All Posts by Maggie

Bamboo – Enamelling Palette

Bamboo Enamelling Palette

This week we went to buy some bamboo to plant for a screen along the fence line (neighbours looking in…. you know)

I had absolutely no idea how many gorgeous varieties there were! This giant bamboo is not going to be too practical in my small garden, but I did get 2 smaller species, can’t wait to get them in the ground this weekend!

In the meantime I had to share their fabulous colours with you….. I think this is a beautiful, muted palette, one I might have to design a ‘Transparent on Silver’ enamel for…. after the holidays!

Bamboo Enamelling Palette by Enamelista

Bamboosa Chungii


As always, please feel free to download or share this image!







Todays Favourite Enamelling Pin-8-December

Julia Turner Enamel Brooch (via Pinterest)

Simplicity in shape and colour

My favourite pin today came from jewellery by Julia Turner.

From an exhibition that was held at Facèré Gallery in October 2011

Julia Turner Enamel Brooch (via Pinterest)

Black and White are my favourite colours to wear, with some Red and Grey for a little extra variation, an easy wardrobe that travels well.

Julia’s jewellery is just about tailor-made for me and would fit in very nicely, thank you very much:)


More enamelling pins at Pinterest – Enamelista – follow me there!

Today’s Favourite Pin- 7 Dec 2012

Anne-Havel - Prison Series - Silver & Enamel Brooch

Anne Havel – Prison Cell Series: Cell Magnified or Boo?

Sugar-fired enamel contrasts nicely with the oxidised silver.

Anne Torch fired this enamel. Although I kiln fire most of my enamels, I find torch firing easier when a specific level of under-firing is required, as in this sugar firing, but also when you are looking for an orange peel firing. To judge the level of firing in the kiln is not as easy, with the torch it’s ‘What you see is what you get’

Anne-Havel - Prison Series - Silver & Enamel Brooch

Brooch/Pendant. torch-fired vitreous enamel on copper. Sifted and underfired to sugar coat in multiple firings.
Pierced, soldered, riveted, fabricated, formed, oxidized, textured. sterling silver, copper, 14kt gold.

More where this came from on my Enamelista Pinterest boards! Come and follow me there!

Flower Lines to Enamel This Week!

Flower - Line Drawing for Enamelling - by Maggie Bergman


I love flowers! I love plants in general; seeds & pods, trees, bark and the silhouette of foliage against the sky.

Roots and vines, leaves on the ground, all dried up and turned into mini sculptures……

But this week’s ‘I Love Lines’ is a detail of a cactus flowering, no idea which one, but it was a spectacular bloom!

It would look great on silver I think, cloisonné perhaps? With Japanese transparent enamels! Yes!

Download the image to your computer if you like it, just right-click and ‘save as’. You never know it might come in handy one day:)

Flower - Line Drawing for Enamelling - by Maggie Bergman

Enameling on Textured Copper

Miranda Simmiss - Etched Copper - Underglaze - Clear Enamel

You know when you get on a roll? Well, it’s like that at the studio on Wednesday nights.

A few weeks ago some of the students started working with etched plates, applying underglaze and clear enamel, like Heather’s pendant I posted about a couple of weeks ago.

Last night we had more fun! Miranda, who started all this excitement with this etched plate, to which she applied a little underglaze and covered with clear as usual, then she decided to change things up a bit and ground the top layer back to copper, the result was beautiful! (my photo really doesn’t do it justice!)

Etched Copper - Enameled - by Miranda Simmiss

                                         Miranda Simmiss – Etched Copper – Enameled

Another piece of etched copper Miranda had been waiting to tackle was this one, done about 18 months before. The design was hand painted which made it even more special.

Miranda Simmiss - Etched Copper - Underglaze - Clear Enamel

                                     Miranda Simmiss – Etched Copper – Underglaze – Clear Enamel

It seemed a shame to cut it up so a few weeks ago she decided to enamel it, which was a dicey decision because the copper was a bit too thin after the etching. But Miranda is game for just about anything and we decided to give it a go……

We started with the counter enamel, you should have seen the plate bending in the kiln!!!! It was amazing:) Then getting it straight again after firing! It was a hairy operation! The top coat stabilised things a little, but not enough to keep the plate flat, so we had to straighten it after every firing, with all the snap – crackle & pop that goes along with the process!

The first coat of flux was a little cloudy, so I suggested to refire the piece to clear the enamel, which worked fine. But all these firings were making the copper react to the enamel, giving it a beautiful green tinge here and there, while the copper turned a lovely golden colour! We liked that……

Miranda Simmiss - Etched Copper - Underglaze - Clear Enamel

                         Miranda Simmiss – Etched Copper – Underglaze – Clear Enamel

So we decided to give it another firing, you notice it became a ‘we’ project by that stage….. (it took 2 people to get the piece of the stilts and quickly pushing it into shape)

Anyway, long story short, we played all evening, had some laughs, some adrenaline moments, and a thoroughly fun night!
The resulting plate is beautiful, a bit Wabi-Sabi which really adds to the design. What it’ll be when it grows up is yet to be decided, Miranda will take it to NZ next week, het grandfather is a talented woodworker and might be talked into framing it, or making a box whith the enamel on top, can’t wait to see!

But wait…. there’s more!

Jan Brown, who’d just come back from holidays and was still jet-lagged, decided to enamel some fold-formed pieces she’d done a while back. So the underglaze was employed again, with flux on top, fired as usual, but Jan’s pieces took on a whole different colour!

Fold-formed Copper with underglaze and clear enamel by Jan Brown

                         Jan Brown – Fold-formed Copper with underglaze and clear enamel

Instead of the deep green, there was a silvery, blue/aqua tint to the enamel, just gorgeous! Now Jan is not precious about her work, so back in the kiln it went, controlled over-fired and more green developed:)

The process is not predictable, which really adds to the excitement. When things go wrong another colour can easily be fired on top, or maybe you could even think up some other ‘abuse’ that might lead to another serendipitous result! That seems to be the spirit of this class, it is such a great group, Miranda suggested we should do an all-nighter soon…… Hmmmm…. still thinking about that one…. 🙂

2 Jewellery Inspiration & Souvenir from Katherine NT

Wattle Seed from Edith Falls (NT)

A few years ago I spent a week teaching Metal clay and Fusing Glass in Darwin (Aus. Nothern Territory) We had 2 weekend workshops and a whole week free in between!

Although this was many years ago, I fell in love with the territory, I was shown around Darwin by my lovely hosts and took a bus trip to Katherine Gorge – a sublime landscape that has a rich history with its traditional owners the Jawoyn people. There are lots of aboriginal rock paintings, easily acceseable when you take one of the boat trips through the gorge.

On the way back we stopped at Edith Falls where we had a change to swim, in a waterhole that had crocodiles in it!!! And you know what…. we all did! And we’re still here to tell the tale:) Of course my interest was with the local Flora, in particular the wattles that grow there. The trees were very young still, but they had these unbelievably beautiful seeds, as wattles often do. These were totally fresh and I managed to get myself one or two of them for future reference.

They are all dried up now and the seeds have lost their brilliance, toned down to an earthy red iso of the vibrant orange they were then, still beautiful, but in a more muted way, and of course their exquisite form remains the same. Here they are as they were then….. memories of the Territory, I’ll just have to get back there next winter!

Wattle Seed from Edith Falls (NT)

Wattle Seed from Edith Falls (NT)

Wattle Seed from Edith Falls (NT)

Wattle Seed from Edith Falls (NT)


Etched & Enamelled Pendant by Heather Mikkelsen

Etched copper & enamel pendant by Heather Mikkelson

We were having some very interesting enamelling in last Wednesday night’s class!

Miranda took the plunge and started enamelling one of her etched copper plates, this was a large piece she has earmarked for a box top or wall art. It behaved very strangely in the kiln, we abused it and refired it many times and the results are exciting! I’ll get some photos of that piece and tell you all about it later on this week.

Etched copper & enamel pendant by Heather Mikkelsen

Etched copper & enamel pendant by Heather Mikkelsen

The other excitement was because of Heather’s pendant. It was also made using etched copper plates.

The pendant is made up from 3 pieces, all etched, the front and insert were domed, underglaze and flux applied before firing, to bring out the texture.

The smaller domed piece is held in place by some sterling silver mesh with a hole burne out of the centre to hold and frame the setting. This was riveted to the tabbed backing plate, which then holds everything prefectly in place.

It was interesting to see the different colours using the same technique, the centre piece is quiet red, while the front is a copper colour.

This pendant looks great on, the photo is not too bad for a workbench shot, but it doesn’t do the piece justice, this often happens with enamels!


2 Lines for Enamels – Week 1

This week's lines come from a box of wooden beads that have been standing on my bench just begging to be made into something….. I bet they never thought they were just going to get their portrait done! 🙂

Use your favourite viewfinder to get the lines transferred to a jewellery shape…….

The shapes are very strong this week, making this design very suitable for other things than enameling. You could cut the shapes out of manilla and paste them to another piece as a base, then use it for roller-printing. Or use slightly thicker card to make into a similar collage that can be used as a texture plate for Metal clay….. hmmmm, I can see that already made!

Please feel free to right-click and save this image to your own computer. If you use this drawing and come up with something nice, post it Enamelista on Facebook and share it with everyone!

Please note: You can use these drawings to design things for your own use or for sale, in any way you like. The drawings themselves are not to be used for resale in any way.


David Attenborough’s Kingdom of Plants – Great Color Inspiration from Kew Gardens!

We’re in the middle of a new mini series on TV here in Australia – David Attenborough’s Kingdom of Plants – and true to form, it is totally amazing! Botanics are the main inspiration for most of my work, so I am glued to the couch for this wonderful series. The amount of time spent and expertise applied to this massive project will make it a ‘must see’ for anyone who loves plants and gardens.


When the first episode went to air it was followed by a short docco ‘The Making of the Kingdom of Plants’

I always watch these type of documentaries, I’m fascinated by how people do things, how stuff works and the strange skills some people have that are crucial to getting these amazing shots. Have a look here:

If you were ever stuck for a new colour palette, watching this mini series will give you enough to last several lifetimes, not to speak of all the other design inspiration on offer. I hope you like the colours I picked from one of the fungus shots.

One day I’d love to go to Kew Gardens and get lost there for a week, or 10 – I don’t suppose I’d even get close to the fabulous historical collections they have – but I’m sure any time there would be well spent!