Bostonia feature: The Art of Glass Enamel

This article was originally published in Bostonia on August 25, 2020.

Artist Barbara Marder trained as a painter in the 1960s and still paints today. But often her medium is glass enamel and her canvas is copper, steel, or fine silver.

To create her jewelry, bowls, and wall pieces, Marder (CFA’73) applies glass enamel—finely ground powder—to metal by sifting it or mixing it with a binder to create a slurry and painting it on. Then she fires the pieces in a kiln. The colors, she says, are “rich and glassy,” an effect that can’t be achieved with traditional paint.

Marder, who has a studio in the Artisan’s Asylum, a nonprofit makerspace in Somerville, Mass., earned a BA in fine arts at Skidmore College and an MFA in painting and art education at BU’s College of Fine Arts. She approaches each piece as a painter, considering factors like color and composition. The similarities end there.

“In enamel, you can’t mix colors like paint because it’s little pieces of glass powder, like salt and pepper,” she says. “But what I can do is keep building up different colors with successive applications and firings. And the effects are amazing.”

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