“The beauty, life, vitality, essence, spirit, wherever one may call it, is what matters in the objects I want to own and make. Transparent vitreous enamel has been fascinating to me because of its ability to catch and reflect light. At times the transparent enameled surface seems to expand its boundaries.”
– Artist’s statement, California Crafts XIV: Living Treasures of California 1985, exhibition catalog, Creative Arts League of Sacramento, 1985
June Schwarcz is one of the preeminent contemporary enamelists in the United States. She has an international reputation in a medium that corresponds with her sixty years in California. Looking to nature for inspiration, she began enameling readymade copper vessels. Soon she began hammering her own bowls. Eventually she developed a signature method of drawing paper patterns and cutting them from a lightweight, flexible copper foil that was amenable to folding and sewing like textiles. The piece is then immersed in an electroforming bath for several days. The resulting enameled or oxidized vessels represent a unique development in enamel-on-metal technique, one that distinguishes her among her fellow American crafts artists.
– Oral history interview with June Schwarcz, 2001 Jan. 21, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
June was working in industrial design in the late 30’s when a book on enamels inspired her to change her artistic focus. Reading Kenneth Bates’s book, Enameling: Principles and Practice, “as if it were the Bible”, she soon began experimenting with different construction techniques and surface treatments. Her inventive manipulation of materials is a hallmark of her work, and June has continued to push the boundaries of her medium.
– American Crafts Council
“Most of my new stuff is made from this,…[copper wire cloth]… It’s so cool – it has the best properties of textile and metal. I can make it look light and delicate, or tough and gritty.”
[The desire to work]…“It’s a compulsion! And because my process has never been entirely controllable, there’s always an element of uncertainty and surprise about how a piece will turn out. This gives me something to live for. Being in my studio gives me a feeling of peace I don’t have any other time.”
“As much as I love color, I also crave coldness and roughness…As you age, so do your ideas about what’s beautiful.”
[June’s system of numbering rather than naming her works invites projection]…“I want to make beautiful objects that reflect our experiences and emotions, and I want them to contain their own meaning. I have pieces from the Han Dynasty, and it comforts me to think we can find beauty in things 200 – or 2,000 – years after they were made. I love being part of that procession.”
– “The Seeker”, by Deborah Bishop, American Craft Magazine, June/July 2012