The Enamel Dance

More thoughts on what it means to be enamelling.

Imaginary self-portrait as enamel dancer.

Imaginary self-portrait as enamel dancer.

My thoughts keep returning to the process of enamelling and the complete devotion it demands of its practitioner. This creative process, with its vivid possibilities of colour, its laborious ritualistic method and its ties to alchemical practices, inspires a creative drive in me that compels me to make. The making, in its quality of searching, almost becomes more important than the finished work. Making becomes a rhythmic ritual, demanding respect and reverie, as well as the need to be patiently observed, step by step, without rush. To me, the enamels are governed by their own rules, almost taking on a life of their own.

As I make, I am concerned with growing something from nothing, and with controlling that created something to a certain extent. A contradiction exists between the tight control imposed on the contained microcosm of my work, or on the enamel kiln as closed environment, and the spontaneity, impulsiveness and freedom required to permit a truly successful result – one that lives. This duality intrigues me – a constant balance between tight control and letting go. A dance. It has allowed a particular style to emerge in my work: with an emphasis placed on intuition and playfulness, I focus on growing, twisting, branching botanical shapes and vivid, unexpected colour combinations. The garden underpins my work in every respect; however, this mythic garden in my jewellery art is vastly different from the sunny vegetable patch people grow in their back yards. The enamelled garden is dark and twisted as well as vibrant and playful.

The studio, as a small universe that is removed from ordinary space and time and severed from the ‘real’, mundane world like a magnificent imaginary garden behind walls, becomes metaphorical for the process of making. As the site for the manifestation of my own jewelled garden fantasy, the studio is transformed into a somewhat sacred space.