Found Vintage Enamels, Fused


June 2016

Last year, I was given an extensive collection of vintage copper enamel colored powder by a retired enameled jewelery hobbyist.  Although the manufacturer of the enamel was completely unknown and unlabeled, the colored glass powders were extremely well organized - bagged, boxed, numbered, and labeled by color.  The boxes were numbered and their contents listed on an inventory list, hand-written in cursive on flowered stationery.  

This piece was made out of the entire contents of one of these boxes.  I opened every small enamel packet within the box and dusted each packet onto a standard 5”x5” square kilnshelf, firing each tiny bag into a glossy, colorful, square wafer.  Some packets held more enamel than others, so certain layers are thicker or thinner than others.  The production and arrangement of the piece was entirely determined by the way these inherited powders were organized.  About six months later, every packet in the box was fired into a thin layer.  

At this point, the fragile wafers were organized and layered in the order of the color spectrum.  They were stacked vertically in a box of talc in the kiln and fired until the pieces were slumped together and lightly fused.

This piece is entitled Infrastructure because I utilized the pre-existing infrastructure of organization and labeling to dictate both the method and the final product of this work.  Through the organizing of others (here, the retired enamel hobbyist), the artist was able to exercise little influence on the result and allow the existing poetics of the box’s infrastructure to create the work.  

Permanent Collection: The Museum of American Glass at Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center - Millville, NJ.

Photography: Stephanie Price