Arts·Q&A

This month's enamel logo by Aurélie Guillaume isn't just incredible — it's wearable

It's CBC Arts, beach! Montreal's Aurélie Guillaume tells us how she turned the CBC Arts gem into a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry.

It's CBC Arts, beach! The Montreal artist tells us how she made this one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry

Sun of a kind! Enamel jewelry by Aurélie Guillaume. (Courtesy of the artist)

Sure, they call it the "gem," but this is the first time the CBC Arts logo has ever been turned into one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry.

This month, we hit up Aurélie Guillaume to design our profile pic, but instead of sending over an illustration, the Montreal artist delivered in 3D! That photo? It's an original enamel brooch — a big and shiny Mr. Sun to mark the height of summer.

Back in January, we met Guillaume for the first time, and she told us about how she went from cartooning to making cloisonné necklaces and belt buckles and pins that are packed with trippy detail and humour. Check it out to see more of her work, and keep reading to learn how she made this incredible piece, the best, and possibly only wearable profile pic, in existence.

Name: Aurélie Guillaume

Age: 27

Homebase: Montréal

Let's talk about that design! What inspired your take on the CBC Arts logo?

My work is mostly character-based, and I enjoy thinking about what personalities things like a rainbow or a cloud would have. It seemed obvious to me that the CBC Arts logo should become a big bright happy sun, just like the one that has been making our summer extremely hot!

We love the sort of comic book stories that are often hiding in all the details of your jewelry. Is there a story behind this design, too (or a story that inspired it)? What's it about?

There is not a precise story to this piece, but when I was creating the design I thought of what I like the most about summer and of my memories of the sunniest places I have been to. Laying down in the grass feeling the blazing sun warming up my skin, feeling so warm that I'd jump in almost any pool of water, thinking about the tropical island of Martinique where I spent a part of my childhood, beachcombing and opening my eyes as large as possible to find the most beautiful seashells, playing and trying to catch the little crabs hiding under the rocks...

What's the piece made of? How big is it?

The piece is made of enamel, a type of glass that comes in the form of colourful powder — very similar to sand — that is applied to metal and then fused at extremely high temperatures to melt so it becomes smooth and glossy.

I am using the specific technique of cloisonné, which is one of the oldest and most traditional ways of enamelling. It consists of reproducing the original design with delicate strips of fine silver that are then applied on the surface of a copper base, creating little cells or pockets that are filled with the different colours of enamel. Many layers and fusing in the kiln are necessary to achieve a piece.

My works are usually quite large. The biggest I have made is about 8 inches tall by 4 ½ inches. I am entertained by the challenge of pushing the limits of my skills with every new project I tackle. Recently I have started working with significantly smaller formats to see how far I can take the level of details within a piece. This one is about a third of the usual format of my pieces.

What's your favourite detail? Or what was the most challenging thing about making the piece?

The sun's face looks so friendly with its big bubbly sunglasses and plump cheeks! Bending the silver wire in the shape of the glasses was quite challenging — it is so small it can fit on the tip of a finger. The tiny seashells and the crab were also quite challenging, but painting the black line on the enamel is always my favourite part of the process because this is the moment where everything comes together.

What's inspiring your art these days?

I have always been quite spontaneous about my art practice. These characters that I make come in and out of my head, and sometimes end up on paper and become pieces of enamelled jewelry. They are a direct reference to my personal experiences, memories and understanding and reflection of the world around me.

The past two years have been quite intense. I have made a lot of pieces and worked so much in the studio that I feel as if I didn't see the time pass, and that is a little scary. I am starting a new series of work that will be more introspective in order to catch these memories and feelings before they fade away and become too blurry and intangible.

What's the art project you're most proud of?

My first solo show, "Rendez-Vous Fleuri," truly sticks out in my mind. It was the fruit of studying 10 years in the arts and finally finding my voice as an artist and jeweller. For this show, I drew large scale drawings on the walls, made custom displays for my pieces so the characters could sit in the space with us and decorated all the windows with more larger-than-life characters. I even had a makeover so I'd look like one of my drawings. I went all in!

Who's the last artist you discovered online?

I recently discovered the pencil drawings of Miles Johnston. They are quite disturbing but so exquisite and graceful.

What's your favourite place to see art?

Museums, galleries, artist-run centres, social media...these are all the classics, but I absolutely love murals, and we are lucky to have the Mural Festival in Montréal that can fuel my love for large scale works. There is something about discovering a giant painting around the corner of the street when you least expect it that really gets me! So I'd say my favourite place to see art is on the streets.

Any new projects on the go? Where can we see more from you?

I am currently working on a very small new series of enamelled works that I will be presenting for the first time at SOFA Chicago with Galerie Noel Guyomarc'h next November.

Follow Aurélie Guillaume on Instagram (@mlleguillaume) and at www.aurelieguillaume.com.

Every month, we feature a new take on the CBC Arts logo created by a Canadian artist. Check out more Q&As with our past contributors.