UWE enameller's intricate jewellery on show in London

Issue date: 21 June 2010

Jewellery designed by Jessica Turrell Enamel researcher Jessica Turrell from the University of the West of England is exhibiting delicate jewellery and 3D artefacts at a prestigious craft gallery in London. The jewellery was created as part of her research into innovation in vitreous enamel surfaces.

The showcase exhibition takes place at the Contemporary Applied Arts gallery from 18 June-17 July 2010. It shows the practical outputs of Jessica's three year research fellowship funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council(AHRC).

Jessica has developed an experimental approach to enamel, seeking to create work that moves away from traditional jewellery enamel practice to achieve a more ambiguous and expressive material quality. Her work strives to achieve a tactile delicacy while making pieces that reward the wearer's close attention with an intricate and detailed surface.

The fellowship, entitled Innovation in Vitreous Enamel Surfaces for Jewellery is based on Jessica's experience of enamel as an innovative, expressive and contemporary material. She explains, “This exhibition features two bodies of work made during the fellowship. In the first, I have used etching techniques to create delicate layers of barely legible handwritten text and repeated marks that reference handwriting practice. These etched pieces are often made up of multiple layers with overlays of monochrome mark or text uppermost allowing for glimpse of underlying enamel in bright jewel-like colours.

“The second group features vessel forms that are the result of an investigation into the use of electro-forming as a method for the creation of seam-free three-dimensional forms that can be enamelled in the round. These pieces use layered enamel that is built up and then selectively removed to re-expose underlying marks and concealed colours.”

The AHRC research fellowship focused on investigating innovative and experimental enamelling techniques for use in the production of contemporary jewellery. Methods and approaches more usually associated with large-scale and panel enamelling and industrial processes were adapted for use in wearable pieces. This investigation is supported by the development of a range of techniques that allow for the creation of three-dimensional forms that can be successfully enamelled, with a particular emphasis on electroforming, three-dimensional printing and rapid prototyping.

Jessica continues, “The development of such techniques should help to eliminate some of the practical and physical constraints that often restrict the potential of enamel to be used in an innovative way. There is huge, and largely unexplored, potential for innovation within the field of enamelled jewellery in relation to the issues of wearability, functionality, scale and three-dimensional form.

“Problems associated with enamelling on three-dimensional forms can occur as the result of the enamel's intolerance to the solder used in the construction of the underlying form, difficulties with the application of a dry medium to three-dimensional forms and issues relating to the stilting and firing of objects enamelled in the round. This project aims to address the technical and practical constraints involved in the application and firing of enamel and the problems associated with creating three-dimensional enamel work.”

The gallery Contemporary Applied Arts is at 2 Percy Street, London W1T 1DD and was founded in 1948, as The Crafts Council of Great Britain, preceding the current Crafts Council as the national representative for craft. In 1967, it became the British Crafts Centre, and in January 1985, Contemporary Applied Arts (CAA).

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