Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dip Draw Dry & Fire

A fun weekend at The Ranch resulted in these enamels from a class taught by Ken Bova.

A small raised bowl (actually not raised, but shell formed on a wood stump without stretching the metal much).  Two firings, black over white, in liquid enamels.  The first firing was overfired in a  kiln, then torched while still hot, to bring up the coppery greens as oxides invaded the white enamel.  We weren't at all certain the colors would survive the next firing, in black, but they actually intensified.  It's a funny feeling when your first effort turns out so well, because you know you didn't intend, predict, or do anything but just get out of the way and let it happen.  What an approach to art, yes?

I'm calling it "Licorice Allsorts."

Here's the back side.  I think the color array is amazing, considering this was only 2, well 2 and a half firings and two colors.  Ken is specializing in the effect, which he describes as painting with a torch.  Do visit the link I've provided and get a real visual treat -- Ken's work is very painterly and personal, you might say narrative driven, so that what you see goes far beyond the object, into the shared sensibilities of both artist and viewer.  That means you get to take part in what you see -- well you actually do all the time, but Ken understands this and opens his heart to it.

Evil Eye Charm with great graphic presence.

Deep sea monster fish begging to become a brooch.

It's really a large shift from working intuitively with found objects to the intention and technical involvement of enamels -- or is it?  I will probably keep these pieces for a good simmer on my mental back burner and then make something with them, so that they are rather like found objects later on.  The monster fish is really talking to me, though.

If you have an interest in enamels and dread the painstaking shop techniques of classical enamels (think champleve, basse taille, cloissone, etc.), torch firing is an easier entry point, and it offers exciting results.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dans Macabre

Never mind the ad, watch the feature!

And of course, a Silly Symphony short.
I don' need no steenkin' wand, I got my nose, and I'm gonna use it to cast a spell on all manufacturers of  hats for dogs.
not like dressup
but do like treats

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

les feuilles mortes

OK, you romantic, yearning hearts, tap this up in another window and come back: Now the mood has been set.  The leaves of autumn and the musings to which they give rise can never be trite, will always be sweetly sad. Think the western version of wabi sabi. Give yourself a large serving of this nostalgia and watch Yves Montand recite the original poem and lyrics -- you may find the song much older than you thought.

Then tap it up one more time for a sound track and take a look at my latest musings on the subject, a work in progress.

The leaf on the right is actually fold-formed copper with torch fired enamel. The enamel shine was tamed with Armor Etch and then buffed down with a Scotchbrite scouring pad. In places where the enamel pulled back from the edges, copper was left exposed. The buffing allowed me to bring on the verdigris with salt and vinegar. I think the shine removal makes it look like a real leaf, and shows the subtle undulations of the fold formed surface.  I will wax it with Renaissance wax to protect the patina.

Hint: the Armor Etch is also a good way to make a new glass bead look old, like it had been buried in desert sands for a few thousand years.  The possibilities are endless.

I left the back (or is it the front) slightly more shiney. The "rib" of the leaf is upstanding on that side, and I pierced it, planning to have a chain or thong pass through there.  The scar you see on the lower half is a mark left by the trivet that held the leaf while the enamel was being fired. It actually adds to the real-leaf quality of the piece, I think.  The white spangles of counter enamel could be frost.

For now, I plan to use hand braided, hand spun linen to suspend the piece around the neck, probably with some sort of button closure, perhaps even a horse chestnut I found on a walk.  So far, I have braided about 3 yards.  I like having a goodly supply for future projects.

I was able to order the linen from a supplier in Latvia, on Etsy.  It was single spun and is slubby. There's something so honest about it.  I could drill that horse chestnut (after it is truly dry) and pass the braid through it with a good knot, maybe even a fancy "monkey's fist" or "Chinese button" knot, and a loop on the other end.

It would be good, at least to me, with just the leaf, but other pendants could be added.  True simplicity can be a difficult step to take!

Just to be sure the hole in the pendant is smooth enough not to cut the linen braid, I will ream it to size and add a copper eyelet, which will also give it a good finish.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cavewoman Jeweller

At last, the truth is out!  It took them only a few millenia to understand that women make jewellery and always have.  They're saying the discovery "rewrites gender history."  Well, doesn't that make a statement?  Whatever history has assumed, women jewellers have always been around.  Nevertheless, it's nice to see it proven.  And here are some links to prove it again: 


Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Ground Is Carpeted With Jewels

No need to be starved for inspiration.  It's everywhere this time of year.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fold Forming Coming Soon

Things are getting noisy around here pretty soon.  Almost done with the clean up-put up (ugh) in my studio (get serious, it's the teeny third bedroom in a townhouse condo).  Abbie is not so fat as this unflattering pic would make her seem, it's the focus and her short legs (so the woolies can't clock her when she herds them, that's why; the hooves just past over a corgi's head).  Clearing a little space for the dreaded, scary map gas rig so I can do some torch fired enamel, on fold formed copper.  Or maybe just a little kiln instead, but I do love the bumpy, bubbly, rustic look of torch fired enamel.  Progress reports will be forthcoming; or at least that's my plan.  It will require constructing a 3 sided fire proof cubicle for safety, so there's some time involved in this project, most of it procrastination, as I get up the gumption for construction.  I also have a few experimental samples somewhere in the bottom of the pile that I may retrieve and photograph.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Corvus Corax: Magical Mystery Bird

So I'm walking my dear Abbie on our morning constitutional and I notice next to the sprinkled green lawns of the apartments across the street, the sidewalk has been seriously groomed:  an assiduous gardner has tackled the moss in the cracks along the curb and in between the paving sections.  Pretty high standards for that outfit, I thought, and that's when I ran into the crew from Corvus Corax Moss Removal Co., hard at work.

I took it as a reminder that I had to finish, photograph and list these earrings:

They are called "El cuervo y el clavo," the raven and the nail.  The birds are old, old black Oaxaca pottery beads, with dappled blood red glass beads from India, and my latest fave, used horseshoe nails drilled and turned into charms, all assembled and hanging from a steel ring caught in a leather loop, in turn hanging from niobium wires.  I think these have to be in chucho style -- also notice the copper sequins either side of the red beads.  Those are there because the holes in the beads are inconsistent, one is larger than the other, and I wanted the beads to sit on their stringing wire without covering the loop beneath, so there's a function, but I like that little flash of coppery color, too.  Somehow ravens, blood red and nails seem right together, and make these mysteriously talismanic.  I know that in many natural, spiritual practices (that is hoodoo, voudun, etc.), the steel nail is a potent protector.  And the raven we know in Northwest tribal culture as a great trickster who stole the moon and released the first humans from a clamshell.  Pecking away at it, not meaning to loose an invasive species on the planet, just looking for something to eat.  Just like those two across the street doing moss removal.  A corvid's gotta eat.