Last week saw me working away piercing and enameling three bowls for a commission. I’ve probably made a hundred bowls (possibly more) by taking various scenes (holiday photos, family pets, favourite walks, fairy tales and folklores, hand piercing the story into the rim of the bowl and then enamelling the inside and the outside to create unique pieces. This is how one of last week’s bowls was made:-
I was asked to make a bowl of a daughter with their pet dog. First off I was sent pics of the daughter and the long legged labrador that I soon learned was called ‘Woody’. Next job was to sketch out the design for the bowl – and send it back to the commissioner to check that they were happy with it. After a little tweeking they were (which is always a relief!).
Next, after thoroughly cleaning one of the bowls (which I get ‘spun’ especially for this purpose by a lovely chap in the jewellery quarter in Birmingham. I have to get them especially made because normal bowls for enameling are quite thin (fine for normal use but they become too fragile once I’ve pierced great chunks out of them). Next I glue the drawn image onto the inside of the bowl and then I drill holes in the spaces which I need to cut out -for example you can see in this pic where I’ve drilled a hole using a 0.8mm drill bit and then was able to put my blade through the ‘pierced’ hole in order to saw the rest of the shape out! (hence the term piercing). It’s extremely fiddly and the blades break relatively often – there’s a very good reason why they come in packs of 144!
Once the image has been successfully pierced the next task is to get the bowl really REALLY clean and get the kiln up to around 750degrees C (bloomin hot – especially when it’s bloomin hot outside!)
The enamel is then carefully applied to the inside of the bowl, fired (possibly a couple of times) and then the process is repeated to the outside of the bowl. Lots can go wrong during this stage – patience genuinely is a virtue whilst enameling! Enamel too thick, too thin, unevenly spread, not enough klyr fire, too much klyr fire, the kiln too hot or too cold (all of these factors vary with different enamel colours) . . . however . . . we got there in the end. Finally I clean the fire scale off the edges of the bowl bringing it back to the beautiful colour that copper is. The customer was delighted (phew!)
Update – 2nd July – They liked them 🙂