Coming up in May is my first workshop. Thanks to Pocosin Arts School of Fine Craft for including me in their virtual curriculum. They’ve had great success with their short virtual workshops, and I’ve even signed up for a couple myself. There are a number of jewelry colleagues whose workshops I’ve longed to take but they require a large financial commitment because they usually involve travel.
The pandemic certainly has its upsides as far as the world of virtual workshops is concerned. I hope that these institutions continue to offer these workshops long after the pandemic is a crisis of the past.
My original plan was to teach a polymer clay workshop using an image transfer technique, but there’s a worldwide shortage of clay and I didn’t want students to struggle to find materials. This workshop will now take place in June, giving manufacturers time to get back up to speed (fingers crossed).
In May, I’ll teach a workshop on making on prong setting for an enamel piece in a ring or pendant. Basic metalsmithing skills are required but you might pick up some good tips. There’s no experience required for the enameling part. And you won’t need a kiln. We’ll be working only with a torch.
Using enamel is a fun way to add color to your work. It’s also a nice change from a gem stone, so ubiquitous in jewelry. There are several ways to attach enamel to silver (or other metals or materials) and prongs are just one way. Riveting and tabs are also ways to combine enamel with other metals or materials.
This is a two-day workshop, two hours each day via Zoom.
I’ve always been an avid photographer, and with my graphic design background I use photography a lot in my client work. So I was excited to discover I could marry some of my images with jewelry in the form of decals on enamel. I also see decals as a way to finally incorporate some typography into my jewelry. Ideas are brewing.
I connected with enamel artist Anne Dinan who offers an online class. It’s self directed and she creates a Facebook page for students to share work and ask questions. I got a slow start because I was unable to locate a laser printer suitable for printing images on decal paper (all the information is available with class purchase). Anne was nice enough to print my images, but I’ve since found a friend with the right printer if I want to explore more.
The process is simple but has multiple steps. You do have to carve out time for this. It’s a bit of work to get the right results and I am just scratching the surface. As in most of my work, I have to embrace the failures and beautiful mistakes! Essentially you’re transferring the decal to a prepared enameled surface and firing it (either in a kiln or with a torch.) The decal substrate burns off and the toner reacts to the enamel and bonds to it. You can leave as is or play a bit more, with transparent enamels, watercolor enamel, graphite and enamel crayons. I also tried starting with a color instead of right (bottom left image) in order to get a more black image. The decal turns a rust color once it’s fired. I was looking for a black image and the orange background worked.
Although, curiously, the spore print image (bottom right) is black on white and I can’t recall now how I did that. Take notes!
Here are a few images from the process.
I’m also very excited to be taking an enameling workshop with the very talented Canadian artist Jan Smith up in Seattle this summer. The journey continues!