Glass + Metal.

Basse-taille

A technique that uses photo etched copper, with all the metal covered by glass


Basse-taille

 

“Gull Feather”, basse-taille enamel on copper, with glass stain colors. 7” x 4”. Dark areas represent high points in the etched copper and were enameled with black first. The light areas were filled later. Glass stain colors were applied last.

“Gull Feather”, basse-taille enamel on copper, with glass stain colors. 7” x 4”. Dark areas represent high points in the etched copper and were enameled with black first. The light areas were filled later. Glass stain colors were applied last.

Basse-taille (“boss-TIE”) uses etched patterns in metal, but differs from champlevé in how the metal is treated.

In champlevé, the enamel is ground off the high points and bare metal is always left showing. In basse-taille, all the metal is covered with enamel.

 
Etching for “Fern Spores”, ready to be enameled - darker areas have been etched to receive light enamels in the finished piece

Etching for “Fern Spores”, ready to be enameled - darker areas have been etched to receive light enamels in the finished piece

Often the enamel is transparent so that the etched pattern can be seen below the surface. “Fern Spores” uses white in the recesses, with the whole piece covered in transparent glass.

 
“Fern Spores”, basse-taille enamel on copper. 9” x 6”. White enamel was applied first and overfired to turn green in small areas. Transparent enamel was applied last so that the oxidized bare copper turned red.

“Fern Spores”, basse-taille enamel on copper. 9” x 6”. White enamel was applied first and overfired to turn green in small areas. Transparent enamel was applied last so that the oxidized bare copper turned red.

 
 
 
“Salt Point Tafoni #1”, four tiles of basse-taille enamel on copper, with glass stain colors. Unlike my champlevé Salt Point pieces, the dark areas here are also enameled. This piece is very textural - meant to be touched! 18” x 12”

“Salt Point Tafoni #1”, four tiles of basse-taille enamel on copper, with glass stain colors. Unlike my champlevé Salt Point pieces, the dark areas here are also enameled. This piece is very textural - meant to be touched! 18” x 12”

Basse-taille can sometimes be a much easier process to control than champlevé because the glass doesn’t discolor as much. It can also be much less time consuming because the stoning process is eliminated.

With this first piece in the “Salt Point” series, I applied black enamel first by sifting it very lightly onto the entire piece. The white areas were filled after the black was fired. However, the white had to be painstakingly removed from all the black enamel dots before each firing, a process that took many hours each time I fired.

As much as I love the textural result of this basse-taille piece, I decided that champlevé was my technique of choice for the “Salt Point” series. Not only are the pieces less laborious but champlevé imparts a mysterious three-dimensional quality because of contrasts between semi-translucent glass and bare blackened copper.

See the “Salt Point” champlevé series