Enamel is a thin layer of glass fused to metal by heat. The enamel starts as a lump of glass coloured with oxides. This is crushed into a fine powder by grinding under water in a mortar with a pestle. The powdered glass needs to be rinsed with distilled water to make sure it is free from impurities and dust and poured into a small container. This process is repeated for each colour.
If the enamel is to be applied wet it is now ready for the prepared metal. A goose quill is a useful tool for scooping up the enamel and laying (or wet packing) it onto the metal. Once packed in place the enamel is dried off before firing in the kiln at approximately 820 degrees centigrade. Enamel needs to be built up in thin layers so many firings are required to finish a piece.
Kathryn uses a variety of enamelling techniques in her work. She enamels on to either silver or copper. Sometimes the metal is textured by rolling with a harder surface to make a pattern, or struck with a hammer or punch. Transparent enamel is applied over these textures so they show through the layers of colour. This technique is called Basse-Taille. Kathryn also applies enamel by sifting through fine sieves and using stencils, scraffito or Riso screens to create her images.