Sunday, 10 March 2013

A Splash of Colour

Review. Beginners Enamelling Workshop (February 2013). London Jewellery School, London.

I don't know about you, but in winter and especially during the early months of the year when I'm desperate for spring, sunshine and warmth I absolutely crave colour. It has long puzzled me that in a country deprived of the naturally vibrant hues of warmer climates our palettes for winter clothing are so dismal and dingy. I think we really need an injection of brightness to cheer us all up.

With that in mind I jumped at the chance to introduce some colour to my jewellery and learn the basics of enamelling at the London Jewellery School. It was a fantastic sunday! In comparison to other jewellery techniques (like stonesetting !!!) there were elements to it that are satisfyingly immediate. Instant gratification isn't something typically offered by the practice of metal working.

As the second class I've attended at LJS I knew to expect a good level of equipment and organisation - everything was well set up so that we could all get cracking with colour. We had a brief introduction and some handy help sheets on the different techniques, our work spaces were set up and in no time we were away under the friendly supervision of Michelle Leaver.
First up was dry enamelling. Using copper blanks we counter enamelled the back of our pieces to ensure that the right side colour didn't warp and crack, then we got to play with the assorted opaque and transparent colours! I was very pleased with how my first go turned out. I put a couple of layers of colour on the piece trying to get a nice balance and blend of the white and red opaque background then made a little stencil and applied a layer of transparent turquoise.

Next I got to try my hand at a technique I had been hankering to explore - scraffito. Another dry enamelling technique where you can scratch out a design in the piece. My effort here was inspired by the positive vibes of the Holstee Manifesto
Fortified by a spot of food we resumed work in the afternoon, progressing to the more complex and far glossier practice of wet enamelling! This involved a lot more prepping than the dry (where essentially you are shaking glass compound onto a prepared surface and firing). Time consuming though it was, it was still good fun to play with the colour and to achieve a very different effect...
Another great joy of taking craft classes/workshops is the people you get to meet. This class was no exception. In keeping with colour seeking I had the great fortune to meet a lovely Cambridge based jeweller and hairdresser - Hannah Collins, wearing a great bright red coat. Do check out her beautiful website and work -! 

Hammer & Pickle Ratings:
Value - 5/5
Although not a cheap option (what jewellery making is?!) LJS is wonderfully equipped, everything needed is provided in the cost of the class and I came away from the day with 2 pendants and a pair of earrings. Quite an excellent haul I think :)

Vibes - 5/5
Michelle Leaver's calm presence and the nature of enamelling meant this was a perfect relaxed Sunday activity. Hot kilns, but chilled jewellers.

Pickle Rating - 2/5
Although the dry enamelling technique is straightforward it does require a steady hand! There was a fair bit of huffing and puffing from yours truly during a space of about 15 minutes where I repeatedly failed to get my prepared pendant onto its stand. 

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