Have you discovered the beautiful enameled pieces we offer on our website from Gardanne Beads? These hand-enameled items are full of unique beauty. Anne Lichtenstein is the creator of each piece and she is always thinking up new ways to make her enamel pieces stand out. You may have seen Anne before on the Artbeads Cafe, where she chatted with Cynthia about how she makes her pieces and provided jewelry inspiration for using her enameled items.
We loved having Anne on the Cafe and wanted to know more! She answered some of our questions to inspire you even more and to share what inspires her and how she makes so many beautiful enameled pieces.
How did you get started with enameling?
In a roundabout way. My daughter’s 4th grade art teacher taught a course on lampwork. It was a three day course and I was hooked. That was my introduction to the torch and kiln. I rented studio time for three years before I created my own studio in our garage. I am in my 15th year of working with my lampwork torch.
Ten years ago, I put myself on a tool diet – I was forcing myself to think of things that I could use my torch and kiln for other than lampwork beads. Barbara Lewis had an Etsy site with tutorials as she was working on her book about torch-fired enamel that was not published yet. The most important information that I learned from Barbara’s tutorial is that you can hold your metal in the flame with a mandrel, not just on a tripod with a handheld torch.
I tend to have a short attention span, so as usual I just skimmed the directions and went to work. The only metal I had in the studio at the time was brass sheet and stampings and it worked. I did not find out until a couple years later that many enameling books say you cannot enamel on brass. If I had read any of them I would not have even tried.
For a while I was making lampwork and enamel and then mainly enamel.
What’s the process for making your enameled pieces?
I use brass and copper depending on the item. Simple shapes I cut myself; the stampings I use are all made in the USA. All the metal pieces are cleaned in soapy water. They have to be clean for the enamel to stick. I make my own holes in most of the pieces. It is tedious work, and I go through a lot of metal punches, but it is important that the hole is big enough for the jewelry designers’ needs. All sharp edges need to be filed, because a sharp edge with enamel (glass) fused to it is even sharper.
I use the kiln or the torch to fuse the enamel to the metal piece. Sometimes when torch firing I use a tripod, sometimes the torch. Over time, I have discovered through trial and error that each item has its own “recipe.”
What are some of your favorite enameled pieces that you’ve made?
My favorites seem to be whatever I am working on now. One of my favorites is how I use silver foil with my enamel designs. Silver has a different reaction with different colors of enamel. Some are boring but some are fantastic. The glass does all the work and makes me look very talented.
Probably the feature of enameling that I like the most is how it interacts with texture on the metal, just like glaze on a textured piece of pottery.
What inspires your creations?
It is a common answer but it is true: my main inspiration is nature. My father had an evergreen nursery and was most at home in the outdoors – hunting, fishing, ice fishing, trapping, tapping trees for maple syrup. My mother has always painted with watercolors and at 96 she paints every day. So I guess creating is a part of my DNA.
My customers are also a constant source of inspiration, making suggestions about colors, different shapes, and sharing their personal design needs. During my online trunk show giveaways, I always ask a question of my customers to enter. This last week it was naming a new collection. It’s called the Canyon Rim collection and it’s already pulling me in different directions by looking at photos of canyons and all the wonderful layers of color.
What keeps your creativity flowing?
I am inspired by other artists from all disciplines. I have many friends in the handmade world that I have met at shows over the years. They are the most supportive and generous community. I love collaborating with other artists, it has always been a rewarding experience for me.
I love online eCourses, especially in painting. My first eCourse was by Misty Mawn and I still love her style of teaching, and have taken all of her eCourses. I do not have a fine art degree, but I feel she has given me a glimpse into that world. Some things that she teaches I was doing intuitively, but I did not know why.
Pinterest, of course. I have boards on color combinations, doodles, paintings, etc. when I am having a rough time in the studio, many times this can jumpstart my creativity.
The great thing about Etsy and Facebook has been the photo documentation of everything I make. Looking back at my own work can stimulate me to further explore a technique or a color combination that I forgot about. Like I said, I have a very short attention span.
What are your essential tools?
My enamel. I only use Thompson Enamels, all made in the USA.
My kiln and my torch.
My files and hole punch.
What are some of your other hobbies?
I am from that generation before computers and other devices. When we needed something we made it – gifts, cards, clothes, etc. I come from a long line of makers. My Dad was also a welder, so he was always inventing a tool to accomplish a task that needed to be done. As I said before, my Mom, without any formal training as a child, is a wonderful watercolor artist.
I love to make stuff. I used to feel guilty about wanting to try everything. Then through beads, I met other creative people and I discovered we are all the same way.
I have painted, made furniture, and I’ve done sewing, carpentry, and gardening. I find that I end up making whatever works with my life at the moment, but I am happiest when I am creating.
Probably Thompson Enamel Peppermint. It is not aqua, not turquoise – something in between.
Where do you create your enameled pieces?
In my garage. But this year sometime, I hope to be moving into a larger studio space, where other artists create. I am looking forward to a less solitary lifestyle, but I will still need a door to close when I need my space.
Finally, we know you’re a Supernatural fan! Sam Winchester or Dean Winchester?
Dean, of course. I rewatch old Supernatural episodes while I am working in the studio.
We loved getting to know more about Anne’s creative process and her history with enameling. Her items are so vibrantly colorful and detailed thanks to the enamel she adds to them. Our designers just love working with Gardanne Beads pieces:
Cynthia showcased a Gardanne Beads fern pendant in her Fern Falls necklace. She used one of Anne’s lovely link-style pendants at the center of her spring-themed Flutter By necklace. Cheri also has fun with Gardanne Beads pieces. Her Romantic Evening bracelet features three Gardanne Beads hearts dangling from an enameled filigree link.
We’d love to see any jewelry you’ve made with Gardanne Beads items. Leave a review on our website and add a picture (you’ll earn Rewards Points for doing so if you’re an Artbeads Rewards Member). You can also share pictures with us on our Facebook page, or share on Instagram and tag us (@artbeads).