I was born and grew up in Manhattan, New York, the oldest of four children with two brothers and a sister. My father was a well-known editor and book publisher and my mother, although a stay-at-home housewife, was an accomplished artist.
I always loved to draw and paint, and was allegedly into art from the moment I could hold a crayon. I never attended art school, although I was continuously involved in art-related activities and organizations.
I inadvertently became involved with the medium that would be my life-long passion—enamel! One day, while home from college, my mother asked me if I would like to make a piece of enameled jewelry. How could I refuse? After my first firing, seeing the piece go into the kiln and come out minutes later glowing with color, I was hooked.
The pieces above are done in champleve enamel; the metal (in this case copper) has been etched first and then enameled into the recessed areas.
Recently I moved. For the first time, I no longer have a separate room for my studio, but I feel I have done a good job in setting up an area in shared space (i.e. one wall behind a sofa in the living room). My kiln is in the kitchen. Overall, because I have less space, I have made what I do have much more efficient, and so far it has been working out well. I am only limited on the size of the work, but I always have preferred working smaller anyway. New Yorkers are usually cramped for space, but you see it can be done!
I have made efficient use in a small space by use of a cabinet, which I have stocked full of my enamels. I also make sure I have all the ‘tools of the trade’ at hand, ready to use.
Although I have limited space, it doesn’t hurt that I have a limitless view from the studio window!
So now that you have seen my studio, what exactly is enamel? Basically, it is glass (usually grains, like sand or finer) fused to metal (usually copper, silver, gold, or steel) at very high temperatures (usually around 1400-1500F). The colors are unparalleled, and, being glass, will never fade—or at least not for hundreds of years! It is generally applied either dry, in a sifter, or wet, with a fine brush or spatula. You may have guessed by now that I am also an instructor of enamel.
Over time I have created everything from wallpieces and jewelry to objects, such as boxes and bowls. Here are a few pieces that show the range of what is possible.
Katharine Wood’s two Transit Diaries enamel portraits won an honorable mention in our Small Works exhibition. Stop by the gallery before the end of the year to see two of Katharine’s enamel works in person!
Check out our previous installment of Inside the Artist’s Studio, a post by Rochester plein air painter Phyllis Bryce Ely.