South Staffordshire enamels: the lost craftsmanship of eighteenth-century copper substrate

Grayson, John (2019) South Staffordshire enamels: the lost craftsmanship of eighteenth-century copper substrate. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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This thesis is an investigation into the craftsmanship employed in copper substrate manufacture, hidden below the decorative vitreous surface of eighteenth-century South Staffordshire enamels – small decorative items for the individual, such as snuff boxes, and large ware for the home, for example, candlesticks and salt cellars.

The substrate formed the metal armature upon which the highly decorative enamel surface was fused. It was fundamental to giving enamel artefacts both their form and functionality, aspects which were highly desirable to the Georgian consumer. Critically, without the substrate, the enamel could not exist. However, in the literature published during the period of manufacture, little reference was made to substrate making, and significantly, since the trade's demise, no research has been undertaken into this aspect of production. The craft practice of the researcher shaped the lens of enquiry, set within a naturalistic paradigm. Object analysis of enamel artefacts in museums (the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Wolverhampton Arts and Culture; the Museum of London and The Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library, Preston), was used to generate and analyse data. Expertise and connoisseurship were employed to identify and interpret witness marks to manufacture. This led to the development of theories on craftsmanship processes used to manufacture the substrate; these were investigated and refined through practice-based research in the craft workshop (as a laboratory).

Finally, through the replication of enamel artefacts hypotheses were validated. The rationale for the research is based on the premise that there is valuable technological understanding hidden below the enamel surface, that is valuable both to the fields of the history of material culture and contemporary craft. To the former, this new knowledge will counter and allow for the revision of established thought on the trade, while the re-emergent craftsmanship will provide innovation within contemporary craft production, allowing contemporary craft-makers to make complex, three-dimensional objects in enamel that are currently problematic to produce.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
18 April 2019Completed
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-01 - creative arts and design > CAH25-01-05 - others in creative arts and design
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Doris Riou
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2020 12:19
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 17:20

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