I’ve been focused on wood for many months, but I am teaching an enameling workshop this weekend, so I spent the day in my studio pulling copper pieces from boxes and firing samples.
One of my favorite things to demo in class is stencils. I am not aware of anyone today using them as well as they did in the 50s & 60s. And I admit, I am more of a “found stencil” kind of person, as opposed to a maker of thoughtfully planned, fitted, and completely hand-cut ones that create exquiste apostles and Madonnas and whatnot. I like to use the stuff I find in scrap bins and at Fred Meyer and the sewing store (hence the big red flower above). And I like to build up as many layers as I can before sifting a pale transparent over the entire surface that forces everything into the background (well maybe not that red).
Enamels don’t really reliably behave as described in catalogs. A group of colors that should fire (fire to maturation, that is) at or around 1450 degrees may or may not actually fire in that range, or more to the point, fire well in combination with other colors. So working multiple colors, transparent and opaque, on one piece gives a pretty good picture of “who does what to whom.” You’d be amazed by how hideously wrong a piece can quickly go just by combining the wrong colors. . .
I call these hot messes, and save them to show students. For solace, as in “Take heart, it happens to all of us. . .”