Moment of Inspiration… Rene Lalique

Hello friends!

I’ve been cruising around Pinterest (why don’t you follow us?, and I started looking at some Rene Lalique art. Don’t know who that is? Boy, are you ever missing out!

Rene Lalique was born a rural 19th century man in a pre-industrialized
Europe. It was a time before light bulbs, and telephones, before
automobiles and washing machines and electricity. But by the time of his
death in 1945 at the dawn of the atomic age, he would have completed
two careers spanning two different centuries. In 1900 at the age of 40,
he was the most celebrated jeweler in the world and an art nouveau
artist and designer of magnificent proportions. But by 1925 at the
height of the art deco era he was the most celebrated glassmaker in the

My info is quoted from here.

Head on over to our Pinterest board called “Art” and take a look at some Lalique jewellery and glass work.

Here are a couple images of Lalique’s jewellery.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as I do!

Enamel students

More pictures of student work coming your way!
This is my first time teaching the 8 week Enamel class and I am excited about all the samples and finished pieces my students have been creating.  I am looking forward to seeing what they are going to be making for their final project, which they will be starting soon and completing in a couple of weeks.  I’ll be sure to post the finished creations!

– Alexis

Stencil samples by Cheryl Koller
Cloisonne project by Cheryl Koller
Stencil samples and cloisonne by Colleen Wheeler

Stencil samples by Lisa Soch

by Kate Psaltis

Cloisonne by Kate Psaltis


Happy Little Kilns

Our small kiln is getting a little shelf insert to collect our enamel spills

I seemed to have neglected my blogging duties… I am back in action after a relaxing Holiday spent with family.  My first concern upon returning was taking care of our enameling kilns.  We have some Enamel classes coming up soon so I want them to be in tip top shape for students and of course for myself and other enamelists in the studio.  After searching the internet and making a few calls I came across the Pottery Supply House and their technician Geoff.  Yesterday I dropped the kiln off and in a matter of minutes he had it rewired and back up and running.  After discussing the issue of cleanliness and enameling in a kiln they suggested simply buying extra shelves to collect any mess and prevent ruining the built in bricks.  A very economical choice compared to other options I had researched, and so simple!  Now I’m thinking I should give them a try this afternoon just to make sure they do the trick and to get some work done.      – Alexis

Studio visit with a master enamellist

In December I had the pleasure of visiting a true enamel master in his studio outside of Montreal in the town of Les Cedres. Seguin Poirier is a master enamelist who began his career as an enamel artist in the late 1960s. He enamels primarily on large scale sheet metal. He told me had done some jewellery work earlier in his career, but after a short time began to use enamel in a loose and unprecedented way, applying it liberally and without inhibition, playing with enamel as painter mixes paints on a canvas. His studio was impressive, jars of enamel powder everywhere, by the ton, which he imports from near and far, including India and China. I enjoyed a candid tour of one of his two studios, this one in a traditional Quebec Habitant style home (the other an impressive space in Griffintown, the old Irish part of downtown Montreal). He was very helpful to me, taking a look at some of my one-of-a-kind jewellery pieces and had very positive feedback for me. “Just go for it” he said, “you will have no problem, as long as you love what you do and you keep making something different that no one has seen before”. Solid advice from a hard worker. Something about that great Quebec spirit, made me miss my home town of Montreal!

So here are some photos I took while visiting:

OK, so first off, let’s talk about this kiln. This is a serious kiln. I forgot to ask how long it takes to heat up, but I imagine many many hours. It is a custom-built electric enamel kiln designed by Seguin Poirier himself to accommodate his very large sheets of copper. This is actually the world’s largest enameling kiln. It was still warm from the previous day’s firing, and two people could lie comfortably side by side in the kiln. HUGE! 
Next was the “Chapel”. This room is covered floor to ceiling with enamelled copper artwork. The walls are decorated with enamelled panels, from small plates and tiles to 3x5ft paintings. The walls of this room depict historical celebrations, seasonal transitions of Quebec (everything from the harvest to the Jazz Festival!)
He uses this room, which took over 7 years to complete, to host creative suppers (my father has gone to one for Valentine’s Day) where patrons can enjoy a great meal, music and live demonstration of enameling by the artist, who completes a painting during the evening with input from all the guests!
 I tried to get photo of the wall close up, you can see the scratch lines and textures the artist makes, one of the techniques I teach in my enamel class, so I was really excited to see it used on such a large (and colourful!) scale. Overall it was a wild and overwhelming environment, especially for me the enamel enthusiast.

You may visit Seguin Poirier’s website to see more of his work, community projects, installations and shop here:

So since the holidays and this fun visit, I have been cultivating more ideas on how to use enamel in a more painterly fashion. It is harder to do on a smaller jewellery scale, but I have been experimenting with oxides, changing pale colours (i.e. whites, creams, pale blues) naturally with copper dust, or by exposing parts of the metal surface. I typically have used solid opaque enamel surfaces in my jewellery, but for my latest piece, which will soon be show at an curated exhibition in the York Quay Building at Harbourfront Centre, I’m embracing the overfired, burnt and oxidized look. The pieces for the show entitled “Yield” which will showcase 8 Canadian Contemporary Jewellers have to do with stress as a theme, both in concept and material treatment. Coming soon! I’ll post more details and a sneak peek as soon as I shoot the photos with my friend Kate, who has been immensely helpful with photography as of late. The show is scheduled to open mid-April. Other jewellers are Catherine Allen NS, Colleen Baran BC, Paul McClure,ON,  Silvie Altschuler QC,  Shannon Kennedy ON, Anneke van Bommel ON and Bridget Catchpole BC, what a great roster!

If you want to learn more about enamelling, I am teaching my 8 week class at Jewel Envy starting this month, Thursday, February 17 (that’s next week!). There is also a 1 day workshop scheduled for Sunday, February 20. We now have two kilns, which is super exciting, room for more students in a class, which is always great, as I think the more experimenting that goes on and is shared amongst students the better… can always discover something new with enamel, which is why I am so passionate about the process, and enjoy teaching others about it too! Hope to see you there!
Until next time, keep plenty of colour in your life.


A departure

As most of you know, I am usually busy making brightly coloured designs during my studio time. I usually look to marine animals, textures in nature and anything living (including the smallest of cells) for my work. I’ve been hoping to get back into this and revamp some designs and ideas I had started while still at NSCAD. I’m thinking sea monsters, predators and unusual specimens will inspire the body of work. I develop for an upcoming invitational exhibition I am to be part of next April. Although I will still be working on production pieces, I want to spend more time on developing a strong body of artwork for my own conceptual and artistic development, something I feel I haven’t had much time to do since being in school. I make jewellery because I love to explore and to make unusual things to spark interest, and I am looking forward to taking the time to make some solid new work.

Speaking of new work, the month of August and September took a new turn when a friend’s brother asked me to design and make him a wedding band. The design was fairly simple, but I knew it would be a challenge right from the get-go. I was stepping out of my usual comfort zone of choice materials (usually enamel, copper and sterling silver) for once to try for the first time
a) working in gold
b) working in wood
c) a tight schedule

The saga began with a trip to Burlington to go to the Exotic Wood store where several very knowledgable employees helped us choose the appropriate wood, which was a beautiful variety of rosewood called “Cocobolo”. Of course it had to be the size of a table leg which I would then handcut the perfect little piece out of to incorporate into our white gold ring design.

Many hours and a few cracked wood ring “tests’ later, the results. I am so happy with this ring and so was he! And dare I mention I look forward to working in gold again in the near future? 

And on a final note. I am pleased to have found a little used enamel kiln to start adding to my collection of equipment. It’s always good to pounce on a craigslist opportunity like this when it comes up, because you never know if you will find a good deal like it again. So this is my new used kiln.  For now I’m keeping it at home until I can install a thermometer on it and fix a cracked firebrick inside, but I am very excited to at least have my very own. Next step will be finding a torch I suppose.

Thanks for reading!


Enamel Class Photos

Hi everyone! Today I brought my camera in to the studio to snap a few shot of my talented students in action. Only two more classes in this session after tonight, 6 weeks have gone by so fast! I have listed upcoming class dates at the bottom of this post!

So far we have learned so many techniques, and completed a stenciling project, some students used lace to make a really cool pattern, others hand-cut stencils. In our most recent project, Sonia completed a miniature watercolour painting in a little brass frame which hangs askew around the neck. It is so adorable. Zeine made a really intricate origami-like shape from flat copper sheet enamelled with my favorite lime green, Amanda has been working on these great organic pod shapes which she made in the hydraulic press, and Padrin’s teeth inspired pendant is so mesmerizing. Really cool work. I love the dimension and volume they have gotten through this exploration of copper with enamel.

I showed the students how to do cloisonne enamel tonight for the next and final project. This process involved packing wet enamel powder in between thin copper, gold or fine silver wires and firing. I made this cute little guy as a demonstration, only to realize he looks like Alexis’ funny bug eyed toy who lives on her jewellery bench. They could be brothers! (See below)

Right: Sonia working on her miniature painting

Amanda sifting enamel onto one of many pods

Padrin removing his pendant from the kiln after firing!

Me firing a sample. 
Soon to become:

Cloisonne guy! aka, Popeye or Bugsy, on the right.

Next week we are in the home stretch with 2 classes to go, everyone will be working on cloisonne designs. I will be sad when class is over, we’ve had a really good time and I have really loved teaching this first enamel class here.

Next class will be a combination Intro/Intermediate Enamelling course, beginning on Thursday March 25th for 8 weeks. 

Introductory Enameling: Learn the basics of firing glass powder onto copper, metal preparation, various firing stages/textures, using opaque and transparent enamels, stenciling, drawing and painting on enamel, building hollow copper objects to enamel, enameling 3 dimensional objects, wet inlay and cloisonne. No jewellery/enamel experience necessary, the basics of piercing and drilling will be taught so everyone has a chance to design their own unique shapes to enamel!

Intermediate Enamelling for Jewellery: will explore the possibilities of enamel in finished pieces of sterling silver jewellery. We will learn and elaborate on enamel techniques, with a focus on multiples, bezel setting, prongs or tabs and rivetting enamelled components to fabricated jewellery designs. Prerequisites for Intermediate are: Intro to enamelling and Intro to Fabrication or other fabrication experience. Visit our website to see all courses and for registration information.

One day enamel workshops for March 2010 (make a pendant with stenciled design and matching earrings, or two pendants)
Saturday, March 13 from 10:00am to 6:00pm 
Sunday, March 21 from 10:00am to 6:00pm

Hope you can join us for a colourful one day or 8 week class!

Bye for now!


Some people sing in the shower, I sing disco while working alone at the studio

First of all, happy new year to all our blog followers from me, Emily.

This year brings a few new changes, and a busy schedule for me. I have recently made the switch to full time member and changed benches. As some of you know, I work part time as a florist (yes, I love flowers…..!) and come here to Jewel Envy everyday after my morning shift whipping up floral deliveries to brighten people’s days. Although I have lived in Toronto for about 9 months now, I feel more settled than ever, really enjoying my studio work, friendships with all the girls (yes, we are all girls at the moment) here and networking with other crafts people and jewellers. My eventual goal is to work full time and survive from my jewellery, but I am finding a happy balance with my part time job, which is important. I won’t be leaving Toronto any time soon 🙂
I have been working what feels like non-stop since returning from Montreal after the holidays. I started teaching my Introductory Enamelling class two weeks ago, and love my students! Laura, our co-op student, although new to enamelling, is a HUGE help as my assistant. Thanks Laura!
Just when I thought I could have a little break a slew of shows I want to apply for or participate popped up!
In Halifax, my friend and jeweller Vanessa Neily is curating Adornable, an exhibition of work by selected NSCAD jewellery and metalsmithing alumni. Its going to be so cute and whimsical, I am totally into it! The show will run in the summer (you should also check out her website, her stuff is incredible
I am particularily tickled by the invitation by Lafreniere & Pai Gallery to participate in their tenth year anniversary show entitled “Eros from Chaos” an exhibition of erotic jewellery and sculpture running in May in Ottawa. Ooh la la. I have a plethora of ideas 😉
The icing on the cake will be the Jewel Envy group show, which we have just started planning. No set dates yet, but we will keep you informed!
Now I must get back to work. I’ve been here almost every night until at least 9pm with Young, who is attempting to make her first Mokume ring. Last night, however, was a record late night, leaving here at 12:35am exhausted, but very content with the amount of work I completed. Sometimes it is great to work until you can’t anymore. I prefer having a working buddy those late nights; too bad no one else gets to see how my late night enamel-dance moves improved and I now can do a rendition of Thelma Houston’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way” disco tune pretty much accapella. Yikes!
Disco is cheerful, and so are my happy little brooches. Take a peek at how they transformed.
I sift enamel powder (a form of powdered glass) onto the hand formed copper flowers. 
And from my powdery bench, I put the little guy on a steel trivet. He is ready to bake!
Into the kiln at about 1500 degrees fahrenheit for about 2-3 minutes…..until they get nice and glossy.
Et voila! So many happy brooches!
I am also making more necklaces with this form. My bench is a garden of colour when I have them all out.
I love enamelling. I couldn’t live (or make jewellery) without it!
– Emily

Product added to cart

No products in the cart.