Each Spiritile is crafted first by laying powdered glass, or “frit,” onto a perfectly cut copper canvas, using a series of stencils for each layer of color, playing cards, and hand sifters to carve out the design. Once delicately aligned and layered, the glass and metal is carefully placed in the red-hot kiln to keep the glass from shifting, and timing is of utmost importance.
Once fired, the enameled piece is removed from the kiln and cooled under a planchet. The natural “crazing marks” the occur in enamel increase the luminescence of the glass. By rolling a pin over the surface of each piece after cooling, the light refraction in the glass increases and the enamel becomes malleable enough to frame.
Discovering how to wrap enamel in three dimensions around a frame was one of Houston’s most significant design achievements. By using a thin sheet of copper and precisely aligning the glass edges, each Spiritile is molded and affixed to a solid wooden frame, wrapping the story, author, and Houston’s signature around the sides.