Margot Page – Enamelling on Steel

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  • As a kid In England, I was fascinated by how my mother as a hobby would sketch still life fruit, using charcoal, and make it look real. When I declared I was going to be an artist, she warned me that there was no future in it, no money to be made.

    At age eleven, my family moved from England to Montreal. What better place to be inspired? I drew all the time. I daydreamed. Instead of studying, I drew. Later, I enrolled at the Fashion Arts Academy in Montreal. Though I’m not formally trained, the one class I never skipped was Illustration. At 18 I landed my first job as a fashion freelancer, drawing ads for Montreal clothing stores. Then Sheridan College in Ontario hired me to teach their fashion design students. It was heaven in that Studio, guiding the students progression as they drew their designs.

    Enamelling was taught In another Studio at the College. Brilliant colors, metal cutting, precise sifting and firing of powdered glazes- I found this too appealing. For Forty years, it has been my sole medium: enamelling on steel and on copper.

    We sailed from Ontario in 1982, and dropped anchor in Maple Bay in 1996. Here we set up a boatbuilding workshop, and my enamel studio. A classified ad in the Duncan newspaper looking for artists to join their start-up co-operative, intrigued me. Thus, Imagine that! Artisans’ Designs became the first outlet on the West Coast to market my enamels.

    Other gift shops on Vancouver Island have approached me. Currently I am producing enamels for The Butchart Gardens. They requested steel bookmarks, magnets, copper pins. and my newest item. I am now firing my enamel onto the old Canadian copper penny, to be worn as a pendant or a lapel pin.

    Entranced by the wild life I had seen in the ten years of traveling onboard our sailboat, my images are now the heron, black bear, raven, quail and chickadee. These have completely replaced my earlier figurative drawings.

    In the enamelling process, my favorite tool is a tiny sifter. It wafts the dry, finely ground glaze onto the metal surface. This finicky work requires precision and challenges me to stay focussed. Wearing UV glasses when opening my hot kiln, protects me. I horde my glazes as they are so expensive. Enamel is now a rarely used medium, so it is gratifying to receive donations of unused glazes from other artists. Most recently Qualicum’s John Agg’s beautiful old glazes have come to life in my own studio. In return, I have donated my glazes to emerging artists.

    I am proud to be an operating member of downtown Duncan’s Imagine that! Artisans’Designs where I continue to learn from the other skilled artists of the Co-operative.

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