Inside Out, a copper enamel sculpture that captures your inner light

3 min read 1 Comment

I've been thinking about flowers a lot lately. What they represent, how they make us feel. 

As mentioned here, about a wall sculpture in this series, flowers can symbolize beauty, but also transformation. 

I like to imagine our suffering (anger, sadness, etc) being churned up in compost and spit out the other side as joy and delight, or flowers.

Flowers can not grow without a little sh$t (aka fertilizer). 

enameled copper sculpture featuring inner detail with yellow light and flowers and seeds, handmade in Seattle by artist Catherine Grisez

So in this piece, titled Inside Out, I imagined you as a vessel, with a hard outer shell for protection. 

But inside, there is light and warmth and glow. 

There are seeds to represent your ideas and thoughts.
And flowers to symbolize the beauty and joy that grows from them.

The seeds must break open to flourish and turn into something new.

What seeds are you planting? 

hammered copper sculpture with grooves and bumpy detail, handcrafted in Seattle by artist Catherine Grisez

Our outer shell offers protection in many ways, but it can not shelter us from pain entirely. Only with transformation, letting the seeds break and the flowers grow, can our inner light be felt. 

Nothing is permanent, not your sadness or fear or joy or happiness. 

There is a freedom in embracing that notion, knowing that every moment, every feeling is transient. It's up to us which one we dwell on. 

hammered, electroformed, and enameled, one of a kind, copper vessel sculpture, symbolizing inner light and transformation, handcrafted in Seattle USA

I made this sculpture using 3 primary techniques:

  • Raising (holloware)
  • Electroforming
  • Enameling

Each process is a time consuming labor of love, but combined convey the depth of my ideas (hopefully! Comment below if you agree).

Raising is the process of hammering sheet metal into 3-dimensional shapes over a range of steel and wood stakes. If you go to a museum, you might see very old silver goblets or tea pots made with this process. Holloware refers to vessels or containers and in the metalsmithing world sums up the process of hammering this type of form. 

Electroforming is the process of plating a substrate with copper (or other metals, but in my case, copper). I sculpt and carve wax into my desired shape, then coat that piece (or pieces in this case as it had to be done in 3 parts) in electrically conductive paint. The form then goes into an electroforming bath where electricity pulls copper off big anode bars and attaches it to the wax form. After about a week of slow deliberate plating, my pieces are thick enough that I can melt out the wax and have a strong but lightweight copper form.   

Enameling is the process of fusing glass to the copper. In this piece, I hammered an inner bowl shape (using the raising process), then sifted on powdered glass and fused it to the copper in a kiln at about 1480 degrees. Once I had a few layers of white base, I use special enamel pencils to draw my design, in this case flowers and seeds. The piece goes back in the kiln, then gets layers of clear glass fused over the drawing. My goal is often to have some underlayer bubble through the drawing and distort it slightly, creating unexpected variety, much like the reality of life.  

Here is a short video that shows the finished piece plus these processes (as well as some welding) so you can see this piece come together in the studio. 

Your outer shell offers protection.

Your inner thoughts offer a chance for growth and your light to shine. 

Together, this whole is a gift.  

hammered, electroformed, and enameled copper vessel sculpture, symbolizing inner light and transformation, handcrafted in Seattle USA

I'd love to hear what you think! 
Please comment below.

Catherine Grisez

1 Response


April 05, 2023

Such a beautiful piece, worthy of a museum.

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