Melbourne jeweller, Debbie Sheezel, is officially one of the world’s best in enamel jewellery. Awarded the prestigious 2016 Saul Bell award for enameling, Ms. Sheezel says she is absolutely thrilled.
Dating back to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Celts, Chinese, and Japanese, enameling is normally found in jewellery and art pieces. Enameling includes using finely ground pieces of glass mixed with colours and kiln-fired in thin layers on precious metals. There are many enameling techniques used today, including stenciling, sgraffito, and cloisonné.
As a young woman, Debbie Sheezel attended a gold and silver smithing class with her aunt, where she discovered her love of the enameling craft. Ms. Sheezel states, until the teacher explained the kiln use, she was not enjoying herself.
“He said well if you take some enamel, which is vitreous powder, and put it on some copper, silver or gold, and he got some white and put on the copper and put it in the kiln,” she said. “After a minute he took it out and it was white and glossy and it was stuck to this beautiful copper and I fell in love. Just like that. It was love at first sight and I’ve been enamelling ever since.”
Ms. Sheezel taught herself how to enamel by reading books and has been working with the art form for 50 years now. On the cusp of turning 70, she decided it was time to apply for the Saul Bell enamelling award.
Designed in the pattern of French glass maker Lalique, the award-winning piece, a stunning enamel butterfly necklace, took five months to design and make. Valued at $50,000, the enamel piece incorporates 18 and 24 carat gold, fine silver, and semi-precious stones.
The colourful piece will stay in Ms. Sheezel’s collection until she finds a buyer.
Feature Photo: Examples of Debbie Sheezel’s Enamel Jewellery