My teaching schedule for 2014
My favorite workshops are here in my studio and am currently turning down workshops in other locations. If you would like to participate Email me.
I offer small classes, limited to 5 people, in my studio. I am in the process of choosing more dates for this type of workshop. If you would like to request a specific date, now is the time to do that. If you have a group of 5 students that would like to attend on the same dates I will be happy to schedule you together. The schedule will fill on a first come first serve basis. Generally my Repeat Student Workshops are the most popular and most of them will be that type.
It is with great pleasure that I begin my adventures on the internet.
Over the past year, it has become quite obvious to me that the world is changing in dramatic ways because of the invention of the Internet. The manner in which people communicate, learn, work, shop and play has experienced an unprecedented growth as a result of this awesome tool. Our lives are being altered and it is up to each of us to insure that the change is a positive one. As I embark on this effort to establish my presence on the Web, I see it as an opportunity to accomplish life long goals and realize the dreams that previously seemed out of reach.
Those dreams include:
Sharing my technical information with others that have struggled alone to master the elusive and beautiful cloisonné creation.
Sharing my current work and the locations of the galleries that have enthusiastically supported my 25 year love affair with my cloisonné jewelry.
Sharing my "On the Drawing Board" works in progress with my valued collectors.
And above all, sharing the inspiration that guides me.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the Internet Tool, is the ability to communicate one on one with people all over the world. I would be delighted to hear from you! Please feel free to offer your suggestions. (remember, my expertise is cloisonné enamel and your web design help will be gratefully welcomed!) I would also be happy to answer technical questions as time permits. Maybe together we can create a location for enamelists to share their information with others. Wow! Just think of the possibilities...
and so I begin...
About Merry-Lee Rae
While Merry-Lee made cloisonné jewelry for fun and relaxation, her plan was to become a mathematician. Quite unexpectedly, her fascination with the enameling process turned her hobby into a profession. Since 1976, she has been creating timeless heirlooms that will endure for centuries.
She is a designer, a craftsman and an artist. She is also guilty of thoroughly enjoying her work.
Merry-Lee says of her work:
I see myself as a dedicated romantic, expressing love of life through my art. Using glass and gold, I create sunshine shouts of joy or murmurs of quiet remoteness. The resulting cloisonné jewelry is my voice. What really matters is the people who are touched by it in some way.
The French term, Cloisonné, refers to cells of colored enamel, separated by partitions of thin metal ribbons. An ancient art, it is believed to have originated in Byzantium (now Istanbul) and developed in the Orient.
Merry-Lee Rae specializes in jewelry and small sculpture cloisonné. She creates ribbons of 24K (pure) gold to separate and define colors and shadows invoked by the blending of fine and exotic transparent ground glass enamels.
The metalwork or "framework" of the piece is done by bending the fine ribbons to match the outlines of the preliminary artwork. Once each tiny piece is in place and gently fired to hold it's position, the long process of wet packing the enamels onto the design can begin. A thin layer of color is packed into each division and then fired in a kiln at 1475 degrees Fahrenheit. The amazing color and depth that Merry-Lee achieves comes from blending and adding more and more layers of the fine glass. At least 8 and as many as 20 layers and firings go into each piece.
Once the enameling process is complete, the piece is ground and polished much the same as a gem stone would be cut. The firing process shapes each piece uniquely, making it necessary to then individually handcraft a specific 18K gold setting to serve as a frame from which it can be shown. Fine gems are also often used to accent her incredible works of art.
Sometimes I am asked about my signature. Here is the story on the little squares...
Originally my work was signed with a JML. It was all run together, let me see if I can describe it. The M had a little hook on the left leg making it a J, the M had a little "foot" turned up on the right leg making it an L. My husband at the time, John Howell, also made cloisonne and also signed his work JML.
In about 1985 I began to sign my work with only an ML. Also about this time I started using black squares as a design element in my work. Usually two of them. I would draw a design and then come back to it later thinking "Hm, this design needs a little something... " A square or two seemed to be what it needed. My customers regularly asked if the squares were my signature and at some point I realized that the squares were more my signature than the ML had ever been. Sometime around 1985 I dropped the ML entirely. The image of the black squares originally came from a mental description that I often made of people in my life that I could depend on. That image was actually a solid black cube. Consistent, dependable, real, solid, predictable... those were the people in my life that I mentally sorted into this category. Often they came in twos. And so the very first pieces that I made with those squares were in some ways a tribute and acknowledgement of the important people in my life. Many of the pieces were abstract rather than the more romantic work that I am better known for. There are large bodies of my work that have no square or other signature in the front cloisonne but only a Rae stamped on the back of the setting. The choice always related to the design of the piece itself. For example, most of the fish in my Ocean Series have no square only because there was not really an appropriate place to slip it into the piece and not have it disrupt the flow. Also, the original squares were always black, later I began to use squares that were only wirework with the color inside the square matching the background of the square. Probably more than you imagined I could say about something as simple as this!