My Covid Project: Patchwork Enamel Fireplace

The patchwork walls are almost completed, just some finessing needed so time to think of the fire grate. We measure carefully and then cut 20 copper tiles ready to be decorated – using my favourite Drawn Threadwork stencils. I started to scribble lots of ‘back of the envelope’ ideas as to design layouts – but decided to just make the stencils and then see how they best worked together.

An assortment of design, scribbled ideas for the enamelled copper tiles ideas

I found a small table cloth ( in my stash) with very large scaled drawn thread-work embroidery that would be suitable for this making many variations from just 2 basic designs. I needed 2 stencils one square for the corners of the grate and a striped version for the longer lengths. Initially I thought it needed to be made larger to fit the cut copper tiles so I had to extend the stencil. I appliqued extra pieces of embroidery, using a machine for strength (for when it is stretched on a frame) then cut away the linen beneath it.

meanwhile the rest of the copper tiles have been cut and checked for how they fit together – like everything else in this very old house nothing it straight or even.

i had wanted to verdigris the tiles but decided to stick with what I knew, so I started sampling the enamelling colours. It is a few years sinceI have enamelled anything but remember the colours that will best look like verdigris – I match the pale greens and blues to a naturally verdigris copper strip I found in the studio

samples of copper enamel colours to make a similar effect to the real verdigris copper strip, the first set of hearth tiles placed in position for deciding the final design

after the gas stove had been replaced in its original position, I continued to adhere the top set of tiles in their allotted places. They make a very uneven but harmonic set of colours…so then I needed to re-paint the surrounding columns and wooden skirting to blend in with the rest of the room.

finally I ran around the house searching for the pieces I could put on the new mantlepiece – my old mirrored glass candle holders fit in very well. The small separate enamelled strips of copper are leftovers from cutting the tiles, plus anything else I could find in the studio that could be fired with the remains of the vitreous enamel colours – real make do and mend patch-working.

My next post will show the whole room complete with art works, cushions and flowers!

8 thoughts on “My Covid Project: Patchwork Enamel Fireplace

    1. thanks Sue, I am about finished, one more cushion to go – ha ha! Just taking some photos to post, it looks a lot better than I thought it would, in fact it now looks like it has always been here!

      1. Totally relate to your later comment on the creation of your landing gallery ! I bet it will be looking wonderful with Steve’s work as well as your own. And working creatively together can be such a pleasure and adventure.
        For me too the ‘making’ is integral to my very being .

  1. Wow, you are so industrious… and talented .. your house will become as famous as Charleston ! LAX

    Sent from my iPad


    1. Hi Ann, thanks but Steve and I like our comfort more than the Bloomsbury’s – I am going to post about the hall and landing soon that we have used as a gallery for out work that no-one can see at present – we did that during the first lockdown…not quite such an epic but I find decorating fills my time and the need to create something, in fact anything tangible.

  2. It’s SO exquisite. I can’t wait to see the whole room. And I need to know whether you can relax in it – or are you always looking at some imagined flaw or remembering the colossal amount of hard work?

    1. thank you for these brilliant comments and funny you should ask – I can sort of relax as the colours are very calming for me but I do keep seeing wrinkles and sags that are dependant on the weather being dry or wet…but having done a few early unpicking and re-stretching to the worst bit, I now am trying to be philosophical and tell myself it is hand made and I am not a proper quilt maker (patchwork and quilting are just a set of the many textile techniques I use to make my things)
      As to the hard work it must be what people say about childbirth – you can’t remember the pain! However I will not be trying to do this again for a very very long time.

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