‘In Amongst the Bluebells’ Cloisonné Enamel Necklace

This time last year I was exhibiting my new necklace ‘In amongst the Bluebells’ at the Guild of Enamellers Annual conference where I was privileged to win the Peter Woolfe Cloisonné cup. It was a lovely moment. I am reminded of this at this time of year when the bluebells are again appearing in the woods a few minutes from my home. I walk there every day with my dog Jyppy and it is always a joy to be there and always different. This time of year for me is always inextricably linked with my mother as her birthday and very often Mother’s Day occur this month whilst the blue bells are out. Sadly she passed away unexpectedly earlier this week, just a week after her 84th birthday. I have been taking some time to rest and reflect, although also of course I can’t resist a new project too! More soon. Meanwhile I thought some may like to know more about the process and the making of this necklace.

‘In Amongst the Bluebells’ cloisonné enamel on silver necklace

It began with an idea and an image in my mind of what I wanted to achieve. This is usually what happens to me although the image is fuzzy and very unclear. This piece was quite different to work I had done previously and I remember was a real challenge to find how to make it work. I was at the time taking an Engraving and Advanced Enamelling class at Goldsmiths’ Centre with the renowned Joan MacKarell. I had done some engraving previously in short workshops with the wonderful Phil Barnes, but this was more intense and gave me the opportunity to really develop my skills.

I wanted to recreate the way that the colours of the blue bells change in intensity as they get further away. I decided to contrast this with the silver birch trees that spring up wherever there is a gap in the canopy. I love the texture and colours of the bark of these graceful trees.

The planning took a long time but finally I was able to see clearly what I wanted to do. Next to make it in enamel. At this time as well as the engraving I was experimenting with some new Enamels that I had purchased as a sample set from Milton Bridge some years earlier. The colours I had chosen were perfect for this project. Maybe that is where the idea stemmed from. It is hard to know. As you can most of the image is shown by engraving on the silver with only some details in cloisonné. The trees had the addition of underglaze paining to show the texture. As always the Enamelling is undertaken with very many thin layers, blending the colours as I go. Finally the Enamelling of the piece was completed ready for the finishing with the help of my beloved JoolTool, Emery sticks and then finally diamond paste. The finished piece was bezel set and I decided to make a pierced silver bail with engraved details showing bluebells. The reverse of the silver bezel also had a pierced bluebell to augment it and add interest. Sadly I didn’t photo this. This piece encapsulates Spring, Easter and this time of year for me. I may make another one as this one found a new home last year.