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Carpenter Art Enamel Foundation fundraiser tonight in Bellevue; supports enameling technique,teaching

The Carpenter Art Enamel Foundation will host a fundraiser to support of its efforts to preserve the teaching and technique of enameling in the creation of art and jewelry championed by Woodrow Carpenter, world-renowned enamellist and founder of Thompson Enamel in Bellevue. 

The open house-style fundraiser will take place Dec. 3 (tonight) at the Carpenter Art Enamel Foundation, which is located in Bellevue’s industrial park at 645 Colfax Avenue, from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. The event is open to the public.

Founded in 2003, the non-profit foundation is dedicated to the teaching, support, creation, and use of enameled art and jewelry by hobbyists, artists, students, and educators worldwide.

The foundation offers workshops and houses an extensive collection of enamel art — both historical and contemporary – in its museum on Colfax Avenue.

The foundation and museum are located next door to Thompson Enamel, the only manufacturer of lead-free enamels in the Western Hemisphere. Thompson Enamel was purchased by Cold Spring native Woodrow Carpenter in 1980. Carpenter was a pioneer in the field of enameling and began developing and refining lead-free enamels as early as the 1950s. They are now the standard for all educational institutions and most artists. Carpenter passed away in 2017 at the age of 101.

Bellevue Mayor Charlie Cleves, the newly elected president and chair of the foundation, said the foundation has been working on expanding its programs and support since 2018. However, in recent months, the foundation faced financial difficulties, and a reorganization of the board was necessary to ensure the future of the foundation.

“Allowing the foundation to collapse would have been the beginning of the end of enameling in the United States,” said Cleves, who also is an accomplished enamellist. “Fortunately, many dedicated individuals from around the world have come together to ensure our mission — to educate the public about the beauty of enamel art and techniques — will continue into the future.”

The fundraiser will support the foundation’s efforts to provide workshops, classes, and support to the enamellist community. The foundation’s current building, completed in 2006, includes more than 11,000 square feet of space, including studio and classroom space, offices, a store, a museum, and library.

“All my effort with the foundation is my way of keeping our grandfather’s legacy alive,” said Joanna Maehren, manager of Thompson Enamel and granddaughter of Woodrow Carpenter.

Carpenter spent much of his life collecting enameled art from all over the world. When the foundation was formed, he donated or loaned almost all these items to the museum for public display. He also founded the Enamelist Society, Ohio Valley Enameling Guild, and “Glass on Metal” magazine, the premiere enamelist magazine for 33 years, which is still available through the foundation.

Art enameling is fusing specially made glass — “vitreous enamel” — onto metal or similar media using intense heat. The technique has been used for more than 3,000 years.

“These techniques can be found going back to 1300 BC, and the basic principles are still the same today. If I could go back in time, I would fit right in and talk shop with these artists,” said Tom Ellis, curator of the Carpenter Enamel Museum and head instructor.

The Carpenter Enamel Museum has the largest diverse collection of enameled art in the world with more than 1,100 works of rare art. This collection includes:

*Contemporary jewelry

*Enameled sculpture from India, China, Japan, and the United States

*Antique enamels created before 1900

Containers, including cigarette boxes, music boxes, and more

*Bowls, plates, vases enameled with many different techniques, including grisaille, cloisonné, camaieu, Basse Taille, and more

*Vases and urns, many from Japan and China

*Plique-a-jour enamels, an unusual and rarely used technique because of the hundreds of hours required for their creation

For more information on the Carpenter Enamel Foundation, to make a donation, or learn more about membership and upcoming classes and workshops, click here, or call 859.360.6384.

Carpenter Art Enamel Foundation

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