Here at Diamond Tech we love sitting down with the artists who use our product on a daily basis. We found out that one of our favorite artists, Barbara Lewis, just released new book Torch Fired Enamel Jewelry – A Workshop in Painting with Fire in which she exclusively uses the Diamond Tech Fireworks Torch and we just had to talk to her and have her share a little more about herself.
How did you get started in torch fired enameled jewelry?
• I took a workshop with Joe Spencer, creator of Multi-Torch Fired Enamel and things started to click. I applied my ceramics education and knowledge gained from 20 years of firing gas kilns to adjustments in the flame. Who could imagine that white enamel would be my BFF! Simple torch adjustments create the most astoundingly beautiful results!
Why did you get started in torch fired enameled jewelry?
• While recovering from two rotator cuff surgeries, as a result of loading heavy kiln shelves, I began the intimate task of making jewelry. First using my ceramic beads and then my enamel ones. I took a lampworking class during this recovery period. Enamel seemed a natural progression for an artist attracted to the flame! These experiences have led to my book, Torch Fired Enamel Jewelry – A Workshop in Painting with Fire. My Painting with Fire method exclusively uses the Diamond Tech Fireworks Torch. It makes the art of enameling fast and affordable. The self-igniting feature of the torch is great for workshop students who may have no former flameworking experience. But even better than that is how simple it is to adjust the oxygen flow to the flame.
How have your other interests/hobbies/career influenced your glass designs?
• I began sewing at the age of 12 and started college as an apparel design major. My desire to make as many of the beads and components for my jewelry as possible, stems from this original creative urge to make the dresses I visualized. Now I integrate silks, leather and other fabrics into my jewelry designs. I encourage jewelry artists to spread their wings and not be captive to what’s available at the store.
What inspires you?
• Because I love color, enamel is a natural fit. It’s all about color! In college I studied color theory and some would say that they are attracted to my work because of my use of color. I have always enjoyed introducing the offbeat … a little bit of unexpected color that might make you say, “I would never have thought to use that!”
• I work spontaneously from the things around me. I get a thrill from incorporating seemingly disparate objects into a single piece of jewelry. My “Bench Collection” necklaces are a snapshot of what’s on my worktable at any given moment. I love this type of challenge.
Who’s work, glass or otherwise, do you most admire?
• I love the work of Mark Rothko and the Color Field painters. Enamel artists I admire would include Deb Lozier, Jan Smith, and Jan Harrell. I love their use of color and texture.
Do you sell your work? If so, where?
• I sell my work primarily online at my website, but also at the Juxtacenter Salon and Gallery in St. Petersburg, Buttons Bangles and Beads in St. Pete Beach and at All About Beads in St. Mary’s County, Maryland.
What are some upcoming exhibits/shows that you are excited about?
• The thing I’m most excited about in the immediate future is Bead Fest Philly in August, where I’ll have my book available for the first time. I’ll also be doing a book signing and teaching two workshops. In September, I teach at Art and Soul, Portland. In addition, I teach about 25 to 30 workshops a year … I’m pretty busy.
What advice would you give other artists?
• Stay true to your aesthetic. Your work will remain original and inspired. Connections will be easy … things will feel right. When you find yourself straying from your path, you may need to limit outside influences. My word for the year has been “Steadfast.”
What else would you like to say about yourself and your work?
• I struggle with a mind racing with ideas. When I go into the studio, I’m definitely ADD and have to focus my energy and attention. Working from a list is not a bad idea, but I usually misplace the list … 🙂
I invite you to join me at www.paintingwithfire.ning.com, where it’s all about torch firing. It’s a great place to go with questions, to network and get inspired. We also have a weekly chat on Thursday evenings at 9 p.m. Eastern time.
Contact Barbara Lewis:
website for supplies and jewelry: www.paintingwithfireartwear.com
book website: www.torchfiredenameljewelry.com