It was always going to be controversial if Diarmiud had anything to do with it. If you have been watching the series of programmes on BBC2, ‘Diarmiud’s Big Adventure’, over the last five weeks you will have followed the drama with as much intent as if you were watching a soap opera!
The story started almost a year ago. We at the Institute of Vitreous Enamellers get some very unusual queries but enamelling of steel balls for a garden has got to rank in the top ten. When we get enquiries we refer the enquirer to our website and to the list of sub-contract enamellers and leave them to make contact. Most enquiries probably never go anywhere but obviously this one did. The first thing we new about it was when the programme went out. We were alerted by one of our members in Holland. The 5000 balls manufactured from steel by spinning and welding were being enamelled by IVE member, A J Wells & Sons on the Isle of Wight.
The programme, which went out on Tuesday 18 May, showed the steel balls being sprayed and fired to fuse the coloured glass to the steel at a temperature above 800 degrees Celsius. ‘Why vitreous enamel?’ you may ask. Well, Diarmuid said it as accurately as I could have '... the good news is that these look bright and the reason for enamelling is that they will last forever - that's the main thing.' And, No! The IVE has not sponsored him.
Diarmuid could have added that enamelled steel balls would be easy to keep clean. That is why companies such as AGA insist on vitreous enamel for their world famous range cookers. The colours are durable. That is why the Victorian enamel advertising signs produced by exactly the same process still retain their colours as bright and clear as the day they were made. That is also why the colours of enamelled relics from prehistory are still as good as new. The list goes on. Vitreous enamel, glass fused to metal is durable, colour stable, totally fire resistant and good looking.
We are delighted that vitreous enamel is part of the reason that Diarmuid deservedly got a Silver Gilt medal at Chelsea.
Diarmuid Gavin has stretched the limits for vitreous enamel – its use is only limited by your imagination.
See a gallery of photos from the AJ Wells & Sons website
(link opens in new window)