Enamel: imagery and effects with Sheila R McDonald


Ref: SSS11638

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About this course

Using fine enamelling techniques you will explore different methods to achieve imagery and effects in enamel. After working on test pieces, the aim is to produce a simple silver brooch encapsulating your Summer School experience.

Course Description

The aim of the course is to cover basic enamelling skills and to explore how colour, texture and design ideas can be interpreted in enamel with an emphasis on imagery and effects.

As this is a fine enamelling course, you will experiment with the washing and grinding of enamels in preparation for wet packing, this allows much more scope for controlled and detailed work. You will also experiment with fine wirework (cloisonné), working with fine gold and silver foil, and direct drawing techniques with enamel pigment. Throughout the course your tutor will demonstrate specific techniques along with one-to-one tutoring.

Starting with a demonstration of the preparation and firing of enamels, you will work on a series of test pieces on copper. You will be provided with copper, some silver, enamels and foils and materials for these test pieces. Extra silver, brooch findings and foils will be available to purchase from the tutor.

This year’s Summer School theme is Dalí and Surrealism, which could be a starting point for visual inspiration. (Your tutor has a particular interest in the paintings of Leonora Carrington.) However, a Surrealist theme is in no way compulsory.

This course is suitable for all, as most of the basic enamel techniques will be covered. Please come prepared to experiment with ideas, guided by the demonstrations and interaction with the other students on the course. The tutor will be on hand to deal with any technical difficulties that may arise.

By the end of the course, the aim is to produce a simple silver brooch which will encapsulate the Summer School Experience.

Summer School highlights:

The Summer School week is an immersive learning experience with more time to develop your creativity and embrace opportunities for creative development beyond your chosen course. A detailed timetable for your Summer School week will be given to you on arrival. This will include:

• Short inspirational talks by tutors and displays of their work

• A short creative experience session in another discipline/media or course

• An optional evening at the Chichester Festival Theatre (if pre-booked)

• An optional lunchtime tour of West Dean Gardens, the historic rooms at West Dean College, or West Dean Tapestry Studio

• A celebration dinner on the last evening, with a surrealist theme inspired by Salvador Dalí, who was one of West Dean founder, Edward James’ friends and collaborators. (Feel free to respond to the theme if you wish.)

• Informal end-of-course group reviews and displays of students' work in studios

As evening events are planned as part of the Summer School week, dinner is included in the course fee to enable all students, including non-residents, to participate fully. A detailed timetable will be given to all students on arrival.

(Please note that plans may be subject to change depending on GOV.UK guidance at the time).


Timetable for Summer Schools

Several evening events are planned throughout the week, a detailed timetable for the summer schools will be given to you on arrival.

Arrival Day

Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students should vacate their rooms by 10am please.

Course Materials


  • On this course the tutor will supply most of the materials including some copper, small discs of silver, enamels, and foils.

What students need to bring

  • Fine paintbrushes: 00, 000
  • Small scissors
  • Scalpel/ cutting tool
  • Sketchpad/ pencil
  • Apron

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Paintbrushes
  • Silver
  • Drawing materials
  • Available from tutor:
  • Extra copper blanks.
  • Some Silver. (1mm, 1.2mm ) Small silver discs.
  • Extra Fine gold and silver foil.
Wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


Sheila R McDonald

Shelia R Mcdonald is a graduate of Glasgow School of Art and the Royal College of Art. She works as a freelance jeweller and enameller, undertakes commissions and exhibits widely.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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