Little Dreams in Glass and Metal.
Jewelry from the Enamel Arts Foundation
Enameling—the art of fusing glass to metal with heat—has been used as a form of decorating metal since antiquity; the earliest known enameled objects are six gold rings decorated with cloisonné, “compartmentalized” enamel, made in Cyprus in the thirteenth century B.C. But enamel jewelry did not begin to flourish as an artform in America until the early twentieth century. The surprising history of American enamel is the subject of a new book and traveling exhibition, “Little Dreams in Glass and Metal: Enameling in America, 1920 to the Present.”
The project is the brainchild of Bernard N. Jazzar and Harold B. Nelson, founders of Los Angeles-based Enamel Arts Foundation. The two are established scholars of art history; Jazzar is curator of the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Collection and Nelson is curator of American decorative arts at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens and former director of the Long Beach Museum of Art. They began studying and collecting enamel about twenty years ago, when a business trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art precipitated a chance encounter with that institution’s vast enamel collection.
Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell is an art historian specializing in fashion and textiles, and a frequent contributor to Ornament. She has worked as a curator, consultant and educator for museums and universities around the world. This issue, she goes behind the scenes of two very different exhibitions, The Museum at FIT’s “Fairy Tale Fashion” and the traveling enamel art show “Little Dreams in Glass and Metal: Enameling in America, 1920 to the Present.” Chrisman-Campbell is the author of Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, published by Yale University Press.