Copper MedalPosted: June 8, 2015
My copper medal and my Sedna outcomes are related by theme, they both examine water issues and act as the start to a conversation or line of inquiry for the viewer. The simple copper bowl is decorated with jewellers enamel to and is a dry powder enamel rather than a liquid one as my steel enamel was. The powder form of the enamel presented some challenges when trying to coat the small series of bowls I made to choose from. There was quite a lot of trial and error where enamel burnt or did not flux properly, where it was to thick with an unbalanced surface tension. On several of the pieces I had severe cracking and ‘pinging’ problems where the enamel ‘pings’ off the metal due to the surface tension. One of the main problems I experienced was coating the interior walls of the slightly steeper bowls. To coat these I had to sift a lot of enamel resulting in really thick coats which did not fire well at all and almost instantly ‘pinged’ off. I tried sifting the enamel of wet metal surfaces but this also resulted in patchy uneven coats. Then I tried a glass firing glue which worked well to get a thin coating but when fired it just burned the enamel brown and it crumbled off. It cannot be used on metal it seems, just glass surfaces. That is how I made the river meander design on my large steel bowl and it worked well on top of a layer of enamel. It allowed me to quickly make a design, carve the shape until I was satisfied, it let me knock of the excess and the bowl could be transported to the kiln safely with little fear of the enamel powder moving. In the end i just had to be super careful about getting the first coat down and fired. Then I could move a little more quickly and fluidly
Although I have had quite a bit of experience enamelling I found that my skills had gotten a little rusty. I made some classic errors in preparation and approach – it was all a little rushed in the end. The form is simple and now that its all done I look at and think, its too simple! Perhaps I could have come up with a more interesting bowl form.
Fair Well Too Enamelling?
I enjoy enamelling as a process. I relish simple and bold designs and a limited palette. However this year I did not really learn anything new about enamelling such as a new technique other than gaining experience at working on steel. It was down to me to get books on techniques and seek out learning but found myself preoccupied with my usual distractions and worries that inhibit my making. So I feel it is unlikely that I will return to enamelling next year on Designer Maker, I feel I would benefit more by doing some course or setting aside time to really focus on it a bit later on in my creative career. So fair well for now perhaps but not forever. Knowing me I shall probably be eating these words soon enough.