The Art of Enameling; Techniques, Projects, Inspiration by Linda Darty

Lark Books, a division of Sterling Publishing Co. 2004; ISBN 1-57990-507-2; 176 pages, full color.

Book Reviews Feb 2005

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In one heartfelt swoop, Linda Darty has gathered and confessed, “Enameling, the art of fusing glass onto metal to create colorful and imaginative designs, is one of the oldest methods used to decorate metal,” by updating what should have already been known.

Fortunately, Ms. Darty is one among few with enough confidence and experience to anticipate advancement of the field with more fact than fiction. Whether treated as an art, as a craft, or as a pastime, the act of enameling is fundamentally the same. The person committing the action determines the degree of commitment. The degrees to which one will delve into the alchemy, art and science is a matter of self-education requiring comprehension that opens all and closes no doors.

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This book is profoundly logical, extremely obvious and demystifying. Even with the passive pigeonhole edit, cut and clutter of Lark Book’s editorial and art staff, the book and it’s content presents more relevant information about glass on metal than has ever been put into print in a single volume.

Very few basic points were missed in this rich new standard. There is something to be said about a picture being worth a thousand words. Unfortunately, there are times when one cannot see what was written about or read about what could be seen. A second edition or a volume two must be considered because the opening act was so far beyond the common ‘how-to’ as to be profound.

The overt simplicity of this book chronicles discovery, offers assistance, and invites discovery. Linda has, by relating procedures and process with clarity, created a fundamental text that can propel one into the future without the yank back of the bungee cord.

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The long-blunted elemental edges of the craft have been re-sharpened by the reinvention of integrity, not child’s play or constant repetition of the same old rehash. This author has fresh eyes.

The book is no ego trip for either the author or the student. It is more of an exercise set before the potential. Glass on metal as a medium beholding to no one. The examples in this book clearly mark difference brought forth from the same elemental materials.

This book offers a complete refreshment so basic that even the advanced will rejoice and admire the magnitude of the author’s commitment to consistent clarity and willingness, without nothing she knows, or knows of, and more importantly has experienced.

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Bill Helwig

Note: Linda Darty was a student of mine at Penland. She was treated no different than any of the others that have been a student of mine. While I do hear much of my knowledge in her, she wrote the book. Lark Books was overwhelmed by her strength, dedication, and overall ability to require good old-fashioned country-style truth. Linda has a life filled with the positive. She is empowered with knowledge and character because she never misrepresented herself or her ability, nor those of others so committed. Yes, I am prejudice.

Beginner’s Guide to Enameling

By Dorothy Cockrell. Search Press, 2004; ISBN 1-903975-61-1. 64 full-color pages, 8” x 10”, soft cover.

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If asked to recommend a book for a beginner – recommend this one! The highly skilled professional may also find interesting change-of-pace items for those occasions when they wish to make an affordable gift.

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The book is based on a workshop for beginners given by the author some years ago called ‘The Second Coat’. The publisher limited the book to 64 pages and wanted step-by-step projects. Since the book is about enameling and not metal working, the publisher also insisted on projects with pre-cut or pre-formed copper. Of course, there is no reason readers cannot cut and fabricate their own metal shapes, or use silver instead of copper for most of the projects.

The preliminaries were held to a minimum. One page of introduction, four pages about materials, tools, and equipment, one about safety, one about colors, one about firing, and the ninth page of text starts a step-by-step project. This is a pendant using a pre-cut copper shape and a simple stencil technique. This is followed with fifteen more step-by-step projects. From drawing in sifted enamel; rubber stamps, sgraffito and liquid enamels, crazy paving, gold and silver foil and leaf to raku and silver lustre. The final pages are about firing beads, troubleshooting, and a one-page index.

Occasionally, good work by other enamelers is shown. These works were selected to be only a little advanced beyond the similar step-by-step project being described. This was intentional in order to encourage rather than discourage the beginner.

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Dorothy has succeeded in her goal to write a very instructive book for the average beginner. She has used procedures within their grasp, while stimulating their interest, rather than driving them away with procedures and examples that most would not be able to master in a reasonable time.

This book would be a fine addition to the library of all who are interested in the art of enameling.

Woodrow W. Carpenter