Archive for enamel

The New Aesthetics of Enamel

Quick: If I told you I’d bought an enameled pendant, what would come to mind? Something clumpy and heavy, with garish colors? Maybe a small, jewel-toned piece, carefully polished?

Enamel is a highly technical art form often taught as a craft. Like many crafts, it has been vulnerable to having a few specific aesthetics baked into it (so to speak). Work taught in jewelry or metalworking departments was often small, using cloisonne and champleve, layers of transparent jewelry enamel to create controlled, gem-like colors and effects.

Enamel got looser in the 50s and 60s, when kitchen-table enamelists, using small home kilns and glass threads and chunks, produced a burst of tiny Abstract Expressionist-ish works that had a more primitive, modern aesthetic than the work by their highly trained counterparts.

But the pieces were still small, still usually jewelry, and limited by the scale of the supplies and the equipment. The aesthetic became a cliche.

Since then, though, a shift has occurred, as enamel is taught less as a craft and more as part of the vocabulary of art. It is attracting artists who are discovering the terrific potential of enamels purely in service of visual ideas.

Take these works, for example, by British artist Lisa Traxler, for whom vitreous enamel on steel is just one of several media she works in. With their scale, volume, and attention to line and color, these are like three-dimensional paintings. They have more in common with the crushed metal sculptures of John Chamberlain than Faberge’s precious eggs.

Volume Sculpture A,F, C and D, vitreous enamel on metal, gallery installation view

Zaar, by John Chamberlain, painted steel, 130cm x 174 x 50cm

More work by Lisa Traxler here.

June Schwarcz, of course, was one of the original pioneers of enamel in service of art. She exploded the possibilities of jewelry enamel into pure form and color.

Works from Invention and Variation, at the Renwick Gallery, June Schwarcz’, summer 2017

This Latvian artist has created large images from smaller copper pieces, much like enamelist Fred Ball.

Contrast, enamel on copper, 49″W x 26″H, by Lion Dina

And now back to jewelry: We are starting to see mainstream work that uses enamel for its rich color and permanent quality, but that strays from traditional techniques into a style that is more free, more inspired by visual art, as with this enameled silver ring from Gucci.









Do you have work that pushes the boundaries of the old enamel aesthetic? Show us! at gro.r1513394834etnec1513394834leman1513394834e@gol1513394834b1513394834.

Strange Bedfellows: Combining Champlevé and Decals – a workshop with Marissa Saneholtz

This Workshop is Now Full

For many millennia, people have had the technology to create enameled objects. Many of the terms we use now to describe these ancient techniques have a much more modern origin, but the basic principles are steadfast. Champlevé is a French term that describes enamels that are inlaid into designs made of metal with higher fields and recessed compartments. Over the course of centuries, this particular technique has been perfected by artists and employed to create bold imagery within enameled works. Fast forward to the digital age. Artists are now employing computers and customizing printers with inks that are compatible with glass and can be fired into the surface of enameled objects.

By combining the traditional technique of Champlevé with the technology- based technique of iron based toner decals, students will be able to create highly detailed pieces with many layers of information. The tandem use of these two processes allows for the addition of extra pattern, texture, or even narrative clues to further concept and decorative qualities.
Over the course of a three-day workshop students will have the opportunity to learn how to etch, wet pack, fire, stone, and finish Champlevé pieces as well as create custom decals that will then be applied to the enameled surfaces created. All levels welcome.

Marissa Saneholtz

Marissa Saneholtz makes narrative based jewelry and objects using humor and sarcasm. In 2008, Marissa earned her BFA in 3-dimensional design from Bowling Green State University and her MFA in 2011 in metals and jewelry design from East Carolina University. She has taught at
several institutions including East Carolina University’s Italy Intensives Study Abroad Program in Certaldo, Italy and Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. For two years she worked at J.Cotter Galleries and Studio in Vail, Colorado as gallery manager and assistant studio manager.
Currently, she is currently teaching at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, OH. Saneholtz has been published in several books, including Art Jewelry Today II edited by Jeffery Snyder and Humor in Craft by Brigitte Martin. Her work has been exhibited both nationally and
internationally and can be seen on display at in the Dorothy McKenzie Price Permanent Collection at Bowling Green State University as well as at the Racine Art Museum in Racine, WI. She is also co-founder of the Smitten Forum, an annual creative gathering of metalsmiths and

Manly-Man Brooches

Workshop Hours:

Saturday – Monday, 10 AM to 5 PM , with meal breaks

Cost: $475 plus $30 materials fee

Materials List: Provided upon registration or when ready

Registration: Limited to 8

Refund Policy: No refunds unless your workshop position can be filled by another person.

Lodging, Meals, Transportation:

Coming from out of town? Check AirBnB, Priceline, and other discounted online lodging sources, The Center will try help you make your stay comfortable and stress free while you are a workshop participant.

T Magazine Features Enamelwork — Without Using the Word Enamel


The good news is that the latest issue of T Magazine has a lush spread devoted to enameled jewelry and objects new and old. (Click here to read the article.) The luminous boxes of Jean Goulden rub shoulders with the incredible miniature artworks that are Alice Cicolini’s rings and Morelli’s meditation bells.

It’s interesting, though: In the print edition, there’s no mention of the word “enamel.” The text reads, in full: “Through the Looking Glass: An ancient technique gets a new shine when applied to contemporary jewelry and objets.” (The online version has the more Google-friendly (and accurate) header, “Enamel Adds A New Shine to Small Accessories.”)

The photographs are pretty — still-lifes in dusty jewel-tones, the items scattered on shabby-chic dressing tables as though tossed there at the end of some fabulously debauched evening. Care has been taken with a whimsical mix of props –a bowl of candies, lipstick on a wine glass, vintage hotel keys. But the pieces themselves are lost in the scenery, an afterthought, the details and the colors almost too small to see. And those vintage aqua colored Belperron earrings, that pop so nicely on the page? They are made of turquoise and lacquer, says the website. Not enamel.

Just saying. We’re delighted enameled work is getting such prominent billing. And we’ll be even more delighted when everyone knows its name.

Large Scale Enameling at KVO Industries

The Center for Enamel Art is proud to sponsor this program with our partner, KVO Industries, in Santa Rosa, CA. Our last weekend has been postponed until 2018 because of the turmoil caused by the extensive fires in Northern California, which came within 100 feet of KVO. Stay Tuned for news about the Center’s 2018 large-scale enameling program.

  Oct. 21-23

Register Now:  Oct.


  • If you are already working with porcelain enameled steel you will receive expert technical help. Note: these workdays are not workshops so there will be no formal instruction taking place although there will be lots of knowledge sharing.
  • If you are working in other 2-D media this is a wonderful opportunity to explore the creative potential of “porcelain” enamel for painters, drawers, and printmakers.
  • For artists working in the venue of “Art in Public Places”, creating large scale 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional “Site Specific” Art, this will give you the opportunity to experience a medium that is color-fast, and impervious to UV light and weather.
  • If you are looking to start a small business making beautifully designed functional objects and architectural elements that could incorporate porcelain enameled steel, this is the opportunity to make sample products for future small scale production runs.
  • If you have a commission or project that you would like to create in porcelain enameled steel you will be able to come to KVO for a discounted 3-day weekend (Sat.-Mon.) under the auspices of the Center for Enamel Art.
  • If you are in instructor wanting to bring a class to work or tour the facility you will be able to book your visit through the Center.

Most tools, equipment, and supplies will be provided or made available for purchase. After you register you will receive more detailed information on how to prepare for a working in the factory. Center for Enamel Art facilitators, will be on hand to assist all participants. KVO staff will provide technical assistance.

$145 –  (including most materials and supplies) for individual workdays Saturdays and Sundays only. Facilitators and staff will be on hand.
$750 – day rate for class visits Saturdays and Sundays only. Maximum 10 participants plus instructor. Center facilitators and KVO staff will be on hand.
$750 –  3-day Residency – Saturday through Monday (must be booked for the entire 3 days). Please contact Judy Stone if you are considering a project booking through the Center.
If you would like to work for more than 3 days at KVO  you can book additional days directly with KVO.  Additional days may cost more per daily rate.
$250 –  2 hour factory tour for 25 participants max. These must be booked directly through the Center for Enamel Art and scheduled according to factory availability with KVO.


Painting enamels

Painting with enamels at KVO

About KVO

KVO is a small firm that specializes in interpretive porcelain enameled steel signage for exterior installation.  The company welcomes artists and has produced many public art commissions over the years.  They specialize in beautiful 4-color enamel photography, precise screen images, and unprecedented technical excellence of what they produce.  Artists can request quotes for projects or commissions and can also ask to come to the factory on a day rate to work on their own projects outside of those days set side for discounted rates by the Center for Enamel Art

About The Enamel Industry

The enamel industry is largely unknown to artists as a means to produce exterior installations that are long lasting, weather- and graffiti-impervious. The medium is suited to one-of-a kind creative functional objects for interior and exterior furnishings, architectural elements, garden and building design. Industrial work is usually made with steel or cast iron.

Enameling Recycled Steel for Jewelry and Objects – a workshop with Melissa Cameron

Register Now

Are you the magpie always collecting bits of rusty steel on the street? Are there bits of magnetic metal in your studio that you’ve tucked away, swearing that one day you’ll clean them up to make a masterpiece? Bring your rusty recycled bits and bobs to The Crucible in Oakland to learn the skills to turn these into beautiful and unique jewels.

This class will involve diagnosing scrap metals to find their suitability for enameling, proper enamel-on-steel surface preparation, liquid and sifted enamel application, trivet modifications (with titanium wire), and firing tips for steel. It will also include design tips for getting the most out of the enamel parts and to assist each participant in making their found pieces into wearable jewels and beautiful objects.

Attempts to Kill -vitreous enamel, recycled steel tortilla pan, titanium, stainless steel

There is great narrative potential with steel and enamel, owing to steel’s strength and durability over the other enamel metals. It can be used over much larger expanses, while remaining unexpectedly light. Steel is a chameleon, able to be used in luscious, precious looking works and the complete opposite, textured and dramatic displays, all able to be supplemented by the natural decay of steel. These inherent characteristics add richness to the colors and effects of enamel, and make it the ideal contemporary jewelry and object material.


Melissa Cameron was born in Perth, Australian in 1978. (BA interior architecture, Curtin University, Perth, 2002, MFA and metalsmithing, Monash University, Melbourne, 2009) She relocated to Seattle in 2012.

Melissa’s works have been exhibited worldwide and are in several prestigious collections. She has participated in enamel residencies in the UK and Germany and the Penland Winter Residency in the US and her pieces are featured in Jewel Book, Art Jewelry Today 3 and Lark Books’ 500 Silver Jewelry Designs, as well as the upcoming Tales from the Toolbox: Narrative Jewellery, edited by Mark Fenn. She is the recipient of multiple grants from the Australia Council for the Arts and a Fellowship grant from Artist Trust in Seattle. She has presented papers at many conferences and symposia. Her writing appears on Art Jewelry Forum. She currently serves on the Metalsmith Magazine Editorial Advisory Committee.

Melissa regularly teaches workshops  in Seattle, and was one of two featured enamelists teaching and presenting at the Enamel Guild Northeast Conference in 2015.

She recently won a best of show award for her pieces in the 2017 Alchemy 4 exhibition sponsored by the Enamelist Society.

Workshop Hours:

Wednesday – Friday, 10 AM to 5 PM , with meal breaks

Cost: $425 plus $20 materials fee

Materials List: Provided upon registration or when ready

Registration: Limited to 12

Refund Policy: No refunds unless your workshop position can be filled by another person.

Lodging, Meals, Transportation:

Coming from out of town? Check AirBnB, Priceline, and other discounted online lodging sources, The Center will try help you make your stay comfortable and stress free while you are a workshop participant.

Register Now