Fauré Technique- Tutorial » Discussions


WORKSHOP WITH MAURICETTE PINOTEAU- by Joanne Conant

  • Leader
    April 11, 2011
    I was fortunate to organize a workshop with Mauricette Pinoteau in my studio a year ago. The workshop was to have taken place at the Brookfield Craft Center in Brookfield, CT but the center eliminated all the lead bearing enamels from the enameling studio. Mauricette uses Soyer enamels so with the new restrictions in place the workshop could not be held there.

     

    Mauricette is the last remaining enamellist who worked in the Faure` studio. The Camille Faure` studio was in it glory during the art deco period. The enamels produced were either of floral or geometric design in bright colors. The end result was a sculpted enamel that had high and low areas like a mountain range. Mauricette’s work is magnificent and it was a pleasure to watch her skilled hands manipulate the enamel into sculptural shapes.

     

    The tools that Mauricette used are very important. The tool should be made of stainless steel and shaped for your individual hand. Mauricette had three tools – each for a different purpose. One was slightly curved and the other two were flat and angled.

     

    We used gum tragacanth as our binder. I have since used Agar 2 with equal results. The gum tragacanth should be used thickly for attaching the silver foil and more diluted when used with the enamels. Use a mortar and pestle for mixing the gum with water. Start with a small amount of gum and add water a little at a time until the mixture is smooth and thick like heavy cream.

     

    The process starts by cleaning a piece of copper. Mauricette likes to heat the copper in the kiln until it is cherry red and then allow it to cool naturally. Cleaning the copper of all oxide after it has been in the kiln is difficult. She usually places the copper in a nitric acid bath. We did not have nitric available so we scrubbed the copper until it was fairly clean.

     

    Mauricette then painted a diluted gum mixture on the copper and coated the front and back side with enamel. We used Soyer flux #1 on the front and counter enamel on the back. Two firings were required to get an even coat of enamel.

     

    In the next step, silver foil was applied. We pierced the foil with a few tiny holes so the air could escape when fired and then applied it to the front side of the flux- coated copper with full strength gum. After the piece came out of the kiln we gently patted the foil down with a cotton cloth. Flux for silver (Soyer #3) is then fired onto the foil.

     

     

    We used china paint to draw out design on to our prepared piece of copper. This step is time consuming but effective. Dry it completely and then fire until the lines have set. Experimenting after the workshop, I used a sharpie pen and found that the lines can lift off and float into the wet enamel. However, the sharpie lines completely disappear when fired leaving clear, clean enamel. Using a sharpie is quick and easy if you don’t need to see a line under the fired enamel.

     

     

    We then applied a base coat of 80 mesh colored enamel to the design and fired it to
    maturity. After the base coat of colored enamel is finished the fun part begins.

     

     

    Add a little diluted gum mixture or a couple drops of Agar 2 to the 40 mesh #2 and
    mix well. Test for clarity and holding power by placing a sample mound onto mica and firing it. The flux should fire clear and hold its shape. Do the same thing for the 40 mesh Opal #101. It will not be clear but should be slightly translucent and hold its shape.

     

    The first sculptured layer should be the flux. It can be used alone or mixed with 80 mesh colored enamel for a soft color. Let this layer dry completely before putting it into the kiln. Mauricette liked to fire the enamel at around 1400. Fire the 40 mesh flux to orange peel. For the next firing you can either build up more flux or move onto Opalescent enamel. The last firing should be the Opalescent, your signature, and any dots of dark color. This firing should be just beyond orange peel so that the enamel is smooth but holds it shape.

     

     

  • May 1, 2011

    Thank you for putting both of these articles up..... and in such great detail.

    I think it is the fact that such huge objects were completed perfectly in what, by todays standards, were far more primitive firing conditions, that makes me fascinated by this technique. I applaud those past artists.

    Lyndan Blackman

  • Leader
    May 1, 2011

    Thanks Lyndan for the feedback, and thanks to Mauricette for taking the time out of her busy schedule to send me the information. I bought the Camille Fauré book when it came out and the photos are phenomenal of what that studio produced, and the hours and hours of work. You might have to ask Mauricette to come to Australia and give a workshop!

    Regards, Trish