Hello Again my fine folks- Can anyone expain to me what Grisaille
work is in Enameling, a quick over view of the procedure perhaps?
Many thanks- Cherie
Hello Again my fine folks- Can anyone expain to me what Grisaille
Can anyone expain to me what Grisaille work is in Enameling ..... a quick over view of the procedure perhaps?
Quick overview ? It’s a monotone, generally grey-appearing, subset
of camaieu. Find out about camaieu heRe:
courtesy of Bill Helwig from Thompson Enamel Co.
Great article !
Hello Again my fine folks- Can anyone expain to me what Grisaille work is in Enameling, a quick over view of the procedure perhaps? Many thanks- Cherie
Hello Again Cherie, There are many places that you might find a
really in-depth explanation & description of Grisaille Enameling. I
have enameled in the Grisaille technique only a very few times, but
loved it. Grisaille is derived from the French word gris meaning
"gray." In enameling it’s a type of “painting” with enamel in “Black
& White.” Usually with a black enamel base-coat background and then
many layers of finely ground ( 325 - 400 mesh ) white enamels mixed
wet, built up in areas and fired after each application, to create a
shaded image or design. Sometimes transparent colors can be applied
in small areas for added interest. ( You can purchase a Grisaille
kit with enamels and a book on the basics of how to Grisaille enamel
from Thompson Enamels. ) At this point rather than my fumbling
through further with an explanation bases on my limited experience I
might suggest the Karen Cohen Book “The Fine Art Of Cloisonne
Enameling.” In the book D.X. Ross describes her Grisaille process
and offers a step by step project for the beginner. D. X. Ross
creates fabulous Grisaille Enamel Jewelry pieces. Truly exceptional.
For a really brief online description check out the projects page on
K. Cohen’s website:
http://www.kcenamels.com/enamel_book/projects.html D. X. gives an
overview. No affiliation … etc… Another excellent book to check
out, which outlines many enameling techniques and has comprehensive
including the Grisaille technique is… “Enameling On
Precious Metals” by Jeanne Werge-Hartley. Excellent Book!
Also… Enameling with professionals by Lilyan Bachrach has some
info. on Grisaille. You can find info. on these books at eNAMEL N/L
Books & Videos etc…
Hi Cherie, I haven’t done grisaille myself but I know what it is.
It’s the application of finely ground white enamel on a dark enamel
background to create an image. The finely ground white enamel is
mixed with oil of turpentine and other types of oil to create
different flow/application properties. It’s a very painterly
process. Instead of creating an image using dark on light (like
charcoal on a white piece of paper), you’re using the dark
background of the enamel to provide the dark and the adding the white
enamel to create the light, sort of working in reverse.
The firing process is supposed to be very challenging because if you
overfire, the fine layers of white that create different intensities
of greys to white get absorbed into the dark background. Also,
you’re sort of limited to flat surfaces because you don’t want to
deal with movement of the background enamel as it will distort your
white image. You also don’t want to deal with any background enamels
that tend to craze (crack) for the same reason of distortion. I also
read somewhere that it’s easier to work on copper than silver because
the expansion characteristics of copper were more compatible with
enamel, causing less crazing and movement.
Hope this gives you a rough idea of the technique.
Cheryl, One of my favorite techniques – I’m always looking for
grisaille work. Grisaille means (roughly) “grey-ness.” In enameling
it’s an underpainting technique, in which you are creating a
monochrome look, using a black background with a buildup of white
overlays. Similar to camaieu, only you’re using the black ground
instead of transparent.
To achieve it, you start with a very very consistent matte
background of black. Similar to Limoges, you’re firing after every
color (or coat, in this case). Mix your white powder with oil, like
oil of lavender, to create a pasty substance. Subtle revealing of the
black through the white is achieved through hatchings using a needle
or smoother variegation using a spatula or brush. When you fire the
white, you have to take care that it does not start to flow and
obscure the outlines made. Continue to apply thinly and fire after
each coat, building up the white very carefully to achieve a
three-dimensional effect. What you’re looking for is strong contrast
between the light and the dark - creating an impression of low
relief. Sad to say I’ve never gotten very good at it in enamels (in
which I only dabble), but when it’s done well it’s absolutely
stunning – a favorite effect in fine art that I became fond of in
Vermeer and Hammershoi paintings. A contemporary painter I am fond
of, Chen Bolan, uses grisaille technique extensively in his work
(though he incorporates other colors as well). You can probably find
examples of his work on the net, to see the “look.”
The most beautiful enameled piece I’ve ever seen was by Mariane
Hunter. She incorporates foils into her grisaille work, and she uses
color instead of just black and white, but if you get a chance to
look at her work it’s a must-see. Also, D.X. Ross teaches classes on
the technique – I think she’s based out of Florida. I hope this was
helpful – and good luck!
The Bell Group/Rio Grande
Hi Cherie…Grisaille loosely translated is “variations of gray” In
Europe during the middle ages to renaissance a style of painting
thin layers of white enamel over a black background was developed .
The thinner and fewer the layers in one area the darkest the
grey…more layers whiter. Some areas were scraped back into the
unfired white layers to reveal the previous layers. there was also
some embellishment with gold and/or transparent color. Oppi
Untracht’s book was the first source of info for me. In my ignorance
I developed my own technique, which uses dry rather than painted
enamels. I worked in just this grisaille technique for 12-13 years
but since then have incorporated a lot of foils and transparent color
in my work in conjunction with grisaille sometimes, sometimes by
itself. DX Ross is another Grisaille artist…she works in the
painted technique. have fun and don’t worry over much about rules!
Hallo Cherie, A belated reply re grisaille. I have made many pieces
using this technique, most quite large, up to 16 inches square. My
method is self taught and I use dry enamel powder sifted through a
screen, and for a finer texture, through pantyhose held over old film
containers. I firstly fire 2 or 3 layers of medium fire black as a
base, then build up very thin layers medium fusing white which sink
into the black, creating a 3 dimensional look to figurative or
abstract imagery. Often I have over 30 firings in these pieces. In my
newer smaller pieces I often add gold and silver foils for final
details. The bad news is that I have never found a successful
combination of lead free enamel that works as well as Thompsons old
leaded range, which is no longer manufactured. If you are interested
in seeing some images write to me privately and I’ll send you some
Good luck, Jenny Gore, South Australia.
I knew DX Ross (mentioned in Andrea Hill’s post) 25 years ago in
Calif.—anyone know how to reach her? Or that marvellous cloisonee
lady from Sausalito, Diane Merrill? I periodically think of them
both and wonder where they are today…
Janet in Jerusalem