When and how did you become involved in enameling?

I saw great work of enamel in an art museum eight years ago, and I was very impressed. That’s how and when I became involved in enameling.

Komako Okumura
Front, “Toward the sky, with dreams on the wings,” silver, 3.3 x 4.4 inch, 18K white gold frame, moonstone, sapphire, aquamarine, diamond.

What is your background/work experience/education?

I learned oil painting since childhood and studied oil painting and traditional Japanese style painting in an art university. After graduating from the university, I participated in some public exhibitions. I also held individual shows several times.

Back, “Toward the sky, with dreams on the wings,” silver, 3.3 x 4.4 inch, 18K white gold frame, moonstone, sapphire, aquamarine, diamond.

What qualities do you find appealing in enameling? Why enameling compared to other mediums of expression?

I am attracted to the beauty of the enamel itself, for example, the transparency, the shade and the texture. I am also attracted to the point that a profound expression can be found by combining the gold and the silver foil.

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Front, “Sleeping Cat,” silver plate, frame 18K/diamond.

What enameling techniques do you employ?

I don’t use the technique of cloisonné enamel. After glazing with transparent or half transparent glaze and firing the work, I decorate the work with fine pieces of gold foil or platinum foil and finally I paint minutely the fur of the animal with non-transparent glaze of minute particle. Moreover, I design both sides (front and back) of the work so that customers can enjoy the work more.

Back, “Sleeping Cat,” silver plate, frame 18K/diamond.

Can you describe in detail how your work evolves, from start to finish?

  1. Cut the silver plate in the size of the design.
  2. Transfer the design to the silver plate and glaze both sides of the plate with transparent or half transparent glaze. Fire the plate with the temperature of 750° C (1382° F).
  3. Put the foils on both sides of the plate and fire it again at 750°
  4. Glaze the back side of the plate with transparent or half transparent glaze and fire it at 750°
  5. Glaze the front side of the plate with transparent or half transparent glaze and fire it at 750°
  6. Decorate for example the fur of the animal with non-transparent glaze on both sides and fire it at 740° C (1364° F).
  7. Decorate the work with gold foil or platinum foil and paint over with non-transparent glaze at the same time and fire at 740°
  8. Repeat several times the process of number 6 and 7 to finish.
Front, “The Space Forest” silver plate/size 4.3 x 3.6 inches, frame 18K white gold/tourmaline, tanzanite, white, sapphire, diamond. Awarded “Excellent Work Award” in the 23rd International Cloisonne Jewelry Contest, 2010

How do you go about choosing color?

I choose the color according to the image of the work.

How does an idea for a work begin?

I come up with the ideas while I see, hear and experience beautiful things on a daily basis. I start a work by sketching.

Back, “The Space Forest” silver plate/size 4.3 x 3.6 inches, frame 18K white gold/tourmaline, tanzanite, white, sapphire, diamond. Awarded “Excellent Work Award” in the 23rd International Cloisonne Jewelry Contest, 2010

Describe your studio/equipment/workspace.

I create my works surrounded by five cats in a house near “Kiyomizu-dera” (a temple) in Kyoto, Japan.

What inspires your work and why?

I get inspiration, when I feel the natural phenomena and its power that human cannot reach, such as the ecology of animals and plants and the transition of the seasons, or when I see a great art work. In these moments I am always so moved that I get goose bumps.

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Front, “A Messenger from Heaven”, silver plate/size-3.8×1.7 inch, frame 18K white gold/moonstone, ruby, aquamarine, tourmaline, apatite, garnet, sapphire, diamond

Have you read any books that have affected your work?

There are so many books that have influenced me. To mention a few, the fantasy stories such as “Thomasina” (1957) or “Jennie” (1950) by Paul Gallico are very good books to read for a change and to relax my brain.

Do you sell your work?

I sell my works through the exhibitions of jewelry or through the firms.

Have you attended any conferences, workshops, or exhibitions in enameling? Has your work been exhibited? If so when and where?

Since four years ago I have participated in exhibitions in hotels, jewelry shops and art museums. In total, about 25 times.

Front, “Mystic Encounter”, silver plate/size-3.8×1.7 inch, frame 18K white gold/moonstone, ruby, aquamarine, tourmaline, apatite, garnet, sapphire, diamond.

Where do you see the future of your work going?

As a way of painting, I would like to use the technique of drawing together with the expressions of oil painting or gradation. In chasing I would like to improve the structure of three-dimension and would like to produce works with higher quality that are more universal.

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To reach Komako Okumura, email: hornnho@hotmail.co.jp