Meet the Artist
About This Artist
Sandra McEwen is an enamel artist who has been working in glass for over 15 years. After graduating with a BFA in illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design, she explored several kinds of media, including stained glass, before discovering her love of enamels. She has won many awards and her work is included in galleries and private collections in the US and abroad. She is currently working and teaching out of her studio in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Q&A With This Artist
A: I use Fine Silver, Gold, and Vitreous Enamels to create my jewelry. The first step in the process is to create the base in which to inlay the cloisonné enamels. I cut out the design from a sheet of 20 gauge fine silver and then fused it to another sheet of 20 gauge fine silver. I don't use solder, because the enamels would react to the materials in the solder and the purity of the colors would be lost. I heat it from below using a torch until the silver just started to shimmer, then backed off the heat, let it cool, and hammered it flat again. After the base was fused, I again used a saw to cut the design out of the silver base, filed the edges, and shaped it with a soft mallet to be slightly convex in shape. I use fine silver wire of various gauges (22, 20, 18 gauge) and mill them by hand to create the cloisonné strips. I like to use various thicknesses to add dimension to my designs. After applying counter enamel to the reverse of the piece, I sift some clear enamel and then carefully began the process of laying in the wires. I do this in several stages, starting with the main shapes and then slowly adding the rest of the wires, firing in stages to keep things from shifting. Next comes the best part of all- adding the colors! By far, this is my favorite step in the whole process. I use leaded enamels, and wash them thoroughly at least 10 times with distilled water. I used a brush to add the grains of enamels in between the wires, and fired in between each coat. After many firings, the enamels were flush to the top of the base and I added a coat of clear enamel for good measure. Then I grind down the enamels using diamond files and various grits of sandpaper until the piece is completely flush with the base. I add more clear enamels to the areas that weren't quite flush and fired the piece again. I work my way by hand through the various grits of sandpapers – 220 through 4000, then fired the piece one last time to give the glass a perfect brilliance.
A: I love the vivid colors and being able to tell a story with glass and silver!
A: It's been a year for sure. Having the ability to stay in my studio and create art has really been wonderful to have something creative to focus on.
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