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Houston Llew ~ The Artist

I started enameling in a poorly constructed leaning garage in Atlanta.  I was unemployed in the middle of the great recession during a record breaking hot summer.  Through fortuitous circumstances, I befriended the master enamelist Zingaro, I shadowed the artist around his studio until he gave me the keys to enameling that would later evolve into my first works – Spiritiles.

For months I spent every waking hour over a kiln, experimenting, sketching, living on only “ramen and beer”.  The only reason my art exists today is because I had no other option – no job to fall back on, no security other than what I could create myself. Tenacity keeps me going.  When one thing doesn’t work, step back, retool, and try a new path.

I love spitballing ideas and trying seemingly crazy things just to see if they work. By harnessing that constant experimentation, art evolves.  That’s how it’s possible to create a dueling form  of enameled imagery and with bending stories and quotes out of context into something entirely new…

I call it “design” but it’s something unnamed. 

What pushes me forward is the uplifting thoughts and musings. This is the cornerstone of my work- creating art that uplifts, and brings a hopeful connection to life.


What is a Spiritile?

I believe that meaningful art is about emotion. Thus, every Spiritile created reflects a piece of our story. These icons stretch our memory and bring to mind the people we love, the things we cherish, and the passions we pursue. When collected, Spiritiles become a montage of moments that make us smile, laugh, remember, and dare to dream.

What are the cracks?

When the enameled piece is removed from the kiln it’s cooled under a planchet. The natural “CRAZING” occurs in enamel.  It increases the luminescence of the glass.

By rolling a pin over the surface of each piece after cooling, the light refraction in the glass increases and the enamel becomes malleable enough to frame.

How long does it take?

43 years this October!  It takes everything I’ve ever learned to do what I’m going to do tomorrow!  Ideas come and go, you always need to be ready to capture them. 

I encourage you to check out the enameling video below.  There you can get a feel for the care each piece gets during its physical creation.  Some are relatively simple, others are very difficult.

To see the full collection of Houston Llew Spiritiles click here.

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