Thursday, May 31, 2012

The ring of fire!

Firstly, two posts in one week! I am even scaring myself! OK, the back story: I have been making jewelry for nearly 10 years and I am a fabricator, which means that I take metal sheet or wire, usually silver but sometimes copper and I do a number of things with it which can include sawing, hammering, soldering, texturing, etc, etc! If it is not a good day that might even include biting it - yes, that's what that texture is! OK, not really, but occasionally I will swear at it! For a long time I have been interested in trying out casting but it is not for the faint of heart. Lost wax centrifugal casting has the potential to be very dangerous and you need a skilled teacher to guide you. I lucked out with the wonderful Sheri Cohen who teaches at the Irvine Fine Arts Center, not only is she a fantastic teacher but she is also an incredible jewelry artist.

The Centrifuge - a.k.a - the ring of fire!
This is the centrifuge where you melt the silver. The idea is that you release the wound up centrifuge which spins the molten silver at an incredible speed, which then shoots into the negative space in the flask - the negative space is where your wax was before being burnt out in a kiln. The scariest part of this is getting the flask from the kiln into the centrifuge. This is not easy and is made even more difficult by the fact that are wearing a leather apron, dark glasses and full face shield. On top of this you have to wear oversized gloves and try to to manoeuvre the incredibly hot flask with a pair of tongues! It is like a party game for masochists!

The protective gloves that you must wear - way to big - but one size fits all!
I imagine that this process gets less stressful the more times that you do it, which is good, as I am sure that my heart couldn't take it!  Anyway, success!  All my pieces cast, and no one was hurt in the making of this jewelry.  Happy days.
Fresh from the kiln, needing a good scrub and polish.
As you can see after the cast pieces are cleaned up, worked over on the grinding wheel - there are lots of sharp edges to knock down - and then buffed, a patina added and then a final polish the pieces are looking pretty good. I am pleased with the results.  I think that knowing how to cast adds an extra tool to my creative toolbox and I am looking forward to more experimentation.

The results - they still need a little refining but looking good! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Like a kid in a sweet shop...

I had a such a great morning in the Art Supply Warehouse in Westminster today.  It was so much fun to leisurely walk the aisles and peruse all the loveliness on offer.

Handmade paper and so many choices.

Be still my beating heart!

Not one... 

 but two sides of the aisle chock full of paint brushes!

Anyway, I am now armed with the supplies that I needed and it is back to work.  I am working on a technique where you apply color to metal.  I fiddled about with this a few years ago and came across a couple of test samples as I have been slowly (very slowly!) unpacking.  My workshop is coming together, although still not functional, but it is a joy to keep discovering things as I unpack.  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mary Poppins or Truly Scrumptious?

At last, after a year of waiting I have a new bike - it is made by Electra and I just love it!  It is so much fun and because of the shape of the bike you really are sat up quiet straight - very much like Mary Poppins or Truly Scrumptious. I didn't stage the flowers - although they do look rather lovely - it is Teacher Appreciation week and I had just raided my mother-in-law's garden! So, what shall I call her - Mary or Truly? Hmmm, big decision! I have a bell, a clip on flower and most importantly of all - a coffee cup holder! What more could a girl want?

I have been working - yippee! Here are two pieces that I am working on. This is going to be a new collection called "Mended" - most of us have had to deal with failed relationship, loss, loneliness and sadness - which at the time may feel as if your heart has been ripped apart or at the very least leaves our hearts a little battered and bruised. Mended means to make whole again - to be complete. I think that our life experiences, although tough to deal with at the time make our hearts stronger and make us more beautiful as a person over time. We have more empathy, understanding and compassion for people that may be living through something similar - it makes you a good friend in someones time of need. What I am trying to convey is that though something has been damaged, it can be repaired and become more beautiful in the process. Hopefully will get these pieces finished over the next few days and over to the lovely Paula Hanson's boutique.