A hint of enamel

Image of the work HEAT in stainless steel and vitreous enamel. Photograph by Melissa Cameron.
Image of the work HEAT in stainless steel and vitreous enamel. Photograph by Melissa Cameron.

Over at Pratt in Seattle I’m going to be involved with a group-led workshop: It’s All Material: 4 Artists Teach Their Specialties (scroll down for details) starting on the 8th of September. How unusual, I hear you muse, of what could I possibly be talking, you wonder aloud to your e-reading device, whose response is inaudible..?

Well friends, there are going to be 4 artists who take two weeks each to give an intro to their area of jewellery and metalsmithing specialty.  My two weeks will be working with enamel, and how you can add that to the arsenal of jewellery-making techniques. The other artists involved are Pratt regulars: Anne Randall, Julia Harrison and Sharrey Dore.

Should be a fun one!

New Class at Danaca Design

colour! washers from throughout the week
yes, I can do colour! Enamelled washers from 2011

Enameling Recycled Steel for Jewelry is a new class I’ll be teaching at Danaca Design on July the 16th and 17th. Registration instructions here.

The focus for this course is a slight shift from the other workshops I’ve taught to date, as I have finally figured out a way to teach what it is that I do without having to get AutoCad and a lasercutter involved for a 2 day class.

sandblasting… (hand-cut fiddlies)

In my own studio I enamel fiddly little things, some of which I painstakingly draw, drill and cut out myself, and some of which I painstakingly draw and then find someone/thing else to do the drilling and cutting grunt work. In either case, it involves a lot of cutting before enamelling commences, after which I’m left with tiny fiddly parts to enamel, that I later piece together into jewellery.

painting on enamel and drying and drying...
painting on enamel and drying… (laser-cut fiddlies)
after firing…

I could say that this is not really how I learned, rather that it was by trial and error I developed a method to suit my work, (which in some cases I did), but if you dig really deep on this blog, you’ll see that’s just not true. In fact my formative enamelling experience was working in Elizabeth Turrell’s studio at the University of the West of England (images below for a recap), where I spent a month dipping in enamel the things I found on the street on my walk to school in the morning. I then figured out a rather ad-hoc way to fire them, and to be un-flatteringly honest, I’ve not improved any part of my system much since then!

Day 11 CFPR Bristol washers found
they’re er’rywhere!

Since the U.S. has such an amazing array of steel bits and bobs lining practically any street edge, I decided it’s time to repeat the earlier England experiment in a workshop. The deluge of scrap metal that I find kinda shameful in a city full of metalsmiths like Seattle, will then go from environmental problem to beautiful, wearable jewels once we get our hands, and Danaca’s range of steel-ready enamels, onto them!

(And while we’re at it we will doubtless find a better solution to making them wearable than my own ‘hang it on a silk cord’ improvisation of 5 years ago, too.)

So if you want the tips and tricks on how I make my art, and more especially if you’d like to turn some trash into wearable treasure of your own, please come and join us. Oh, and on your way to the studio, you’ll inevitably find some steel washers and nails and other rusty odds and ends strewn across the tarmac. Why don’t you bring that along?


Workshop in progress: White Plains NY, 2015
Workshop in progress: White Plains NY, 2015
Image of jewellery and wall works from the 'Jewel for a Wall' series. Stainless steel, vitreous enamel
Image of jewellery and wall works from the ‘Jewel for a Wall’ series. Stainless steel, vitreous enamel

Come to Pratt in Seattle for a weekend of enamelling with me! We’re running the ‘Liquid Enamel for Steel and Copper‘ (at this stage you’ll have to scroll to the bottom of the link for the full details) weekend workshop again on the 9th and 10th of April in the very well appointed Pratt facility on Capitol Hill.

What is there to say about this workshop? Well, there’s a bunch of cool techniques that don’t fly with using regular powdered enamels that are great options to convey meaning and beauty with liquid enamel; the kinds of tricks that you can see used in cake decorating, clay manipulation as well as glass painting are all up for grabs with this water-based medium. And then there’s my trick of creating a pair of earrings for everyone in the class to enamel from a single tin-can lid… How do you do that, I hear you ask? Bring along a pair of ear-wires and find out!

No prior enamel experience necessary! Bookings through the link above 😉

See yas there!


From the series HEAT, (1 of 3) 2015 Spatter neckpiece (480mm x 480mcm - 19" x 19") Stainless steel, vitreous enamel, titanium. Image Melissa Cameron.
From the work HEAT, (1 of 3) 2015
neckpiece (480mm x 480mcm – 19″ x 19″)
Stainless steel, vitreous enamel, titanium. Image Melissa Cameron.
From the series HEAT, (1 of 3) 2015 Strike 9 wall-mounted panels (565mm x 565mm - 22 3/16" x 22 3/16") Stainless steel, vitreous enamel. Image Melissa Cameron.
From the work HEAT, (1 of 3) 2015
9 wall-mounted panels (565mm x 565mm – 22 3/16″ x 22 3/16″)
Stainless steel, vitreous enamel. Image Melissa Cameron.
From the series HEAT, (1 of 3) 2015 Penetration brooch (100mm x 85mm x 10mm - 3.9 x 3.4 x 0.4") Stainless steel, vitreous enamel. Photograph Melissa Cameron.
From the work HEAT, (1 of 3) 2015
brooch (100mm x 85mm x 10mm – 3.9 x 3.4 x 0.4″)
Stainless steel, vitreous enamel. Photograph Melissa Cameron.

The Heat Exchange II show has just opened in Scotland over the weekend, where it will stay until the end of February 2016. A slew of associated events are scheduled to coincide, including a symposium the weekend of the 19th of Feb (**hint hint**, if you’re in the area!) Art Jewelry Forum have just last week published part three of my five-part series of Material Concerns, wherein I talk about the wall of enamels on display in the Künstlerwerkstätten (artists’ workshops) in Erfurt in Germany.  How are these connected, I hear you ponder aloud…? Well, the Künstlerwerkstätten is where I hung out with a bunch of the other Heat Exchange participants last year for a couple of weeks, as together we made, or at least trialed, enamel pieces for this touring exhibition.

In the end I made a new series of works earlier this year to send to Europe for the HE adventure, but a selection of the works I made in Erfurt, entitled Jewel for a Wall are currently in Bright! at Rose Turk-o in Richmond.

Enamel on Steel – a weekend workshop

Image of jewellery by Melissa Cameron. Photograph by Melissa Cameron.
Parallel Planes Brooch III, 2012. From the La Geometrie series

Come along to Pratt Fine Arts Center here in Seattle and learn how to use liquid enamel for steel and copper from one of the best in the north-west… ME!

“We’re surrounded by enamel fired onto steel, from enameled oven- and cook-wear in the kitchen, to whiteboards and signage in the school and street. But it’s not just an industrial process! Learn how to use liquid enamel on steel and copper, from metal surface preparation to enamel mixing, application, and firing. Extend your decorative palette with appealing textures and patterns using simple techniques, perfectly suited for items like jewelry and small objects. Also learn how to prepare and apply enamel to recycled steel and found objects.”

Want to know more about me and the two-day course I run? I recently led back-to-back two-day workshops in New York for The Enamel Guild North East annual conference, who just happens to maintain a great website with maker interviews from past conference speaker/instructors. See my recent profile here!

Class #: 5498
Date: Saturday the 13th + Sunday the 14th of June
Time: 9:30am – 5:30pm
Fees: $240
Master Member Fees: $216
Prerequisite: none
Supply fee: $20
Can’t make it this time? Send me an email and I’ll put you on the mailing list for the next one. Or you can read up on the process without even having to leave this blog!

Start spreading the news…

One Design - #12 Brooch 04

S’ok, my eyes aren’t blue. I’m off to New York (State that is), on Monday to teach an enamelling class as a part of the Enamel Guild North East’s annual Conference series. The Friday-Saturday class is fully booked, but if you’re in the area and free on Wednesday-Thursday it’s not too late! If you check out that class you can stick around for the Helen Elliott: Painting on Steel enamel class, or Chris Darway: Shadow Boxing on Friday-Sat or even Katharine Wood: Linear Solutions on Saturday. Not to mention all the shenanigans of the actual conference on Sunday. Amongst sales and raffles I’m going to be talking about my practice!

But if you’re not in NY and you want to come hang out with me and learn something about applying liquid enamel to steel? Well I have 2 more options for you.

1\ Local enamel aficionado Rebbecca Tomas has kindly asked me to team up with her to teach an eight-week class at Pratt in Seattle, Beginning Enameling Survey. Starting on the 25th of March, Rebbecca will take the class through the basics of enameling onto copper, and then I step in on week five to take the scene to the steel level. It’s going to be a comprehensive guide to getting the best bang for you buck out of powdered and liquid enamels on the two best materials, copper and steel.

2\ If an 8 intensive is not your style, and you were looking for a early-summer West Coast play-cation, then perhaps this final class will be more up your alley? On June 13th and 14th I’ll be reprising last year’s Enamel on Copper and Steel in a weekend workshop, also at Pratt in Seattle. In that class we’re going to be using liquid enamels on new and recycled steels and copper, working with them and the sandblaster to achieve unique textures and surfaces. I know I’ve had some queries as to when I’d be doing another weekend workshop, so I’m glad to finally be able to oblige. I’ll be sure to let you know when it goes live for registration.

Liquid Enamel for Steel and Copper

My enamelling workbench in Erfurt - organised chaos
My enamelling workbench in Erfurt – organised chaos

I’m teaching a four-week enamel class at Pratt in a week!

Starting on the 18th of November for four Tuesday sessions from 6-10pm, I’ll be taking a group through how to create great designs with liquid enamel. We’ll start from the start, by preparing metals – including sandblasting – and then we will be talking through the finer points of mixing and applying a base of liquid enamel, followed working over and paring back, and then finishing the enamel surface, on both copper and steel.

If you’ve not used liquid – otherwise known as porcelain – enamel, and you’ve been wondering how to identify and prepare recycled steel for your own projects, then this is the workshop for you!

The class is almost full, so if you’re in the Seattle area, get in soon, and if you’re already enrolled, see you in a week!

One Design Workshop – Perth Edition!

Image of the main workshop material, a laser cut pattern in 1.5mm thick timber
Image of the main workshop material, a laser cut pattern in 1.5mm thick timber

Here’s another way to celebrate the launch of my One Design collection at Contemporary Metal in Perth. Come along and try your hand at making a jewel or two to take home, using a timber version of the same components I used to make the whole show!

It’s taking place from 10am – 1pm on 9th of November at Contemporary Metal, Unit 4, 77-79 Howe St, Osborne Park, WA, which is next weekend, and I happen to know that there are still a couple of places left, so what are you waiting for? Sign up and come along and we’ll have a play! And did I mention that it’s suitable for ages 10 and up?

Workshop details and booking info.

But what is it exactly? Well…

How many different objects can you create from one pattern? Be part of a fun DIY collaborative workshop to create unique works from a suite of pre-cut forms designed by jewellery artist Melissa Cameron. The class will be held in the gallery space to ensure that the new works do not duplicate any pieces in the exhibition. The results will be shown alongside the artist’s work for the duration of the exhibition and can then be taken home by the participants.

The pieces will be joined by silk thread and I have hand-made a bunch of stainless steel fixings – brooch pins, earring posts and the like – to attach the pieces to the body. That leaves you to concentrate on the main challenge – making something completely new from the pieces of the pattern. It’s up to you to challenge the material and the design in any way you can!

Yes, this is the second time that this course has been run, but the first time that I have been able to run it personally, so I’m looking forward to collaborating on some more One Design originals.

Northcity4 needs YOU!

A plea from my good friends at NorthCity4 – the hosts of my upcoming one-day-only pop-up show (coming to Brunswick October 25th)!


Dear friends, colleagues, fellow humans –

I’m writing to ask for the support of my fellow jewellers and creative community in Victoria [Australia], and to let you know about an experimental, environmental project we’ve been planning at Northcity4, my studio and a non-profit artist and education space in Brunswick.

Inspired by NASA’s brilliant research on the air-cleansing qualities of common houseplants, our dream is to build a large, permanent air-purifying garden indoors, to work alongside our conventional air-filtering system. We want to become a leading creative community on how to use plants effectively in artist workshop settings!

Importantly, we want to make all the research findings and a documented process of construction available, free of charge, for other interested artists and the wider community, locally and internationally. So this project is for everyone.

This initiative, a “forest on wheels” was recently selected a top ten finalist in the Bank of Melbourne Local Project Competition/Environment-category. It has a very real chance in succeeding, as the two most voted for projects in each category receive funding. The competition is very tight though, and every single vote counts!  

Here’s how you can show your support:

1. You can vote directly at the competition website at http://webapps.bankofmelbourne.com.au/thelocalproject/default.aspx?project=201

2. You can also simply email to indoorforest2014@gmail.com with your postcode and the words GREEN YES if you’d like to support the project. We can vote for you, if easier.

Please note that your details WILL NOT be stored, or used for any other purpose than counting the votes during the competition.

If you’re feeling really enthusiastic, please forward to any friends you think would be interested to support us also.

Many thanks!!!

Inari Kiuru
Northcity4 artists

Inari also noted that: should you have any questions, or would like further info & updates you can contact me and I’ll put you in touch with her. Also from Inari I have a pdf for more details on the project so far that I’m happy to share – it outlines the plans, the background, benefits and how they plan to put the proposal into action, including the plant species they already have and those they intend to use in the project.