Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Enamelist Society 2014 Grant Recipient — The Art School at Old Church

Grant Report/Evaluation by Jennifer Jordan Park

As a 2014 Enamelist Society Grant Recipient, the Art School at Old Church has been able to expand its offerings by starting an enameling program at the school. The mission of the art school is to enrich the quality of life in the community through visual arts education and cultural events.

The Art School at Old Church was established in 1974 as a non-profit, non-sectarian 501(c)(3) organization located in Bergen county in New Jersey. Housed in an old church, with four studios, it offers over 80 courses in each of its four quarters. The many offerings include fine art and craft classes for adults, teens, children, and families, as well as workshops and outreach programs. The educational programming serves over 700 students per quarter. The school also houses two galleries that are free and open to the public. The Art School at Old Church received the Paragon SC2-BD kiln via donation and was able to purchase, with grant funding, other enameling essentials, such as firing fork, IR glasses, heat resistant gloves, kiln furniture, sifters, grinding tools, and holding agent. With this new equipment, the art school is now able to offer enameling classes in its updated jewelry studio. Since receiving the grant, the art school enameling classes have been enrolling five to six students per class each quarter. In addition to enameling classes, the art school is able to promote enameling in other classes, such as Classical Jewelry (focus on ancient techniques of enameling, granulation, and chain making), and Jewelry Outside the Box (focus on using alternative materials such as enameling, resin, acrylic, and found objects). The art school has also run an Enamel Rings one-day workshop that enrolled nine students.

In these classes and workshops, students have been learning the art of enameling on small-scale items appropriate for jewelry making, sculpture, and two-dimensional art. Students have been using opaque, opalescent, and transparent enamels on copper, silver, precious metal clay, and steel. They have learned a variety of application methods including sifting, wet-packing, and painting. They have learned the techniques of stenciling, sgraffito, basse taille, champlevé, cloisonné, and plique-à-jour. Students have experimented with underglazes, overglazes, foils, leaf, separation enamels, liquid enamel, glass lump, and threads. They have been finishing pieces by stoning, etching, and/or or flash firing. They have learned how to use the flex shaft and appropriate tools for finishing enamels. Students have been using several methods for setting enamels, including bezel, prong, and tab setting. Additionally, they have been introduced to using solder with enamels.

The Art School at Old Church has achieved its objective of starting an enameling program with the ability to serve 20 students or more each quarter in enameling and related classes. Many thanks to the Enamelist Society for helping the Art School at Old Church to provide enhanced educational opportunities to the surrounding visual arts community.

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