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Beneath the Surface: Contemporary Basse-taille Style Enamel Techniques for Pattern and Imagery

Observe and work alongside enamellist Barbara Seidenath in this engaging demo-focused virtual workshop covering techniques that enhance the appearance of transparent enamels! Whether it is used to increase light reflection or to add another layer of intricacy to your designs, the Basse-taille enameling process offers exciting possibilities that can add dimension and complexity to your enamel pieces. This workshop will teach this ancient process adapted for a contemporary enameling practice.

Demonstrations include the application of roller-printed textures using hand-made and laser-cut templates, and metal etching to create images and patterns. Barbara will cover the use of engraving tools as a means to create negative space and light reflection on your metal surface and address hand finishing techniques for your enamel surfaces. Ideally this technique is applied to fine silver surfaces but you are advised to practice on copper sheet first. A thorough array of visual examples will showcase a help students to understand the full creative potential of this exciting technique!

Meet the instructor

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Barbara Seidenath was born and raised in Munich, Germany. She studied Jewelry making at the State School for Glass and Jewelry in Neugablonz, Germany where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Goldsmithing, followed by a Masters of Fine Arts degree from the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich.



Seidenath has been on the teaching faculty of the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI for nearly three decades. She also taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and has been a faculty member at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She has taught many seminars and workshops in the U.S. and abroad and has had her work shown in international solo and group exhibitions.





Seidenath's work has been seen at the American Craft Museum, New York City; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Design Museum of Munich, Germany. In 2002, Marjorie Simon wrote in Metalsmith Magazine "[Seidenath's work] is as delectable as the witch's house was to Hansel and Gretel. Putting it on would be like breaking the frozen surface and seeing the sun burst through again." Click here to read the full article: Bohemian Rhapsody - Importing Barbara Seidenath by Marjorie Simon [Metalsmith Magazine - Summer 2002]



Materials & Tools

The following supplies will be used for course demonstrations and objectives. A suggested item and/or vendor has been provided below for reference. Click the vendor name (in red) to be redirected to a page where you can find the item. The quantities needed for each item are listed first. If ordering, please be aware that some items may come in larger quantities than needed for this class. We recommend not opening an item's packaging until the day of the workshop. Student participation during or in-between class sessions is strongly encouraged but not required - observers are welcome.

Metal/raw materials (note fine silver is optional):

  • 2"x2" min. x 20g copper sheet - for practice

  • 2"x2" x fine silver sheet - 22g or 24g (Rio Grande)

  • 2 x 3"x3" brass sheet - 18g (Rio Grande)

Enamel supplies (note the instructor recommends transparent Thompson enamels): ​

  • Thompson enamels - any you wish to use (Enamel Warehouse)

  • 1 x overglaze black or any painting enamel (Etsy)

  • 1 x palette knife (Blick)

Hand tools and equipment: 

Enameling setup (if using kiln):

Enameling setup (if using torch):

  • all enameling items listed above - minus kiln

  • 1 x torch setup - Silversmith or similar style  (Rio Grande)

  • 1 x #2 or larger torch tip - if using Silversmith (Rio Grande)

  • 1 x striker or lighter - Silversmith system has one (Rio Grande)

  • 1 x tripod or fire bricks with screen (Rio Grande)

Other/miscellaneous items: 

  • dust mask

  • nail polish remover or acetone

  • nail polish - opaque

  • very small plastic containers with lids

  • brass brush or tooth brush - for cleaning metal

  • liquid soap for cleaning

  • eye protection

  • glass containers - for mixing enamels

  • towels / rags

  • fan and open window - for ventilation


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