Metalsmith 2003 Exhibition

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By Metalsmith MagazineMore from this author

This article showcases various exhibitions  published in the 2003 Exhibition issue of the Metalsmith Magazine. This features Pamela Argentieri, Michal Bar-on, Jan Baum, and more!



2003 exhibition
Foglia II, 2000, cloisonné enamel, sterling silver, 24k foil, 3 x 1 ½ x ¼". Photo: Matthew Hollern

My work in jewelry presents the challenge to create shaped canvases on which an image can exist and then abstract through pattern and color. The uniqueness and range of color that can be developed is a constant adventure for me.

Circle Ring, 2002, cloisonné enamel, sterling silver, 1 ¼ x ¾ x ¾". Photo: Matthew Hollern

The objects serve as icons of nature and remind us of the value of beauty in our lives. By creating a wearable piece of art, I am able to provide a means of self-expression to others who value beauty.


Black Wreath #4, 2002, silver, gold leaf, enamel, diameter 3 ½". Photo: Leonid Padrul

A great happiness followed by deep sorrow was the trigger for this series of "Black Wreaths."

A wreath on a grave was the right object to express that duality. On one hand, the flowers on top of a grave are so colorful and smell beautiful-happy. Yet underneath-dark, unpleasant, hard.

The use of enamel helped to create the contrast in each wreath. The top colorful, glassy flowers. The bottom, black color matte-one dimensional.

Black Wreath #3, 2001, silver, gold leaf, enamel, diameter 3 1/8". Photo: Leonid Padrul

The champlevé technique and last swift firing creates a smooth pleasant touch on top, contrasting the prickly feeling caused by many sharp pins at the bottom of the wreaths.


All of my work is humanist in nature. In the last few years my work has focused on the use and language of ornamentation and decoration in the expression of the various facets of the human spirit. Vitreous enamel allows my work to embody a vitality, spirited-ness, and idiosyncratic quality through the use of flat, matte, and often, bold color and pattern.

Ornamental White, 2001, sterling silver, enamel, steel, 3 x 1 ½ x 1/8". Photo: Norman Watkins

I recently have been exploring and utilizing a variety of the physical qualities of vitreous enamel. I combine high-karat gold with the physical imperviousness of enamel to house more aggressive and less stable materials such as salt. I use the enamel to physically bind steel "filigree" elements. On top of vitreous enamel, I explore mark-making patterns through the use of china paint.

Red Floral, 2001, sterling silver, enamel, steel, 3 x 1 ½ x ¼". Photo: Norman Watkins

My work is influenced by a wide variety of aesthetic traditions: the history of lockets/wearable containers, as well as jewelry history; Moorish design and architecture; mark making; accordion music; and the work of Henri Matisse.


Florilegium Necklace, 2002, enamel, 18k gold, copper, length 41". Photo: Dean Powell

Florilegia were seventeenth-century hand-illustrated books, depicting living ornamental gardens. While these books were intended as botanical records of floral gardens, they presented a utopian ideal of the garden, shifting the botanically correct for the aesthetically pleasing. Much of my recent work has been built around this idea that ornamentalism has a transcendent capability, which is meant to make nature resonate.

Florilegium Brooch I, 2002, enamel, 18k gold, 2 ½ x 2 ½ x 3/8". Photo: Dean Powell

Jewelry itself is a form of this phenomena; the jeweled, enameled and idealized floral brooch has been around for a long time. While this series of necklaces and brooches is not meant to be accurate to the Florilegia, I do very much respond to the go-for-broke beauty of their presentation. The floral images in my own work are far more dislocated and botanically inaccurate, a subjective quality that appeals to me. The idea that the ornamental rendering of nature was meant to be cathartic, in place of the experience of nature itself, I find strangely satisfying.


Five Spools Necklace, 2002, enamel, copper, sterling silver, stainless steel cable, 5 x 1". Photo: Doug Yaple

This body of work was made to honor my grandparents. My grandfather was a fine tailor for MCM studio in Hollywood and my grandmother was an expert seamstress for Ungar's fine dress store. Their past is symbolized by the forms of my pieces. The shuttle, spools, and stitch markings are indicative of my grandparents' intricate work.

Single Spool, 2002, enamel, copper, sterling silver, binding wire, stainless steel cable, 2 ½ x 1". Photo: Doug Yaple

I believe that life gets richer with exploring your history. Enameling is my way to bridge the generations of past, present, and future.


Inner Sanctum, 2002, enamel, copper, cast resin, mixed media, 13 x 10 x 2". Photo: Christopher Conrad

I create figures and houses as a way to try on the questions of day-to-day living. It is an extensive, peculiar wardrobe of inner workings worn inside out. The risk of really seeing the promise that lies inside oneself and the courage to confront a dark, murky corner with a mere penlight makes me giddy. I am not always unafraid, yet that small continuous thread of revelation that beckons seems inescapable.

Us, 2002, enamel, copper, mixed media, 11 x 5 x 2". Photo: Christopher Conrad


The Door Knob Turned, 2002, enamel, fine silver, sterling silver, 24k gold, 3 ¼ x 3 x ¼". Photo: Kathleen Browne

The images used in this series of jewelry pieces are appropriated from a pulp magazine printed during the 1950s titled Secrets. The magazine photos were overly dramatic and stagy, both tragic and unintentionally comic, but somehow they captured the zeitgeist regarding female transgression. These reconfigured images freeze a moment in the daily drama of our lives and, set as jewels, they serve as paeans to the mundane.

Kiss, 2002, enamel, fine silver, sterling silver, 9 ½ x 7 ¼ x 5". Photo: Kathleen Browne

By converting these images to enamel decals (and firing them onto the surface) I can exploit the historical conventions of enameled portrait miniatures, and, in particular, eighteenth century decal transfers. Handpainted enamel portrait miniatures were luxury items, but with the development of the decal transfer process in the m d eighteenth century, such jewels were affordable to a wider audience. Then as now, the enameled image serves to provide a democratized view of time and place.


The Good Girls are Home with Their Mommas, 2002, enamel, copper, 7 x 6 x 4". Photo: Jeffrey A. Scovil

Trained in two-dimensional disciplines, I was introduced to enameling as another medium in which to create images and texture. The process of fusing ground glass to metal has a multitude of applications. When pushed beyond the conventions of ashtrays and amulets, enameling is a medium with incredible potential for innovation. While experimenting with large-scale enameling, I discovered that the processes forced my work to change and expand. Technical problem solving often led to new and exciting concepts.

Organ II, 2002, enamel, copper, colored pencil, 20 x 8 x 8". Photo: Jeffrey A. Scovil

Currently, my work is an exploration in integrating image with form. Drawings taken from popular culture are combined with hand-hammered forms to create a narrative that addresses the intricacies of the modern human condition.


Chartreuse Reflected, 2001, fine silver, sterling silver, enamel, 3 x 1 ½". Photo: Ken Yanoviak

As an artist, I am particularly interested in working with vitreous enamel to express my own personality in vivid color. The dome and circle serve as a canvas on which to present relationships between color, form, and scale. I employ traditional and direct processes in a way that will create a contemporary aesthetic statement. My interest lies in the seductive radiance of the colors I am able to attain; l find the brilliant and lucid quality of the enamel and its palette are irresistible. In my work, delicate, glassy surfaces are enhanced by the dynamic play of interior and exterior spaces, which further energizes the bold designs. My forms are large and colorful, having a determined personality that is neither shy nor staid, and which requires as much from the wearer.

Bubble, 2002, fine silver, sterling silver, enamel, 2 x 1 ½". Photo: Ken Yanoviak


Population Density, 2002, enamel on steel, 24 x 13 ½". Photo: Katy Bergman Cassell

Enameling has incredible versatility as a medium. I choose to enamel because I can draw on historical techniques that align closely with the realm of metalsmithing, but I can also borrow processes from printmaking, painting, drawing, ceramics, and even industrial enameling. For my enamel wall pieces, I often work on industrial porcelain-coated steel, especially if it relates to the subject matter for my work, like in my recent "Cannon Series" wherein it helped convey a cold feeling of weaponry and impersonal, if not ominous, surveillance. I've returned to copper for my current "Olive Series," because by mixing champlevé with unconventional approaches, like incorporating oxidation, or under- or over-firing the enamel, I get the luscious colors I want. In general, I aim to control the enamel in a loose, casual way that departs from the traditional tightness often associated with the material.

Olives Over Red, 2002, enamel on copper, 11 x 8 ½". Photo: Katy Bergman Cassell


Untitled (brooch), 2002, iron, solder, garnet, enamel, 4 ½ x 4 3/8 x 3/8". Photo: Bettina Dittlmann

Sometimes the setting is full without a stone.

Sometimes I free the iron wire from the enamel to set the stone.

Sometimes I set the stone into the enameled bezel.

Sometimes I fill the bezels with enamel, so the enamel becomes the "stone."

Group of Rings (brooches), 2000-02, iron, solder, garnet, pyrit, enamel chips, enamel. Photo: Bettina Dittlmann

Garnet resists the heat in the kiln. The enamel strengthens the prongs. The enamel sticks to the garnets and covers them. It hides the cut gem. Enamel chips sparkle like cut stones. Pyrit rocks sparkle like diamonds. I try to work with the enamel, try to understand its laws and try to break them, but the enamel always wins!


Note: Marilyn Druin wrote the following statement before her death in 2001.

Ceremonial Goblet, 2000, 24k gold cloisonné, basse-taille, enamel, fine silver, 24k gold, gilded sterling silver, 7 x 2 ½". Photo: Bob Barrett

I am moved by the strength of opposing forces: rock and water, wind and earth. I see metal and glass as possessing the same opposition and tension. The dynamics of the hard opaque metal versus the fluid, transparent luminosity of the glass allows me to design from the metal base up, as well as across the surface of the piece. With all of these forces in juxtaposition, the challenge then becomes one of imposing order within the piece without negating the integrity of any one element. My life has been a pursuit of overcoming the limitations of the metal to free the poetry in the glass.

Golden Sampler (brooch/pendant), 2001, 24k gold cloisonné, guilloche and basse-taille, enamel, fine silver, 24k gold, sterling silver, 2 1/3 x 2 1/3". Photo: Bob Barrett

Just about everything in my environment serves as inspiration for my work. With all the change, however, there is continuity, in that no piece really stands alone. Each new piece is an attempt to complete unresolved aesthetic and technical problems of previous works.


Marked Moments 2, 2002, porcelain enamel on steel, 6 x 6 x ¾". Photo: Greg Staley

From the very beginning I was taught to look beyond the surface. The observance of small, subtle details led me on a path towards the essence of things. Stored visual and sensual memories continue to feed me and are the foundation for my work.

Meditative Space, 2001, porcelain enamel on steel, 14 x 9 x ¾". Photo: Greg Staley

Windows engage my attention on many levels. This body of work examines the delicate traces reflected in glass and the awkward perspectives that emerge when we pause and look at something again and again. Washes of porcelain enamel held tight by steel facilitates my process. It allows for extensive experimentation with surface texture and nuances of color as I interpret ideas, allowing new possibilities to keep emerging all the time. Like the changing imagery, my mark-making language goes through a process of metamorphosis as layers are added, partial images erased, and intercepting voices create a new perspective to an unending dialogue.


Study of Tomato Horn Worm Caterpillar, 2001, 24k, 18k, and 14k yellow gold, fine silver, sterling silver, enamel 4 ½ x 1 ¼ x 1 ¼". Photo: Robert R. Sanders

My inspiration to use enamel in my work is a result of my desire to represent the essence of natural history images that intrigue me. I use colored enamels to adorn the metal as others might use gemstones. The color palette, variations, and combinations that are available to me with this media offer me an endless supply to satisfy my method of expression. I strive to create imagery that sometimes duplicates what I see, yet at other times I construct my pieces in a stylized fashion. I like to play with the observer. I am intrigued with life cycle and metamorphosis. I often create my pieces using humble elements that might be considered by some as distasteful or unpleasant, and give them reference in a jewel-like fashion, to be given great respect. I take natural history objects and construct stories that might surprise the observer to attain a different perspective or to cause them to look at things more closely, at something that they may have never noticed.

Blue Bird, 2002, 24k, 18k, and 14k yellow gold, fine silver, fresh water pearl, enamel, 2 x 1 x 1". Photo: Barry Blau


Plat, 2002, encaustic, copper, enamel, found objects, blueprint paper, ledger, paper, graphite, oil paint on wood, 7 x 5". Photo: Linda Darty

With my roots in painting, I enjoy limoges enameling techniques on copper surfaces. The resulting small works become objects to incorporate into assembled pieces, which also include encaustic, graphite, oil paint, paper, and found objects. Collage and encaustic are incrementally constructed, and both result in visible layers. I extend this layering method to the enamelwork by building complex surfaces with various copper element: revealing the layers further with enamel. Placement of these enameled surfaces into a waxed environment creates a rich interplay between the metal, glass, wax, and other materials.

Pound, 2002, encaustic, copper, enamel, found objects, ledger paper, gold foil, graphite, oil paint on wood, 7 x 5". Photo: Linda Darty

My work springs from an interest in the process of construction. Just as the laborer brings materials and processes together to make an operable product, I put disparate pieces together with the goal of making a piece that "works" to engage the viewer.


My work examines the connection between jewelry and clothing and their wearer. It reveals how context affects how an object is perceived. This includes storage of jewelry as object, such as encasing works in steel boxes designed specifically for them. Removed from its functional aspect, the object invites the wearer to relate to jewelry as sculpture.

Read Between the Lines (pendant/brooch), 2000, sterling silver, enamel, china paint, gold foil, 1 ½ x 2 ½ x ¼". Photo: George Post

I use enamel to create rich co or fields, markings, and textures. By creating layers of glass, I can create translucent paintings. In the process of heating glass in the kiln, there is always an unpredictable element at play. I am attracted to the depth, textures, translucency, and bleeding that happens during firing. In a sense, I am marking imperfections in layers to create beauty and balance. Therein lie the unique properties of fusing glass with metal.

Untitled (pendant), 2002, sterling silver, enamel, china paint, 1 ½ x 2 x ¼". Photo: George Post

I look to create a simple sense of beauty and leave a timeless imprint for the audience's reflection.


Red Fire Poppy (brooch), 2002, sterling silver, 22k gold, torch-fired enamel, 2 ¼ x 2 ¼". Photo: George Post

I have never been drawn to the sparkle, brilliance, or transparency of precious and semiprecious stones, but have always been attracted to the color, opacity, and matte texture of beach stones. Since I like the idea of my jewelry being made entirely by hand, I decided to create my own "stones." These enamels are the result l "draw" on the enamel by cutting into it with diamond-coated burs and refilling the resulting depressions with more colored enamel and refiring.

Yellow Paintbrush (brooch), 2002, sterling silver, 22k gold, torch-fired enamel, 2 ¼ x 1 ½". Photo: George Post

I am generally interested in and influenced by the design, color, and pattern found in tribal arts from Africa, Mexico, and India, and specifically interested in the cross cultural use of symbols such as "x"s, crosses, spirals, repeating dot-and-line patterns, and mandala-like circles with images and/or patterns that radiate from a center point. Repetitive patterns and textures found in the natural world also find expression in my work.


Garland, 2000, copper, enamel, diameter 7 7/8". Photo: Uri Gershuni

"My grandmother is knitting too" is the title of an ongoing series of work I have been busy with since the year 2000. My mother died in the summer of 1999. I never met my grandmother; she was murdered in Poland together with eight of her children and grandchildren during the Second World War. "Knitting Grandmother" is the Hebrew expression for the traditional game "cats cradle," a term associated with a low form of craft. Color is an important element in my work. If metal represents discipline, then color represents breaking it.

"My grandmother is knitting too" series (knitted brooches), 2000, copper ,enamel, diameter 2" each. Photo: Uri Gershuni

I experimented a lot with enamel during my first years at art school and then gave it up for other more immediate methods of coloring metal, such as anodizing aluminum or titanium or using acrylic paints on metals. I have recently returned to using enamels, as the option of glazing metals feels as fascinating, impossible, and challenging.


Composition minimize/MAXIMIZE, 2002, enamel, copper, MFD, oil paint, diameter 12". Photo: Robert Muller

Enameling allows me to work small and large; in two and three dimensions. It also offers a wide range of texture and color, allowing for various visual and physical surfaces. Using the enamel in unconventional methods has aided me in creating tactile enamels. All of these effects are vital to my work and its relation to the natural world.

Formal Arrangement from "Brooch Series," 2002, enamel, copper, silver, diameter 2". Photo: Robert Muller


Maritimus Cunnum Lingit…(Pin for Maritimus, a Prostitute of Pompeii), 2002, Limoges enamel on copper, sterling silver, 18k gold plate, pearls, 4 x 2 3/8 x 3/8". Photo: Doug Yaple

This work is intended to be about the body specifically the sexual body. It attempts to assert the primacy of sexual desire and the fact of sexual activity as basic, unavoidable, and transformative. The jewelry acts as a sexual emissary, to be worn or the body and in public. References to common vernacular and historic jewelry forms place the subject (sex) into both the historical and quotidian spheres.

Neckpiece for Zymrina; a prostitute of Pompeii, 2002, sterling silver, fine silver, 24k gold plate, enamel, pearls, diameter 10 ¼". Photo: Doug Yaple

The use of painstaking historical techniques such as filigree and enameling signals that the intent is neither to be specifically pornographic nor crassly shocking while diamonds and pearls nonetheless end their associations of preciousness and beauty to depictions of sexual secretions. Enamel—as a luxurious and expressive material—serves to imitate both the delicacy of ancient Roman frescoes and the glossy belligerence of sexual photographs further muddling the "proper" classification of the work.


Accordion Fold Necklace, 2002, Limoges and sift enamel on copper, 4 x 1 ¼ x 3/8". Photo: Deborah Lozier

The first time I experienced contemporary enameling was in 1983, as a student working at the Arizona State University campus museum. My first job was to take down a show.

Useless Beauty/Oil Can, 2000, enamel and patina on copper, 10 ¾ x 5 x 5". Photo: Deborah Lozier

It was the work of June Schwarcz. A door to a beautiful room opened that day. I wandered in and never looked back. Fabricating the metal brings structure, but it is the enamel that breathes life into the forms. Without her they are empty containers.


View of 6th St. Bridge (brooch), 2002, enamel on silver, cement base, brooch 2 ½ x 2 ½", base 6 x 2". Photo: Kaz Majima

For years, my work has focused on the form of structure, where it comes from and its application. The expanding, undulating process of biological growth and the structural forms that develop, as in the "Unduloid" series, are my study. They reflect form that is developed from forces of nature. I am also drawn to organic structure in application to manmade forms. The recent "4th Street Bridge" series pays homage to a structural element used in the 1920s design that arches over the Los Angeles River.

Root Unduloid (pendant), 2002, kiln fired enamel on hollow copper, oxidized sterling, 1 x 5 ½ x 18". Photo: Kaz Majima

I work primarily in silver, gold, copper, and cement. I usually enamel on the hollow electroformed copper as a way of painting on the dimensional forms, and consider the way a piece will sit on the body in its final design.


My work is derived from the questions, reflections, and searching for the answers to Life's everyday events and experiences that profoundly affect our way of living. Today's capitalism keeps us divided into separate categories and groups, and forces us to don false social masks that cause us further suffering.

"Time" series: article No. 2, Under the Skin, 2002, sterling silver, sgraffito enamel, copper, wooden ruler, 4 ¼ x 2 ¼ x 1 5/8". Photo: Taweesak Molsawat

In this body of work, I investigate the use of everyday objects and materials as contemporary symbols for today's cultural structure—human hair, salt, and dice—intermingled with traditional metalsmith materials—enamel, copper, and sterling silver—that help define the contexts of each piece.

"Time" series: article No. 1, The Condition of Being a Human, 2002, sterling silver, enamel, copper, Lazertran, salt, red pepper, found objects, 3 x 3 x ½". Photo: Taweesak Molsawat

I use the characteristics of the opaque enamels which hide the host metal surface, or the under layers of other enamels, and use colors as a metaphor for the cultural human masks. I also utilize the enameling process as a representation of the transformation of life from one stage to another, from immaturity to maturity.


Brooches, #1, #2, #3, 2002, copper, enamel, 4 x 2 ¼"; 3 ¼ x 1 ¾ x ¼"; 3 ½ x 2 x ¼". Photo: Maciek Walentowicz

These pieces represent a fusion of the possibilities offered by metal and enamel to contrast with and complement each other. Metal and enamel each have a spectrum of properties that enable them to appear harder or softer in relation to each other, juxtaposing the shapes and forms of the metal with color and a subtle depth evoked by the enamel. The elements that structure these pieces call on the sensual aspects of the two materials. The shell-like quality of the enamel, which is both protective and fragile, is echoed by a suggestion of growth within the forms, and the symbolism of the spiral representing eternity, evolution, and the repetitive rhythms inherent in nature. The meanings of these forms and symbols alter with the variety of elements and their relationship to each other, as well as the context and individuality of the wearer.

Collar #3, 2002, silver, enamel, copper, 8 ½ x 8 ½ x ¼". Photo: Maciek Walentowicz


#2180, 2001, enamel, electroformed copper, 11 ½ x 8 ¼". Photo: Lee Fatherree

I have always been interested in enamel because of its transparent qualities. In working on vertical surfaces with transparent enamel, which shows all your sins, I feel as if I am in a gigantic struggle with the forces of heat and gravity. Often there is tragedy, but sometimes something special can occur. I think perfection is nice, but I've never achieved it, and I've never grown tired of the exciting gamble.

#2192, 2001, enamel, electroformed copper, 8 ½ x 5 x 5 ½". Photo: Lee Fatherree


Descending Dark Circles & Descending Cream Circles, 2002, enamel, copper, sterling, 22k gold bi-metal, 3 ¼ x 1 ½ x 1/8". Photo: Doug Yaple

I am interested in the surface nuances of textiles, botanical forms, and eroded surfaces. I use the enamel to build layers of images, color, and marks; generally working in a series using recurring elements as one would familiar words to address my response to these objects. The recurring elements are meant to evoke memories, layers of varied emotions, and past experiences. The layers of transparent colors and their luminescence never fail to seduce me. Enamel and etching allow me to incorporate a drawing sensibility in my work. My work is process-oriented in that I begin with a feeling that I want the piece to evoke, rather than a formal completed design.

Flocked Red Rectangle, 2002, champlevé enamel, copper, sterling, 22k gold bi-metal, 1 ¾ x 1/8". Photo: Doug Yaple


Ng*3 (necklace), 2002, enamel on electroformed copper, sterling silver, 2 x 6 ½ x 6 ½". Photo: Hye-young Suh

My current body of work is inspired by the forms and colors of sea corals. The variety of color and structural patterns of corals, which results from evolutionary processes, is especially fascinating. I choose enamel as the medium for my coral-inspired pieces because it allows me to layer several color patterns and create delicate textures. In order to give the pieces a more natural appearance, I leave parts of surface area bare of the enamel. Therefore, it mimics the color balance and contrast existing in the natural coral reefs.

Bg*7/bg*13 (brooch), 2002, enamel on electroformed copper, sterling silver, 1 x 2 ½ x 2 ½". Photo: Hye-young Suh


Vase, 2000, plique-à-jour enamel, gilded silver, 8 x 4 x 4". Photo: Bob Barrett

After being involved in the art of enameling for many years, I became captivated by the beauty of Art Nouveau plique-à-jour masterpieces. I conducted extensive research and spent much time in museums and libraries. I did a lot of experimenting to develop my own technique, which is similar to the old plique-à-jour technique.

Two Glasses, 2000, plique-à-jour enamel, gilded silver, 4 x 3 ¼ x 3 ¼". Photo: Bob Barrett

My goal in re-discovering and studying plique-à-jour is to build a bridge between the legacy of beauty and professionalism of old masters, and the future artists who will bring this technique to another level of application and love. I wish for the people to have an opportunity to enjoy art pieces done in plique-à-jour technique, unforgettable for its glorious and stunning effect of light, color, and jewelry quality.


My principal interest is the broad theme of conflict. Conflict is seen almost daily in the new media, horrifying but removed seamlessly accompanying television commercials. The "In Memoriam" series continues to make incidents of conflict. In 1999 this work was extended to mark the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Collateral Damage from "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" Series, 2001, drawn and painted enamel on recycled pre-enameled industrial steel, decals, 14 x 18". Photo: Mark Simmons

A postcard from the First World War also triggered my most recent work, a preprinted manila postcard issued by the Field Service. The soldier deleted non-applicable sentences while personal messages were censored.

The physical qualities of enamel invite touch, and offer lasting imagery appropriate for works of commemoration, essential to my intention.

Memories and Maps: Landscape of Childhood, 2002, collage, sgraffito on recycled pre-enameled industrial steel, decals, 16 x 12". Photo: Mark Simmons

I appreciate traditional enamel techniques but find them inappropriate for my work. My concern is the finished visual image, not complicated techniques. I find simple drawing, painting, and printmaking approaches in enamel are more expressive, offering endless possibilities of surface subtle to the sumptuous-unavailable in other media.


Twig Necklace 3, 2002, enamel, sterling silver, 18k gold, tourmaline, length 39 3/8". Photo: James Beard

Through the cold murky bog

My roots grope for the underworld

As my leaves

Sing and dance

In the wind


Skull Cocktail Ring, 2002, enamel, cast sterling silver, 18k gold, 1 x ¾ x ¾". Photo: James Beard


binary large object (B.L.O.B.): A large block of data stored in a database, such as an image or sound file. A B.L.OB. cannot be interpreted by the database in which it is stored.

Blob #3, 2002, enamel, copper, 98 x 144 x 2". Photo: John Gullemin

blob: 1 a : a small drop or lump of something viscid or thick; b : a daub or spot of color

2 : something ill-defined or amorphous

I embezzle modernist color ideals and force them to be liable to form. This work employs vitreous enamel for color as well as structure for the pieces of formed copper screen. The firing process establishes the structural integrity. These works argue that color cannot exist without form.

Confiscation of the Square, 2002, enamel, copper, wood, 16 x 16 x 3". Photo: John Guillemin

embezzle: to take for personal use money or property that has been given on trust by others, without their knowledge or permission

ideal: n-1. a standard or principle to which people aspire

2. a concept that exists in the imagination only


I work with metal and glass. This is my language. In working with metal and enamel, I fuse ancient and contemporary techniques and concepts. I was initially trained as a jeweler at St. Martin's School of Art and Design in London. I design and make enameled jewelry and silverware. My interest in ceremony, both personal and public, has led me recently to create a collection of Judaica.

Ceremonial Cup, 2002, sterling silver, enamel, gold foil, 2 ¾ x 2 3/8". Photo: James Austin

I grew up in Israel, and the Middle Eastern influences were crucial for my development as jewelry designer and maker. Ancient cultures made a great impact on my artistic identity. The texture of the land, the Mediterranean colors and landscape, and the multicultural character of the people are reflected in my work.

The Three Graces (three ceremonial cups), 2000, sterling silver, enamel, gold foil, 1 ¾ x 3". Photo: James Austin

I create personal and precious objects that symbolize and signify an event, a memory, or an object as luck charm. My interest in ceremonial objects centers on the relationship between the person and the object, marking a distinctive occasion.


After twenty years, the relationship I have to my craft had morphed from love and passion into complacent fatigue. I'd become tired and worn down from the normal grind of habit and routine, as well as the survival stresses from a cautious, dwindling, and increasingly unsophisticated bottom line marketplace. Wal-Mart is now the nation's largest jewelry retailer. Our popular culture and national psyche are increasingly defined and impacted by professional athletes, entertainers, unethical CEOs, and "born-again" drum-beating politicians advocating for oil, guns, and money….all of it "supersized."

Klimt Robe (brooch/pendant), 2002, carved and sandblasted enamel, 23k gold leaf, silver, 2 3/8 x 1". Photo: Heinz Brummel

The challenge now as an artist is to renew my faith and commitment daily; to fall in love again with what I do best and that which has sustained me until now. To attitudinally transform the studio from "work house" to refuge….a laboratory for ideas….a chapel where work becomes prayer. Each small gesture and task links to the next in a creative process…just as breath succeeds breath to sustain a life of peace, love, and compassion.


My influences often come from the flora and fauna of the places I have lived, their colors, textures and shapes. But as a human being, I also live in a world of relationship, interaction, and communication, and so imagery even of nature, can be metaphorical as well as literal.

Earth Beneath Our Feet: Mud Wasp Jar, 2002, silver, enamel, brass, copper, 6 x 4 x 4". Photo: Rafael Molina

Many of my recent pieces have employed cloisonné to create a repeated pattern on the surface of three-dimensional vessels. From the cell structure of plants and animals to the multiplicity of stars in the sky, to the days in our lives, repetition supplies structure to chaos.

Color has a strong emotional impact. In addition, color can bring to mind specific times and places. Enamel has properties which allow it to be as transparent as crystal or as dense as sand. I use enamel to supply color, texture, emotion, and a sense of reality to the forms of my work.


The dense and fiery autumn foliage of the North Carolina mountains inspires these pieces, which are about a sense of place, a personal narrative, and rooted in the traditions of functional hollowware. Piercing and forming the metal produces reflections in both color and light, suggestive of the shadows of leaves that flicker through sunlight in the woods.

Outside In: Cup, 2002, copper, enamel, fine silver, sterling, 8 x 5 x 4". Photo: Linda Darty

Enameling allows me to create rich, colorful surfaces using familiar drawing and painting techniques, combined with many layers of opaque and transparent glass. I work intuitively, responding to what comes out of the kiln, and using whatever techniques I need to develop my ideas. The process can be spontaneous or intentional, and the color palette is as rich and unlimited as nature itself.


My cloisonné work, both jewelry and panels, is commentary on environmental issues or is inspired by observations in my garden. I am very interested in issues of genetic modification of plants, loss of seed and plant diversity, and the problems of overdevelopment and global warming. I believe that cloisonné enamel can be a strong medium for communication about these concerns.

Ground Patterns from "Brooch Series," 2001, cloisonné enamel, fine and sterling silver, 1 ¾ x 1 5/8" each. Photo: Erick Williamson

I am a miniaturist. I believe that small is beautiful and that details are important. These brooches have been inspired by my fascination with natural pattern on the ground under trees and large plants. There is repetition of shape and color, but also subtle difference. The constant shedding of leaves, petals, twigs, and seeds is part of the unflagging cycle of regeneration of plant and soil life.

I use cloisonné enamel line to convey my pleasure in details, and transparent vitreous enamel to express joy through glowing color.


The ancient and classical arts of Mediterranean cultures have long influenced my work in various ways. Precious stones and enamelwork are quite prevalent in the personal adornment of these cultures. Countless fragile elements, fussy enameled flowers, paper-thin gold flora, fauna, and deities create incredibly bold and vibrant compositions that exude romantic sensuality, immense femininity, and near-utopian perfection.

Kisses from Catallus (neckpiece), 2002, 18k gold, sterling silver, enamel, fine silver, copper, freshwater pearls, circumference 15". Photo: Lydia V. Gerbig-Fast

Color is almost always present in my work, be it gemstones, miniature paintings, or enamels. The broad versatility of enamel serves double duty as a type of painting media while also reflecting the color and texture of gemstones. I often strive to suggest in my work historical origins with a sense of romanticism and femininity, while also being a bit decadent. I want my work to hold a mystique of the past and to make the wearer feel vibrant and beautiful. Enamels can add greatly to achieving this.


I started enameling and jewelry making about twenty-five years ago. Looking back over that time, color has always been an important part of my work, whether in 14k green gold, bronze oxides and patinas, burned silver or enamel. I feel that with enamel, colors become more of an inherent part of the piece, as opposed to gemstones or other materials that always seem more like a collage element. Although the pictures show the work as visually strong and powerful, they can't show the nature of the thin, opaque, ground glass surface.

Enamel Bracelet, 2001, 18k gold, opaque enamel, 1/8 x 6 ½ x 1 ½". Photo: Tim Lee

The actual enamel colors l choose—red, blue, yellow, black, etc.—are the ones lam unconsciously drawn to. It is something child-like, primitive, the joy of finger painting mixed with the splendor of ancient tomb treasures or a pirate's bounty—gold, ruby reds, emerald greens. Who cares if it is glass?


After collecting fragments of words and images from my sketchbook, I use scribbled text and spontaneous brush marks of ink to create decals for enameling. I apply the fragments of images in layers until they achieve a good balance. Applying multiple layers of enamel to the plate is similar for me to the printmaking process.

Wanderings, 2001, screeprinted enamel transfer on porcelain steel, 6 x 5"; 6 x 6". Photo: Margaret Yuko Kimura

During the process of firing, brilliance of color and texture of the enamels are varied by the amount of heat and time in the kiln. This relates to my process of pulling prints through the press. The condition of ink, paper, and the pressure of the press are elements that change the print images. Each process informs the other, as I change from print to enamel and back.


I have always focused on subtle visual influences and how they can be absorbed, acknowledged, and utilized. I integrate these influences into a vision during many explorations with other media. The final distillation of various images occurs as enamel powder is applied to metal. While a piece is cooling after firing, I consider what more is needed to reach completion.

Triangle-Black Surface Under Color (brooch), 2002, transparent enamel over black underglaze, copper, sterling, 3 x 3 x ¼". Photo: Ralph Gabriner

My message is concerned with creating something wonderful to see, hold, examine, wear and cherish. I enjoy the viewer (or wearer-owner) as a necessary part of the extended creation process. As the individual connects with what I've done, they realize that the piece they are holding does stimulate their visual awareness.

Enamel conveys a sense of precious endurance. It is able to lend permanent color with great richness to a piece of jewelry, while being compatible with metalworking processes. I cannot imagine reaching my visual goals with another media.


Opposites attract me. I am fascinated by the positive with the negative shape, the organic with the geometric form, and the small with the large.

Various Reflective Brooches, 2002, glass enamel, stainless steel, 3 x 3 x ½". Photo: James Beards

With my jewelry, I try to make sense of these shapes and forms, sizes, colors, and elements. I especially enjoy enamel. I find the attraction of pure and simple color overwhelming.


Stitched Ceremonial Vessel, 2002, enamel, copper, silver, onyx, 5 x 9 x 11". Photo: Tom Davis

As a maker of hollowware, I use properties of the metal: the plasticity, the permanence, and the dimensionality. As an enameler, I use properties of the glass: the preciousness, the fragility, and the color. In my work, these properties function together to make a whole, with the two materials complementing and completing one another, rather than one being visually more important than the other. My work is primarily cup sets and ceremonial vessels because I am interested in the social implications and uses of these forms. The interactions of people with each other and with the objects I make when they are being used is a conceptual focus of the work.


Neckpiece, 2001, 18k gold, enamel, length 31 ½". Photo: Giovanni Corvaja

I have always had a deep liking for color, and glass enamels, with their unique surface and the huge palette of colors available, are irresistible to me. The inspiration for my work lies in the natural world and the abundance of forms, surfaces, textures, and infinitely rich colors. In addition to the wealthy palette of colors that enamels offer, they also have a very pleasing tactile quality. It is important how a piece of jewelry feels to the touch; the handling and wearing of jewelry is a sensual experience, and jewelry should be experienced and enjoyed. Many of my works in enamel are made up of moving elements, some of them hollow forms that jingle or rattle when moved, others flat or merely curved. They are qualities for the wearer to enjoy, and it is the interaction of the wearer with the work that ultimately completes its function and really brings it to life.


Mastery of a process can be a very satisfying experience, the results often become a gratifying formula, especially in tedious techniques like enameling. The more interesting aspect for me is how to apply process to express an Idea—in this case, utilizing the incredible range of expressive qualities that enamel offers.

Tuscania (brooch), 2002, 2 1/8 x 1 ½ x 1 ½", enamel, sterling silver. Photo: Marty Doyle

I started out using enamel as a means of incorporating color into my work. Inspired by nature, I used mostly bold, primary colors. Then in 1999, I made a body of work on the theme of "winter." I reduced my palette to black and white, creating an illusion of depth through both engraved patterns and built-up layers of translucent fluxes on fine silver.

Leaving the two-dimensional format behind for now, my new work explores three-dimensional forms with a "crystallization" theme.


Zinnias (brooches), 2002, enamel on die-formed copper, sterling silver, white, diameter 3"; red, diameter 3 ½". Photo: Ralph Gabriner

The current group of botanicals is all about jewelry and the subject of nature in the history of jewelry. This theme grew out of two simultaneous impulses. While sidelined from my workbench with a rotator cuff injury, I spent several months peering into my microscope and making detailed pen-and-ink drawings of plant forms. About the same time, I switched from torch-firing to kilnfiring three-dimensional copper forms. Enamored of color and the possibilities of laying down a cloak of glass on metal, I began incorporating ancient Egyptian and Creek floral motifs I had observed in the British Museum. The folded and constructed forms emerged around the same time, from experiments with the Japanese paper-folding and cutting techniques of origami and kirigami.


Man and His Music, 2001, Limoges and sgraffito enamel on steel, 14 x 18". Photo: Kimberly Williams

I work with vitreous enamel on steel, a material that is terse, exacting, and demanding. The surface is glass and the support is tough. I find this material speaks for my imagery with precision and exactness. The idiom I use is energetic and compulsive. The forthright pull of the surface reflection has a much-needed shine that I respond to with vigor. The happenings that occur in the furnace add mystery to the process of painting, where one is in charge, but in this material it takes on a character of its own. I feel that painting on steel with vitreous enamel allows me space to explore imagery that expresses my reaction to the physical systems of light and change.


With a background in printmaking, I felt a little lost in my first enameling class until they started talking about copper, acid, and screens. I was introduced to RISO screens, which offered me a way of layering patterns and color onto a copper plate. When the plate was cooled, I would etch it in nitric acid and create very interesting effects when polished.

Fingerpaint Blue, 2001, decal enamels on porcelain, 7 ¼ x 7 ¼". Photo: Kate Ward Terry

Then I was introduced to enamel transfers or decals. The color choices were somewhat limiting, but I enjoyed the process. The decals worked the best on porcelain surfaces. The images were developed from prints that included abstract patterns.

"Finger Paint" is a series of decals primarily influenced by pattern, day-to-day routines, and intuitive imagery. Automatic drawings and sketches inform the intuitive imagery. The random mark making of layering and looping, overlapping and intersecting shapes are influenced by the automatic drawing. The themes that developed through this process represent a type of unconscious diary of the cycles of life.


All for One… (brooches and buckles), 2002, copper, enamel, sterling silver, steel buckles 3 x 2 x 1"; overall diameter 75". Photo: Courtney Frisse

The design of All for One… developed while on a cross-country flight during the post-September 11 climate of hyperaware airline passengers, chaotic airports, and relentless national and international news. Walking down the center aisle, I looked at the stacked rows of faces and felt the collective nervousness of flying in a suddenly unsafe air. High in the air, I sat with a cross section of people; all facing the same direction, all passive, all waiting. I often make work that connects to my ideas about the individual as a member of a collective or group, parts making a whole. The mood during the fall and winter of 2001 added ideas about allegiance and patriotism, anonymity and heroism, alive and dead. Brooches and belt buckles serve as badges, referring to both men and women; a patriotic pairing in part of an idealized American myth.

By Metalsmith Magazine
Metalsmith Magazine – 2003 Exhibition
In association with SNAG‘s
Metalsmith magazine, founded in 1980, is an award winning publication and the only magazine in America devoted to the metal arts.

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