I became intrigued with the technique of cloisonne while studying enameling in art school. Creating linear designs and images with flat wired embedded between layers of colored granular glass fascinates me. In my pursuit to learn more about this medium and wanting to perfect my skills with it, I spent many years researching and experimenting with this art form that captivated me.
Making jewelry was a natural step in mastering the medium. I enjoy the intimate scale and proportion of jewelry and the satisfaction of seeing objects that I've made being worn and appreciated by those who wear them.
The variety of enamel hues that is available seems daunting. I choose a limited palette so that I can master its qualities and properties. For strong contrast, I place light color next to dark, emphasizing each one's boldness and brilliance. For a complimentary effect, similar colors blend into one another, creating harmonious transition.
Inspiration for my work comes from nature: the vibrant plumage of a songbird, the delicate markings of a butterfly wing, the gentle curve of a small branch. I am also inspired by the geometric patterns and motifs of Asian and Indian textiles. Creating intricate designs from gold and silver wire is technically challenging.
Michael received his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in 1989 from the Cleveland Institute of Art. He majored in Drawing and had minors in both Printmaking and Glass. Michael had a brief yet very enjoyable experience with Enameling during his studies at the Institute and continued exploring the medium after graduation. He taught himself many aspects of jewelry making in the years that followed, including stone setting and metal work in silver and gold.
His work is inspired by nature, geometric and textile patterns, and ancient cultures such as the Egyptian, Celtic and Mayan. To create this work, he utilizes the process & technique of cloisonné enameling. He personally perform all of the steps involved in making his jewelry, from the inception of the initial design to the final cleaning of the finished piece.
Michael’s work is included in 500 Enameled Objects, Lark Books, and Art Jewelry Today 2, Schiffer Books. It was featured on the cover of the May 2005 issue of Lapidary Journal magazine. His work has also been featured in several issues of Art Jewelry, Ornament, American Craft and Glass on Metal magazines.
Exhibitions & Awards
Michael Romanik has exhibited his work at some of the country's most prestigious fine art and craft fairs including: The Cherry Creek Arts Festival, Denver, The Original Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The American Craft Council Show, Baltimore, and the invitational Atlanta Contemporary Jewelry Show. Most recently, he received a 2011 Creative Workforce Fellowship, provided by the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture of Cuyahoga County Ohio. More information about the fellowship recipients and program can be found at www.cpacbiz.org
His work is part of the permanent collection of the Ohio Craft Museum in Columbus, Ohio.
Process & Technique
Enameling is the process of applying small granules of glass (enamel) to metal and firing, at high temperatures, in a kiln. Cloisonné is the technique that involves firing thin, flat wire on to a base of enamel coated metal. All enameling is done on fine silver, and the wire is 24K gold and fine silver. The gold and silver wires are formed into linear designs using fine tweezers & various small pliers. The wires are temporarily glued to the surface of the enameled silver piece with an adhesive binder. The piece is then fired, causing the enamel to slightly melt. The wires sink into the softened glass, securing them to the surface.
These enclosed areas created by the wire, known as cells or cloisons, are filled with colored enamel and fired. Several layers are applied and fired until the cloisons are filled to the top with enamel. The piece is then ground down on a lapidary grinder to a uniform, smooth surface. The enamel piece is then washed and “flash fired” in the kiln which restores the glass to a high gloss finish.
Each cloisonné piece goes through a minimum of 7 firings, from the initial enamel coating of the fine silver base to the final flash firing. Each firing is approximately a minute long at temperatures of 1400 - 1500 F. A setting is fabricated for the finished cloisonné piece using a combination of fine silver, sterling silver, 14K, 18K and 22K gold, and gemstones.
Many hours are needed to complete one piece. The time involved for each piece varies according to its size & complexity. A small pendant, for example, may take only 6 hours, while a large brooch might require 25 hours. In the case of complex bracelet, Michael may require more than 40 hours to complete the piece.