Bernard Gonnet
Light, serious, ethereal, precise ... yet fiery!

Bernard Gonnet's work is distinctive in that it creates a seemingly perfect balance between metal and enamel, in a rich and rigorous dialogue with
the fire that fuses them.

It is a delicate equilibrium in a game of transparency, of worlds in fusion on vaporous dreamlike backgrounds, which, with lightness in the air, suggest a space, open from where suddenly a leaf, an insect, a silhouette or a fruit is conjured up in a striking contrast of golds or brightly coloured opaques.

Shocks, waves, embraces ... an organic world chased in the liveliness of metal and the transparency of the enamel. With a shy narrative, Bernard tells us the story of his life, in scraps, in tender shrapnels ... He dares, he takes risks ... Here he adds a detail, he barely touches there, he goes forward, explores the realm of possibilities, always concerned to give his creations their own life and tones with an extreme rigour ... he offers his stories in a delicate game of shades and lights, prints, marks, fragments at times very precise, at times enigmatic ... Here he opens up his orchard, full of flavours and poetry, there from a scenery or a face, one guesses that he still has some questions unanswered ...

Precise engravings where metal and enamel play a game of hide and seek to create a scenery, which evolves in the eye of the spectator, who invites it to reveal itself ...

Bernard is forever pushing the limits, creating new frontiers, changing the outlines of his creations ... Nothing is definite or fixed ; there is no roughness, but rather a delicate blend, a marriage or a separation of elements in a prolific exuberance.

By using a variety of techniques, Bernard creates without restraint, dares the most surprising combinations in an increasingly rich experience.
Whether working on a miniature or a vase, a goblet or a lamp, he always demands the same rigour. His love of the tools, his command of the creative process, always there but discreet, takes his creation to new heights ...

His work, alive, moving and touching, is proof of an artist who is still curious about the world, his art and its history, concerned about nature, its beauty and its future.

By Lea Sham's, September 2008 (translated by Julie Desmarchelier 2012)

Cover the space
Encapsulate the time
Like a clear-sighted blind man
Initiate the firing test.


The copper sheet is a refllecting mirror of a dazzling pink-orange color.
Hardened (cold-worked), it resists. Heated to a cherry-red color, it becomes malleable and shapeable.
Using a hammer with a very simply etched  head, I fill its surface with a myriad of signs, in a regular and a dynamic concentric pattern.
I create a ripple effect, like skimming pebbles on the calm surface of the water.

After the enameling, the kiln opens its doors to the light. The grains of the powdered enamel, dry and gritty, fuse together. They form a smooth, homogeneous glassy surface, which seems to suck in the vibrations and color of the metal. When it comes out of the kiln, the piece slowly reveals itself in all its nuances. I must then stop myself drowning this blossoming emotion by overloading it. This is the key to sharing this piece of art, and its fine and profound perception.


Once hit, the flat sheet metal gradually starts to curve, curls on itself, as if hurting, and for a while, encapsulates the time within its surface. Then the bisque firing relaxes and eases the metal, which becomes tamed, ready and rested.
The shiny bright pink of the beginning has turned into a matt, almost mineral color, speckled with silvers of light.
I can appreciate then the work that has gone into this piece, and right before me, this object awaiting enameling, tests and delights me.

Enamel, Enameling

How do I choose the design? Should I go for the memory of a color, a piece of Bristol board cut out or a tree in counter light? Sometimes, I get ennoyed with myself looking for something too abstract, from someplace else, and then, like a diver taking the plunge, I grab my sieve, some powdered enamel, I arrange five fine copper rods to structure the space and I sprinkle my first color. Already, a landscape reveals itself to me. With a polished-steel spatula, I leave footprint-like marks in this virgin sandy beach and step by step, they guide me into creating a complexe, yet obvious unrestricted surface. I am both actor and spectator in this process which produces, movement after movement, layer after layer, a copper shape covered whith enamel powder.


I have chosen to work with transparent enamels. Why?
They are the perfect companion to my creativity. My imagination is spurred on by the powder's ability to only reveal its true color after firing. Like a clear-sighted blind man, I behave as though layering different colors is like shaping a landscape shrouded in mist whose true nature will only be revealed by fire, my ally and my judge. By fusing the enamel grains, the fire reveals their color, thus deciding on the success or failure of the imagined architecture of my enameling. I take the piece out of the kiln at 850°, still glowing, orangey-red and then the harmonic and dominant colors, the pearly-whites, the golden-browns, the Azure (blues), the Gules (reds) and the rusty-oranges appear. I am filled with this beautiful union of metal and crystal, enriched by human experimentation, their observations skills, their taste for discovery to create beauty and joy. I rejoice when I see before me this multi-colored shape, appreciating my creative role in all the richness and diversity of its origins.


All four elements contribute to the creation of enamels on metal: the earth from whence metals and minerals come, the water to wash and purify the ore and the crystal powder, the fire to fuse the metal and enamel particles, the air to fan the fire. Add to this the chemistry between the components of the enamel and the oxides: sand, flint, rock crystal, burnt bones or seaweeds, galena, cobalt, manganese, gold, tin, silver, copper etc...
I am part of this movement, wich, after two thousand years of discoveries and research, lead me to be both the custodian and the creator of a unique art: enameling on metal.


Both metal and enamel were born out of fire. This element is familiar to them. Its action crates their union. Putting the shape in the kiln is a very intense act, whereby we entrust (abandon) the fire with a creation in the making, that will come out transformed by the process. Depending on the type of object, I use a propane torch, an electric kiln or both in succession. The firing by torch is done by direct vision and I am physically involved. With one hand I direct the flame underneath the object, I controle the flow of gas, adjusting it to the rising temperature. With the other hand and a metal rod, I turn the piece around, presenting each of the sides to the flame. After a short time glowing orangey-red, I turn off the torch, the noise stops and gradually inside my heat-resistant box, the glow turns into darkness. With a pair of tongs, I take out the piece, still warm, put it on a marble worktop where its colors only appear once it is completely cold. Only then can I evaluate my work. Should I go further and how? Add some more enamel powder? Remove some of the colors by sandblasting? Enhance the design by adding some gold?

Like a tightrope walker trying to balance himself, I am on an intense and emotional path, looking for the perfect equilibrum of colors and space that will transform this suspended piece into a finished object.

By Bernard GONNET, Fontaramiel,  septembre 2013

(translated from French by Julie Desmarchelier, May 2016)