Glass Fused on Copper

The Vitreous Enameling Process

The vitreous enameling process goes back to ancient Greece.   Archeologists have dated pieces of jewelry bearing colorful designs to the 13th century.

Over the years, the materials used in the process, a metal substrate and glass, have not changed. Once a design is conceived, the elements are fused together in a kiln at temperatures nearing 1000-1600°F.   Pieces may be fired numerous times until the desired result is achieved.

Although the basics have stayed the same, many different techniques have proliferated throughout history. Tanya prefers working with copper as a substrate and uses a variety of  powdered glass colors to make her pieces unique.  Each piece is an original, there  are no two the same.

The resulting art commands attention and is prized for it’s color and  brilliance. Artists practicing the vitreous enamel process are rare, due to the processes’ laborious work flow and narrow margin for error.  The expense of materials and labor exceeds that of many other mediums and therefore can be prohibitive.

Tanya’s Process

Tanya has converted the family porch into her studio, equipping it with a kiln, glass and copper supplies and all of the tools she needs to create her designs. (A space heater allows Tanya to work during cold  Minnesota winters).  Last year it was 3 space heaters.

Tanya’s process begins with cutting individual shapes from copper sheet rolls, some to be used in the art, some occasionally used as framing material. Glass is then dusted on the copper and given an initial firing. Pieces are  then sanded to various degrees to prep the surface.  Sanding can also be used and for aesthetic purposes. Finally, a variety of methods are used to apply and shape the glass powder which forms the final designs. Each piece may go  through several rounds of firing before it is finished, guaranteeing a wonderful outcome.  Even the mistakes are beautiful!