The excitement of opening a freshly fired kiln had faded in recent months. Earthenware clay to me has become like an favorite old pair of shoes. Comfortable. I have come to know the process of working with it pretty well. I’ve stretched boundaries of color and technique and came up with lots of unconventional methods of my own over the years. I knew it was time for new “pair of shoes.” An artistic challenge.
From time to time, I have thought about my early experience with sewing. I loved going to the fabric store and buying a pattern, fabric and notions for a new shirt or pair of shorts as a weekend project. Fabric was plentiful and affordable. You didn’t have to wait for anything purchased on the internet to get sent to you. It was all right there!
But I never really liked following those pesky patterns. The projects always seemed to turn out okay, luckily, but I have discovered over the years that I just like to come up with my own methods. An artistic renegade of sorts, I guess you could say. I learn the basics, and teach myself the rest by trial and error. I never want to be locked into the trusted standards when it comes to creativity. What fun is there in that?
All this can help explain what has taken me to begin my new adventure with copper enameling. I have always loved the vivid color of those torched enamels paired with the worn-looking edges of the pieces. I thought about giving up those comfortable old shoes. Ok, but not entirely. I still do love the clay-working process.
I sold my old workhorse kiln to help justify the jump to a new medium. Parting with that monster kiln was bittersweet. It had fired up years and years of clay wares. My husband, along with our two children travelled with me to dozens and dozens of arts and crafts fairs all over the midwest. It was part of our family history. Ok, maybe that’s a little overdramatic, but that thing occupied a good-sized corner of our garage for decades. It is strange not seeing it there.
Enameling is a great match for my unconventional mind. I have only been working with it for less than a month, but I already know I will fire up that torch every chance I get. Today, I overlaid some lace that I had used for texture in my clay projects, over a freshly torched cobalt blue piece. I sprinkled some opaque white enamel powder over it…just to see… Then I kissed the copper with the flame and watched it melt before my eyes. After it cooled, I ran upstairs to show the hubby. (This tells you I was really excited.) More lace is in my enameling future. It looks lovely! And yes, he liked it, too. I am really loving the immediate results. To me, it’s immediate, as someone who had to wait a full day to open up a newly-fired kiln to see results.
So here I am. Off to my new adventure in enameling. My parents taught me never to play with fire. Torch in hand, I am game for some healthy, artful, cautious defiance. Playing with fire is awesome! Sorry, mom, but I know you would be supportive of my new artistic endeavor if you were still here, as you always were.