Chairman's Column

Letter from the Chair Summer 2012 Jane Ball

 

I am honoured to take on the role of chairman for this coming year and would like to thank those who nominated me.

I have gained so much from the Guild and am grateful for the opportunity to ‘do my bit’ to promote the wonderful work the Guild does for enamelling.

I had my first taste of enamelling in 1997 while attending a course run by Bonnie Mackintosh and will be forever indebted to her and Louise O’Neil for opening my eyes to the world of enamelling. The range and breadth of uses to which enamel can be put never ceases to amaze.

I am not an enameller by trade but enjoy it as a form of relaxation, though must admit to many hours of frustration when pieces don’t quite go to plan. Still, it allows me to focus on something artistic and quite different from my working week as a Speech and Language Therapist.

In retrospect, my first conference in 2000 was a real turning point. Only knowing one person made me a little nervous, but I shouldn’t have been worried as I was soon made to feel welcome, learnt so much and made some good friends. This Guild is always welcoming to enamellers, irrespective of length of time enamelling or level of ability.

This year’s conference was another resounding success, thanks to the team for all their hard work in organising it, with particular thanks to Tilly and Liz. The facilities were excellent and the workshops, speakers and masterclass were thought provoking and stimulating.

It was good to meet with the tutors and speakers, especially Carmen Lombardi and her husband who travelled from Brazil to join us. Also to meet David Bainbridge who was awarded Honorary Membership at conference for all his work related to the proposed EU restriction on the use of lead in jewellery. We have recently been informed that the derogation for vitreous jewellery enamel is now official which, in lay terms, means that leaded enamels can continue to be used within jewellery production.

 

I look forward to meeting as many members as possible over the coming year, especially those who are not able to make it to conference, and to attending more of the events and exhibitions represented by the Guild across the country. A list of events, exhibitions and courses involving Guild members can be found on our comprehensive website www.guildofenamellers.org. This website has gone from strength to strength: thank you to all those involved in its creation and upkeep.

 

Lastly a date for your diary for next year as the conference returns to the Thorpe Underwood Estate in York (Queen Ethelburga’s College) over the weekend 5th-7th April 2013.

 

Letter from the Chair Spring 2012 Tilly Wilkinson

 

In my last letter I was resisting the onset of winter, the dark nights and low temperatures of the previous two winters were still uncomfortably easy to remember. However, here in the North West at least, the season so far has been a mixed one with the wind making itself felt far more than Jack Frost. To those members who I know had property damaged some weeks ago, I hope both the insurance assessors and your builders have made life easier for you rather than harder. Thankfully the nights are slowly starting to lengthen and the cotoneaster outside the window has 5 Field fares busily guzzling the fruit in between arguing with each other over whose tree it is.

In an attempt to get what passes for sunlight at this time of the year we took a walk up to our local Art Gallery the Williamson in Birkenhead. On entering one of the rooms we came across a large, striking, abstract painting that on closer inspection turned out to be an enamel panel by Stefan Knapp. After a bit of research we discovered that Knapp was responsible for the largest mural ever produced in Paramus New Jersey and 17 enamel murals at Heathrow. There are more details about this fascinating artist on the Guild website with a link to a more detailed piece from Glass on Metal.

Preparations for our Annual Conference are well underway. As I write, our tutorial workshops are almost full and Liz and I are working hard contacting speakers, tutors, selectors and suppliers to finalise the programme details. I’d like to thank all members of the Executive Committee for their help this year but particularly Liz who puts in an enormous amount of time and effort ensuring that Conference runs smoothly. This will be Liz’s final year as Conference Secretary.

We also wave goodbye to Mary Ford who is stepping down as Awards and Selection Officer. Many of us have been cajoled, encouraged and gently bullied by Mary to enter our work for selection. Whilst it can be a daunting prospect to submit one’s work for scrutiny it is also a very valuable exercise. On behalf of the Executive Committee I would like to offer sincere thanks to both Liz and Mary for all their hard work during their time as Officers of the Guild and look forward to seeing them both in April.

Still on the subject of Conference our suppliers at Reaseheath will be slightly different this year. Please see the separate article in this Journal.

In addition to conference, the Guild is involved in a number of other events this year. Region 4 is running the Guild stand at the Hobbycrafts Show at the NEC 22nd -25th March. (See details on the Guild website).

We also have the exhibition at Whitby this summer. This is an excellent opportunity for members to show and sell work this year. The gallery is asking mainly for wall based pieces; however there will be display cases available for jewellery and small items such as bowls. There is no limit to the number of pieces that can be submitted or any restriction on size. Please see the extra article elsewhere in the Journal and the Guild website for details of submission dates, contact details etc.

Enamel Fusion will be running again in conjunction with Craft & Design Magazine during May. Please let Lynne Glazzard have any details of any classes you wish to have listed on Craft & Design’s website as soon as possible.

Art in Action takes place this year between Thursday 19th and Sunday 22nd July. Please let Lesley Miller know if you wish to assist at this event.

The website is continuing to develop. There is now a For Sale and Wanted section on the main menu. Please email any items to David Cowling our website editor: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This is my last letter as Chair but I look forward to catching up with everyone at Reaseheath and at Conferences to come. Many thanks to all those I’ve met on my roam around the regions this year for their hospitality, kind words and good humour.

 

 

 

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Letter from the Chair Winter 2011 Tilly Wilkinson

 

I can’t believe that autumn is here. Try as I might to convince myself otherwise all of the evidence is there to see; darker nights, lower temperatures, the beautiful plums, reds and russets of the leaves, the cotoneaster outside the window bowed down with bright red fruits. During the early part of this autumn I was invited to demonstrate enamelling techniques for the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight on the Wirral. Both occasions were well attended with some members of the public staying for the whole session!
 
For many the onset of colder weather is time to put on more woollies and retire with a book. Not enamellers though; it’s the perfect time to have a bit of a sort out and get the kiln fired up.
To me there’s nothing nicer on a blustery wet day than putting the kiln on and having a play with a technique that you are unfamiliar with. I will certainly be experimenting with some of the enamels and processes I learned about at the Region 1&2 weekend in Edinburgh recently. My thanks go to all concerned for organizing such a great workshop but particularly to Veronica Matthew and Janet Notman for running the class and to Dorothy Cockrell for conjuring up lunches and dinner for 20 people from what seemed like thin air.
 
Whilst at the workshop my husband David took some pictures of the pieces produced over the two days. The photo’s can be viewed on the guild website, by clicking on the gallery button in the menu on the left hand side of the website front page. There has been a lot of work done on the website since the Spring. I am pleased to announce that the guild database of images is now live and can be accessed in the member’s area via your personal log on. I’d like to thank Julia Riddington who has written the software and David Cowling who has catalogued and edited thousands of images, for all their hard work getting this project up and running. There is a short article about the database and instructions on how to use it on the front page of the website. Please remember to scroll down the page as articles are added chronologically. It is still early days and much of the information is still being added. David would like members to look at their images and contact him with any additional information or corrections. In addition David is now responsible for the day to day aspects of managing the website. If you would like any pictures or articles adding then please contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Most of the archive images have been taken at conference by Rob Griffin with help from Jock Miller, from the Themed and General exhibitions. If you haven’t entered a piece for either of the exhibitions before, please consider submitting something at the next conference, either personally or via your regional rep’ if you aren’t attending. Not only might you win one of the prizes but your work will be photographed and held on the guild archive. The title of the themed exhibition for 2012 is “Jungle”, so there’s plenty of scope for colour, texture and form.
 
At the conference in Canterbury the possibility of junior membership for under 18’s was raised. The current constitution allows for under 18’s to join the guild as full members for half the annual full subscription. However, to ensure that we are fully compliant with current child safety legislation, the Executive Committee decided that any member under the age of 18 wishing to attend regional workshops must have both their parent’s and the regional representative’s agreement that the workshop is suitable. Any under 18’s wishing to come to conference would need to be accompanied at all times by a participating adult member. Full details may be obtained from the Membership Secretary.
 
The Ravenstein exhibition was a great success with a number of exhibitors selling their work. The next opportunity for exhibiting work for sale will be summer 2012 in Whitby at the Pannett Art Gallery. Please see Lesley Miller’s article and the website for more details.
 
Our 2012 conference will take place at Reaseheath Agricultural College in Cheshire over the weekend of 13th-15th April. Reaseheath has good access from the M6 and is a short taxi ride from Crewe railway station. Our tutors for 2012 are Linda Connelly, Dale Deveraux Barker, Penny Gildea, Gillie Hoyte Byrom, Jill Leventon and Jane Short.
Shirley Gore will be running the Art Attack Session on our arrival on Friday evening. After dinner David Bainbridge of Milton Bridge Enamels will talk to us about enamel manufacture and on Saturday evening Carmen Lombardi from Sao Paulo in Brazil will be giving a presentation on her technique for torch firing cloisonné and plique-a-jour. The Masterclass on Sunday will be by Ruth Ball and is entitled “Working the Surface”.
 
I’d like to thank all of the tutors, speakers and selectors for giving their time so generously to support our conference. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone one at Reaseheath in April but book early as places at conference go quickly.
 
 
 

Letter from the Chair Autumn 2011 Tilly Wilkinson

 

I had assumed that this summer my enamelling would wind down as it usually does when the weather gets warmer (I am writing this in mid July). However I have had a number of beginner’s lessons recently and was busy over the first weekend in July demonstrating enamelling techniques and promoting the Guild at the Wirral’s Festival of Firsts. The festival was the idea of John Gorman (some of you may remember him singing “Lily the Pink” as part of The Scaffold). The weekend was jam packed with poetry, drama and music, held at various venues around the pretty seaside town of Hoylake on the Wirral. Local shops along the high street kindly gave over their windows to display the work of local artists and crafts people for two weeks free of charge. Sunday 10th saw Hoylake prom play host to the work of 120 local artists from all disciplines.
 
The event was a huge success and great fun to be involved with. In addition it has helped to raise funds for Claire House our local children’s hospice on the Wirral. I was busy all day on the Sunday demonstrating and explaining what our craft encompasses to what seemed like an endless stream of visitors. There was a lot of interest in the Guild so perhaps we’ll see some new members in Region 3. I’d like to thank Region 3 members Ann Kernigan, one of the festival’s organisers, for her help with the venue for our Guild demonstration, Diane Rimmer for also promoting the Guild via her stall at the festival and my husband David who as usual carried my big kiln into the venue, looked after customers and brought regular supplies of tea.
 
On the subject of festivals a number of our members have been busy demonstrating enamelling techniques on behalf of the Guild at Art in Action, evidence again of the Guild’s commitment to promoting the craft of enamelling to a wider public. Lesley Miller organises the Guild demonstrations at Waterperry along with a raft of volunteers. I hope the word raft isn’t an omen of the weather they have experienced; as I write this the rain has been lashing our windows seemingly non stop for several days.
 
Lynne Glazzard our new Publicity Officer has also been very busy recently. A number of members will be aware that the EU is proposing to ban lead in jewellery. The Executive Committee became aware of the issue after receiving an email from Pat Johnson. The legislation is well intended, hoping to try to reduce the number of cheap lead bearing metal jewellery items entering the EU. However, within this legislation an issue has arisen as to the possible banning of enamelled jewellery items. Lynne has been in touch with various government agencies and has been instrumental in formulating a proposal for the exemption of leaded jewellery enamels on behalf of the Guild and its members. This has been a complex issue which has taken many hours on Lynne’s behalf contacting professionals in all areas of the industry. In particular we are indebted to the help of David Bainbridge of Milton Bridge. The results of the EU decision will be known in September.
 
The Ravenstein exhibition is now well under way. Ellen and John Goldman attended on the first day. They were accompanied by members of the British Club of The Hague and the exhibition curator Jan Klink. On behalf of the Guild I would like to express our thanks to Jan Klink for organising the exhibition and to Ellen for her help throughout.
 
Earlier this year the Pannett Art Gallery in Whitby offered the Guild the opportunity to exhibit members work during July and August 2012. It is envisaged that this will be a selling exhibition for a range of works but particularly wall based pieces. Further details will be published in the next Journal.
 
All the rain I mentioned earlier has replenished our water butts and thankfully the weather has finally taken a turn for the better but perversely the sun and strong winds mean that all my pots in the garden need watering again. So I’m off outside to do just that.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Letter from the Chair Summer 2011 Tilly Wilkinson

 

 
I wonder how many of you needed to have a bit of a rest after this years Conference at Canterbury? As is always the case at Conference there was never a dull moment, a packed programme of talks, events and classes left me in need of a bit of a lie down.
 
Having had that lie down and a chance for some reflection, I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly thank retiring members of the Guild Executive Committee. Joy Funnell is handing over the reigns to Catie McNeil our new Treasurer. Beverley Archard is handing over the job of Librarian to new member Marion Edwards. Gillie Hoyte- Byrom is stepping down from her successful tenure as Bursary Officer to be replaced by Carol Griffin. Erika Speel is standing down after many years as Publicity Officer to be replaced by Lynne Glazzard. I would like to say a particular thank you to Erika who has not only given her time in her role on the Executive Committee but has also acted as a Selector and Chair and freely shared her extensive technical knowledge with the membership. Anyone who has the chance to hear Erika talking about the history of enamels is in for a treat. Last but not least I’d like to welcome Jane Ball our new Vice-Chair and thank Ruby Tomes and Liz Gilliland for organising such a great Conference. Sadly Liz has said that she will be standing down after our 2012 Conference so we are looking for a new Conference Secretary.
 
Many enamellers hold the Guild in great affection; as a result we are lucky to be able to persuade some of the most highly skilled exponents of our craft to let us into their world. We were lucky to see and hear Fred Rich demonstrating his approach to producing his highly detailed and much sought after pieces at Conference. Thanks also to Rachel Gogerly for her personal look at working as a professional enameller. And to Phil Barnes who gave us a look back into his early career with his dad Fred, or should that be Charles Barnes? His funny and touching presentation provided us with the proof that, yes, Phil was young once and that he did have a head of luxuriant flowing, auburn locks!
 
Phil’s talk was also a testament to an approach to training; the traditional apprenticeship, that seems to have almost disappeared. Whatever one might think about the old approach of starting at the bottom making the tea, fetching and carrying for your elders and betters and generally doing whatever needed to be done, it seemed to have totally immersed a young person into the craft they were following, giving them a depth and breadth of training today’s young crafts- people can only marvel at.
 
At the present time training young people in any skill seems to be becoming more difficult. Respected courses are closing and training is becoming less easy to access across so many areas but particularly the creative subjects. The Guild has always been keen to welcome new members and the number of classes running in different regions is proof of the continued interest and necessity of maintaining and passing on skills and knowledge.
 
As someone who has spent the last 24 yrs teaching the 11-18 range at Secondary level, I know the value and enjoyment to be had in encouraging young people to take up craft skills. The Judith Harris Memorial Award for Young Enamellers was introduced to encourage those members who are under 18 to submit work for exhibition at Conference. We now have three enamelled awards, one for each age category, designed and made by Laura Ball our first Under 18 winner. Unfortunately we were not able to award the Under 11 category as there were no entrants. So if you’ve got any little enamellers out there please submit their pieces at the next Conference.
 
I’d like to finish by thanking all of our membership for their support and look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in the coming year.