Gilt and Enamel Decoration

The Process

The process involved with gilding and enamelling glass is very similar. In as much as the decoration is applied in a wet, paste, state onto the surface of the cold glass article and then fixed by firing in a kiln. The complex process is defined more precisely in an article published in 1903 by “The Black Country and its Industries“. The skills required to gild and enamel glass are very similar and as such the work was carried out by the same artist craftsmen.

Early Work

Gilding and enamelling on early glass had been carried out by specialists such as James Giles of Bristol and Beilby in the North East of England . The designs consisted of flat gilt scenes and borders, by Giles and white and coloured coats of arms, by Beilby. Similar decoration can be found in the Stevens & Williams description books the work being executed by Maitland and Morgan.

Thomas Hawkes & Co were famous for their doubled wall articles that sandwiched gilt and enamel decoration between the layers.

Benjamin Richardson, of the Wordsley Flint Glass Works, near Stourbridge took out registrations for enamelled decoration. One was similar to that produced by Hawkes, but the enamel, usually of water plants, was sandwiched whilst hot between two layers of glass. Another registration was for Vitrified Enamel decoration.

Benjamin created a decorating shop and employed Thomas Bott to create floral masterpieces on glass, that were exhibited at the Crystal Palace, Great Exhibition of 1851.

John Northwood studied under him and his nephews Thomas and George Woodall benefited from his guidance and encouragement. Thomas Bott became famous for his decoration on Kerr & Binns, Worcester Porcelain, after joining them in 1852.

Master craftsmen

In 1878, Thomas Wilkes Webb was so impressed by the gilding and enamel work on French ceramics that he enlisted the services of Jules Barbe, a French ceramicist, to apply his skills to Thomas Webb & Sons‘ glass.

Stevens & Williams followed suit in 1884 and recruited Oscar Pierre Erard, who was already working in the area, to carry out similar work.

Later Work

In the 20th century, other Stourbridge glassworks to produce enamel decoration of note are Webb & Corbett and Stuart & Sons Ltd.

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