A Dream Comes True

Last night a long held dream of mine came true when I won a Silver Award at the 2020 Goldsmiths’ Craftsmanship & Design Awards #JewelleryOscars. This was the my winning entry. ‘Magic Carpets flying over the City of my Dreams’, an appropriate title in the circumstances it turns out! It is cloisonné enamel on silver, in a silver setting with four extra cloisonné panels, all engraved with lapis lazuli and Argentium silver beads strung on hand knotted silk. The reverse of the main pendant has silver stars pierced in the silver. It is now on display at Goldsmiths Hall until Friday 28th February and then it will travel to the Birmingham Assay Office and be displayed there 11th -27th March.

Magic Carpets Flying over the City of my Dreams – Silver Award at GCDC Awards 2020 #JewelleryOscars

The path to here has been a long one. I planned to enter a similar piece last year but in the event it wasn’t good enough so I didn’t. I learnt a huge amount from the things that went wrong. Basically this was all in the finishing which is a major part of making a piece like this. It ended up being fired an additional six or seven times to repair it which made the colours rather faded, and then I cracked the edge when I was setting it! A real saga and such a familiar tale because these are the most difficult steps when it can all fail at the last moment!

I was determined this year would be different! There is an old saying I am fond of repeating to my students that you learn more from your failures than from things that go right! It is so true. I was meticulous in trying not to replicate my mistakes and all my efforts paid off. Did I mention I won Silver? I can still hardly believe it!

To begin I pressformed the shape and then I engraved the surface with gravers using the skills that I learnt last year on an Engraving Course at Goldsmiths Centre taught by Joan Mackarell.

Engraving the surface of the silver using gravers.

Next step was the wires. These had been formed during several gallery manning duties and they travelled everywhere on double sided tape on a tile, protected by a tracing paper cover. The original design of course took many hours of research and drawing. I studied images of moghul carpets and used memories of my travels in India over twenty years ago. They were fired into place over several firings. Each one was transferred by hand, carefully positioned before firing in groups. After they were all in place I photoed them, traced them on my iPad, coloured the image and used this to check they were all correct. I had to make a couple of changes but much better to do this before I started adding colour.

Adding the cloisonné wires and firing them into place

Wet laying and firing the Enamel’s around the wires. Bottom right is a tracing of the wires on my iPad before I corrected them.

I spent many hours choosing and testing the colours before finely grinding the ones I had chosen to use. These were wet laid very carefully and fired in thin layers. Each fired layer was checked for problems with my magnifying visor before continuing, holding my breath for much of the time. The whole piece had repeated sessions of grinding, refilling, refining before I started to polish the finished surface using my JoolTool to start, polishing sticks and finishing with diamond paste used with my pendant motor. The preliminary finish was done just in time for Christmas, but there were many hours of work to come when I recommenced in January! It was hard to be patient with my heart in my mouth all the time, but I was determined to learn from my previous mistakes. Failure was not an option! Finally after many trails, near disasters and a few tears it was finished. I nearly decided it wasn’t good enough to enter but I did! You have to push your self to your limits and dare to fail if you are to stand any chance of succeeding.

I heard that I had won a award at the end of January, the day before my birthday. I was so excited and amazed! The award ceremony was last night 24th February 2020 at Goldsmiths Hall when I learned that I had won a Silver Award.

Silver Award winner at the 2020 Goldsmiths’ Craftsmanship & Design Awards #JewelleryOscars

It has been a long journey to get here. I have been enamelling for over thirty years and am largely self taught. I have been very lucky to attend several short courses at West Dean with Joan Mackarell back in the 90s and am hugely grateful to her for her encouragement and excellent teaching. After my son was born I went to SCOLA one day a week where I studied Jewellery Making with Louise O’Neill. Credit also goes to the Guild of Enamellers, for all the workshops, tutorials, talks and the many friends and colleagues that I have made there over the thirty years or so I have been a member. I didn’t go to Art School and I don’t even have an Art O’level and for many years I felt I wasn’t good enough and waited for people to find me out. Enamelling has been a hugely important part of my life and it is hard to imagine where I would be without it. I have been utterly dedicated and at time obsessed. I work at times ten hour days, six or seven days a week. Success hasn’t come easily or on a plate but I honestly believe that if you want it enough you can do anything you want. Thank you to everyone who has helped and encouraged me over the years, especially to my long suffering husband Peter who bought me my first kiln and has been there to pick up the pieces more times than I care to remember . It means the world to me.


  1. Bravo to you Linda….such a gorgeous, detailed piece!
    I’m just starting to enamel, champleve in fine silver clay. I think I’m in love!
    I’d love to eventually do cloisonné….what I lean is from videos and YouTube.
    You are an inspiration!
    Diane from Montreal, Canada ♡

    • Thank you Diane. I am glad you found my post inspiring. It was my aim to help others find the same joy and inspiration that I do. Wishing you all the best and lots of fun in your enamelling journey. Linda x