About the Process

Vitreous enamels are created using finely powdered glass applied to a piece of metal. The glass and metal is then fired into a beautiful piece.  Simplicity and beauty - at least that's the theory.  The reality is that the glass powder slides around all the time. It sneaks off when I am not looking.  
The 1400°F heat is applied with a torch or in the kiln. Yes, I have torched surrounding objects when I am focusing on the enamel and not looking at what's behind it. I keep a fire extinguisher close by.   Each completed piece has 6-20 very thin layers of melted glass. Often those layers of glass will decide not to play nice together and fall off.  Or the metal will buckle and warp.   
 Drawing and painting on enamels is done using oxide minerals which are applied and then sealed beneath layers of glass. The colors change in the firing.  Delicate graphite drawings will just vanish if I misjudge the time or the temperature.  Being an enamel artist is a juggling act, returning joy when it works right.
Vitreous is a brilliantly colorful art medium. Painting within enamel is relatively new and exciting area. Most of us are self-taught, beyond the basics.  That is where the magic begins

about me

Raised under open western skies. Settled in North Carolina.

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I am a metalsmith / artist / sculptor working to make art that will make people smile.


Background: My first degree was in Art Education, at a time when there were no teaching jobs. I did photography, and freelance graphics to make ends meet. Architecture School was next.  I am a licensed/registered, though non-practicing architect.


Architecture let me explore my love of classicism, the renaissance and all things Italian. For the next 15 years I designed and supervised the construction of an odd mix from hospitals to high end retail to a television station to daycare facilities.  Best job in architecture: working for Milton Glaser and absorbing the magic and humor of Glaser Studio. 


I love painting and color. All the time that I was doing architecture,  I kept painting.  I had some soloe shows in Pittsburgh and Baltimore and was in several group shows in NY, Chicago, London, Washington DC...


I am a full time artist now, living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Aside from enameling and metalwork, I spend my time biking, hiking and drawing.  I fell into metalworking during a residency at the John C Campbell School, up in the mountains in the fall of 2019. I took two classes up at JCFS and then began a long apprenticeship of trial and error.


For the conceptual part of metalwork, my architecture training helps - I already knew the basics of welding, soldering and strength of materials. Now I'm learning how to shrink things down to something that I can hold in my hands.   

Serena Fenton

Metal Artist