Last Saturday the exhibition ‘Enamel Today’ opened at 78 Derngate: The Charles Rennie Mackintosh House, Northampton. It is an exhibition of Enamel work by the members of the British Society of Enamellers. As a member of BSOE I am exhibiting some of my ‘Sand and Stone‘ collection.
This fantastic exhibition runs until July 1st and includes the work of over 20 enamel artists. The work includes stunning jewellery and some brilliant wall art and art objects. The work is spread between three parts of the gallery so if you visit make sure you see it all.
I made this pendant (below during the final year of my degree. It was a quick experiment I did using a left over piece of copper from something else I was working on. It turned out to be very successful and lead towards the designs of some of my final collection. However, the simplicity of this piece will always be one of the things about it that make it so successful.
I’ve kept this necklace for myself (sometimes you just can’t let something go) but I’ve had many compliments on it and decided to use this design as the basis for a new collection.
The shape is based on rocky coastlines. I have been using this idea to create necklace and earring sets; finding a way to efficiently cut the copper so there is no waste.
Each piece of copper is then coated with 2 layers of enamel. Many of these are different transparent colours on top of an opaque base. These pieces also have sand fired onto them making them tactile and evocative of the beach. On others I have used firescale or sprinkles of another colour to imitate the rock surfaces and the lichen growing on them.
One thing I love about enamelling (although it can also be the worst thing) is that each piece can be a surprise – sometimes the same technique can turn out different each time and the finest change in firing time etc can alter the colour. It makes each piece unique – like these three necklaces.
Another feature of these necklaces is that they can be worn at two different lengths. I have developed a fastening for my necklaces that is both attractive and versatile. I like my jewellery to work with various outfits with different necklines.
I’m really pleased with this collection – I wear a couple of these quite often myself as they work just as well with a t-shirt as a dress. These two colours have to be my personal favourites.
Yesterday I ran my second Enamelling Workshop at the Firegems studio. This week everyone chose to make pendants. They were quite ambitious with their ideas – choosing to cut into the copper blanks, folding them and enamelling both sides.
The smallest items were torch fired. A lovely easy technique that allows you to watch the changes in the enamel.
We used the kiln to fire the larger pieces and to allow us to enamel both sides of the pendants.
Some pieces had a few firings to add a second colour or pattern.
This chunky pendant was made to be reversible – blue and green on one side and red and orange on the other.
All the wonderful creations from this productive day:
On Saturday I ran my first Enamelling Workshop at the Firegems studio. There, I taught four lovely ladies how to enamel.
Here’s what we got up to together:
Choosing their copper blanks; everyone sat to draw out their ideas.
I then demonstrated how to sift and torch fire the enamel onto the copper blanks.
Everyone then took their turns firing their base layers.
In the afternoon, after a delicious lunch provided by Dawn Phillips (Thank you Dawn!), using the kiln we began building up the layers and patterns with different colours and decoration.
It was exciting to see what had happened to each piece once they were taken out of the kiln.
In the end everyone left with something they had made themselves – a pendant, pair of earrings or charms for a bracelet. I hope they were all pleased with their jewellery and enjoyed their day. I was certainly impressed with what they made.
I’m really excited (and a bit nervous) to be running an Enamelling Workshop next month. As a favour I’ve recently been looking after the Firegems mosaic workshops and in return I am being allowed use of the studio for my own work.
As the spaces for my workshop have been filling up I’ve been stocking up on my enamelling materials and tools. It’s always exciting opening up parcels. Now I’ve got a decent range of enamel colours, decorative media and copper shapes – something for everyone hopefully.
During my time in the Firegems workshops I’ve also been developing a new range of necklace and earring sets. They are looking pretty good so far.
Hannah Duncan Contemporary Jewellery can now be seen at Mission Gallery, Swansea.
The showcase is made up of most of my degree work plus a few new smaller necklaces and earrings. It is going to be on display for the duration of the current exhibition being held there – Situation/Material/Ocean. My work sits well next to this exhibition as it is based on coastal landscapes.
Having grown up in Swansea, as well as regularly visiting the south-west coast of Scotland, I have developed a love for the coast. This work combines enamelled silver and copper with fold-forming techniques and tangles of threads. The contrasting shapes and tactile surfaces are also used to embody the coastal landscape. My jewellery is an attempt to capture the beauty of this landscape and also immerse the wearer in the atmosphere of the shoreline.
So, if you’re in Swansea why not drop into Mission Gallery and check out the current exhibition and my work in the craft area. And while you’re at it why not treat yourself to a necklace or pair of earrings.
This is my first time writing a blog post in over a year and it is also my first time posting on my blog at it’s new location on my website.
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A lot has happened since I wrote my last post – including me completing my degree. Therefore, today’s post will give you a brief overview of the highlights of my past year.
In March my classmates and I exhibited some of our work in De Koffie Pot, Hereford. Below is my display.
If you followed my blog before you may have noticed a considerable change in my work since the 2nd year of my degree. Over this past year I have developed a love for enameling – this photo shows the beginnings of my experiments with it as part of my work based on a coastal area of Scotland.
I developed my enameling skills and designs over the next few months to achieve my final outcomes for the degree show. The show was held at Hereford College of Arts in June.
After the stress of all my deadlines was over I was very excited to be able to take part in an enameling workshop run by Elizabeth Turrell.
Then at the end of June some of us packed up our degree work to take to London for New Designers. It was a bit manic but well worth it!
On July 22nd I finally graduated!
I had a less than perfect college experience, especially in this final year, but I am very proud to have completed my degree and particularly proud of the 1st I received for my dissertation ‘Identity Crisis: What is Contemporary Jewellery and How Do We Define it?’.
At the degree show I was awarded the opportunity to exhibit with the Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen. The exhibition was held at the Town Hall in Chipping Campden in August. It was a great success and I received lovely feedback.
To top it all off, in October I found out I had been chosen as runner-up for the Guild of Enameller’s Bursary Award and because of this I now have an image of my work published in the current issue of Craft&Design magazine.
This body piece was a pain to make! These photos are from before I oxidised the components, making them black, when I was working out how to wire the whole thing.The shapes I have used are based on the Stepwells of India.
There are no photos of the front of the body piece at this stage as it was actually taped on with masking tape! What is sad is that to get the piece done in time for our exhibition I had to re-wire it directly onto my mannequin… meaning if I ever want to remove it or use the mannequin for something else I will have to cut the wires! I have plans to try to save it though.This piece was actually very interesting when left with its natural copper colour. It almost becomes part of the skin.
I wont be posting again in a while as I am away on holiday. However, when I am back I plan to post some more of the work leading up to this piece.
I have finally come to the end of my second year. You can probably tell it was incredibly busy and stressful by the slowness of my posts.
Since Christmas I have done work experience at 3 different placements, I have helped curate my class’s exhibition and I made a body jewellery piece, that went into that exhibition, which I am very pleased with. For that final project I received 68 – a strong 2:1.
This is the last post I am going to do on my metal folding project. In the end I did 70 samples all together. I’m just showing you the best and most interesting ones.
These examples include the last couple of techniques I used. They are more of the decorative kind than structural.
This next one was done using the fold forming technique where you fold the metal around a thin strip of metal, then feed it through the rolling mill multiple times till the whole thing is the same thickness. This causes the part with the metal strip to stretch and curve. When you unfold the metal it then has a curved raised fold through the centre. This was a very interesting technique to experiment with – I tried using different widths of metal for the strip inside as well as cutting the strip of at different points – however I am not sure I actually like this effect.This last technique is currently my favorite. It is called a pinched line fold. The metal is folded in half by hand and then hit just behind and then upon the fold in the centre with a hammer. This stretches and thins the metal at this point so that when the metal is unfolded there is a thin and gradual raised bit in the centre.This technique produces a pinched and creased affect which is aesthetically interesting both front and back.The most interesting thing about all of these techniques, as part of this project, is that they can’t be reproduced in paper – they are unique to metal.
I hope to use the pinched line technique in my next project, I will be posting about it soon.