Lia - 27 / Mar / 2023
Get to know Houston Llew
Houston Llew had an amazing hero’s odyssey. Unemployment taught him a frugality and vulnerability unlike any he’d previously known. At his deepest low, he met a master enameler and something clicked. Houston knew he had found something, and that hope carried him through the challenges of living on “ramen and beer.”
A typical day consisted of failure after failure as Houston learned. Sometimes the glass was too robust, other times the makeshift garage let in too much wind. The heat of that summer was as unrelenting as Houston’s tenacity. There was no backup plan, so this had to work. And it did. After months of toiling in that makeshift garage in Atlanta, Houston finally figured out the ancient art of vitreous enamel.
In the 3rd millennium BC, the Mesopotamians developed enamel as a cloisonné technique wherein glass powder was melted between 1,380 and 1,560 °F (750 and 850 °C) within small, gold-walled cells until fusing. In Egypt the process was streamlined by using a substrate to fuse the powdered glass. As the latin vitreum for ‘glass’ hints, the colorful powder melts into a vitreous coating.
Houston prepares for that flow with layers of stencils almost like durable screen printing. The colorful images on copper are kiln fired. Upon fusing, the enameled copper is removed from the kiln, cools to the touch under a planchet, and is affixed then molded to a pre-drilled, wooden frame. Light cracks known as “crazing” are created during this manipulation which add to the luminescence of each piece.
It reminds us of the valuable Japanese art of Kintsugi, where broken pottery is reassembled with gold to leverage flaws and imperfections to build stronger and more emboldened art. Just as Houston embraced his struggles to empower himself and his art, you too can enjoy the positive messages and stories he tells in each piece.
As one of the few partners to carry retired Spiritiles, Blackstone’s continues to offer the Houston Llew's latest active collections. Whether in-person or online, we’d love to share this meaningful art with you.