Enamel Magic; the Ancient Art of Enamelling Brings a Touch of Class to Interior Design, as Our Experts Show

Article excerpt

Byline: CORINNE JULIUS

HABITUES of the all-white interior can find it difficult to adjust to the new world of colour - large expanses of multihued walls can prove too much for purist Modernist souls. But colour is back with a vengeance and one of the oldest and subtlest ways of bringing colour into the interior is through enamels.

For many people the word enamel conjures up a vision of a saccharine-sweet little pill box or, at the other extreme, a chipped tin mug but contemporary enamels are neither cute nor cheap.

The art of enamelling - the fusing of glass onto metal - has been around for some 2,000 years and was originally a substitute for the costly process of inlaying gold with coloured or precious stones. The earliest surviving enamels are Minoan and Mycenaean, dating from the 15th century BC. Enamelling was popular for the less well off even in the Dark Ages and was used to great effect by the Byzantines. In medieval times, enamelling flourished and all manner of religious objects were exported around the known world from the enamelling centre of Limoges.

By the 15th century, artists in Limoges had developed painted enamels, and perhaps the best-known examples today are Faberg? eggs or Lalique's Art Nouveau creations. These amazing decorative objects are made from a combination of silica and soda ash: glass is mixed with metal oxides to give them colour. …