adventures in enamelling, stories, music and travel
|The Devil’s Workshop, Toronto ON|
25 years ago I started on my own personal odyssey with enamel. At that time, unless I joined a full time jewelry course (of which enameling was only a small part), there were no classes in available – especially in the somewhat unusual technique of champleve that I was specifically interested in. It didn’t occur to me at the time that I should learn the basics before tackling this difficult technique – I had a very specific vision. I got a lot of books from the library and experimented for a couple of years. I found a night class taught by Allen Perkins – which gave me the basics and I struggled on alone. I now know that there were other resources available for me – but that was in the days before the Internet – and no-one (least of all me) knew how to access them.
|Catskills Irish Arts Week, East Durham NY|
Now that I am a teacher myself, and know that it is best to start with the basics, I try nevertheless to honour the passion that people bring. It was my passion and vision that carried me forward, and it was 15 years later, on taking a class with Fay Rooke, that all of that experience came together in my mind under the expert tutelage of a master.
|Public Library, Lindsay ON|
I don’t think of myself as a master (yet!). As a working enamelist who has to make a living at what I do – I don’t have the leisure to explore really advanced, or experimental techniques. Whenever I sit down to design a piece I am conscious of the price it will demand and who will be able to afford it. But I do think of myself as having some mastery – and a thorough understanding of the relationship of glass and metal. But mmost especially I have a passion and love for the medium, and this is what I try to pass on to my students – so that they will be able to take enamel where their dreams lead them. I never teach design in my class – and never tell my students that their ideas are not ‘modern’ or ‘relevant’ or ‘traditioal’ enough. I feel that their vision is their own, and my job is to give them the best tools to realise it.
|Cedar Lakes Craft Center, Ripley WV|
Even before moving to Toronto 5 years ago I was given the opportunity to teach at George Brown College in the continuing education department. I used to commute from Lindsay once a week! My class is not required for a jewellery certificate – but is a credit towards one. The studio is large and spacious and has three large kilns. I love teaching there because the students come with some skills that they can then adapt – and some have even gone on to become working enamelists in their own right.
George Brown College, Toronto ON
Devil’s Workshop, Toronto ON
Catskills Irish Arts Week, East Durham NY
Augusta Heritage College, Elkins WV
Road Scholar’s Program, Cedar Lakes WV
I also do travelling classes: if you can get 6 people together (including yourself) I will bring a class to you!