Friday, April 27, 2012

Enamel animals for Heat Exchange in Arizona

What's been happening?

Now that Heat Exchange-exhibition at the Shemer Arts Center & Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, is over (and has moved across the Atlantic to Erfurt, Germany), I can publish my whole post for the HE-blog here, too (see below).
However, please click on the link below as the collective body of work created for the exhibition by international artists is nothing short of amazing – fascinating in its range of techniques and concepts, and for those interested in contemporary enamelling, a must see! 

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Enamel animals

As a metalsmith, I’m currently interested in different types of steel which can be welded into structures that safely withstand the heat of the kiln, and the application of liquid enamels which allow me to paint metal surface like canvas. The solid structure of steel and the fluid patterns of liquid enamels create a challenging, fascinating combination for ongoing investigation.

My starting point was a steel model from last November, based on studying forms at airports. I wanted to see how I could use similar angular shapes in slightly larger object-based work. Initially, my plan was to continue developing pieces on the airport theme, but as I begun sketching, the idea of movement and a more playful concept about “flight” emerged. I decided to make two winged containers, “enamel animals”, balanced with weights in hidden compartments. I thought they could softly move, if touched, upon their curved bases.

Above are some initial sketches and cardboard models of different wings, and the following images show the evolution of the two objects after welding, going through a couple of different variations of wings and noses. Here you can also see some of my first enamelling samples with liquid enamels on steel and copper, created in 2010 during the life-changing workshop by Elizabeth Turrell in Perth. These early experiments still strongly inspire my use of layers, line and colour in enamelling.

The wings slot into the objects so that they could be inserted separately, without oxidising in the high temperatures of the kiln.

The main materials used for the work were mild and galvanised steel, welded and cold-joined, then enamelled with clear liquid #969 and P3 pigment for surface texturing,
And finally, the finished pieces:

“Enamel Animals, two figures having a conversation, are carefully balanced containers with secret compartments for weights (or any other small, heavy things you might need to hide). If touched, the animals will gently rock, perhaps nodding in agreement, with quiet knowing… “

Cheers and warm regards to everyone – can’t wait to see all the final works!


  1. absolutely stunning pieces Inari; their individual shapes are so beautiful, and their conversation is gorgeous .... oh I love this image! truly beautiful

  2. Beautiful objects, beautiful process!

  3. Thank you so much for your kind words guys. I have complex feelings about this work, but am happy overall, and hope these will help me in exploring issues of movement and balance. Among other things. Sending good thoughts to all, wherever you are!

    : ) Inari