Prior to moving to Cornwall, I had worked for years as a photographer and fine art printer, specialising in large format work, so suddenly discovering a feel for enamelling and initially focusing on small scale earrings was quite a contrast. But once I got going, I was hooked, and I developed my Strandline range of enamelled jewellery.
It wasn’t long though before I wanted to push my enamelling skills to do something different – always looking for the next challenge! I noticed that using enamel resin to produce pictures, rather than jewellery, just wasn’t what people did.
With my image-based background, though, it seemed a natural progression and so I started to experiment with creating images using enamel resin fused with heat onto small copper panels, which I then framed. But somehow that wasn’t enough either – I wanted to go large! I’m now working with two sizes of panel – 200 sq mm and 300 sq mm – and I’ve got my eye on going even bigger. I fire my work using a hand-held butane torch because I find I can retain a greater degree of control over the fusing process if I can stop and start it when I want to. A kiln just wouldn’t give me that level of precision.
As well as designing the structure of the image – whether it’s a seascape or a geometric abstract – I get a serious buzz out of creating colours. It’s rare that I simply open a pot of enamel and use it as it comes – I’m much more likely to start combining several colours to get to the exact hue I have in my mind. I find the mixing process is intuitive rather than a precise science, which is fine except that when I hit upon something good, I can’t always replicate it. But that’s great, because it makes each piece of work I produce totally unique.
My seascape images were probably inevitable, given the fact that I gaze out each day across the Celtic Sea with its infinite moods and colours. You can’t help but be inspired by that. Some of my more graphic geometric and abstract images also nod to the Cornish landscape, but the design process for these tends to be much more internalised, springing from a spark of an idea which then develops within my imagination – often strongly influenced by the music I’m listening to at the time.
Enamel is a fantastic medium to work with, and constantly honing the techniques and methods I use is the challenge that keeps driving me forward to push the boundaries even further.
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