Gretchen King

I confess to being a bit of a perfectionist. I just want my work to do all that art can do.

My intrigue with metal and the colors of enamel came early: As a teen and my father’s assistant, I always watched with keen interest as he cast gold crowns and bridges and tiny inlays. Then there was sometimes enamel. One time he showed me some new work, a long gold bridge, and asked, “What color do you think we should make these teeth, Gretchen?” I said, “White, of course!” “Ah, but which white?” he said, holding up a little fan of likely tooth colors.

Today I have four white enamels, as well as a myriad of glorious colors. The transparents lend that most brilliant watery quality. This is what glass on metal is about. Then I work with opaques, and oh! the stately, subtle effect of solid color played well.

Two dimensions or three? Three means lots of metalwork, but I have a fascination with hemispheres.

In cloisonne’ enamel the fine metal surface wires keep the colors in their own compartment (cloison). The powdered enamel, as paste, is put in place. The whole work is dried and set into a 1400* oven for two minutes. The enamel has gone from grains to liquid and melted way down. Repeating the fillings and firings must be done about five times to reach the top of the wires. At that point, one sands and polishes carefully and, as with any other fine jewel, sets the work into a bezel of harder metal. A 14K gold or sterling silver bezel of my own making completes the piece.

Awards: 1st Place, ArtQuest 3rd Annual Miniature Art Show, 1989. Wilmington, NC

1st Runner Up, MacNider Art Museum, January Show, 1998. Mason City, IA