Enamelling for beginners with Sheila R McDonald

Ref: SWE32937

Location: West Dean
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Places available

About this course

Discover the alchemy of enamelling by practising on copper and progressing to simple silver jewellery.

Course Description

Learn how to translate colour and texture ideas, and the techniques of using fine wires and metal leaf. This course aims to introduce enamelling skills to beginners and to show how colour, texture and coloured ideas can be translated into enamels.

Starting with a series of basic test pieces on copper, simple techniques are covered. You should then progress to working on small silver or copper items, and, by the end of the course, you will have produced a small simple item of jewellery.

This is a fine enamelling course and you will cover the washing and grinding of enamels in preparation for wet packing. This allows much more scope for controlled and detailed work. You will also work with fine wires, and gold and silver leaf. The tutor will provide a variety of enamel samples, which should encourage you to experiment.

If you have no experience of enamelling, you will follow small steps with copper samples. If you have had some experience, then you will be encouraged to incorporate other techniques into your samples. You are encouraged to bring examples of your work as a starting point to discuss ideas.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • Enamels used by the group as a whole are provided.
  • The tutor provides small colour fabric samples, which should give you inspiration for test pieces.

What students need to bring

  • An apron/overall
  • Small glass/plastic containers to contain wet enamel
  • Scissors, cutting tools
  • Fine tweezers/pliers
  • Any jewellery tools (a kit of basic tools may also be hired from the shop)
  • Any enamels you may already have
  • A hair tie, to tie your hair back if it is long

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Silver can be purchased from the College Shop, which stocks a range of sheet, wire, rod, tube and findings. These will be available in set sizes and lengths, suitable for a wide range of projects.
  • Copper sheet 1.2mm and cutting tools
  • Drawing materials and fine paint brushes

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


Sheila R McDonald: seed head brooch

Sheila R McDonald

Shelia R Mcdonald is a graduate of Glasgow School of Art and the Royal College of Art. She works as a freelance jeweller and enameller, undertakes commissions and exhibits widely.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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