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.
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