…a brief statement of the why and how.
Everything about my artwork is personal: how I taught myself, how I practice it and how I feel about what it encompasses. It is driven by passionate yearning.
In 1967, as I graduated high school looking forward to a life in art, I was given a hobby enameling kit. That was a defining moment and I have never looked back. Working without preconceived limits left me free to invent unique enamel processes, especially a dry-application grisaille. In black and white I found my means to communicate. After 12 years of grisaille’s discipline, the addition of color and foils gave me a euphoric sense of doors opening. My metalsmithing techniques are also my own; developing as the necessity of concept drives the ability to execute.
I see the enamels, metals, stones and other materials as instruments working in concert. The image in enamel is the melodic theme, underscored and embellished by finely detailed fabricated metalwork. The other materials, ranging from diamonds to feathers to fossils, are used as refrain or counterpoint to the enamel’s theme. The orchestration of the finished work is balanced so the melody is compelling and the supporting variations are unifying.
The sustaining motive for my work remains the same whether the subject is the natural world, the cultural world or a mythical world: to become immersed in the beauty and mystery of the world and sometimes, through my work, to momentarily turn away what is painful in that world by overpowering it with benevolence. Each piece is a story I tell myself while I am working.
I begin the design process by searching for the theme. Sometimes the inspiration comes from a particular stone, sometimes from my garden or books…sometimes it comes from the wild blue.
Next step is a drawing to scale in full detail of enamel, metals and stones. The enamel form is traced onto the metal and sawed free. Now the music starts.
My enamel technique begins with 3-5 background firings of black enamel over copper or silver. The images are then built up in multiple firings of very thin layers of enamels which are applied dry by sifting or by laying on with a tiny knife.
My grisaille process utilizes very fine mesh white enamel over the black for a full range of value: black to grey to white. When I am using color I most often use precisely cut 24 K and .999 silver foils, each tiny shape from the drawing. As needed, they are carefully placed and fired over the previously fired and cooled layers. A delicate layer of transparent and/or opalescent enamels is then laid and fired. Additional layers of foils and enamels are built up until the full range and depth of color and detail achieved. A finished piece will require from 12 to over 100 firings.