What's the difference between porcelain and enamel?
Porcelain and bone china are mostly made of fine white clay. Porcelain has a satiny finish. Enamel boxes start with a copper form which is coated with "frit," a mixture of clay and glass. Many successive layers are fired on to produce a hard, glassy smooth surface.
How long does it take to paint each box?
That depends on the detail and the size. For a small box with less detail, about an hour. For a complex design, top, bottom, sides, it may be two hours or more. It's even longer if multiple coats of paint are needed! Each painting must be fired separately. The process takes many hours for each item.
Do you have your own factory?
Yes, I have my own studio where we do all our own work, including marketing, design, painting, firing, and shipping.
Do you have your own kiln?
Oh yes. This is true vitreous enamel. Each piece is fired at temperatures of 1500 to 1600 degrees, so we need special kilns. In fact we have different kilns for enamel and porcelain, and we even have backup equipment available in an emergency.
Mary, how did you get into this business?
Years ago I did a porcelain painting class with a friend. I discovered I had some natural talent! Later I found that I could use my talent in a creative business. It's been tremendous fun.
Do you do all this work yourself?
I do all the original designs and final approval on orders. But I have a terrific team that works with me. My painters work in our studio. I have several part time painters and illustrators who appreciate the opportunity to work at home. My business manager handles workflow, delivery and accounting. So these are my creations, but by no means only my work.
I'd like to place a custom order, how long does that take?
We need a week or two to come up with a new design. After your initial approval it takes a week to produce a proof. After final approval we can deliver your order in 3 to 4 weeks--up to six weeks for larger orders.
What is your minimum order?
We have filled orders for individual boxes, just one of a kind. We can also adapt a stock item with personalization relatively inexpensively.
What are you most proud of?
I think I take the greatest satisfaction from my long standing relationships with my customers. We've been working with Lyric Opera for 8 years or more. Similarly for the White House Historical Association. Repeat business is the best compliment we can receive.