417 Magazine: Why do you find yourself drawn to creating work with enamel?
Sarah Perkins: “I started my career as a metalsmith and jeweler. I really love metal and I love the permanence of it and the fact that it resists unlike clay or similar mediums. I realized what I was missing from metalworking was colors. The color palette in metal is quite limited, but with enamel, the colors are stunning, beautiful and endless. Throughout centuries, these colors aren’t going to change like the colors of metals would. Because of this, I see my artwork as my form of immortality.”
417: What is the central theme of your artwork?
S.P.: “I am largely interested in objects of domestic use. While many of my pieces aren’t intended for use, it is important to me that they refer to function. I am really interested in people’s relationships to each other and the objects they use. I think in relationships and at the base of human interactions there are a lot of ritual things we go through that almost always relate to eating or drinking. The pieces I create are objects that relate to intended functions alongside the people who use them.”
417: What does the creation process for these pieces look like?
S.P.: “I begin pieces with metalsmithing; there are several days and sometimes several weeks of hammering each piece before I solder pieces together. Then, I cover the entire surface with enamel. It isn’t painted on, it’s more like working with sand. Unlike a glaze you would use on ceramics, working with enamel is very specific. Things stay exactly where you put them when you fire the piece in the kiln. I fire each piece for just a few minutes until the glass melts and fuses to the metal surface. Once cooled, I put another coat on. Pretty often my pieces are fired between 20 and 35 times. It’s a funny combination of things because the metalsmithing is very physical and then the enameling is very meticulous.”