You may never know when you will accidentally stumble upon your artwork when you are an artist. Linda Payne, a Fuquay-Varina resident who is very modest about her beautiful jewelry designs, will never forget that one time she stepped into a local Chinese take-out restaurant in the Raleigh area.
“I paid for my food, turned around, and noticed the woman behind me was wearing my black and white enameled earrings. I recognized my work immediately,” recalled Payne.
“She noticed that I looked at her, so I spoke and told her I designed and made the earrings she was wearing. I remarked that they looked great on her,“ laughed Payne, who has been enameling metal for about ten years.
“I took an enameling workshop at the Cary Arts Center and immediately got hooked on the craft,” stated the artist. “That class led to another class. With enameling, you are always learning because more than 200 techniques are used.”
Enameled jewelry and decorative art have a rich history dating back to items buried in Egyptian tombs. Gold, silver, and copper are the primary metals used for this art. Payne specializes in working with copper for her jewelry.
“It looks like I painted my design, but I am using glass resembling powdered sugar to create the work. I use a sifter and give the copper a fine dusting to make my designs,” explained Payne. “I make patterns; many are abstract, then bake the metal in my kiln at very high heat to 1450 degrees. I take the pieces out to cool as soon as the kiln hits that degree. Not a minute later, or the jewelry would ruin. Trust me; it was a lot of trial and error to get it precisely right.”
Payne will be demonstrating the enameling process at the N.C. State Fair for the first time this year in the Village of Yesteryear. She will have her kiln, sifter, and all the tools she uses daily in her workshop.
“I am thrilled to be part of the Village of Yesteryear,” declared Payne. “I hope I inspire children and others to try their hand at enameling. I started trying my hand at art as an adult, so it’s never too late,”
Payne retired from administrative work about a year and a half ago. She now focuses on her art full-time. Her husband, Don, hand cuts leather. Sometimes, they collaborate on some of her jewelry pieces.
“It’s handy he has that talent because I can say to him,’ I have this idea for a bracelet,’ then he cuts what I need,” chimed Payne when talking about some of her favorite jewelry pieces.
Payne says her black and white pieces are best sellers at shows, but she enjoys experimenting with many colors. Autumn colors you associate with this time of year are some of her favorite colors to create. Cools colors like pinks and purples are complicated to achieve in enameling. It requires a lot of layering and is more labor-intensive, but she is always up to the challenge.
You will see this N.C. jewelry maker demonstrating a wide variety of items during the eleven days she will be in the Village of Yesteryear. Vendors wear period clothing while at the fair. She laughs that finding clothes for the event has been more challenging than designing her jewelry pieces.
The Victorian era inspired her wardrobe choices for this year’s event since the period saw a boom in wearing enameled jewelry.
The Village of Yesteryear, located in the Holshouser building on the N.C. State Fairground encourages the continuation of artisan skills like enameling for future generations through demonstrations and hands-on experience. Vendors also have their work on sale and, in some cases, take custom orders.
The Village of Yesteryear operates from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, except on Thursday, Oct. 13, when the exhibit will open at 12 p.m