The Art of Living by Making Art

Jewellery inspired by nature and made by hand.
How I make it, why I make it, the challenges I face and the successes that come my way.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cloisonne Enamelling

Here is the cloisonne brooch I started working on at our local culture tour. I have finished it and it is now up on Etsy. I found it difficult to work on a cloisonne piece while doing a public demo, far better for me to be alone in my studio with no distractions. I am definitely a beginner when it comes to cloisonne - this a really a very simple piece with only a few wires to lay in. I do aspire to make more complex pieces but I know it will take a lot of work to get there.
I would urge anyone who is dabbling in enamel to try cloisonne work because the effect is so lovely. Having said that it can be very frustrating dealing with the tiny pieces of fine silver wire. Not only that but my eyes sight is going through a transition at the moment and my optometrist and I are deciding what kind of contact lens to get so that my working vision is good and my long distance too. At the moment I am going back and forth between a pair of magnifiers over my contacts and a magnifying lamp to get the best working vision. Add to this putting on the dark kiln-proof glasses when firing and I am getting in a bit of a muddle.
Another point to think about is whether to use leaded or unleaded enamels in cloisonne work. I always use unleaded enamels when I am sifting dry but as cloisonne work is done wet I have safely used leaded enamels on a few pieces and got some lovely colours to show for it. I am planning to stock up on more leaded colours, particularly the warm colours of red, pink, orange to use on future cloisonne work.
If you have never seen the exquisite work of Harlan Butt find some time to check it out. He really is a master of enamelling and cloisonne work - Now I am going to go and browse my enamelling catalogue for all the things on my wish list - new colours of enamel, more trivets, gold cloisonne wire... It is so much easier to sit and do this than to actually do any work!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Waiting for Business

Unfinished production pendants in fine silver and enamel.
Last saturday and sunday I was part of a local Culture Tour - demonstrating my enamel jewellery techniques. It went about as I had expected - not a complete loss but not really busy enough to get excited about. Because I had set up my work table in a local boutique where I sell my work there was a steady stream of people coming in. But I was surprised at how many of them just concentrated on their shopping and showed no interest in what I was doing. As I have said before, I don't really think that the geography and sparse population of our area were conducive to this tour being a success, but I was happy to give it a go.
By the way I had been worried about taking my kiln up to the store and plugging it in. We (myself and the store owner) had finally managed to get hold of an electrician and he came and temporarily replaced the breaker for the outlet socket I was using. I was relieved, and everything worked very well.
The pieces I worked on during the tour were some small, very simple pendants, using the textured foil technique. It is an easy technique to do while talking to someone but it looks quite effective when finished. I had a cloisonne piece set up to work on too and I did a little, but I really needed to be at home alone doing that one. I did have some people who werer very interested in what I was doing and they really made it worthwhile. I even sold a few pieces!
All in all I'll call it a weekend spent promoting my work rather than selling a bundle of it. I guess it all helps in the end, and I did get quite a few pieces made!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Art in Action

Enamel over embossed silver foil

This weekend I am spending all day saturday and sunday demonstrating enamelling on silver as part of our local cultural tour. These artists tours are ubiquitous these days but this is only the second year for ours. One of the problems here in rural Canada is that the artists are spread very thinly over a large area making it difficult for people to see many places without a lot of tedious driving.

Rather than open my studio which is only my basement and nothing special, I have partnered with the local store that sells my work and I am lugging all my stuff up there and setting up right in the window. It should be good for both of us. I think many people are intimidated by going to an artists' house especially if they are the only visitor at the time - it can feel awkward. By setting up in the store I think people will feel fine about popping in. Perhaps all the stores on the main street of our little town should sponsor an artist?
I'll write about how it went next week - hope my kiln will be okay and not blow all the breakers!