fruit in between arguing with each other over whose tree it is.

In an attempt to get what passes for sunlight at this time of the year we took a walk up to our local Art Gallery the Williamson in Birkenhead. On entering one of the rooms we came across a large, striking, abstract painting that on closer inspection turned out to be an enamel panel by Stefan Knapp. After a bit of research we discovered that Knapp was responsible for the largest mural ever produced in Paramus New Jersey and 17 enamel murals at Heathrow. There are more details about this fascinating artist on the Guild website with a link to a more detailed piece from Glass on Metal.

Preparations for our Annual Conference are well underway. As I write, our tutorial workshops are almost full and Liz and I are working hard contacting speakers, tutors, selectors and suppliers to finalise the programme details. I’d like to thank all members of the Executive Committee for their help this year but particularly Liz who puts in an enormous amount of time and effort ensuring that Conference runs smoothly. This will be Liz’s final year as Conference Secretary.

We also wave goodbye to Mary Ford who is stepping down as Awards and Selection Officer. Many of us have been cajoled, encouraged and gently bullied by Mary to enter our work for selection. Whilst it can be a daunting prospect to submit one’s work for scrutiny it is also a very valuable exercise. On behalf of the Executive Committee I would like to offer sincere thanks to both Liz and Mary for all their hard work during their time as Officers of the Guild and look forward to seeing them both in April.

Still on the subject of Conference our suppliers at Reaseheath will be slightly different this year. Please see the separate article in this Journal.

In addition to conference, the Guild is involved in a number of other events this year. Region 4 is running the Guild stand at the Hobbycrafts Show at the NEC 22nd -25th March. (See details on the Guild website).

We also have the exhibition at Whitby this summer. This is an excellent opportunity for members to show and sell work this year. The gallery is asking mainly for wall based pieces; however there will be display cases available for jewellery and small items such as bowls. There is no limit to the number of pieces that can be submitted or any restriction on size. Please see the extra article elsewhere in the Journal and the Guild website for details of submission dates, contact details etc.

Enamel Fusion will be running again in conjunction with Craft & Design Magazine during May. Please let Lynne Glazzard have any details of any classes you wish to have listed on Craft & Design’s website as soon as possible.

Art in Action takes place this year between Thursday 19th and Sunday 22nd July. Please let Lesley Miller know if you wish to assist at this event.

The website is continuing to develop. There is now a For Sale and Wanted section on the main menu. Please email any items to David Cowling our website editor: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This is my last letter as Chair but I look forward to catching up with everyone at Reaseheath and at Conferences to come. Many thanks to all those I’ve met on my roam around the regions this year for their hospitality, kind words and good humour.