Faïences et Emaux de Longwy (english version)
The origins of Longwy ceramics and enamels date back to 1798, but the arrival of Michelle Kostka in 1992 opened a whole new era for the famous cloisonne enamel company. She was determined to move on from the emblematic but outdated apple flower motifs.
"When I arrived at Longwy Enamels, they had had a century of little flowers. I had to fight all those flowers ! When I arrived at Longwy I was absolutely determined to bring in contemporary decors and I was extremely lucky to have a young woman working with me who had been to the finest schools in Paris. She brought her colours and her lines and breathed new life into it."
For the past 20 years, contemporary artists working closely with the enamel company have been able to offer new dimensions, matter and depth to their work.
The artist Alain Thomas, at the forefront of modern primitive naïve painting, is delighted with this long partnership.
"We’ve been working together for around 10 years now. I have to admit that the last colonial ball we made was absolutely sumptuous. The theme is the black bill toucan and when we saw the original drawing we knew we had something really special."
"In Alain Thomas’s work the lines are omnipresent and at the same time they give way to the colour and matter. That seems to me to be an extremely important aspect of Alain Thomas’s work."
Colour and matter : Longwy Enamels are an alchemy of liquid crystal born at 1400 degrees in the furnace cup. Finely ground and mixed with water, they are applied by the decorators with a fine stick or syringe. Only after the firing process will the enamels be fixed and their colours revealed.
After firing, ¾ of the pieces return to the decorators for the hand-painted gold or platinum.
"So I will add my platinum which is a brown colour at this stage. When I’ve finished the piece will be fired and it is during the firing that the gold and platinum become visible. The solvents evaporate and we can see the gold".
New styles are regularly developed in the Longwy workshops : here we see the modern geometric designs of Clotilde D. in black, white and gold ; or the cubic-style Susy and Lisa by Stéphane Gisclard. These require new enamelling techniques and the unique craftsmanship of one of the decorators.
"This piece by Gisclard for example, this face that we see here is completely white when first printed. Our decorator paints all the face by hand herself."
Two centuries of craftsmen’s skills adapted to the demands of the artists of today mean that these rare collector’s items in limited series are becoming superb works of art in their own right.