Enamelling

3 Nov 2016- Practical Workshop, Introduction to Enamelling, with Rachel Davis.

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Wow, wow, wow! This was a fantastic workshop. I had no idea what to expect, and was so pleasantly delighted. It was possible to get results in a very short period, which is always pleasing for those with little patience. I had in mind that it might be similar to ceramics and the pieces would need a longer time in the kilns. But not so, 2-5 minutes and the little particles of glass melted into a solidified shiny piece of beauty. Okay, maybe not all of our tests were truly beautiful, but the reflective brilliance of the glass at work, does in fact enhance. Not quite a silk purse, but it does have an effect.

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Rachel showed us some examples of artists who used enamel in their work. From the historical decorative arts to contemporary pieces. I was very taken with the work of Laura Boswell. The large enamel pieces she did for Aylesbury town centre, really triggered some ideas for my own work, which I will go into greater detail in my concepts/ideas section. Because the work was so large she needed to work from AJ Wells and Sons Vitreous Enamellers. This is a company that would normally produce industrial, architectural, and/or commercial signage, which is why they are set up to do the large enamelling work. It would be fascinating to visit.

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She also talked about screenprinting with on-glaze enamel, and using decal transfer papers if you are looking to “print” on enamel. There is also the possibility of sending artwork to Digital Ceramics if you have the money and are not interested in attempting this yourself. I am very interested to do some tests with some of my photographs and getting them made into decal transfers. If they work well, then it would be interesting to explore larger possibilities at A.J. Wells & Sons, but I would hate to guess what the costs would be. Might be worth searching for funding now, if one wanted a large enamelled piece in 3 years time!

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Relief

12 Oct 2016- Practical Workshop, Introduction to Relief, with Frea Buckler.

I was highly apprehensive as the relief workshop drew near, I had no previous relief experience prior to this, which seemed a bit strange, as it’s often an introduction to printmaking. Children do it, even with potatoes. But sadly not me, not even with the humble spud!

Relief prints are lovely, highly detailed illustrations or strong graphic ones, but this process does seem to suit those who can draw. It also does your head in. Not only do you have to remember that the image will be printed in reverse, but the layers of colour you may want to add, requires you to subtract more from the material you carve from. One must make further reductions from the image to preserve the colour already printed. The opposite to how I think about screenprinting for instance. I am squinting as I write this, as it is still difficult to comprehend.

I did learn that it is possible to laser cut an image into the material you would normally carve from. So, if drawing is not your strength, fear not, you can still produce the relief printing effect that is wonderful. But, I have to say, craving away into lino was marvelous. Very moreish, which is handy I guess, when it is a reductive process.

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Linocut in progress.
Linocut in progress.

I would fancy having a go at woodcut. I have come across artist Christiane Baumgaetner’s woodcuts, that are of contemporary scenes of digital screens, but using a traditional process. The results are impressive: Here is a short interview of her discussing this process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hWdJV86f9w&feature=share

I still remember Kathe Kollwitz’s woodcuts from art history courses. They were expressive and emotive. She seemed to just as easily create an image by carving in wood as she could draw with charcoal.

Linocut hanging out to dry.
Linocut hanging out to dry.