At Cosy Home, we’re always looking for fresh, exciting products for the home, so we were delighted to chat to Kate Samuels of Kate Samuels Design about her gorgeous enamelware.
Kate’s interest in this unusual craft was sparked early on by an old enamel plate kept from childhood. “I love the fact that it’s like a journey through my life,” she says. “It shows every chip, dent and scratch, each telling a story, but it still remains completely functional – you couldn’t say that about a china plate, which would have shattered.”
After completing a BTech course and then a degree in jewellery and silversmithing which taught her the basics of enamel working, Kate went to teach art and design. Through her work, she did an MA which gave her more confidence in working with enamel, and encouraged her to produce more commercial work.
“Enamel is actually very finely ground particles of glass. You can mix it with water and paint it on, or sift it onto the surface, depending on the effect you want. You can produce a range of effects with enamel from translucent to opaque, and from subtle to jewel-like – it all depends on the type of enamel and how you build it up. I buy in all my enamel, so I know I’m getting a consistent result.
“As I’ve got an interest in fine art through my training, I start my design process by producing realms and realms of sketchbooks. I might go on a journey for inspiration, or, as I live by the sea, I use a lot of sun and water related imagery. Then, I’ll go through my books and work up a few of the designs.”
Kate produces a range of bowls, mugs and plates in bright, primary colours, which are great for summer picnics.
“I hand paint my design onto the plate with a single layer of enamel,” she explains. “As I’m painting with coloured enamel onto a blank canvas of coloured enamel, it gives the design some lift and sparkle. Once I’m happy with the design, it’s fired in my kiln at 800 degrees. The firing process is quite quick – around five to ten minutes – but can vary a lot due to environmental factors, so it takes a lot of practice.
It’s very much a handmade process – I’ll look at each piece and decide whether it’s ready or whether it needs to go back in for a bit. Now I’ve started doing more commercial pieces such as the tableware, I work in batches for consistency.”
“Once ready, the finished pieces have to cool down. They come out of the kiln at very dangerous temperatures, and I have to wear a full set of protective gear to handle them.”
Once you’ve invested in your enamelware, how does Kate recommend that you look after it?
“With lots of love,” she laughs. “It’s actually pretty unbreakable – it’s dishwasher safe, and lasts forever.”
As well as her ‘sunshine’ range, Kate also produces commissions, personalised items and a children’s range. For more information about Kate and her work, please visit www.katesamuelsdesign.co.uk. Her ‘sunshine’ range of mugs, plates and bowls as well as personalised items are all available from Not on the High Street .
By Sara Walker