FAQs for metalsmiths
How did you learn enameling?
I learned the basics of vitreous enameling in local workshops at colleges and arts centers as well as from books, online videos, a lot of trial and error, and trying different products available for purchase online. My particular technique is my own, which evolved from my background as an illustrator; I translate my knowledge of traditional illustration media into the materials and tools of enameling.
If you are interested in learning vitreous enameling, I recommend two wonderful books: The Art of Enameling by Linda Darty and The Fine Art of Enameling by Karen Cohen. I also recommend joining The Enamelist Society; members have access to weekly live Zoom sessions with various enamelists for in-depth discussions of their techniques, and they also offer Zoom workshops with some of the world's best enamelists. And of course, there is much to be learned from Facebook groups of enamelists, online videos and classes, and experimenting on your own. Remember to document your findings as you learn, loosen up, and have fun!
How do you create the images in your enamel work?
I use various kinds of painting enamels to create my pieces such as china paints, watercolor enamels, and graphite. I purchase my enamels and thinning media from Thomson Enamel and Maryland China Company.
If you are interested in learning to paint with enamels, I recommend reading The Art of Enameling by Linda Darty and The Fine Art of Enameling by Karen Cohen. Once you've learned from these books, I suggest purchasing various kinds of painting enamels and experimenting to see which materials work for you; I found that exploring different kinds of enamel and media was the best way to find my own technique. Pocosin Arts School of Fine Craft in VA offers many live Zoom classes in enameling and jewelry making with some of the world's most respected instructors. If you are in the midwest, I also recommend checking out the in-person classes offered by Flux Metal Arts in Cleveland.
To explore making and firing your own enamel decals (as seen in my Oceans of Suds brooch), I recommend beginning with this SNAG article by Sharon Massey; this article is how I first learned about the technique.
How did you learn chasing & repousse?
I learned the technique of chasing and repousse from Liza Nechamkin in her 2-day workshop. I continued learning and improving my process with the book Chasing and Repousse: Methods Ancient and Modern by Nancy Mēgan Corwin.
What kind of pitch and tools do you use for your chasing & repousse work?
I use Liza Nechamkin's Nechamkin Green Pitch, a medium, organic pine rosin-based pitch suitable for medium to high relief work that can be worked slightly warm using a heat gun. For tools, I prefer Nechamkin Chasing Tools and Pistol Grip Chasing Hammer. I also use a few Fretz chasing tools.
How do you do electro-etching?
I recommend joining the Facebook groups Electroetchers Anonymous and Etchers Anonymous for information and help with beginning etching. These groups provide excellent documentation regarding setup, safety and troubleshooting, and the community of other etchers is extremely generous and helpful.
Karen Cohen has shared my technique for using a laminator to apply toner resists for etching in her online book appendix.
What chemicals and equipment do you use for electro-etching?
Here is a list of the basic supplies and equipment I use in my studio for electroetching. If you do not know how these items are used in electroetching, I recommend you join the Electroetchers Anonymous Facebook group and ask questions of the community there; I learned the process of electroetching from this group.
- I prefer Canon laser printers for creating toner transfers. Any laser printer model will do, but I also use only Canon replacement ink, not generic.
- PCB Paper (Available from Amazon)
- Tahsen SM330 Laminator (You'll have to search for this; eBay often has this item)
- Asphaltum Varnish (Available from RioGrande)
- Cupric Nitrate (Available from The Science Company)
- 30V Power Supply (This is the one I have, but any brand will work.)
- Thin Copper Sheet (eg: 22-ga.) and/or copper wire (to be used as anodes and cathodes)
How did you learn keum-boo?
I learned the technique of keum-boo from a tutorial video by Charles Lewton-Brain on Ganoksin.
Where do you get the gold foil you use in your enamels and keum-boo?
I purchase my 23.5K gold foil from Enamel Art Supply because it is USA sourced and thicker than most.
What is the inspiration behind your work?
I share a lot of information about what inspires my work on an interview with Tonya Davidson on her Jewelry Maker's Guild Podcast. I also share the original poems and stories that inspire and appear in much of my work here.
Where can I take classes in metalsmithing and enameling?
Pocosin Arts School of Fine Craft in VA offers many in person as well as excellent live Zoom classes in enameling, metals, and jewelry making – taught by some of the world's most respected instructors. Other schools that offer in-person and live Zoom classes are Silvera Jewelry School (west coast), Baltimore Jewelry Center (east coast), and Flux Metal Arts (midwest).