Enamels on Steel

Creation of the Dragon

When I began to feel the urge to work on a larger scale, I began to use low carbon steel.

I bought some panels which had been pre-coated with enamel and began my working on steel using the airbrush, This was exhilarating!
Once the metal was covered with its base coat and a second enamel had been applied, there were endless opportunities to complete my designs in many different techniiques.
Sgraffito, stencillng, putting layer on layer kept me busy. I have been very lucky in that I was welcome to work at an enamel factory in England as well as at a factory in the Netherlands whose large spraying booths and kilns were placed at my disposal.

Below are some examples of my work.


The following four panels were made at  Burnham Signs, an enamel factory near London. The series 'Oceans of Notions' indicates that people tend to think in black and white. Everyone is sure he knows what is wrong and what is right, and when ideas clash, the seas become wild, the waves grow high and there is turmoil all over the world. But when we listen to one another, the seas remain calm… This series is a continuation to another (also black and white) series entitled 'High Time for Peace'. 

When Burnham’s made it known that they needed the space occupied by artists for another purpose, I found a friendly small enamel factory in the Netherlands, in the small town of Naarden. It was during an exhibition at the Rijswijk Museum ‘Tollenshuis’ that I was accosted by its owner who asked if I would like to come and work at his factory.

In comparison with Burnham signs, this was a small factory with only a handful of employees, but their hospitality equalled the hospitality shown to me at Burnham’s.
I shared a studio with the silkscreen printer - from whom I learned a lot - and I could use the spraying booths whenever they were not in use by members of the staff.
The series of birds, shown here, were made during my time at Holland Email. The base coats were white, and the images were painted on, using silk-screen enamel applied by brush (or, in certain cases, my fingers). They all measure 40 x 40 cm.
The Mechanical Bird is based on a childhood memory of one of my favourite toys. It has flown to the USA and has found a nesting place in the Enamel Museum of the Woodrow Carpenter Enamel Foundation.
The Office Bird Canaris Officialis is my interpretation of a paper bird, made for me by my daughter Caroline, to keep me company while I am at work on the computer.
The Milklover Bird originated from a newspaper article in which it was mentioned that the titmouse was a migrating bird. This was discovered when titmice began attacking caps and drinking milk from milk bottles in Denmark. This had only been happening before in the UK where milkmen were used to leaving milk in bottles at house doors.
Finally, there is the Drifter, made at the special request of one of the factory’s employees to stop concentrating on FLYING birds. He pointed out that there were also many birds drifting on the water of the Dutch canals and on lakes and seas.

Since  the enamel factory at Naarden had to close down, several years ago, I have made work on a somewhat smaller scale at my own studio in the centre of Den Haag. Here, I like to experiment.
Below are some small works on steel in several of which I have used copper foil or in which I experimented with lusters and opalescent enamels.

Big Bang

Deep Sea

the Reef I

the Reef II
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