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Letter from the Chair Autumn 2009 Lynne Glazzard

               

 
Where did the summer go? I am writing this in August with the rain lashing down on the windows. I have had a busy summer. I ran an introductory workshop at 20-21 Visual Arts in Scunthorpe during the final weekend of the ‘Playing with Fire’ exhibition where the participants were able to draw on all kind of inspiring pieces for their initial experiments with enamel (some photographs of the results are on http://lynne-glazzard.blogspot.com). I took part in North Yorkshire Open Studios during June and was helped by fellow guild member Margaret Hopley who demonstrated enamelling to visitors by making small butterflies in copper shim and they now adorn the edges of my memo board. We had plenty of visitors and it is always encouraging that people will make such an effort to find the studio as I am a bit off the beaten track.
 
Margaret and I also demonstrated enamelling at The Tockwith & District Agricultural Show. We had a stand in the ‘Working Crafts’ marquee and had an enjoyable day attempting to publicise the guild; demonstrate enamelling and explain some of the processes involved. This was a busy show although the pouring rain all day made packing up and getting off the showground a little less than pleasant. Both this show and the chance to run the workshop at 20-21 Visual Arts had come through the organisers contacting Erica Speel, our Guild Publicity Officer, who had emailed members in the area to see whether anyone would be interested in participating. I think this highlights the importance of letting Erica know the kinds of opportunities you may be interested in.
 
In May I joined Dorothy Cockrell in Edinburgh for a workshop organised by Emma Baird for the Art Clay Guild. We had a lively and interesting weekend introducing enamels to participants who were used to art clay and art clay to enamellers. I always enjoy this kind of event as the exchange of ideas is so stimulating. I was lucky enough to stay an extra day and have a go at torch firing enamelled beads with Janet Notman. She will be one of the exciting line up of tutors at next years conference, the planning of which is already well underway.
 
The early summer has also seen the launch of the Guild’s new website. I know that this has taken a huge amount of work over quite a long period of time with input from a number of people but I would like to say particular thanks to Tom Lundsten and Julia Riddington. It is beautifully clear and easy to navigate and has a wealth of information. It is also possible for members to submit articles for publication on the website. These will be vetted before publication but I hope some of you will find time to submit an article or share tips, techniques and information here.   This also reminds me just how much valuable work is done by our volunteers within the guild, so thank you all!
 
There have been moments of sadness with news of the deaths of both Geoffrey Winter and Judith Harris. They were both on the committee when I joined the guild and I remember their enthusiasm and their encouragement as I began my adventure with enamel. I only hope I can encourage or even inspire a few more people to join in and enjoy the process of learning to enamel.

Letter from the Chair Autumn 2010 Ruby Tomes

 

                   
I hope you have all enjoyed a good rest and some wonderful weather over the last couple of months. I will excuse you for not doing too much enamelling during the summertime but encourage you all to get out your forks, ready for action, right now!
 
My regular courses finished in May and I then ran a couple of taster sessions along with a busy two day summer school when the sun was at its peak. We were visibly melting in front of four scorching kilns on the hottest day of the year!
But I was struck by the enthusiasm and enjoyment of the learners. It is so rewarding to pass on enamelling skills to such mixed audiences, from my own children, to the wide range of ages and abilities encountered in adult education colleges, to the elderly residents of retirement homes. The lustrous colours and almost instant effects never fail to surprise and enthral the novice enameller.
 
My own passion for enamelling began after I’d achieved poor results when dabbling in pottery. I would spend hours creating a clay pot and painting on glaze. I found it very frustrating to then be excluded from the firing process, only to return a week later to an unrecognizable item! And I could do nothing to alter it! When I discovered how speedy it is to fire enamel and that I could actually hold the fork and control the process, then add to embellish resulting work, I was hooked! My favourite way to design is to begin with a basic concept, then to nurture and develop the idea with each firing. This tends to be quite an experimental approach and the results can be unique and unexpected.
 
I try to pass on this approach in my classes and it was a very rewarding experience to see so much enthusiasm shared by tutors and learners at the recent Art in Action event. This is a four day craft event of mammoth proportions, held in Oxford every July. The Guild had a stand manned by volunteer members and practical classes were made available to the general public throughout the four day fair. These classes were all over- subscribed and very successful. It proved a unique opportunity to publicise the Guild and our craft, and my thanks go to all tutors and assistants involved, particularly to Lesley Miller who coordinated the Guild’s activities. It is hoped that the Guild will be able to participate on a regular basis.
Other recent Guild activities include the formation of another new region. I extend a warm welcome to all members of the new Region 10 which covers Denmark. Tom Lundsten, our webmaster, put forward the application to become a region and he is now their regional rep. I believe that many of their members are located in the Copenhagen area, so should you pass that way on your travels, I’m sure Tom will be pleased to welcome you to any of his group’s activities!
 
By the time this reaches you, the leaves will be beginning to turn, and I shall be back to my lessons. I shall also be busy formalising arrangements for next year’s conference which will be held at Canterbury University (the weekend before Easter, 15th – 17th April 2011). The organisation of tutors, workshops and speakers is well under way, and it promises to be a very exciting event.
 
I hope to visit some of the regions this autumn, and look forward to meeting some of you. It is an exciting time for the Guild to see our membership increasing, with many young talented enamellers emerging!
 
I shall leave you with a final thought. When teaching parent & child courses, I have on occasion found it challenging to find suitable positive comments to make about the children’s work! One particular incident springs to mind, when I struggled to enthuse over a somewhat unusual piece of enamelling, settling for “what an interesting piece of work we have here – it’s truly unique, and you’ll never see another like it!” The swift reply came back “Yes Miss, but is that a good thing?”
I think for all our sakes, yes!
 
 
 
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Conference Weekend 2010 – Nottingham University

A beautiful spring weekend saw us at Nottingham University for the annual conference and AGM. Being almost on the doorstep we still arrived extra early as we were keen and eager to make the most of the weekend.

After collecting keys and finding their rooms, most arrivals made their way to the Hugh Stewart Hall Library carrying their most precious enamelled pieces for the exhibition. There was time to visit suppliers before Veronica Matthew very kindly stepped in with an ‘Art Attack’ design session that Ellen Goldman had prepared using black tiles and various layers of white tissue paper to create a Grisaille picture.

The exhibition was a great meeting place where everyone could share tips and techniques and get to know each other better – of course there was always the bar for the social gathering too.

The AGM followed swiftly after dinner with business matters proceeding smoothly and Tilly Wilkinson being duly elected as Vice Chair for the coming year. We realised, as we are sure all members did, just how much work goes on behind the scenes, throughout the year, for the Guild to function efficiently.

Some people continued chatting and making new friends long into the night whilst some drifted off to their rooms ready for an early start the next day.

One of the highlights of Saturday was the many tutorials. We both attended Dorothy Cockrell’s Cloisonné workshop which we found inspirational. The levels of experience within the group ranged from beginners to advanced and Dorothy patiently and expertly enabled everyone to gain in confidence and knowledge.

There will be a more detailed write up of the 6 workshops that took place in the Guild Journal (some have already appeared). There was a buzz about the whole day and it was obvious that everyone was enjoying their chosen workshop by the chat over lunch and coffee.
Everyone assembled in the library at the end of the workshops where we could admire each others efforts and where a representative from each tutorial gave a brief resume of their day. It was also an opportunity to view the exhibition pieces and cast our votes for the Themed Exhibition and Enameller Elect.

Dinner was followed by a talk entitled ‘An accidental enameller’ by Dale Devereux Barker. Dale started out in print making but gave us an illustrated account of his journey into enamelling. Dale’s large scale public works of art are very vibrant and detailed and show an empathy with their surroundings.

Sunday morning saw everyone assembled in the library for the presentation of the 2010 Awards. The Guild makes various awards for different categories of work, recognising new enamellers as well as excellence in more advanced techniques.

The grand finale of the whole weekend was a Masterclass with Mr Toshihide Ueeda on Enamel and Art Clay. Mr Ueeda dazzled everyone with the speed in which he produced a variety of elaborate pieces and his use of blends of enamels. His grand finale was to make a ring, piled high with ‘ruby’ enamel for our newly elected chair Ruby Tomes. The ring was a perfect fit.

After a final farewell from the Chairman, and our Sunday lunch, we said our goodbyes to old and new friends and are now looking forward to the 2011 Conference and AGM to be held at the University of Kent, in Canterbury, the weekend BEFORE Easter (15th – 17th April, 2011).

Linda Bark & Jean Dodds
Region 4 members
 

Raku Firing of Enamel With Silver PMC and Art Clay.

By Dorothy Cockrell and Joseph A. Ontko Ph.D.

Silver nitrate and raku firing have long been used to produce silvery patterns on enamel. There are certain difficulties in this process, ranging from the procurement of silver nitrate, the necessity of keeping the crystals and solutions away from light lest they deteriorate, through problems connected with controlling the various solutions, to the deep brown staining which can develop on hands, clothing, and work surfaces. Mixing an appropriate strength of any solution often requires making several test pieces.

It occurred to me that perhaps more modern materials could be used to produce the same effects with less trouble.

Therefore when packing my tutorial tool box for a raku firing workshop at the John C. Campbell Folk School, I included a very ancient unused piece of the original type of silver PMC (Precious Metal Clay). It was so old that it had hardened into a small bullet and re-quired breaking up and two days soaking in water to re-constitute it.
In a quiet moment I painted some of the resulting slip onto a pre- enamelled copper blank and fired it to burn off the organic binder. The result was a greyish patch of enamel.

Download the full article here:

A Beginners Look at Enamelling on Silver

By Raymond Jackson

Common Silver Alloys for Enamelling

Sterling silver (7.5% copper in a minimum of 92.5% silver) is widely used for silver articles including jewellery and for enamelling the same. The copper content increases the strength and hardness.

Britannia silver (a minimum silver content of 95.8% and the remainder largely copper) is less widely used but is especially suitable for taking stamps and dies. Being softer than Sterling silver, it is more susceptible to bowing unless counter enamelled. However, some experts state that enamel colours are truer when fired on this alloy. As to cost, there is virtually no difference.

It is reported that the presence of impurities even at low levels can affect the adhesion of enamels. In particular, Selenium and Teluriam can cause problems. To avoid this potential problem, reputable silver suppliers use only fine silver and pure copper in the initial alloy casting process.

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