Friday, December 18, 2009

Welcome to the Carnival...

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:

Which misuse of a jewelry term most annoys you?

Ah, pet peeves. something I know something about. Most people have 'em. As far as jewelry goes there are folks who hate it when anything other than minuscule melted shards of vitreous glass is called enamel. Resin inlay? Painted cells? Fine. Just don't call it "cold enamel". And others who insist that Mokume Gane can only be done with various colors of hard metals. None of this polymer or metal clay stuff is the same because the technique used to achieve the look isn't the same. And it's all about the technique.

Me? I get really annoyed when folks refer to the white appearance of freshly fired metal clay as a coating that must be brushed off to reveal the silver metal beneath. Do some casting, put something in a pot of pickle - you'll see the same phenomenon. It's nothing to do with the firing of the clay specifically. White is the natural color of unpolished silver. Break a piece of fully sintered metal clay and you'll see white. I bet you'll see the same thing if you use brute force to break a piece of milled wire too. Although I could be wrong.

To bring out the gorgeous silver color we're used to seeing, the metal must be laid flat. Otherwise the surface texture that was developed while the silver was heated to such an extreme temperature remains. What happens is that during firing the metal crystals arrange themselves in such a way that they only reflect the white part of the color spectrum. Celie Fago has referred to this surface as the topography of the metal. So my story to all my students is that while in the kiln the crystals are so excited that they're jumping all over and on top of each other - when we open the door to let the cold air in they freeze (much like our dolls and stuffies do when we open our eyes in the morning) in a position that is very like the mountain tops of the Himalayas. In order to reveal the shining silver we must use some elbow grease. My first line of attack is always to use a steel or brass brush. This tones down the highest peaks until the crystals resemble the rolling hills of Julie Andrew's musical landscape.

Many people (myself included) like this surface and are done with it. Others prefer a super shiny, highly reflective look. To reach that level, we must burnish. Either by hand or with a variety of machinery. It is only then that we approach the super smooth grooming of a top rated golf course.

So People - The only thing that needs to be "brushed off" is the idea that the white is some kind of powdery accumulation. Just get out your tools and mow that metallic lawn!

Oh, and back to pet peeves - if you ever feel a little tickle at the back of your neck, don't worry. It's not an ant, it's just me tucking in the label that's sticking up at the back of your shirt. I even do it to strangers in the grocery store. Is that so wrong?

Be sure to check out what tweaks all the other carney's:


Andes Cruz said...

excellent post :)

Angela said...

Oh, heck ! I forgot that one about "binder residue" !!!! Puh-leeeaaaase !!! loooove the "mow down the metallic lawn" ! I use the carpet image myself. i'm still laughing at the image of you tucking in strangers' labels at the supermarket ! lora: "Oh, excuse-me but your label is showing!" :o)))))

Moda di Magno said...

OMG! I'm a tag tucker as well! I mostly tap people on the shoulders and explain that my OCD compels me to tuck in their tag.

Lorrene Baum-Davis said...

Lora... oh, yes! I am a tag tucker, earring straigtner and neckpiece arranger.

They run when they see me coming... must be fashion statement. Ha. Yes the 'white residue' is a hoot. I have a microscope from my jewelry store days. I think I will pull it out for my introductory workshop.... Stop that 'lawn' stuff in it's tracks.