Champleve Vitreous Enamels
“Vitreous” means pertaining to glass, glassy. Vitreous Enamel is colored glass that melts, or fuses, at about 1450 degrees Farenheit. Champleve means “raised field”, referring to raised areas of metal in a field of enamel. The technique differs from cloisonne, which uses thin cloison wires to separate areas of enamel. The champleve technique allows for greater variation in the width of lines or areas of metal in the surface of the enamel. Combining areas of reflective metal with glowing enamel colors gives effects of illusionistic depth unique to this medium. To make her singular pieces, Kristin uses the jewelers saw to pierce original designs in a sheet of 18k Gold or Sterling Silver. She carves patterns into the bottom piece of metal which coordinates with the cut out design in the top piece, and solders the layers together. Only high temperature solder can be used, and all construction and soldering must be completed before the piece is subject to the high temperature of the enamel kiln.
Once construction is complete, Kristin fills the low areas of the design with enamel and fires the piece, usually several times. Because she uses transparent enamels, the carved surface of the metal is visible through the color, giving wonderful shimmering effects. However, any flaws will show, and must either be removed, or Kristin melts the piece for recycling. Once the enameling is complete, she stones smooth the entire surface, and finish fires the piece. She can then set any stones, and finally polish the entire piece.
Transparent vitreous enamel is a demanding and unforgiving medium, requiring the highest degree of skill and craftsmanship. But the rewards are worth the trouble. The beauty and quality of Kristin’s unique pieces are recognized worldwide.
Kristin’s signature is a Registered Trademark, as required by law. She works in 18K and 22K Gold and Fine & Sterling Silver. All her pieces are signed, hallmarked, dated, and copyrighted.