Harold B. Helwig (Bill), born in Wellington, Kansas, spent part of his childhood with his grandparents who encouraged his thirst for knowledge, urging him to constantly explore because “there is always more to know.” Helwig enrolled as a premed major at Fort Hays Kansas State College, however, changed his major to art. After studying with Joel Moss, a former student of the preeminent American watercolorist John Marin, Helwig began to pursue watercolor as his principal interest. In 1959, he was introduced to enameling while assisting the jeweler Deirdre Burant prepare for her master’s thesis exhibition. Learning on his own through trial and error and by using Kenneth Bates’s book Enameling Principles and Practice, he became fascinated with the medium. After military service in Europe, where he visited art museums as often as possible, he was appointed assistant director of the Creative Craft Center at the State University of New York, Buffalo in 1964. While there he resumed enameling at the encouragement of Jean Delius, a nationally prominent metalsmith. From then on, enameling became his preferred medium.*
A fine teacher who shared his superior technical knowledge. He received the Enamelist Society Creative Arts Achievement Award in 2001 for his ability as an artist, technician and teacher.*
From a personal standpoint, Bill has been a great resource of knowledge for me. His knowledge and expertise in regards to the vintage line of Thompson Enamels has been invaluable. There have been numerous occasions where he would help me identify colors by using different firing methods, fluxes or evaluating the enamels reaction to acid. Just a couple of days ago, because of the Blythe color chart Bill gave me, I was able to help a customer find an alternative color for a Blythe enamel that is no longer made. He will be truly missed by our entire family.
*Information courtesy of www.enamelistsociety.org