Herman (Cas) Casagranda was born in 1917 in Ouray, Colorado, the son of an Austrian immigrant miner. He attended East High School and the University of Denver, and taught art and art history in the Denver Public Schools for thirty-one years. Casagranda was especially drawn to medieval imagery. He built a family chalet in Frisco, Colorado, which was decorated with his own medieval themed artwork, including a knight. Casagranda worked in a wide variety of mediums but is best known for his enamels.
Enamel is created by melting powdered glass as a coating onto metal, glass or ceramic. The colors are created by grinding colored glass or by mixing clear glass with minerals or metal oxides. The ground glass can be applied as a powder or a paste onto the surface to create a design or image. Different colors of glass cannot blend in the same way that paint can to create new colors or tones, but through a trick of the eye similar to the effects of pointillism, the illusion of a blended shade can be created by mixing tiny particles of different colors in the same area. Famous uses of enamel include Fabergé’s eggs and Art Nouveau jewelry. It is also extensively used on functional objects such as pots, cast iron bathtubs and kitchen appliances.
Clown With Wand
Enamel on copper
6 1/4 x 7 3/4 inches
Kirkland Museum has four Casagranda enamels on view with other enamels from our collection in the lower level corridor. One piece on view in the lower level, “Clown With Wand” is an example of Casagranda’s interest in medieval characters. The clown has both opaque and translucent elements. One of the abstract Casagranda enamels (on view on the wall in the lower level) used to hang in Vance Kirkland’s kitchen.
Herman passed away April 3, 2011.