Guild News

David Alexander-Smith

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

Looking back on the Whitby Exhibition, Summer 2012



We have lost the original articles about Whitby that appeared here. But there's still lots about it on the Guild's facebook page (go down the timeline to July and August)!/pages/Guild-of-Enamellers/119453861450309


Also we still have the gallery of pictures taken when we were setting up and of the first night view

Do You Enamel? by Joy Funnell

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.