Friday, February 27, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - Copper Edition

I thought I'd indulge in a little more copper loveliness this weekend. I have classes on both Saturday and Sunday. We're making tear away textures and learning how to bezel set natural cabochons. Too much fun! Hope you have just enough fun this weekend. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat


The silver and copper tube bead project was a raging success!! Almost every one came out beautifully. One student didn't seal her seam well enough and it split open during firing, but I still like it. They'll wire brush and patina tonight and I'm really excited to see how they finish up.

the black residue is copper oxidation. most popped off when I quenched in water and the rest can be removed with a wire brush. if there is still some remaining we'll make a pickle with hot water and 3 tbs Alum from the spice aisle of the grocery store.

Here's what we did. I used my Tubing Cutter Jig from Rio (page 139 in the Tools catalog) to saw thin copper tubing from the hardware store into 1.25" lengths. I drilled holes at the top of half of them so they could be strung vertically and the rest I left in tact.

seam split open during firing

The students sanded the tubes to clean and prepare the surface for the clay. A bit of "tooth" always helps. Then we dampened the tubes just to help the fresh clay stick and used PMC+. I fired at 1470 for 40 minutes using a slow ramp and voila! I think Vicki Cook likes to fire lower but I only had Plus on hand and the lowest temp that it can be fired is 1470. You could also use PMC3 and fire at 1200 for 45 minutes.  

metal clay doesn't fuse to the copper, but shrinks to make a mechanical connection

Make sure you use really fresh clay so the edges don't crack, wrap the clay so that it touches the copper, but loosely enough to accommodate the shrinkage, don't stretch the clay. Remember to sand all edges including inside of holes. I like to use a toothpick or a dampened paintbrush. If you try your hand at this, both Vicki and I would love to see your results.


Yesterday a student who I haven't seen in at least a year brought over some pieces for firing and I had quite the surprise when I opened the kiln. These were perfectly flat when they went in but look at them now. This is what aluminum contamination looks like!

She left them to dry on aluminum foil. Baaad. Aluminum and petroleum don't play nicely with silver metal clay. Steel is suspect too. I once formed a pair of earrings on the punches from my dapping set and some small black spots had formed by the time I removed them. Luckily they fired up just fine. So let this be a lesson.  Some urban myths aren't myths at all!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Company I Keep

Back in September '08 my friend Catherine Witherell invited me to contribute two pages to a zine she was going to produce. The focus of course was to be jewelry in all it's various forms. Well, now it's done and I just got my copy in the mail!

I was so honored to be included and my pages look really lovely. I documented a soldering project I was working on at the time. And Catherine did such a nice job of mounting the pages on black lace and helping to make them look both professional and artsy at the same time.

It's a really wonderful zine filled with photos, inspiration, how to's, art and thoughtful commentary. Go here to order a copy of your own. I promise you won't be disappointed!

Monday, February 23, 2009

OAW #4 - The Art Of Fashion

Take a bunch of reality show fashion devotees to a New York museum and see what develops. In season 4, episode 11, the Project Runway designers were turned loose in three or four galleries and allowed to take 30 minutes to jot down some quick sketches.  I really love the winning design, a Spanish Military inspired confection by Christian. 

I took an afternoon with some art books and saw lots of elements that would make stunning jewelry. The drape of fabric has always fascinated me and I see a lot of experimenting with that soon. But I was also drawn to the gilded halos in the paintings of Fra Angelico and other medieval masters.

I must admit, that since the challenge wasn't announced until Wednesday, I didn't really have time to create from scratch.  Since it was soo similar to my original sketches, I re-purposed the wheel of the rolling texture tool made in my Rio certification class, added Keum Boo, a bail fabricated from two pieces of gallery wire and ancient Roman glass to make my piece. Luckily I had the perfect vintage bronze chain to go with it.

Sorry for the lousy photos.  I'm in a rush to get to the Getty at long last! Be sure to check out what Rachelle and Alisa did!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - Woody Edition

Another material I'd like to mix with my silver. I have a lovely bit of wood that I carved years ago just sitting on my bench. I meant to turn it into a key chain, but never got around to it. It was made in a really interesting class taken in the backyard of a shop in Venice california. The Sensei (teacher) was a master carver from Japan and we were able to use his saber like knives to shape our wood. He's not there anymore. Shame. I'd love to try my hand at the art of Japanese whittling again.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Welcome to the Carnival!

Image via Carnival Prize

Step right this way... Each month a group of jewelry artists use their blogs to get together online and answer the same question - each in their own way.  The topic this month is:

Do you have any creative Rituals?

Rituals? I love ritual. I love the consistency and regularity of daily ritual and I love the pageantry of religious and social ritual. 

For instance I looove Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, although I'm Jewish and don't believe in the teachings (is that wrong?). The incense, the beautiful robes, the music (oh, the music!). I also love the Torah procession at Shul (a Yiddish word for Synagogue or meeting place). The comfort of being able to touch the scroll as it is presented to each congregant.

I love the ritual of graduations -the donning of robes derived from medieval patterns of scholarly dress, the passing of the tassel from one side of the mortarboard to the other. And especially apropos to this weekend, I love award rituals. Although I'm not a huge fan of entertainment awards in general, I do love me some Oscar™!

And I have some personal rituals myself. When I wake up each morning, I get down on the floor to allow my cat to wind his way around me, head butting and purring before snatching him up onto my chest for some proper kisses and snuggles. Then I go straight to my desk to check e-mails and see what new treasures my friends have posted on Flickr.  

But creative rituals? I'm not sure I have any. I don't play soothing music or clear my bench top on a consistent basis. I don't do sketches or regularly visit museums. I'm organized, but I'm not sure that that counts. I do have stacks of trays which hold my unfinished work. One for silver, one for bronze, one for fired, one for greenware, etc. I've got a set of tools for teaching, one for home use, and a special set for bronze. I made a "vision" board two years ago but have never changed out any of the pictures or other ephemera.

So, I guess I have to say "no". I don't have any creative rituals that help me in my work.  But now that I'm consciously thinking about it. I think I should. I love Robert Dancik's ritualistic use of a singing bowl before each workshop begins.  And I ordered one for myself last week. Maybe that soothing tone will help to get my creative juices flowing and I can initiate a new creative ritual for myself.

Now don't forget about completing the ritual of our carnival. Be sure to check out what the other carny's think about creative rituals.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Marriage of Metals...

I had so much fun with copper last weekend, that I wanted to share the experience with my metal clay students. I love mixing materials, experimenting, making things that are slightly outside the norm and inspiring my students to stretch their imaginations.

I thought it would be fun to cut some copper tubing from the hardware store into short lengths and use them as a base for beads. If you want to try this at home, I really suggest you get a tube cutting jig.  Makes it so much easier to saw without fear of servering of a finger. ; - )

Full disclosure alert: The idea for using hardware store supplies was inspired by Vicki Cook's fabulous bracelets.  I own two of her bangles and a charm made for the 2006 conference swap which I wear on my finger. 

Some of the students wanted to put holes in the clay to let the copper show through. I'm hoping they all turn out beautifully.  I'll take pics after the firing and let you see.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'm a Foldin' Fool!

I think I'd take a class with Robert Dancik if he were teaching how to boil water. He's a generous, thorough, supportive, inspirational teacher. And a gentleman and scholar to boot.  I'm not sure I could have had a better weekend.

Forging is using a metal hammer to alter the shape of metal sheet while it is placed on a metal bench block. Forming is using a "soft" hammer such as rawhide, wood or plastic to alter the shape of metal while it is resting on any one of a variety of surfaces.

Fold forming is relatively easy once you get the hang of it.  Not hard on  your arms, wrists, hands or brain. First Robert taught us how to use a belt sander to alter and dress a special "slag" hammer, which was very empowering. 

Then we cut a narrow strip of 24g copper and got to work forging it into a semi circle, just to get used to the motion. He demonstrated many different folds and turned us loose.

I had a fantasy of making a pair of Ram's horn earrings like my friend Tamra does, but evidently it takes a bit of skill to make an attractive shape.  Fancy that.  Not perfect on my first time out the gate. 

Ram's Horn Hoop Earrings by Tamra Gentry

This canoe was really simple, but I like it so much.  I'll make a pendant out of it by the end of the week I bet.

Robert is sure to come back next year. And I think I'll let him choose his own project. I've specifically  requested the past three workshops and have loved them all, but he has sooo many tricks up his sleeve, that I'd like to be surprised next time. Hope you'll join me.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - Valentine Edition

I couldn't let Valentine's Day slip by completely without a pretty mosaic, could I? And since the challenge is off for this week (Alisa the organizer is at a show) I thought you'd like to explore these beauties. Don't you just love the one made with Barbie breasts!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - Fold Formed Edition

I'm taking a fold forming class with Robert Dancik at San Gabriel Bead Company this weekend (still seats, the class is Saturday and Sunday)! I just couldn't be more excited. The mosaic above is a sample of the things I'll be learning how to make. Well, maybe I'll be able to make something half as lovely in a year or two. Or three.

Hammering on metal all weekend! Lovely way to spend the time. Have a good one and check back on Sunday for a surprise.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Two Become One

Remember that great class I had a couple of weeks ago?  Well, I've decided to put my own sample into my Etsy shop. Two becomes one. A marriage of metals. 

And like a fragment from a Pompeian villa, this silver spear emblazoned with a stylized lilly points straight to your heart. I slip printed a slab of bone dry PMC with a rich layer of liquid clay to develop what I hope looks like an ancient artifact.

Take a look.  If you'd like either of these pendants by Valentines Day, just convo me before purchasing to add Priority shipping. And if you put "I Heart Blogs" in the message, I'll put a little somethin' extra in the package. :D

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


How did I miss my 10,000th visitor? I looked at my counter this morning and saw that my viewership has reached 10,325! Quite the milestone. Thanks to everybody who takes the time to visit my blog. I'm really quite honored.

Today I want to share a few corners of my little world.  The first photos are of a actual corner of Venice. A lovely homeowner took the time to create a micro park in the parkway between the sidewalk and the street.  The city owns this strip of property, but homeowners are expected to keep it groomed. Hm. It's a perfect place to stop and rest on a morning walk

With a delightful succulent garden (apropos since L.A. is in a drought)

And in my own petite chateau, I like to create a rotating display of found objects on this little marble tabletop that was in the home I grew up in. The bird skull sculptures are by Dee Wilder aka Malodora and the lovely covered stone they're sitting on is by Margie of KnitALatte. The Medusa etching in the background is by Los Angeles artist Mario Calvano.

This assemblage includes a family dictionary, an antique wooden doll that I've owned since I was a teenager, rusted wire sculptures by Carla Trujillo and a wonderful pendant by Glasgow jeweler Dauvit Alexander.

much better picture on Flickr

much better picture on Flickr

I really need to paint my walls don't I?!  This horrible apartment paint does nothing to enhance my beautiful artwork.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mr. Clean Takes a Break

This past Sunday was our local PMC Guild meeting. I have to say I wasn't realllly looking forward to it. Polymer clay artist Kathy Davis was going to give a demo on sculpting faces. I wasn't excited about it because I'm not an "ART" type artist and had never sculpted before. And I didn't think it was something I'd do in metal clay. But I went just to see folks and 'cos I really like Kathy. She's a great gal and always does a wonderful presentation.

Well, my friends shamed me into taking a bit of their Super Sculpy and giving it a go anyway. And didn't I just surprise myself!!! I actually think my guy came out very well. He's actually kinda cute too. When he started out I thought he looked a bit like my Dad, but now he's the spitting image of Mr. Clean. A little older version maybe. I need to get him a hoop earring.

So another thing learned. Never pass up a chance to learn something new and always take a creative risk. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Monday, February 9, 2009

OAW #3 - Iconic Statement

Three down and not sure how many to go. This week we were supposed to channel one of the superstars featured in year 3, episode 6 and design a piece for, in the spirit of or simply inspired by one of them. Our choices were Katherine Hepburn; Audrey Hepburn; Diana Ross; Farrah Fawcett; Marilyn Monroe; Jackie O; Madonna; Twiggy; Pam Grier and my muse, Cher.

I loved the Sanctuary Catalog that Cher produced in the early 90's. There were only 2 editions printed and I owned both.  Wish I still had them.  They're collector's items now. I was also inspired by the necklace tattoo she has (had?) on her left shoulder. I was going to throw together a version of it with bits and pieces I have strewn across my bench, but my muse demanded something just a little different.

Although I've been thinking about it all week, I didn't get started until 10:00 last night and just didn't remember to take step photos. It took me 4 tries to get that danged Faux Bone Maltese Cross right and I was tired!  The front and back silver panels are cold connected with an Amethyst cabochon rivet head I wanted to use as a focal detail. You'll notice that there is only one rivet. For a secure join, you need to have at least two. Which means that there is a tiny bit of my favorite secret weapon in between them. "Jeweler's Cement" (the "G" word). Shhhhh.... Don't tell.

Alisa has great pics of both hers and Rachelle's pieces. I can't decide which I love better. They're both such wonderful abstract interpretations of Madonna's and Jackie O's styles.  Now I'm wondering if mine is too direct. Humpf. There's a good possibility that this will be in my Etsy shop by the end of the week.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - Rings Edition

1. Eye Ring (2008, IT) Ring 110.6, 2. R367 Moonstone Ring, 3. TALLY LACMA ring, 4. New ring. "Te escucho", 5. carpet ring (vertical), 6. Multi Pebble Ring, 7. too much is not enough, 8. tako, 9. Box ring, 10. Recycled Pencil - Spin Ring, 11. Like, Square, Daddy-O! - 2, 12. * Sky * Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

Rings for our fingers and rings for our toes... I would be happy owning even one of these fabulous designs, but lust after each and every one!

I'm teaching on Saturday and have a Guild meeting on Sunday. Too much fun! Hope the same is true for you. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Just Listed!

I'm really loving making hoop earrings at the moment. These little rays of sunshine were just listed in my shop this morning. I have a couple more designs on my bench that I hope to get up soon. Maybe even this afternoon following a trip to the dentist. (I'm an odd soul who actually likes my dentist)

And I'm still trying to dream up a great design for the OAW. I'm thinkin' Cher....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I love my job!

I had two great classes this weekend and wanted to share what my Saturday students made!

Clockwise from the Paisley: Stephanie, Cara, Ellen, Janice, Rachel, Esther

The name of the class was Pierced and Riveted Pendant. First they carved a pink Speedball Speedy Stamp with whatever design they wished and used it to emboss the clay. Then when the pendant was dry they pierced out some of the design and we fired. Afterwards it was riveted to a piece of hammer textured copper.

I'm so proud of them all. Such professional looking work on a brand new technique! I'm a lucky teacher.

Monday, February 2, 2009

My Black and White Beauty

My second foray into the One-A-Week jewelry making challenge. I wanted to keep the idea of using materials that are already in my studiolo.

This week I decided to use a real silk cocoon and pearls (big surprise). I had thought about trying to add in some metal clay, but fabrication seemed like the right technique for the design.

I soldered up a bezel setting using some pretty gallery wire, sewed the pearls onto the cocoon and voila!

The top of the pendant says Vision & Insight. I already had the disk cut and stamped from some long forgotten and abandoned class project (taken not taught) and it fit the bezel perfectly so why not use it? Now I have to think of a good story to go with the text. There are a few more pictures on Flickr for the curious among you. 

Rachelle's Feather Ring

Alissa's two finger ring

Check back to see what Laura and Mike dreamt up. Next week's challenge is "Iconic Statement". Make something with a specific fashion icon in mind. This one is hard.  I have no immediate ideas. Hmmmm.....