The enameling studio, or I make vaguely modernist fridge magnets.
A few years back, my sister moved from the horrid suburbs back into Columbus into a 100yr old house with two garages on the property. One of these she converted into a craft studio whose highlight is an enameling kiln. Enameling is more rightly known as glass-on-metal and involves melting little granules of glass onto copper in an oven the temperature of some of your better white dwarf stars. This oven will burn all the hair off your body, and you will scream in murderous pain every time the door opens.
But it is worth it. Granted, not every piece is worth saving. The vagaries of oven temp, thickness of glass, or how much you thrash around when the door opens will affect outcome. There’s even something called fire scale that determines the final product. I’m not going to explain what fire scale is; I’m just gonna let you imagine how cool it is. Like it’s part of a dragon or something. However, there are times that a piece comes out that’s strikes a cord so primal that you can’t wait until you slap it up on the fridge. (Or onto the back of your apartment door where they will peel away so much paint when removed that your landlady will have what she claims is no choice but to charge you $200 to repaint the door.)
Then there the ones that are so perfect, they have to be given as gifts. Luckily, I have given away more than I have kept.
When I got to the enameling kiln, I hadn’t done anything creative in years –anything that I could point and go, “Look, me make pretty!” I was completely disconnected from that part of my brain. Times spent out there with my sis, listening to REM, drinking Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and smelling my burnt arm hairs helped reawaken that urge that years of brain fever and grad school had beaten out of me.