The Enamelist in Action

Averill Brockelmann Shepps ’53's enameled pieces evoke her love of science and nature.

by Jane Falla

From bowls to plates to jewelry, contemporary enamelists know that the process to create decorative objects celebrating the beautiful color and light of enamels can be demanding and unforgiving. To turn out pieces like those by Averill Brockelman Shepps ’53 requires the right combination of patience, determination, and sense of adventure. Here, Shepps describes a few of the pieces in her collection. A practicing enamelist for more than 50 years, Shepps’ expertise has been called upon in teaching, writing, exhibiting, and promoting the field. Her art especially evokes her interest in science and nature. Here, she describes some of her pieces.

Pink Bowl with Bulbs
This bowl, “Pink Bowl with Bulbs,” was exhibited in 2003 at the International Enamelist Society Juried Exhibition in Canada. It is enamel on copper with fine silver, and is 6 and 3/4 inches in diameter at the rim and 4 inches high. It depicts new growth emerging from a variety of bulbs. I was fascinated by growth and by regeneration, of which bulbs are a great example. The old growth is suggested by the purple color in the background.


Purple Bowl with Silver Trees
This bowl, “Purple Bowl with Silver Trees,” was done in 2005 and was in the International Enamelist Society Juried Exhibition that year. It was also exhibited in South Korea in 2008, when I was one of three American enamelists invited to submit work. This features enamel on copper with fine silver. The size is 9 inches in diameter at the rim and 6 inches high. I do a lot of work inspired by walks in the woods, of which this is an example. The older growth is suggested in the background with the trees depicted in fine silver in the foreground.


Air Pollution
This is a five-inch plate called “Air Pollution,” designed to show air pollution being emitted from smoke stacks. It is in the 2011 International Enamelist Society Juried Exhibition.


Air Pollution detail
This is a detailed image from the plate titled “Air Pollution.” The image was reproduced onto a steel plate coated with white enamel and is 16 by 24 inches.

To read more about Averill’s work click here.