People often ask me why I am so drawn to enameling, and to cloisonné in particular. Before I tell that story, I’m going to back up a little and quickly explain what cloisonné is:
Enameling involves applying colored glass powders to a metal surface and heating it to a temperature of about 1300-1500 F to fuse the glass to the metal. Cloisonné is defined by fine metal wires that form small compartments for the enamel.
When I was about 12 years old, my mom took me to the Torpedo Factory art gallery in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, to see an enamel exhibit. I was instantly transfixed by the vivid colors of transparent glass over gold and silver. I was fascinated by the minute details in the cloisonné work, and I marveled that anyone could make something so miniature and exact.
I didn’t dream at the time that I might one day get the chance to try making these intricate little works of art. My opportunity came along when Linda Darty taught a cloisonné workshop at Revere Academy in San Francisco. I’ve been hooked ever since.
Now when I walk around and see beautiful things – flowers, birds, landscapes – I picture them all as cloisonne. I imagine what enamel colors I would need to reproduce the color palettes I see, how I would need to layer the colors to achieve the best effect, and I envision fine silver wires around the outlines of everything. I do indeed see the world in cloisonne, and there is no greater pleasure for me than the time I am privileged to spend creating enamel work.