These pieces have been crafted in vitreous enamel: a glass powder that is sifted, ground fine and painted, or carefully placed with needle tools on copper or porcelain steel, and then fired in a 1450 degree Fahrenheit kiln. Each color is a separate layer, fired, and cooled before the next is applied. This process is repeated 10-20 times before the work is complete. Each layer adds depth, allowing light to reflect through the glass creating a glow that I have always been drawn to.
My work, traditionally, focuses on flowers, plants, and birds. Throughout my life, I have been drawn to the textures, colors, and patterns in organic objects, often using these to communicate ideas about beauty. The patterns of feathers, the textures of moss, the veining of leaves, the colors in flowers; I use these in combination with enamel to create interest and inspire beauty.
This work uses these patterns and colors layered to create images. Some start with textures hammered into the copper as a foundation. Others start with a layer of white enamel poured over a black base of porcelain steel, with images scratched out of the enamel before it is fried, in a technique called Sgraffito. I use this technique so I can start the image with a black and white line drawing. I cut stencils to sift opaque and transparent enamel through to build image. I use lace, leaf skeletons, metal mesh, and hand-cut pattern in card stock to add more texture. I finish with painted enamels to even out the texture of the enamel frit and add detail. Each layer is fired between 2-5 minutes to fuse the metal. Next, the tiles are pressed on a steel slab to flatten before it is left for 15 minutes to slowly cool.
This process can be long and is often hot as the kiln door opens often. However, the process can be completely joyful as I watch images start to take on form from powder; as each grain of glass fuses to those around them to create swatches of color. There is steadiness in the technique, mastery in the handwork. There is a glow as light pushes through transparent layers. Abstraction is a given as glass flows with each firing, making all planning, a bit auspicious. But this is where the beauty comes in and mimics the imperfections in nature.