I am honoured and excited to take on the role of Chairman for the forthcoming year. For those of you who don’t know me I joined the Guild when I began enamelling in the summer of 1998, having bought my kiln and starter kit by mail order. At my first conference at York in 1999 I was rash enough to enter for selection, gained Associate level and won the Hans Theilade award. More importantly the first people I met were Dorothy, Veronica Matthew, Margaret Taylor and May Yarker who welcomed, encouraged and took great care of me. I volunteered to become librarian which not only gave me instant access to the wealth of inspiring information the library holds but also brought me into contact via the telephone with a wider network of members as they phoned to request books and catalogues. I could not have guessed at the impact these early steps would have on my life, leading eventually to a complete change in career. I am currently artist in residence at Whitby Museum and every day throws up interesting and exciting challenges.
 
Our AGM and conference this year took place at the Thorpe Underwood Estate near York and marked the Guild’s 30th year. I hope everyone who attended enjoyed the event and must thank the team for all their hard work in organising it, with particular thanks to Liz and Rachel. We had a fantastic group of tutors and speakers and I enjoyed seeing the inspiring work produced by members both at the workshops and for the exhibitions. I was particularly impressed by the work of Michael Cartwright aged 12, I think probably our youngest exhibitor at a Guild conference. He is a student of Tilly Wilkinson who has been enthusiastically nurturing some potential younger members and was one of three members gaining Craftsman status at selection this year. The other two were Joy Funnell and Gillie Hoyte Byrom. Congratulations to you all and thank you to all who entered for selection. It takes a great deal of hard work and commitment but selection is an important part of the role of the Guild in raising the standard of enamelling. I hope I can encourage you all to have a go, even if only for the challenge of producing your best work yet. Gillie Hoyte Byrom has also worked hard developing the bursary scheme and I must welcome our first official joint sponsors of the bursary, Craft & Design Magazine and W G Ball Ltd. 
 
The Guild continues to go from strength to strength thanks to the hard work and enthusiasm of its members, particularly within the regions. I am pleased to welcome Glyn Mitchell as the first regional representative for Jersey and the Channel Islands. Joy Funnell and I will be joining Glyn for the Art Clay Guild conference later this year, where Joy and I will both be tutors. It will be a great opportunity to promote the Guild’s activities and hopefully meet some of our newest region’s members. By the time this goes to print I will have had a weekend in Edinburgh where Dorothy and I have been invited to run an enamelling workshop for the Scottish region of the Art Clay Guild. It is interesting how beneficial links and overlaps with related organisations can be. It is through the Art Clay Guild that I met Mr Toshihide Ueeda, a Director of the Japan Enamelling Artist Association, who I have invited to be one of the tutors at next year’s conference. I am hoping that he will also be able to bring a selection of their members work to exhibit during the conference. He will be just one of an exciting line up for the conference that will take place at Nottingham University.
 
Looking ahead, I hope to visit some of the regions in what is becoming a bit of a tradition for the Chair. I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible over the coming year. I think one of the great strengths of our Guild is the wide variety of people who form its membership; the fact that it is all inclusive and that everyone is so generous in sharing their skills, ideas and time in promoting our craft. You can be sure I will be enjoying myself this year and persuading as many people as I can to have a go at enamelling, I know how addictive it is. If any of you venture up to North Yorkshire then don’t forget to get in touch and I will be happy to show you whatever odd things I am working on or even give you a tour of Whitby Museum. Anyway, until next time, I hope you all have a happy and productive summer. Long may our Guild flourish and continue to encourage us all.
 
 
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It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that I take on the role of Chairman in another celebratory year for us, marking thirty years of the Guild. Our current efforts to promote and enjoy enamelling go from strength to strength with the continued development of our website, our superb DVD’s, our active Regions and of course our enviable Conference.
 
Our AGM and Conference in Leicester this year was no exception! A resounding success with excellent facilities and a stimulating selection of workshops, Speakers and a real thought provoking Master Class (I hope all of you who attended are getting plenty of drawing practice in every day!!). As ever it was a fantastic team effort from all concerned, but special thanks must go to Carol Griffin for her vision and realisation of the weekend and to Liz Gilliland, our new Conference Secretary, who did a brilliant job in her first year.
 
This years Conference also opened our doors to several guests in related enamel organisations within the UK, who were invited to view our Exhibition, workshops and stay for dinner on the Saturday evening. These included Hilary Bolton, Chairman of the British Society of Enamellers, Chris Taylor and his wife, Past Chairman of the Institute of Vitreous Enamellers and David Gatrell from A J Wells, who is also a member of the IVE. Their response to the Guild exceeded our expectations, they were all extremely impressed with all that they saw and we hope to further our associations with all of them in the coming year.   
 
Our Bursary scheme brought another new face to Conference, Lucy Irvine a recent graduate from Dundee College of Art. Lucy was an asset to the weekend, helping out in two of the workshops and winning a Merit Award for her work in the main Exhibition. The Guild, through Gillie Hoyte Byrom’s hard work, is currently developing the scheme with a more formal application and selection process, with the aim of encouraging more enamelling students to apply and be made aware of our existence via our website.
 
Indeed, the only complaint of our weekend at Leicester was that there wasn’t enough time! It was a very fulfilling weekend for all who attended. It was also Joan Bolton King’s last year as Selection Secretary and, in recognition of her long service and commitment to the Guild, she was presented with Honorary Membership at the AGM.
 
Looking ahead next year’s Conference returns to York, but in a brand new venue, The Thorpe Underwood Estate, over the weekend of 17 –19 April 2009. Due to the high demand for places in the last couple of years, we are anticipating putting on an additional workshop at the York Conference, to allow more members to join in our anniversary celebrations. Look out for full details, which will be listed in the Journal in due course.
 
Over the next twelve months I will be encouraging and promoting the craft of enamelling and the work of all our members on all levels. I will be visiting the Regions, attending as many of your meetings as possible. I am looking forward to seeing those of you who can’t always make it to Conference and finding out what you all get up to throughout the year! I will be supporting the continued development of our website. All members, new and existing can now subscribe online and purchase our DVD’s online. We have many links from our site to other enamellers and enamel groups, so if you haven’t visited it recently, why not click on today, www.guildofenamellers.org. Our website team have lots of ideas to ensure we are kept informed and updated on news about the Guild, Courses Regional Activities and any other related enamelling news nationally. I will also continue to encourage our links with other related organisations. We now have a reciprocal membership with the IVE and we are looking at other ways to share knowledge, skills and experiences with the potential to benefit us all.
 
I feel this is a very exciting time for the Guild as we move forward developing and expanding the ways we achieve our objectives, which is only possible as a result of all our achievements over the last thirty years. I am delighted to be part of such a motivated organisation and I am looking forward to representing and promoting the Guild at every opportunity during my year as Chairman.

This will be my last letter from the Chair and the year has just flown. By the time you read this I hope we will have some spring sunshine. It seems to have been a hard winter with the most snow I remember since I moved to Glaisdale 12 years ago. There have been traces of snow here continuously since before Christmas and it is now well into February. This winter though I have enjoyed the sharply graphic patterns the snow has created and have taken lots of photographs of tracks and of frozen plants and trees. It has provided plenty of ideas for new work. Will it give you a bit of inspiration for your piece for the ‘pearl’ themed exhibition at conference?
 
I am looking forward to conference. I know now just how much hard work goes on behind the scenes to pull it all together.  My thanks go to Liz in particular. She deals with all the planning of rooms, tutors, the enquiries and bookings, and I know that putting the information pack together takes a huge amount of work. The thing I look forward to the most is meeting up with old friends and making new ones. I have always enjoyed the friendly exchange of ideas and the encouragement given by the more experienced members. I love that the less experienced members can share ideas with the experts and that everyone learns from this.
 
As well as conference there are a number of other events on the horizon. I following weekend I will be running two workshops at the Flame Off at Towcester racecourse, a great chance to introduce enamel to a new audience. Lesley Miller is organising workshops at Art in Action from 15th to 18th July. Please contact her if you plan to go to the event and can offer to help either assisting at one of the enamelling sessions are on the Guild stand talking to visitors and giving them information. Of course if you are doing any shows during the year it is a great opportunity to publicise the Guild and you can also advertise the events on the Guild website.
 
I am just putting the finishing touches to the plan for a jewellery exhibition at Whitby Museum.   It will show historic pieces from places such as the Pacific islands; Africa; Asia and of course jet from Whitby. It will attempt to put some of these pieces into context. There will also be a few of the pieces I have made during my residency in 2009. I have learned a huge amount while selecting and researching the chosen artefacts and the range of materials used to make the selected pieces is vast. There will be jewellery incorporating hair, bone and shells, through to silver, enamel and jet. The exhibition opens 30th March and runs until mid-June (entry to the museum is £3.50 and it is closed Mondays). Get in touch if you are planning to visit and I will try and meet up with you. If you can’t make it then I hope to meet with you at some other event. In the meantime, enjoy experimenting and happy enamelling!
 
 
 
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I hope you are all charged up and prepared for conference! This is the Guild’s flagship event, and the schedule promises to be really exciting. As I write, the tutorial workshops are almost full and the final touches to the programme are being put into place. Before becoming Chairman, I had no idea of all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure the success and smooth running of the event. My thanks go to all members of the executive committee and in particular to Liz Gilliland who works so hard to coordinate the process.
 
Unfortunately, due to a family bereavement, I had to curtail my planned New Year visits around the regions, but I am still hoping to squeeze in a visit to Region 3 in the North West shortly. In the meantime, I look forward to meeting many of you at Canterbury. It is a great opportunity to display your work in the exhibition, so please do take part. I have always found it useful to have a topic on which to focus, and the themed exhibition is a good tool for this purpose. “T”, “tea” or indeed “tee” is open to many interpretations so it will be interesting to view the results of our creativity. Mary Ford, our selection secretary, has been busy organising the entries for the Guild’s selection work. We are fortunate to benefit from the hard work and expertise of this year’s panel of selectors - Keith Seldon, Sarah Macrae and Ruth Ball.
 
As the Guild’s main purpose is to promote the craft of enamelling, I can think of no better way than to display our work to as wide an audience as possible. We are fortunate to have been given several recent opportunities to do just this, one being the forthcoming exhibition at the Ravenstein Vlakglas museum in Holland. The Guild’s exhibition team has been working hard to make entry as simple and straightforward as possible, and Ellen Goldman has been keen to add incentive to visitors by way of offering workshop tuition at her studio. It promises to be a very exciting opportunity. Other exhibitions are currently under discussion including one in Japan and one a little closer to home in Whitby. Further information will follow when details are confirmed.
Lesley Miller coordinated Guild activities at the Creative Stitch and Hobbycraft show in Brighton last February and the Guild stand raised a great deal of interest. Region 7 members helped man the stall and to assist Lesley with “come & try” demonstrations throughout the weekend. I am always surprised to discover how many hobbyists have no idea what enamelling entails, and just how quick and easy it can be to get beautiful results.
 
To help further the public’s awareness of our craft, the executive committee are currently trying to organise an enamelling event to take place throughout May. We are hoping to run activities such as teaching and demonstrations at various locations along the lines of the Open Studios event. As I write, this project is in its infancy, but I hope to be able to give you more information at conference.
 
Lesley Miller is finalising the details for the Guild’s participation in the Art in Action craft fair event to take place in Oxford from 21st -24th July 2011. I enjoyed last year’s event so much that I have volunteered my services for the four day duration this year, so please pop by and say hello if you are visiting.
 
My teacher training course is now coming to an end and although I shall be glad of my certificate, I will be even happier to return my concentration to actually producing some enamelled pieces! I’ve learned that the correlation between increased paperwork and creative inspiration is inversely proportional (?) or something like that. I’ve found it extremely frustrating, particularly during my year as chairman, to be unable to find the time or the inclination to enjoy being arty, so the array of work at conference will be a real tonic.
 
I shall sign off with a big thank you to you all, particularly the executive team, for your kind support during my year as chairman. It has been a real privilege and a very enjoyable experience and has provided so many opportunities for friendship and wonderful creative ideas.
 
 
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I am delighted to open this edition of our Journal with plenty of good news and excitement about the Guild’s activities and forthcoming events in this, our Pearl Anniversary Year! It is hard to believe that thirty years ago a small group of enamel enthusiasts in North Wales were discussing the possibilities of starting a local group, unaware at that stage of what would develop and that from their humble beginnings, the Guild as we know it today would emerge.
 
The flagship of all our events, Conference, is proving as popular as ever this year with all the workshops fully booked within a month of application forms being released, even with the addition of an extra tutorial. Members who would still like to attend the weekend in York without doing a workshop can participate in the AGM, Exhibitions Celebratory Dinner and Master Class and are very welcome. Please contact our Conference Secretary, Liz Gilliland for details.
 
Just before Christmas, I had lunch at the Goldsmiths’ Hall in London with the Chairmen of The Institute of Vitreous Enamellers and the British Society of Enamellers, with a view to establishing our common aims and to see if there were ways we could all work together on specific projects. It proved to be a very constructive meeting, and we all resolved to talk further over the subsequent months to develop our initial ideas. Creating links with other related groups has many benefits for the Guild raising our profile and reputation as the organisation to approach on any matters to do with enamelling.
 
Over the New Year I managed to fit in a trip to Istanbul for a week to escape the freezing cold conditions of the UK. Little did I know it was freezing cold in Istanbul too!! However, I find you never mind the snow when on holiday and Saint Sophia and the Blue Mosque looked just as magnificent framed by winter fuchsia pink skies at dusk and the Turkish baths seemed even more luxurious after being out in the cold all day! I particularly enjoyed the Spice Bazaar with all its colours and smells and as the clock was two hours ahead of UK time, we had the excuse to celebrate New Year twice in one evening! Some of you may have seen the article ‘Face of Craft’ in the Craft and Design Magazine Jan/Feb 2009 edition. It features me as the current Chairman of the Guild and gave me an opportunity to talk about the Guild, what we do, and how I became involved in enamelling. I have received a superb response as a result, including a student emailing me to say that the article has inspired her to use enamel in her final project!
 
The Jan/Feb 09 Crafts Magazine also featured an article about enamel with a review of the Playing with Fire Exhibition, (which is now showing at the Visual Arts Centre in Lincolnshire until 9th May). Thank you also to Alexandra Woolner for her review in the last Journal, I know many of you have been to see this exhibition and it has stimulated some interesting discussions about contemporary enamelling.
 
On Sunday, January 18th I drove to Harpenden to join members of Region 5 for their annual meal at the Glen Eagles Hotel. This was a very interesting and enjoyable lunch for me as I met with some long standing members who no longer go to Conference. I was able to get an insight to the region’s activities spanning back to 1978 as Joan Bolton King has kept scrapbooks of the region’s activities including exhibitions, workshop visits, invited guests and conference visits. Joan has kindly allowed me to borrow them and I will be taking them to this year’s Conference in York, so other members can view them too. It raises the question ‘have other regions kept records of their activities’ and if so, perhaps they could bring them to Conference too?
 
The last weekend of January hosted the executive sub committee website meeting, to review the progress and development of the Guilds new website, which is on target to go ‘live’ in April. The sub committee consists of our Web Master, Membership Officer, Editor, Past Chair and current Chairman. A demonstration of all the new features was given and matters of hosting, pricing and content were all discussed. It was all very exciting (once the wireless connections were eventually made to all the lap tops!). The main benefits to members once the site is up and running will be a better, faster updating site with more potential to expand, providing news and information about the Guild and enamelling. There will also be opportunities to submit articles in the future and all for less than were are currently paying on the existing site. My most sincere thanks goes to our Web Master, Tom Lundsten, along with Julia Riddington, Membership Officer, who have put in a huge amount of time into this development, which is essential for the future of the Guild. It was unanimously agreed that the Guild of Enamellers website is an additional benefit to our members, which will run in harmony with our much valued Journal, which will not be affected in any way by the website development.
 
I look forward to seeing many of you at Conference and sharing our Pearl Celebrations throughout the weekend. The Guild has much to be proud of, least of all our immense amount of energy and enthusiasm for our craft and the willingness to share our knowledge and experiences. It has been a privilege to be your Chairman this year I have had a great time! Thank you to all of you who I have met and worked with throughout the year, your kind words and continuing support has been brilliant!
 
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