Chairman's Column

Letter from the Chair Autumn 2013 Julie Rattray

We are surrounded by colour.  The diversity, intensity, clarity and continually changing colours that we see in nature are a constant marvel.Colour is embedded and reflected in every aspect of our life.  From an early age we form colour associations and as we get older we use colour to express our feelings, to warn of danger and to communicate a wealth of situations and events.  In the visual arts, music and literature, colour is frequently used to express a theme, idea or emotion.

For many enamellers it is the realisation that the intensity, clarity, boldness and transparency of colour can be incorporated into the pure metallic colours of gold, silver, copper and steel that initially attracts them to the medium. For others it is the unpredictability and uniqueness of enamel colour and effect on copper.  The incorporation of enamels on metal forms is an excellent example of added value. By adding colour the metal form is enlivened and given spirit, and ultimately the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Victor Vasarely (the father of the Op Art movement) said "Every form is a base for colour and every colour is attributed to form".  Was he thinking about enamelling as he said this?

As we move into autumn the colours around us change with the decreasing light intensity and the shortening days. Many of us find that we have more time for enamelling as we move from the "outdoor" activities of the summer to the "indoor" activities of the winter. The enamel colours incorporated into our pieces at this time of year can liven up the greyest day and enamelling can stimulate us during the shorter days, a time traditionally associated with hibernation. Autumn is a time to experiment, to work on new projects (maybe for a particular award, exhibition, selection or for the conference theme), to plan for the future, and what better way to get ideas and inspiration than to visit the “Heart of the Heat” exhibition.

In November and December this joint BSOE/GOE exhibition in Birmingham will be in full swing. The exhibition will showcase current UK vitreous enamelling practice in all its forms. As well as a selection of pieces from influential enamellers, there will be installations, fine enamelling on jewellery and objets d’art, panels, 3D work, enamel on copper, steel, silver and gold. Please visit the exhibition (see full details later in the Journal) and if you can offer to help whilst there even better.  Watch the website and Facebook pages for updates and developments, or contact us for more information.


In August it was with great sadness that we heard the news that Rachel Gogerly had lost her fight against cancer. Rachel held a number of positions within the Guild; she was a selector, a masterclass tutor and the Guild’s Chair in its 30th year. She generously gave her time and freely shared her expertise and knowledge with Guild members, and her continued support of and services to the Guild have been pivotal in promoting the craft of enamelling and increasing the Guild’s visibility. Rachel was a true ambassador for the Guild and for enamelling. She will be sadly missed.

Letter from the Chair Summer 2013 Julie Rattray

The Guild of Enamellers yearly cycle culminates with the annual conference, a chance to meet members from across the UK (and beyond) and an opportunity to renew friendships established over the years. Conference is a unique event where enamellers, whether they are professional, teacher, hobbyist or enthusiast amateur, can meet to participate in and champion the craft of enamelling. For the executive committee, conference is the fruit of two years of planning; selecting and securing a venue, organising tutors, selectors and speakers, coordinating suppliers, and dealing with the unique practicalities of enamelling in conjunction with the conference venue. However conference is just one of the many activities that the Guild and its members participate in and the year ahead is full of opportunities to participate.

At a regional level the workshops and related activities encourage members to participate at a local level. Regional events are ideal occasions for member to develop their skills, explore new techniques, share their enamelling experiences and encourage grass roots participation. The  2013/2014 Guild regional events calendar is already well populated with innovative and diverse workshops where member participation is key to success. Media developed and distributed by Guild members such as the quarterly Journal, the library and the DVDs allows dissemination of the extensive technical knowledge and resources held by the Guild and its members, whilst the ever expanding website and Facebook pages allow members instant access and give the Guild outward visibility in an increasingly “mobile” world. All of these activities and resources enhance the
Guild’s ability to encourage and promote the craft of enamelling. However, they rely on member participation via contributions of articles, web posts, technical expertise, volunteering and attendance.

Guild members are instrumental in supporting public participation events such as Hobbycraft, Art in Action and Fusion Open Day, events that provide the Guild with opportunities to disseminate knowledge, demonstrate skills and interact with other similar organisations. Participation in exhibitions such as the Button Project, Heat is On in Whitby and the GOE exhibition in Ravenstein in Holland show the quality and diversity of enamelling produced by Guild members and again promote enamelling to a wider audience. The Bursary Award, supported by the Guild and its
sponsors, encourages young artists to specifically develop their enamelling skills and offers them unique participation opportunities to enhance their skills through mentoring and workshops, whilst the Young Enamellers award scheme has encouraged participation from younger members. By nurturing these new generations of enamellers and encouraging their participation in Guild activities we are securing the future of the Guild.

As I embark on my year as Chair, I am looking forward to participating and engaging with Guild members across the country and hopefully getting a chance to share some enamelling at the regional workshops. This year I hope Guild members will be inspired to volunteer for the Guild- supported public events such as Hobbycraft, Art in Action and Fusion and that members will consider submitting work for the planned joint exhibition with the British Society of Enamellers. I am honoured to be guiding the Guild through its diverse range of activities in 2013/2014, activities which culminate in Leicester for Conference 2014. But please remember that whilst conference may be the culmination of the Guild’s year, the year ahead is full of opportunities to participate (fill details of all these activities are posted regularly on the Guild website and in the Journal).

So on that thought let’s all participate in the diverse and unique opportunities that the Guild has to offer, let’s get enamelling and let’s get
enamelling out there.

Letter from the Chair Spring 2013 Jane Ball


This will be my final letter as Chair and I’d like to start by saying how privileged I feel to have been given this opportunity and grateful for the encouragement to ‘give it a go’ when I was unsure whether to take up the role. I have learnt so much about the running of the Guild and the hard work that goes on behind the scenes for us all by the executive committee members on a voluntary basis. I’d like to send each and every one of them a huge ‘Thank-you’ on behalf of us all.

The Guild has given me the opportunity to learn about the wide range of enamelling skills and to try my hand at techniques I would never have heard of without the skilled and generous workshop leaders I have been lucky enough to learn from over the years at region meetings and conference. These tutors share their time and knowledge freely in support of the Guild and its members so I believe another big ‘Thank-you’ to them is in order.

As I write this we are putting the final touches to the Guild’s annual conference weekend (5th-7th April) at Thorpe Underwood Estate in York. I’d like to thank members for their tremendous support regarding this year’s conference. I am sorry to those of you who were disappointed at not getting a place on the workshop they requested. We had so much interest, many workshops were full by 2nd January and all tutors agreed to have more people in their workshops to try to cope with the demand – thanks to them for being so accommodating. Don’t forget to enter your pieces in the exhibition (you are not required to attend conference to enter pieces) especially for the themed award ‘All the fun of the fair’.

Pre-ordering from the suppliers attending conference will ensure they bring what you require as they will have limited stock carried with them. Many suppliers are only attending on the Saturday, please see your conference pack for details. If you are interested in applying for selection at next year’s conference I suggest you contact Ruby Tomes sooner rather than later as there are limited places and I believe she already has a few names on her list.

There are several forthcoming events the Guild is represented at this year including the Hobbycrafts Show at Birmingham NEC (March 21st -24th) and Art in Action near Oxford (July 18th -21st). I believe a full list is displayed on our website ( ). Please let Lesley Miller know if you would like to assist at Art in Action; I would heartily recommend you do as I had a fantastic time both years I helped out.

My final thanks to all of you who have made my time as Chair so enjoyable. To the executive committee for their support and encouragement, to the members for their warm welcomes as I travelled around many of the regions and a special thank you to Jane Sheppard (conference secretary) for all she has done through the whole conference organisation on a steep learning curve for us both. I look forward to meeting up with old and new friends in York and hope I will be able to make the occasional visit to other regional meetings in the future.

Letter from the Chair Winter 2012 Jane Ball

Well the nights are drawing in and the heating’s coming on earlier and earlier, but I love this time of year. First nature has its vibrant say with the changing of the leaves, time to spend happy moments crunching through nearby woods. Then the colourful lights go up in the towns and houses; I have to admit to being a real kid and get just as excited as my children as Christmas approaches. Following that, if we are lucky enough, a covering of clean, white snow to throw, make snowmen with and slide down slopes on; also good inspiration for some Grisaille enamelling.


This leads me nicely onto next year’s conference in York (5th-7th April 2013) and the exciting tutorials available; these are elaborated on elsewhere in the journal. Once again highly gifted enamellers have given their time and enthusiasm to provide a wide range of tutorials and talks, to whom I would like to send a huge ‘thank you’ in advance. Without them, conference would not be possible. I hope many members will find a tutorial of interest and be able to attend, and that many of you will share your creations in the members’ exhibitions, including the themed exhibition, which will be ‘All the fun of the fair’. I look forward to welcoming our bursary winner Scarlett Cohen-French to conference and seeing her work exhibited; many thanks once again to our joint sponsors WG Ball, Craft&design magazine and Vitrum Signum for continuing to fund the bursary award.


Sadly I have to announce that David Alexander-Smith of Vitrum Signum, one of the most longstanding supporters of our Guild, passed away in October this year. Our thoughts are with his wife Mo and family, who I know have been very grateful for all the well wishes they have received from Guild members. Mo has advised us that Vitrum Signum is open for business as usual.


I have been lucky enough to meet many of you at your regional meetings, thank you for making me so welcome. Since my last letter, Region 3 gave me the opportunity to ‘go big’ and create an A4 piece at M&CT’s factory. Thanks to Chris and Mary Taylor for opening their factory to let us all have a go. This is something I have wanted to try for ages so I was thrilled to be able to attend and am quite pleased with my final piece; thanks to Tilly for her design advice! As I write this I am about to attend the Region 1 & 2 annual weekend meeting so am rather excited, having been told I’m ‘in for a treat’.


Along with the opportunity to start to understand how the Guild works, get to know the executive committee members better and learn how much work goes on behind the scenes, I have most enjoyed my trips to regional meetings in my time as Chair. These visits have allowed me to meet Guild members and see what everyone is doing.


As a Guild member you are welcome at any of the regional meetings, all that the regional reps ask is that you phone to let them know you are interested in attending a meeting as some venues are pushed for space. Full details of what’s on in the different regions and how to contact the regional reps can be found in the journal or on our website


Letter from the Chair Autumn 2012 Jane Ball


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

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.