Houston Llew Spiritile: 001 Spirit of Muse

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"A smile is a light in your window that tells people you're at home." - Anonymous

Molten glass over copper collectible art.

Artist Statement

The first thing I ever enameled. When Zingaro, my mentor, asked, "what do you want to make?"

My first instince was that of a snarky, arogant & ambitious student. I shot back, "You fancy yourself on the creative level with the all-time greats, I'm just going to steal y'alls tricks. How about you show me how to capture the emotion of DaVinci's Mona Lisa?" And he gleefully accepted. Later that night, defeated & exhausted we summized that for years DaVinci left the piece unfinished out of frustration. I took our progress and showed my mother... who took out a sharpie, scribbled on the fired enamel metal... and captured it perfectly. This is actually her rendition of that smile, which was much easier to recreate once she showed me the way & explained why it was so impactful.

This piece holds a special place in my heart, the first sketch to defeat what Hemingway once coined, "The White Bull." And it took a team effort. Every Spiritile that came after would be new and different, but this remains "The Muse." I am still attempting to capture her today. And each time I do, I get a glimpse of a different smiling emotion from a different inspriting source.


Size: Approximately 5¼" x 8½" x 1¾" - akin to the size of a novel
Materials: Glass enamel on copper, formed around a heavy wood core

Every Spiritile is made painstakingly by hand in Houston Llew's studio in Charleston, South Carolina. The glass is applied to one side of the metal using stencils and relying on precise layering with hand sifters. The piece is only fired once. After firing, a rolling pin is rolled over the enameled metal to form intentional crazing marks in the glass. Although it goes against the medium's traditional teachings, Houston says this technique creates increased light refraction, particularly in the transparent glass.

Spiritiles look great alone or in a group. They can be hung on the wall or set on a flat surface without the aid of an easel or stand. They are quite sturdy and can withstand direct sun and covered outdoor environments (we recommend bringing them inside during extreme weather).

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