Hands: Good for SoulUsing your hands to create something is good for your brain, enhances your emotional well-being and fills a primal need that we all have for making things, repairing things and being creative. Research bears that out time and again. Making something from scratch with your own two hands that is beautiful and that you are really proud of, is a fantastic feeling. And it isn't just a great feeling at the end when you have a finished object in hand — it is the process that is so enjoyable, it is a universe that nothing else can enter into. You're in the flow!
Cute CatsOne of my students who comes to my open workshops on a Friday morning is in the process of creating 3D pin dishes with a magnet on the back of each (she's a seamstress). They are coming out beautifully and are so sweet and stylish! Her choice of colours is really modern and elegant: delicate greys with pastel pinks and greens.
Test PiecesWhen I'm trying out new colours and combinations I head straight for the copper scrap box (its more like a scrap mountain these days), and get to work making tests and keeping notes on the colours, the sifters used, time in the kiln, thickness of metal etc.
ClassesWhen I teach enamelling classes I want everyone to leave my workshop at the end of the day really happy with what they achieved. I don't believe it when people tell me that they are crap at art and that they're not creative. Everyone is creative. The problem is that our freedom to unleash colour, splash out the paint, hammer out our ideas and take in a deep, healthy breath of pride in our handmade work is drained out of us at a very young age: our educational system doesn't help, it hinders creativity. The pressures of work, money and time seem to be against us. The compulsion to sprint instead of travelling slowly and doing or making something extraordinary — just for our own sense of self — is too much. But when I see the kind of pieces that are made in my classes, by people who have never done enamelling before in their lives, who work in fields that are not "creative", who are "crap" at art, I'm always delighted to point out to them at the end of the day how wrong they were (I love been right — ha ha!).
Red HotThis chilli was one of my favourites from last year's class work. It was a real left-field idea that one of my students had. She was making it as a gift for her son and I'd say he loved it. It hung on bright red copper wire that matched the colour of the enamel. It has such movement and dynamism...and it is just a simple chilli!
Beautiful BovineThis is a really great example of how a very simple image can be so effective — and so evocative. Only two colours were used here: white and brown. The heat of the kiln made the white take on a green hue (courtesy of the copper oxides combining with the enamel).
How ToWe use copper as the primary metal in the classes although in 2019 I'll be running a series of workshops showing how to do Cloisonné on fine silver. For the copper and enamelling workshops students can make jewellery or wall hangings or both depending on the time. I always start the workshops off (especially if it is all beginners) doing a small 3 or 4 inch wall hanging and showing people how to choose and sift enamel colours, how to fire them in a kiln at 800˚, how to use stencils and other mark-making techniques.
AngelsThese gorgeous angels were made by another student as gifts for her sister (the sister has black curly hair), two sons and their girlfriends (seen in the background). Again, simplicity was the key for these cutey-pies. There was a lot of wrestling around with flat sheet copper, cutting it into the angel shapes and folding and forming the flat pieces into stand up and stand alone mini-sculptures.
Bug!This bug is one of my pieces. I also teach everyone how to use a hydraulic press (a press the exerts 20 tonnes of pressure). I have a variety of dies that are made from either acrylic sheet or steel and can be used to get 3D shapes. This bug and the cats at the top of the page were made using the same die...
Want to take a class?Inside the workshop, with my three dogs ensconced on the couch, my kiln, my colours and my metalworking equipment, you will leave all the craziness of life behind and just get down to it: art, colour and creativity. We indulge in quite a few cups of tea + a good bit of chat too...
...So, if you are interested in taking a class this year please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
It is better not to phone or text as I'm hopeless at taking people's names and numbers down on a piece of paper. If you email, I'll have a record of it and I'll get back to you for sure.
The one day classes are usually on a Saturday from 10am-5pm and this year I'll try to do one class a month. The open workshops will begin again in February but I need to see what the format will be...students will need to have done a couple of the one day enamelling workshops before doing the open studio Fridays because you'll have to be able to work somewhat on your own without burning the place down, getting bitten by a dog or generally making a hames of things...
Class DatesSaturday, April 13th (full) Saturday, May 18th (full) Saturday, June 15th (2 places)