« Bettina Dittlmann (Born in Passau (DE) in 1964) is inspired by historical jewellery, ranging from mourning Victorian jewellery to American Indian pieces. Dittlmann studies the historic forms and content, which later influence her own work. Drawing is an important part of Bettina Dittlmann’s life, often a starting point for a piece of jewellery. » (« Fused » exhibition at Flow Gallery, show curated by Melissa Rigby, the Chairman of the British Society of Enamellers – 2011)
« ‘Sometimes the setting is full without a stone. Sometimes I free the ironwire from the enamel to set the stone. Sometimes I set the stone into the enameled bezel. Sometimes I fill the bezels with enamel, so the enamel becomes the ‘stone’. Garnet resists the heat in the kiln . The enamel strengthens the prongs. The enamel sticks to the garnets and covers them. It hides the cut gem.Enamel chips sparkle like cut stones. Pyrit rocks sparkle like diamonds. I try to work with the enamel, try to understand its laws and try to break them, but the enamel always wins! ’ (Bettina Dittlmann – Published in Metalsmith, Exhibition In Print 2003, volume 23 number 4″)
Bettina Dittlmann – rings with garnets
« Pristine precision and elegant design characterise the work of Bettina Dittlmann, a jeweller who employs enamel in much of her work. Her international reputation has taken the medium of enamelling into contemporary jewellery practice, with its emphasis on innovation in both technique and design. Bettina’s pieces, constructions of soldered binding wire and enamel, often incorporate precious and non-precious stones: the essence of her work is the combination of delicacy and strength.
Although they are completed with the appropriate findings, Bettina Dittlmann does not intend all of her brooches to be worn, but she is delighted when they are. Her large complicated binding wire structures are comprised of thousands of soldered joints. Instead of material value, Bettina is making something precious by using time.
Jewellery enamels fire successfully on to the steel wire at around 760º, and Bettina builds the joints of her constructions with IT solder, which is workable at this temperature. The firings varying according to the enamel used. Bettina judges the correct time and temperature by instinct. Because the thin wires transport heat immediately, the firings are 30–40 seconds long. She is currently experimenting with liquid enamel.
To get the enamel to adhere to the wire, Bettina finds that spit works best as an adhesive, behaving as an incredibly good glue and firing out without stains or bubbles. She mixes the spit with water and squeegee oil, paints the mixture on to the wire, and then applies the enamel by sifting. The first few firings take the enamel to a gloss finish, making a hard surface which ensures a good bond to the wire, but the last layers are underfired to achieve the granular effect. Complicated structures can require 60–70 firings: the inner wires are enamelled first and often the whole work is turned during firing. The way the pieces are constructed determines the colours, with the precious and non-precious stones pin-pointing the nodes in the design. Bettina Dittlman has always wanted to make complex pieces – shapes that take a long time time to describe, but she is also interested in the simple. Historical jewellery is a source of inspiration, ranging from mourning jewellery and Renaissance jewellery to Victorian jewellery and American Indian pieces. She studies the historic forms and content, which later influence her own work. Drawing is an important part of Bettina Dittlmann’s life. She draws what she thinks about, and often this is a starting point for a piece of jewellery. During the process of making, the drawing continues. For her abstract pieces, Bettina begins by adding circles to each other, working spontaneously with no final concept in mind. The accompanying drawings might be concerned with the construction of the developing piece or with ‘what the piece is about’, and the two influence each other back and forth as she continues assembling. She adds that if she really knew what her work was about, she probably wouldn’t make it any more. Bettina’s training included studying the techniques of silversmithing at a technical school in Germany and subsequently working two years with a jeweller. This was followed by two years at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where she had to begin to develop her own path and to ‘find out how and why to go on, and what was valid’. Interestingly, she realised that she had retained the influence of her high school art teacher, with whom she studied art history and art and learned about the quality of line. There followed eighteen months at the State University of New York at New Paltz. Here drawing became particularly important to Bettina because, in the beginning, she couldn’t speak much English. It was at New Paltz that Bettina learned to enamel, taught by Jamie Bennett, who said that enamel could translate the colour in her drawings to her work. Jamie Bennett was challenging enamel and this is what inspired her. She had been making pieces with binding wire at the time, investigating spike, pod and flower forms, and this was the start of finding her unique way of working. In addition to making her wire and enamelled sculptural jewellery, Bettina produces a range of rings with her partner Michael Jank. He has his own career as a printmaker, but together they are working on forged rings called ‘Foreverrings’, each making their own pieces but selling them together. Neither soldering nor polishing are part of the process, which involves melting the metal, punching a hole, and hammering out a thick, powerful ring shape. The technique is fast and spontaneous, in fact completely opposite to Bettina’s practice in enamel. Shefeels that it is important for her body and mind to do hard physical work after the hours spent with delicate, precise and intense soldering, stone setting and enamelling .« (British Society of Enamellers – summer 2006)
Bettina Dittlmann ‘rinchen’
Bettina Dittlmann pendants
Bettina Dittlmann- brooch – Iron and enamel – 2007-2008 (to SHOP on V&A website)
Bettina Dittlmann- brooch ‘Orange-Rot’, 2003 -Eisen, Emaile
Bettina Dittlmann – Brooch, Iron, garnet – 2007
Bettina Dittlmann (& partner Michael Jank) - ‘foreverring’
Bettina Dittlmann – « Big red » Brooch
Bettina Dittlmann - Red brooch, 2005, red ironwire enamel
Bettina Dittlmann -broche « oursin » (photos galerie Helène Porée)
OUI, Bettina Dittlmann - on AIME votre travail ! il me fascine !
ENAMEL – innovation in vitreous enamel – by Jessica Turrell- symposium-presentation