A bit of history: Part 1
Way back when…
I first encountered enameled objects at the World’s Fair in 1964!
I was fascinated with the intricate color inlays. Not long afterwards at a small craft show, I saw further examples of enameling and signed up right away for a class at the local YWCA. By age 12, I had my first kiln and was on my way.
In 1974, I enrolled at Skidmore College as an art major. I dropped out after one year in order “to find myself”, aka move in with my boyfriend. I worked full time as an upholstery seamstress for that year which cured any romantic notions I may have had about life in the blue collar lane. My teacher from the YWCA told me about a famous enamelist, Bill Helwig, who was teaching out in Buffalo. What did I do? I shuffled on out to Buffalo to study with him of course! Bill was an enthusiastic, eccentric and demanding teacher and was encyclopedic in his knowledge of enamels. I have always been grateful for what he taught me. Unfortunately, my arrival in Buffalo a few weeks prior to the bizzard of 77.… coincided with Bill’s decision to leave Buffalo not long after to work at Thompson Enamel.
I stayed on in Buffalo for a while taking jewelry classes. Even though I hated the picayune nature of the work at first, enameling on pre-cut pieces of metal was not where I wanted to go. I have since grown to like sawing and soldering, and it allows me great freedom of form. Most importantly, in 1978 my jewelry instructor took a van full of his students down to the American Craft Council’s flagship show in Baltimore MD . At the show, we studied booth design and booth sat for the exhibiting artists. What a world! Thanks to my teacher Jack Jacquet for opening this door. I determined to be a Baltimore exhibitor some day. It took a while to get there… I was accepted for the first time in 1986, and have exhibited at Baltimore 28 times since!
After leaving Buffalo in 1978, my home base became the foothills of the Catskill mountains. During the summers, I continued my studies in the art of enameling as a scholarship student at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. During the winters, I worked on business building, which in reality meant I was baking a lot of organic muffins and cookies to sell and doing a few shows. I moved into a lonely Civil War era salt box style house located in the middle of a windswept field. One of my roommates in the house was to become my husband…but not for another 14 years. I had a studio along one wall in my bedroom with deeply slanted ceilings. In fact the ceilings were so low, that when I stood up too quickly from my bench my head would bounce off the ceiling. It was cold enough to freeze a glass of water on the night stand and snow blew in through the sashes of the windows. Having the kiln on was a good thing in the winter! In the springtime, pigs from the farm next door regularly escaped and routed up my garden. I knew that I had to move when the farmer next door came over one night all spit and polished and patted me on the back side. I found a house sitting gig for the winters and lived in a teepee from April through November for the next couple years.
to be continued…