While in Cincinnati for Astrid Riedel's classes at Brazee Studios, she mentioned in passing having visited Thompson Enamels across the river in Kentucky. Astrid raved about a little enamel museum next-door to Thompson and enjoyed a tour of the enamel plant. Intrigued, we stopped on our way out of town to Thompson, to buy some enamel and got a little tour. Very interesting to see what they do, how they do it, and appreciated the institutional knowledge among a relatively small staff. Then we went next door to the W.W. Carpenter Enamel Foundation, which houses an amazing and unique collection of enamel art and more. We were so taken with this facility we had never heard of. The work on display is collected from all over the world and included fine art as well as craft. Really amazing. My photos below aren't great, but I hope they illustrate the variety and entice you to visit sometime.
In addition to the enamel collection, the W.W. Carpenter Foundation includes a store for Thompson enamels and enameling supplies, classrooms and workspace for workshops and a metals working studio. Tom Ellis, resident instuctor, with a 30-year career as enameling expert and educator, juggles many hats to keep the facility going. The foundation is named after its founder, the late Woodrow Carpenter, who dedicated his life to the art and science of vitreous enamel. Carpenter invented lead-free enamel and other glass products.
Tom told us he, Carpenter's daughter, and other supporters are working to raise the profile of the facility through social media, more classes, and other marketing efforts. Popular metalsmith Richard Salley is going to be teaching soon, and some well-known enamel artists are lined up too. The roomy space, great equipment and inspiration from the museum make this an underused resource. Help these great folks and spread the word! For more information www.wwcef.com.
We just got back from close to a week in Cincinnati at Brazee Studios where we had the great good fortune to take 3 classes with the talented South African flamework artist Astrid Riedel. What a fantastic experience. Because she lives so far away, it was an opportunity that doesn't come along every day. We are still marveling over everything we learned and anxious to put a lot of new techniques into practice.
All of Astrid's work is amazing and her large off-mandrel hollows are my favorite. The necklaces and lentil beads on the black sheet of glass were her class samples and a selection she keeps to wear.
Bill did really well in the off-mandrel hollows class. He was blowing rounds and large flattened discs much better than me! The goal is to get to the quality of Astrid's hollow disc bead in my hand in the third photo. It was my souvenir purchase. I'll keep it at my torch as inspiration!
Brazee studios is a roomy, friendly place. Josh Bass (center) was our contact, coordinator and guy Friday. A prince of a man. So organized and helpful. We received our supply list way in advance of the class, which we really appreciated. They supplied all but a very few things, like the XL lentil press and your own basic flameworking tools. The studio also carried the best selection of Bullseye lampwork rods I've seen outside of Bullseye Portland itself. They also had a nice selection of thin sheet glass too. So we stocked up on a few things. The studio is located in a fun neighborhood, with some great restaurants and coffee shops all a block or two away.
Cincinnati has a nice skyline. It reminded me a little of Pittsburgh with the stadiums on the riverfront and the bridges. Bill took this panoramic photo from the Kentucky side of the Ohio river. We didn't have a lot of time to look around, but the folks are really friendly and they love their craft beer. On the way out of town we stopped at Thompson Enamel and got a little tour of the plant. I will do another post about that in a day or two. There is an enamel museum that I think is a little known secret. More about that soon.
In closing I would encourage anyone to take classes with live teachers when you can. Not only did Astrid teach us new techniques, she also corrected some of my bad habits that will only help me in working more efficiently moving forward. We just loved her. Thank you Astrid!