This is the second in a series of guest posts by the enamel artist Kat Cole. The post was previously published on her blog.
I have made large enameled work previously, but I have always felt handicapped by the size of the kiln available. Scale and proportion decisions had to be made based on the interior dimensions of the kiln. More than once, I thought a piece would fit in the kiln only to realize it must be cut down and altered to close the door.
Things had to be constructed in a way that they could be assembled after enameling. This was difficult because of the nature of enameled pieces to shift and warp during the firing process. The work had to be designed with these limitations in mind.
But what if there were no size constrictions and elements could be welded together? What would the work look like then?
These were the thoughts that stayed in my mind after my visit in November to San Francisco and talks with Judy Stone. What could I do in a facility made exclusively for large enamel work? What could I do with a kiln that was 8ft x 7ft x 3ft? These were exciting and challenging questions, but before those questions could be considered, there were practical obstacles.
Where would I make the work? How would I get it, and me, from Dallas to Santa Rosa? When would I have time for such an endeavor? How would I pay for the materials, travel and expenses? Where I would find additional studio space since there wouldn’t be enough room in my jewelry studio? And if I do make this work, where will it go when it is completed?
The first piece of puzzle fell into place in January when I stumbled across the name Scott Trent. Scott has been a sculptor, educator, and public art activist in the Dallas community for many years. The project I am most familiar with of his is the Henderson Art Project. He founded this program in 2010, coordinating with businesses and artists to exhibit outdoor sculpture along Henderson Ave, a popular street filled with bars and restaurants in Dallas. I live near Henderson and truly enjoy the yearly rotation of artwork in my neighborhood.
My interest was piqued by Scott’s current project, a Saturday Welding Class for Artists. This 4-hour weekly class is held at the El Centro Community College welding certification facilities located in the Cedars Neighborhood of south Dallas. It has become a wonderful space for those of us in Dallas who do not have a sculpture studio. It is a place to connect with other makers, and share knowledge.
Scott and my fellow students were and continue to be amazingly generous with their knowledge about working in large-scale steel sculpture and their local network of people and resources. It is through this class I have finally felt connected to a community in Dallas. Along with the welding class space, I became connected with other makers and a community studio space on King St in the Cedars, where I could rent additional workspace, and get to know another group of artists living and working in The Cedars Neighborhood.