Involved Since: 2006
Website URL: jstoneenamels.com
Judy Stone, founder of the Crucible enamel department and co-department head along with Katy Joksch, is a hidden treasure among all the illustrious Crucible faculty members. Her worldwide reputation among enamelists as a teacher, mentor, and artist is unprecedented and has earned her the moniker of “the enamel doctor.” During the 50+ years, Stone has been enameling she undertook the task of learning the scientific underpinnings that she could use to solve technical problems she was encountering. As a result of her research, she developed a unique approach to teaching enameling which other enamel instructors have wholeheartedly embraced.
Majoring in German language and literature, Stone received her bachelor of arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1966 and her master of arts from the Indiana University in 1968. She first encountered enameling in 1968 while studying on a Fulbright fellowship in Germany. She later recalled, “One day I saw a piece coming out of a kiln. It was molten red and as it cooled I could see brilliant color emerging. It was the alchemy of that transformation that piqued my interest.” After returning to the United States in 1969 and settling in the San Francisco Bay area in 1972 she taught herself to enamel while also enrolling in workshops with some of the leading figures in the enamels field. “I took workshops with Margarete Seeler and Bill Harper in the mid to late 1970s, with Jamie Bennett in the early 1980s, and with Bill Helwig in the 1990s.” But it was Fred Ball’s book on experimental enameling that had the most profound influence, encouraging her to explore non-traditional approaches in her work.
Like her Bay Area friend and mentor June Schwarcz, Stone rethinks venerable vessel-making traditions as she creates open forms in glass and metal, abstract sculptures which, while referring to tradition, defy the fundamental notions of containment, enclosure, and functionality so long associated with the vessel. However, unlike Schwarcz, whose enamel and metal sculptures are created, for the most part, through an electroforming process, Stone works with spun or hand-raised copper forms. She then cuts into and rips open these pristine vessels and re-stitches them with metal wire.
The principles of destruction and renewal or “healing” are central to Stone’s work. Her process involves tearing open a form to reveal what lies within and then reassembling it to construct a new reality. As she states, “These ‘destructed vessels’ challenge me to heal what has been destroyed, making it more beautiful and more balanced.” However she is also mindful of the unique properties and capabilities of enamel: “I want the satin finishes, the exterior of the piece, to be handled and caressed. I paint with light and want light to play on and through the piece.”