DON VIEHMAN – CLOISONNE and ENAMELING
Torpedo Factory Art Center
105 North Union Street, Studio #205
Alexandria, VA 22314
Enameling as a medium, and especially the technique of cloisonné, has served me as an art form, an occupation, an intellectual and emotional challenge, and a deep and meaningful means of personal expression. It has always been difficult and always absorbing.
Creating cloisonné pieces began as an occupational experiment and an ever widening lifetime involvement when I initially joined with two other artists in 1979 in California to form “The Cloisonne Collection”. We combined our working efforts cooperatively to learn enameling and jewelry metalwork, to create contemporary cloisonné art jewelry pieces, and to express our personal visions. Though the partnership did not last long, cloisonné became my life’s profession. Over the following years, I worked to become a fulltime craftsman, exhibiting at art and craft shows and through craft galleries. I could move my studio wherever I lived. Eventually in 2005, I obtained a studio at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, VA, where my work and workspace are on exhibit today.
In my work, I most frequently use 24K gold cloisonné wire, positioned on a base of fine (pure) silver. The base is shaped and textured to enhance the overall design. Once the shaped and cut wires are attached to the base, combinations of transparent and opalescent (semi-transparent) enamels are applied in the cloisons (separated spaces inside the wires). The enamel is positioned in a thin layer and then fired in a kiln, with the application process being repeated many times. The thin layers are gradually built up to create shading effects in the enamel, which provides value shading, shadow, depth, intense color contrast, color relationships, foreground and background, negative space, even a sense of perspective. After coarse stoning and “flash firing,” the surface treatment is continued with extensive fine stoning, and polishing with cerium oxide. For jewelry pieces, an individual setting is then fabricated around the piece, typically of various Karats of gold or Sterling silver, to hold and protect the piece and create a specific form such as a pendant, earring, or broach. For cloisonne wallpieces, the work can be framed in a wide variety of styles.
The themes and images in my pieces are many and diverse, ranging from figurative to fully abstract and geometric. Themes evolve from my own imagination, drawing from experience and also surrounding environmental sources (images, music, writing, and human interaction). Frequently, I also work with clients to create very personal custom pieces, often using themes and ideas brought to me by a client.
While the gallery sections of this website provide examples of pieces already created, and while some of these are available in my studio, I am always pleased to talk with clients by phone or email to discuss possible creations. Please feel free to contact me at any time using the information listed here:
Cell Phone: 703-244-3757
Address: 105 North Union St., Studio #205, Alexandria, VA 22314