Sunday, February 10, 2013

Testing, Testing

When you’ve been working in a particular manner or with a material for many years you risk becoming comfortable and familiar with it and forget that there may be potential for new directions yet undiscovered.

Sketchbook studies for torch-fired enamel

One of the great pleasures of stumbling onto an exciting new material, process, or technique is the honeymoon period when you get to search* out everything about it. It’s a time of being a beginner again. With experience you get the advantage and awareness that there are possibilities and applications of the information you’re learning. Yet you don’t worry too much about what exactly it’s going to be or how to apply it, you’re just eager to be in that zone of possibility.

Jeweler and consummate metalsmith Andy Cooperman once said there were two fundamental approaches to the learning process ~ the dove and the bulldog. The dove reads the instructions, follows the guidelines, practices established principles, and gets predictable results. The bulldog grabs the material by the throat, shakes it up, ignores the rules, and often makes a mess of things, but learns limitations and new possibilities. Each has their advantages.

I confess that with my own work I’m a bit of a dove and I tend to approach a new material that way. But then I believe it’s a good idea to be the bulldog.

Right now I’m firing the hell out of white enamel and I’m hoping the honeymoon turns into a long fruitful relationship.

Studies for possible enamel pieces

Yes, these are only white enamel, torch-fired to develop the colors

The same piece fired three different times with only 
a red glass thread added in the last.

*Research: the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions. Search, then RE-search the thing. 


  1. "A craftsman knows what he's going to make and an artist doesn't know what he's going to make, or what the finished product is going to look like."
    -Ken Price, 1993

    Check his posthumous retrospective at the LACMA

  2. Love love love your work! Can I ask what brand of white enamel you are using? I have white Ferro Sunshine enamel I plan to try on copper...Thank you!

    1. Melissa ~ the Ferro white porcelain enamel doesn't provide the variation of color with the torch. I'm using the Thompson liquid #533 white.