For summer vacation one year, my husband, Kevin and I took an enameling class at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. During that week we were completely awe-struck and inspired by endless possibilities of fusing metal and vitreous enamel. Within a month’s time we had assembled a studio in our home on Lake Wylie in Tega Cay, SC and Artful Otter Enamels was born. Since the beginning, I have specialized in the creation of beautiful enamel pieces that convey a passion for the color and movement of transparent enamels on fine silver and copper, incorporating various techniques such as basse-taille and cloisonné.
Creating a fine cloisonné enamel piece is a meticulous and time-consuming process. The design is laid out with very fine silver wire and fired into a thin layer of clear (flux) enamel. Then the enamel (ground glass) is applied in very thin layers and fired in a kiln at temperatures ranging from 1250-1500 degrees. It is the multiple layers that give the cloisonné piece its beauty and depth. Once the layers are complete, the piece can be polished then fired to create a glossy finish or ground to a matte finish.
The technique for creating a basse taille piece is much different from cloisonné. First the metal, either copper or fine silver must have a design etched into the metal so the design will be visible under the transparent enamel. Once the metal is etched, transparent enamel is applied, again in multiple layers and firing after each layer of enamel.
Pam has studied with renowned enamellists at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC and Arrrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN and has also taken metalsmithing courses at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts and John C. Campbell Folk School.