Stages in Mary’s Design Process
Each enamel box starts as pure copper. A metal that has been used for thousands of years due to its soft and malleable qualities.
The copper is then stamped into one of our pre-designed shapes and cleaned thoughly in order to remove any remaining marks or oils.
Enamel is sprayed evenly to the copper and fired in a kiln for several hours. This process makes the enamel smooth, very hard, and difficult to break. An enamel box can last for centuries and is a great memento to be passed down to loved ones.
We then form a hinged clasp to fit around the box adding an elegent hue of gold to the enamel.
For each design we start with an idea, image, or photograph, then draw an illustration. From the illustration we create a template to guide the hand painting. We then kiln fire each painted piece at 1400°F to create a permanent bond between enamel, paint, and metal.
Finally we glue the painted enamel to the clasp, place it into a high quality presentation box, and Presto! A work of art!
Enamels and Their History
Enameling is a technique thousands of years old. It may have been discovered accidentally when melted sand and clay fused to iron implements. The people of many civilizations have recognized its beauty and utility, including the Chinese, Greeks, Indians, Romans and Celts. The elaborate Byzantine enamels of the tenth century are still regarded by some as the finest examples of this art form.
In the eighteenth century in the small towns of Battersea and Staffordshire, in England, artists rediscovered the possibilities in making beautifully crafted enameled boxes. The boxes were highly sought after by the nobility, and were used to hold snuff for the gentlemen and makeup for ladies. Enamel boxes were, and still are, a favorite gift of royalty and dignitaries.
In pre-revolutionary Russia, a goldsmith named Peter Carl Faberg began to experiment with enameling. He ultimately took enameling as an art form to unprecedented heights. The fabulous Faberg eggs were created for the Tsar as gifts. They were made of several different alloys of gold inlaid with complex and beautiful multi-colored transparent enamels.
Many different techniques are used to create beautiful enameled designs. Among the techniques are cloisonn, champlev, grisaille, and plique--jour. Most enameling techniques are still referred to by their French names. Each style has its own distinctive appearance.
Large museums have enamelware exhibits. Some of the best known are the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Taft Museum in Cincinnati, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London.
Mary McLaughlin hopes you will share her love of enamel and porcelain and feel the mood and personality of the city or scene depicted on each enamel box. McLaughlin Glazeware, Inc. produces these enameled boxes in the tradition of Battersea, England, but reflecting scenes that are distinctively American. Our first series highlights several scenes in the city of Chicago. Rich in its neighborhoods, architecture and traditions, Chicago is a city loved by many and a natural subject for artistic expression in enamel. We hope you will feel the same pride in ownership that we feel in producing these elegant pieces, one at a time. Whether you are a devoted collector or first time recipient of a gift, we hope you will treasure your enamel box for many years to come.