Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pulse bracelet construction worries

The things that gnaw at me in the middle of the night.

Reticulation silver has a more brittle temper, post-reticulation, than does sterling and definitely more so than copper. I have intended all along to rivet the reticulation strips to the copper wires prior to forming the cuff into, well, a cuff. How else am I going to do it? The wires have to be formed as a group. Sure, I could attempt to shape each wire and shape them each the same but that's not realistic. There will be differences from one wire to the next. And there are seven wires. In some contexts, this would not matter. But as I will be laying six strips across these seven wires and then riveting them all together, and as those joints will have no play in them, the differences will quickly become glaring and, I fear, insurmountable. Thus my decision to rivet first and then shape.

Pillage then burn.


Will the increased temper pose its own problems? Will one or more of these strips crack? Removing the rivets and replacing the strips will be difficult and I suspect I would damage one or more of the wires and possibly the nearby strips. How would I even get those rivets out? The only thing I can think of would be drilling them out and that would be nightware, even with the drill press. And what of the sterling wire rivets (I'm planning to use sterling wire at this time, would something else be better, I want my mommy) and the rivet holes? Will the rivets deform or crack even if the reticulation strips don't? Will the rivet holes get enlarged?

Why did I think this bracelet was a good idea?

I had toyed with the idea of backing the reticulation strips with sterling sheet (or copper) for stability and strength. I had set that idea aside. Now I revisit it. Should I back each reticulation strip (actually I would layer the piece, sterling strips, copper wires, reticulation strips) with a sterling strip and hope that it takes most of the stress? How can I decrease the stresses as I'm forming the cuff? Why did I want my mommy? She'd be no help at all.

Could I wrap each riveted joint with some sort of tape, perhaps the glassworker's best friend, electrical tape, to try to take up some of the stress? Wire would possibly cut into the various surfaces and mar them. I'm going to try that, I think, the electrical tape. It's flexible enough that I can get it into nooks and crannies but not likely to mar the surfaces.

At least I'll feel like I'm doing something.

The reticulation silver has been slow to deplete. I don't know why? Is it the bulk of the piece? But why would getting the piece up to a uniform temperature affect the formation of copper oxides. The rosebud tip is absolutely useless. Even the big, big torch is slower than I would expect. Holding the door of the kiln open from time to time to replenish the O2 is not helpful. Kiln depleting is still my fave rave idea, though, as I can work on other stuff while the oxides are forming. Read More!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pulse bracelet update

I've put the reticulation silver through several rounds of depletion silvering in the kiln. The first time, a few Sundays back, I hauled it out with a goodly layer of nice, charcoal gray oxide coating it. Tried quenching it directly into the crockpot—experience is a great teacher. After I rinsed out my dress and mopped pickle off the floor, I moved the crock back to its usual spot. A bit of the oxide came off into the pickle and then the process seemed to stop. The sheet maintained a sooty, coppery look, very coppery. The pickle did not get particularly blue. After a bunch of time, I pulled the sheet out. Turned out the firescale was just sitting there loose on the surface and came off with some rather lackadaisical rubbing, most of it anyway. Since then, however, the sheet has only taken on a mild haze whenever I put it in the kiln. I have wondered if the oxygen level is too low to support good firescale production. What, then, explains the first time with the lovely charcoal gray? Could it be that the available oxygen was enough for the more surface copper molecules but not enough for anything deeper?

I can't believe that the initial pass would have created such a thick layer of fine silver so that no appreciable amount of copper can get through anymore.

Pat has suggested removing the thermocouple to allow more oxygen into the kiln. This scares me. I'm afraid the temperature will rise to dangerous levels and my silver will either turn into a worthless, molten mass or that some sort of heat hardened temper will make the thing unusable. (Since I'll only be cutting the sheet into strips, at least that's all I have planned for it so far, and won't be shaping it, does temper matter? Can reticulation silver reach a state of such brittleness that it would snap with any use? On reflection, that's a silly question. Duh! Of course it can but under what circumstances?) I could leave the thermocouple in and maintain a decent temperature until I'm ready to throw in the sheet, only removing the thermocouple when I'm there to monitor the process and for limited amounts of time. Temperature does not rise that quickly inside the kiln.

I'll use the big torch this Wednesday. If I go in on Monday to trouble the fabrication toddlers, I'll try the rosebud. Oxygen will not be an issue under those circumstances. I can even boost the O2 to speed the process. Prepping metal for reticulation is just about the only instance I can think of when you want an oxidizing flame when working metal. (I wonder if enamels can react differently to reducing and oxidizing environments? That would be something interesting to explore.)

It's highly unlikely I'll manage to get in this weekend to work; temps are supposed to reach an easy ninety degrees. With the A/C turned off on the weekends, there's no way I could work in there except for an hour or two, and that's if I get there smack-dab at eight in the morning. Read More!

Random facts

My first word was pickle. This never made sense until I started working with metal. Now I wonder if I was referring to Sparex or citric acid. Alas, some questions will never be answered. Read More!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The anvil is not afraid of the hammer.*

I bought the anvil. I did. I've taken a couple pictures of it. Quick snaps, no glamour, so I need to put some vaseline on the lens, set up Butterfly lighting, hmmm, how would that work on an anvil, maybe I should go for modified Rembrandt—strike a pose! You're beautiful, baby! Beautiful!

Unfortunately, I didn't have enough roses today to do this up to true American Beauty standards but really anvils don't need sexing up—they're dead sexy just as they are.

UPS delivered my silver Thursday last. Even put a 'raincoat' on it. And knocked. They knocked! So all is forgiven. Though they did almost break the anvil out of its packaging. They're not big readers, I guess. After all, the box did have a label on it, big white letters on a bright red background—ANVIL.

I did get into the studio on Sunday, at nine. I feel so virtuous. Sandi showed up a bit later. This time we actually worked. I threw the reticulation silver, the new piece, 16 gauge, in the kiln for its first round of depletion silvering. Quenching it in the crockpot, not a good idea. Dramatic though, especially when you're a bit sleepy. I rinsed the pickle out of my dress, mopped up the floor and I moved the crockpot back to its usual spot and turned it on. The sheet turned coppery right off, to be expected. It stayed that way. As it was, by the time I got around to throwing it in the pickle, already approaching 2 o'clock, I chose not to put more sparex in the crock. My mistake. I stayed for at least another half hour. The extra pickle would have helped, might have helped. The coppery stuff never sloughed off, the pickle never turned blue, no bluer than it was. Pat hasn't come back to electric blue pickle for months and months, I so wanted to surprise her. When I rinsed the sheet, much of the stuff came off as I rubbed. It needs more pickling and, of course, has yet to be burnished. (I wonder if stale beer actually works better than liquid soap or was just what was on hand?) Still it looks to be a much easier, less time consuming process than using the torch. I can do other things, while the oxides form.

I've had a "vision" of a choker, articulated, made from reticulated silver. Variants have followed—alternating plates of reticulated and smooth, reticulated and enameled (one version in black, another in drop dead red). Cabs have also raised their voices, though I'm not sure where I'd put them. I suppose they'll tell me. I'm not sure what gauge to consider. Something heavy enough to stand up to the neck, to hold its shape. It's going to be just straight out plates, no forming to give it strength and structure. Hmmm, and here's a question, if some plates are enameled and some reticulated, do the reticulated plates need to be a heavier gauge to look right juxtaposed against the enameled ones? How about cloisonned ones or champleve? Decisions, decisions.

I wish I could get a clear idea of how to articulate them, though. I know I don't want jump rings. I still believe that jump rings are too often the lazy man's out, a failure of imagination. And I want articulation, I want joints of some sort, hinges, I don't know. I want something—mechanical. I will have to ponder and peruse. I know it's out there, the solution to my problem.

I worked some more on the 7 Rings Collar, the solution I think might actually work. I spent a good deal of class cutting and filing and sanding. I spent more time on Sunday cutting and filing. Never got around to the sanding. And I still need to cut more out. I'm almost done with that coil of gauge 4 copper wire from Lowes. Time for trip. I will be picking up another five gallon bucket and lid (for quenching in clean pickle, I think I'll make some more vinegar and citric acid, lots of citric acid. I'll still be transfering the reticulation silver to the crockpot for the main pickling.) And, no, I still don't have the clasp exactly worked out. I'm closer. And no jumps rings.

I have some lovely pieces of sterling wire for making big rivets. 2, 4 and 6 gauge, 6 inches of each. Then 8, 10 and 12, 24 inches each. I could have gotten more of the larger sizes, I should have, but when she told me how much the order was running already, well, my hands got a little clammy and my heart or my courage failed just a trifle. Between that order and the anvil one, I spent what I count as a bunch of money. I have broad shoulders. I will soldier on.

And I have yet to buy any more copper. I need copper or will not be able to make the next generation of fold-formed cuffs. The difference in price between Storm Copper and Contenti is amazing. No wonder Storm Copper doesn't charge you shipping. You're already paying for it. Unless Contenti's prices are way out of date and that could be true. I will need to do a little comparison shopping. And Storm Copper really is a great resource for the heavier gauges. They don't quibble about 12 gauge, try to talk you into 14 instead. Hell, they carry 8 and maybe even heavier. 12's a walk in the park. And the dimensions they will supply are nice--up to 36 by 48. Most places, you're lucky if you can get a square foot.

Oh, Hauser and Miller now makes 12 and 14 gauge sterling available in 12 by 12. This is good to know. This is very good to know.

Bob and Martha's baby was born Thursday last. A busy day all around. I went to Weirsdale and shot for two hours (all I could handle as I was extremely sleep deprived and the day was hot and humid). I got at least a couple pictures I like. Lily Sentz was born a month early. UPS did not lose my metals package.

Good thing the package from Rio arrived the day before, good thing I ordered it. I now have 12 inches of heavy walled sterling tubing and a niece in need of a teething rattle. Well, probably not much of a need as yet. No teeth. Probably not that much interest yet in making things rattle, either. I have a little wiggle room. Damned overachiever, being born early.

I'll need to get her full named nailed down—good luck getting that answer from Bob. Then come up with a lily design for the etching. I don't know where I'll come up with lettering for her name. My calliging skills aren't up to the job and somehow I think that carolingian miniscule just doesn't say Baby Rattle Thing. I could be wrong. Maybe it's a job for Rustica? Half Uncial? Humanist Bookhand? Lombard Caps?

The internet is my friend. I'll find a nice font online.

I've thought of cutting posies out of sheet, simple round, five-petaled dealies and then etching, chasing or carving some detail into them or would that be onto them. I don't know. Chasing is likely to mark the back of the posy was well as the front and I don't want that. The five-petaled dealies have a certain symmetry that I find pleasing in this context but wonder if I could work on the lily motif some more. Is there something I could use that would say lily but would not be too pointy? More pondering to follow.

I have decided on a cross (not a crucifix, I don't want lightning to strike when God sees my wax carving non-skills) for Beatrice for her you're not a baby anymore, sorry I wasn't working metal when you were born so you didn't get a teething rattle present. So far I'm thinking I will do champleve and basse taille on it. Pat says she has gold foil if I want to use some and I might buy a little bit from her. And after all, it will be a very little bit. It will be a cross wearable by a child after all. I'm trying to remember if I've ever seen enameling over granulation and I think I have but maybe I'm making it up. There's no reason that it wouldn't work though. Only problem would be in the not burning up, the not melting, the cross or of the walls of the cells. But it could be, would be, a really neat effect. I have to pull out my books and see what I can see.

I need to make up a design. I wouldn't mind coming up with something that is vaguely reminiscent of a crucifix. Or otherwise make it all symbolic and spiffy and not just attractive. It is after all going to be a cross which is for some people more than a goth fashion accessory. Do goths wear enameled crosses?

*Charles Haddon Spurgeon Read More!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Jellybeans glowed in the semi-gloom
of that september afternoon*

How perfect is the day when UPS leaves prezzies at your door? It's something I bought myself but those are some of the best kind.

The Fairy Princess alerted me that 'something was different, someone was here.' I had to investigate, though I knew what I'd heard was a car door slamming. How wrong I was! Oh my goodness, a brown box more than half filled with packing peanuts. I now have two different fluxes, each in two mesh sizes (the 6/20 sounds especially intriguing. I like things that are hmmm globby and unkempt). Kiln wash and cement. Millions of colors—at least six or seven—of liquid enamels (in dry powder). I'm hoping to make my first attempt at sgraffito this week.

Thompson Enamel, they don't have everything (they don't carry Schauer) but they sure have a lot. And if you're anywhere near Bellevue, Kentucky, they have classes and even make studio space available for enamelling projects. How wonderful is that? They also carry titles that you can't find at your local bookstore or even on Amazon. Someday I plan a pilgrimage.

I need to make a copy of Two Judges at the Weirsdale Keuring and see if I can figure out how to make a stencil of it. Thompson sells Pellon but I don't see how that would suit my purpose. Some sort of vinyl or plastic will be more useful. CFOP claims to make stencils. I did not inquire as to material, price or level of detail. I was in a hurry to find a hake brush for the kiln wash and then be on my way. A phone call should answer those questions, though. I'd like to find some place to scan my sketches on to disc for me. I want to include sketches from time to time to show you all what I'm doing, where I'm going and maybe bounce ideas off people. I've been stuck on how to complete the Jumblies Suite for a while now, the Jackapellis are no longer pleasing—they seemed whimsical, now they seem forced, I've got conflicting ideas about the Jackalope at Home, and so on.

I found a great blog, and boy howdy, the artist's a foldformer, too. My people, I love my people. We are a proud and a noble race. We use hammers. Her name is Wendy Edsall-Kerwin and her blog is Hammermarks . Oh, she does some beautiful work. She's got great foldformed cuffs (Cuff #1 ). She's also a fan of firescale—sigh. And what wonderful brooches and pendants—the girl rivets, dammit. She rivets! Foldforming and rivets and firescale. What's not to like? I'm especially drawn to the the Drunkard's Path Pendant.

So much work still to do on this blog. I wish I'd taken the time Thursday to talk to Mark about software that I might be able to use to make a banner for it. I don't like using the header gadget, it just is too rigid and not sparkly enough. Joining the Digital Photography Meetup was a great idea. I've met some nice people, finally got over to the Teaching Zoo and am meeting people who care a lot more about digital photography than I ever will (I miss film) and know all sorts of great tips, tricks and software. With their help, I'll be able to craft a much nicer header. Right now it's clunky, earnest, amateurish and dull.

Still, I have made some changes. I've added some stuff to the sidebar—a subscribe gadget and Blogs I Follow. I'm still trying to figure out how to rework my About Me bit, to add space between the me as metal artist and me as a bunch of other stuff. I'm toying with adding another gadget, a For Those of You Who Can't Get Enough Biographical Minutiae gadget (though that name isn't zippy enough—it lacks charm) and hiving off the non-metalworking stuff. I need to take more pictures, add more pictures (get rid of the blue background, shudder), and yes, and add those sketches. And how cool is this, I googled Feathered Horse Classic and keuring/weirsdale and lo and behold, my blog came up in third and fourth in the search. Whoa! I must use this power only for good.

Moti Kittenheart, the weather predicting cat, after a false start earlier this summer, has been cuddling with me consistently for the last few days. And the Noodle Cat took a nap—almost—with the Fairy Princess. Yep, that pumpkin is definitely getting frostier. I'm predicting sweater weather before the month is out. And if Moti's forecast holds, a first frost some time in October. Really going out on a limb here, but Moti knows her stuff.

*Lawrence Ferlinghetti Read More!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Monsters from the Id

I'll confess I've been naughty. I don't much read blogs. I've been, slowly, delving into the whole blogosphere thing over these last months, getting my feet wet, dipping a toe in the water, slowly, slowly, slowly immersing myself--the water's dark and deep, mysterious and more than a little scary. I have Artful Blogging magazine to blame--thank--for it, for thinking about me and blogging in the same sentence: you know, sort of a gateway drug. I found it, Artful Blogging, at the local Borders and leafed through it while I sipped my tea, my British Breakfast. Whoa, that's some kind of pretty. Blogs before had always existed in a world of argument, politics and celebrity gossip. Thanks, but no thanks, there's enough strife and loud discordant voices. And thus, so far, I have no favorite. I need a favorite, though, so I can be envious of it. I can tell you, though, what I have admired: those blogs that are pulled together, down to the last accessory, like a model at a fashion shoot, perfume layered and subtle, makeup flawless, seams straight, hair perfect, no spinach in her teeth. And they're not off the shelf, either. These are custom blogs or look it. Expensive. Not Wal-mart, not even the softer side of Sears. They're warm and welcoming and very very pretty.

Oddly enough, I'm often attracted to ones that have pearls and lace and doily-like things. To gauzy, fluttery curtains at a morning window, a teacup on the window ledge. There's often a surfeit of pink. There might be a weathered barn. A tumble of roses on a stone fence. I haven't been able to figure out how to work all that in with what I do. Somehow, putting the anvil on a large doily and draping it with long, luminous strands of baroque pearls, eh, well, I don't see it. A bit like something my mom said years ago, something about putting a tutu on a boxer.

That's the thing, isn't it? How to pull together the many threads of me, the seemingly contradictory, conflicting bits into a cohesive, meaningful whole and present them, a finished piece, a jewel upon a velvet pillow, complete, unerring and unchanging. And that's doomed to fail. Because I'm not complete, unerring or unchanging and never can be.

Things I do want and that are achievable--more control over the look of my blog. I've been studying, piecemeal, CSS and HTML but not applying myself enough. Little things frustrate me, discovering that the template I'm currently using--Scribe--does not have ordered lists, no way to do a numbered list until I figure out how to manipulate the template. Imagine my horror when I published the thing the other day and discovered the damned posies again. Posies! And they were indented this time. Since so much is happening behind the scenes (Edit HTML, my ass!), changing OL to UL did me no good. I had to strip everything out and put the coding back. It looked the same from my end but it published with non-indented posies. A slight improvement. Posies! They make my skin crawl.

Random stuff

The frost is on the pumpkin. Well, no, but when I went out to my truck last night, there was still ice in my tea. After two hours. Time to break out the parka. Brrr. On the other hand, it was too hot to entertain working in the studio this weekend. Temperatures anywhere above the mid-eighties and the room turns into an oven. Next weekend looks promising but campus might be closed for Labor Day. You never know. I'll have to check the schedule. I do intend to go in Monday night. I'll wait until seven or so; that should allow the new Fabrication students a chance to get settled in, to mark out their territory and for good spaces to open up in the parking lot.

Less than three weeks to the keuring in Weirsdale and I am so stoked. I don't know if I'll take any drawing materials or just the camera. There's plenty of time to decide. I'm toying with the idea, too, of driving up to Perry, Georgia, for this year's Feathered Horse Classic. Last year, my knee was still too painful to attempt such a trip. This year, God willing, I'll be fine. Friesians, boy howdy, and Gypsy Vanners, maybe other Gypsy Cobs as well. Loads of pretty horses with feathery feet. It's in October and who knows, maybe I'll even be able to see some autumn color. Read More!

Friday, August 28, 2009

If you can't make your mind up,
we'll never get started*

I've worked on my About Me gadget; I've made a few changes. It's harder than, well, really hard things. I've tirelessly searched countless blogs, maybe a half dozen or so, to feel how other bloggers have handled it, to understand what moves me. One thing I can tell you--longer is not better. Size matters, in an inverse way. I'll need catchy, random, quirky facts. Those are good. You'll like those, dear mythical reader. That's what the all cool kids say. I'm going to be like them and sit at their table.

What must I do, then, to draw you in, get you hooked, make you beg, make you scream, um, keep you coming back for more?

I must enthrall you--look into my eyes. I will cast a net of enchantment, of magic, of mystery...

Oh, hell, why can't it be something simple like achieving world peace or finding a cure for cancer?

So, beloved reader, what is in it for you? I have to be clear on that. Why would you stick with my blog rather than reaching for the remote or playing another game of Hearts? (Solitaire is so yesterday, isn't it, dear friend? Hearts is way better.)

First, you'll get to learn about hammers and, really, who doesn't like that? It'll be like Christmas and your birthday and Fourth of the July all rolled into one. With confetti. And cake. (Anvils are good, too, along with bench vises, sandbags and forming stakes.)

Next, you'll get to hear me use words like sinusoidal and anticlastic, chasing and repousse, grisaille and sgraffito, sinking and raising, forge and firescale. I'll drop names like Brain and McCreight and Seppa.

Lastly, it's better than a root canal. Trust me. Even with the drugs the dentist gives you, this is way better. Dentists never give you cake and you never get to hold the hammer.

Now that that's settled, it's time to move on to Solid Concepts. They can't be airy or tenuous, not and pass this class. Solid. And I'll need 20.

Yeah, twenty.

It's slow going, this slogging through the conceptual mud. But I have broad shoulders and am firm in my resolve.

My list so far
  • Guest blogger. I came across this idea somewhere and I liked it. I've already lined up Robin. She doesn't do metal or glass, she's into the needle arts and some photography, but she's game. When she reviews what she's reading, I like the way she writes--clear, concise.
  • Product reviews
  • Book reviews (ooh, here's one already--why Foldforming by Charles Lewton-Brain is so amazing. It's got pictures!)
  • Website reviews
  • A project from inception to completion--sketches, ponderings, photographs, wrong turns down blind alleys, the final ta da! everything
  • Interviews
  • How Tos--how to reticulate, how to keum-bo, how to electroplate, etc., with pictures and text, even line drawings where appropriate
  • Attempt at a new process or technique--how it turned out, what I learned, what I'd do differently, ideas it's suggested
  • FAQs--Liz Crain asked why Verthandi. Things like that could go in a FAQ
  • Humor--surely there are metalsmithing jokes out there
  • Vocabulary, jargon, glossary
  • Vocabulary, jargon, glossary, but a crack version
  • Injury prevention
  • Profiles
  • An account of my latest trip to FDJ or the like
  • An account of a group discussion/bull session--why we're artists, why metal, etc.
  • Replicating an ancient technique

The list is not complete yet but it's getting there.

Another idea, not exactly on point, but near the point, is to make a file of Pre-written posts, as well as a file of Best Ofs, for those times when I want to post something but am ill, traveling or what you will.

A few loose ends. Class started last Wednesday. Lorena is back with us. Talking with her got me thinking again about getting a kiln for home. I went back to Thompsons and looked at their selection. They have a Paragon there, more expensive than I was initially thinking, that is now quite appealing. It's the same size as the enameling kiln at school so I wouldn't have to compromise the size of my pieces.

Dohrmann's class got cancelled, low enrollment, I suspect. I was able to get a seat in Sarah's class at the last minute. I must be part salamander, I sure love playing in the fire.

Studio monitor form is complete and turned in, in time for this weekend. Now it looks like the weather will not cooperate. Temps were projected for around 85 to 88 degrees. Now they're talking 91. That's just too hot, especially on Saturday which they now say will be clear. Damn, damn, damn! I started work on a new copper bracelet and have ideas for at least one more. And have perhaps solved the problem of the clasp for the 7 Rings Collar. Damn, damn, damn!

*Osvaldo Farres/Joe Davis Read More!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Variations on a theme: blogging in three (and a half) voices

A blog for three readers (and several cats)

And places I just shouldn't go

Thanks, my blogging buddy Liz Crain . This blog's for you.

I've been doing this metal stuff for four years, seems like a lifetime, seems like yesterday. Didn't mean to go anywhere with it. Truly. Or maybe, really, I did, just not here. You see, I love glass, always have, always will. I took some stained glass classes, resisted fusing and stumping (the stuff I'd seen in the magazines was so boring, so primary colored, bleh). Then in rapid succession, I saw a couple of neat things, things that got my mind racing, my heart racing. You mean I can do that with fusing, and slumping. Whoa. Just whoa. One thing led to another but it always does. Community Ed had a fusing class at the time. I took it. I liked it. Really liked it. (Even though, as Jacqui said, she really should have advertised it as Glass Fusing and Sweat Lodge. But none of us cared about how hot, humid and mosquito-filled that first class was. The contact high we got from each other was amazing. Four hours on my feet and I went home refreshed every time.) Santa Fe had a couple of jewelry classes; I'd found that out when I registered for Drawing I. Take a class, I thought, get some ideas about how to think in 3-D, about jewelry design and then move on.

Famous last words.

I picked up a hammer.

You see, the thing is, you can't hit glass with hammers. Not and be really pleased with the results. I haven't fused since (my excuse: Jacqui stopped offering the class but I could rent kiln time at Sky and Sarah's coop. I could even buy my own, so I recognize the excuse for what it is).

In the last year or so, I can see a real difference, a real coming together, a real breakthrough. And I'm amazed. Sometimes the confidence I have in my own work is breathtaking. Yes, I made that, and it is good. And what's more, I can make more, that one thing isn't a fluke, even if I take advantage of any and every happy accident that comes along. I can make more and they will be good, better, best. Mostly, except for a couple, literally two, sketches I did of my sister where I just picked up a pencil and drew her, I stopped doing art 'stuff' when I was in junior high school with one art class in college. Art wasn't for me. That was reserved for other people. In spite of that, or maybe because of it, I have developed an aesthestic, a design sense, a sense of myself as artist and creator. I know what I like and what I don't. I'm not new and green and callow. I'm no longer eighteen. Perhaps even my hesitancy is habit more than a true fear of rejection, more than a true fear that I lack the right to take my place in the company of artists.

I feel less like a beginner, less like a student, an amateur and more like an artist. Like I have something to say and I know how to say it, how I want to say it. Sometimes I'm amazed by the confidence I have in my work, in my right to make that work, to stand up and say, hey, look at this, I made this. But part of me, an important part it turns out, holds back. Though pushed to enter competitions and shows, to get my name out in front of the people who 'judge these things,' I don't do it.

What gets me beyond that entropy? Does continuing to take class at Santa Fe hold me back because as long as do, I'll feel like a student, someone who needs another's permission?

Ideal reader--sounds nice, doesn't it? What does it mean? I haven't a clue. My ideal reader doesn't really exist because my that reader has to morph constantly (how'd that description of Christmases Past go in A Christmas Carol?) At one moment, an old friend not interested in things metallic, just interested in things me and wanting to see what I'm doing and share my joys and tears and all the rest. At another moment, a perfect stranger half a world away who's also a geek for hammers and stakes--oh my god did you see the new mini-stakes from Fretz? Sometimes a metal artist, sometimes an artist in another discipline, sometimes someone who just likes how I write. How do I write for that ideal reader? I haven't a clue. I will have to revisit you, my dear Ideal Reader.

Nicky and Robin (and possibly others) are going to be wrapped into one giant superfriend, for purposes of this blog to be known as Ricky or perhaps Nobbin. Maybe Ricky Nobbin. I've known you for a long time. It's harder, in some ways to bare my soul to you, because you know me more. I talk about these fears and hopes to you, and yet, here and now, I feel naked (and ain't that a scary thought). I'm afraid, and yet I'm not, to take that next step. How much of it is just being in that comfortable non-comfort zone? I'm used to being here, right, I think I'll stay a while. But you know, that old thing about hitting yourself in the head with a hammer, because it feels so good when you stop, even I know it's time to stop, or rather to start. I'm afraid that I'll get my feel-good strokes from you, my attagirls, but not my pushes, won't be called on my bullshit because you don't want to damage our friendship. It's a valid concern, I can be a thin-skinned bitch. But Rikki Nobbin, you get things done, slowly sometimes, but you do them. You make your ornaments for the tree at the Victorian house. Is that the secret, to just pulling on the loose end of the thread until it comes free?

Nicky suggested Bob (hers not mine, meaning my brother Bob and not my cousin Bob). That's Bob the cat. I dunno. I just do not know.

Blogging to cats

See what Mommy has? This brooch I made from a chased wedge t-fold--stop it! stop it! stop it now! No claws! You know Mommy doesn't like claws. Get off the computer. Get off the computer! Don't sit on that! Now! That's a good kitty. Leave that book alone, now. Thank you. Ah, come on, Breck, they're not even paying attention to you. I'm not mad at anybody, everybody's good. Leave that alone! Don't chew that. Do not chew that! We do not eat tape. I said stop scratching that book. Sometimes I really hate cats

A few other blogs--

Mom--no Mom, I don't think I need to lose weight first. What if I never lose weight? Does that mean I don't get to live the rest of my life? What does losing weight have to do with chased wedge t-folds, anyway? You haven't even looked at it.

Museum curator, art critic--really, if you wanted a Calder clone, maybe you should just dig him up. Zombies are in right now. No, I don't want to be more cutting edge, less cutting edge, commercial, academic. Oh, bite me.

Potential collector--no, I don't do work on spec/for commission. I don't know what I'm going to make, what I'm going to get until I make it, get it. I don't want to try to match your dreams and visions. You like what you see, you buy it. Kthanxbai. Read More!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child

Random thoughts on assignments I don't want to do and 'stuff'

Note to self--I really have to talk to blogger about those 'bullets' in the last post. I wanted bullets, not posies. Sometimes I really do miss Alphatype.

I think I want to go back to the first assignment, because I've already done that thinking and today my brain is slightly broken. Or I'm just being lazy. It's hot, it's summer, I'm allowed to be lazy.

The trouble with encouraging the dog (did I say that) to eat my homework is that I don't want to begin to try to explain the damage to the Black Beauty or the Red and Shiny Joy (damn, I just realized she'd have to eat two laptops, well, scratch that plan) to anyone.

Sadly, the Black Beauty has actually turned out to be the Really Dark Midnight Blue Beauty but I'm not sure that has the same ring to it.

The biggest problem I see with the blog so far is that I haven't been talking to a reader but to myself. If you don't think anyone's out there listening, acting as if seems a bit--odd? hopeful in the face of overwhelming apathy? silly? self-absorbed? Better to act as if it didn't matter, to wrap that insouciant James Dean air about oneself like a blanket.

It's easier to at least try and focus here at the B-A-M (by the Haunted Wal-Mart); I don't have to deal with a slow internet connection and the internecine bloodbath that flares up at least a couple times a day between PyePye and Moti, with the Noodle adding to the fun. Surrounded as I am by the autistic savant, Breck (the Fairy Princess, my border collie) and the four heartless, ice in their veins serial killers most folks call house cats, sometimes I just get 'jumpy.' They tolerate me for now though PyePye would miss me, I think, if I were gone. If the others ever develop opposable thumbs, I'm due for a short trip to the rest forever in a shallow grave alongside the highway. Ha! but even with thumbs, they'll never learn to work a stick--they're too short to work the pedals and see over the dash at the same time. Will they realize that in time? I can only hope.

More random stuff--the Keuring in Weirsdale is less than a month away and I'm going this year. And I'm not going to sprain my knee. Oh, no, I learned that lesson. I'll have at least two batteries freshly charged, at least one brand new memory card, maybe two, and make sure I bring both lenses with the Canon. I might bring a sketchpad and some pencils. I keep going back to that gesture drawing of the keuring judges I did a few years ago and want to do something with it. I think I might try enameling it onto copper, using a stencil.

Hot puppies but I'm gonna see me some Friesians real soon. I do love horses with My Little Pony hair.

School starts for me on Wednesday. Alora apparently relented or we made our quota, I'm not sure which. I'm hoping to run over to the school (oh where oh where will I park now, they've started that Fine Arts building and blocked off a bunch of the parking lot in front) and snag a studio monitor form from Kleckner. I wonder if Pat has a class Monday or Tuesday afternoon. I could make it a one-stop deal. Then at least I'd only have to deal with the parking lot and its problems only the once. Elsewise, I'll pick up the form, and try to make it in to the Fabrication class Monday night. Might as well frighten the toddler/trinket makers early. I can hear the whispers now--she's scary, she's fat, she's decidedly unstylish (but she's carrying Vera Bradley, something that embarrasses me no end now, oh how the mighty have fallen), she's old enough to be our mom--she's not supposed to be here! I must use this power only for good.

It works out for Pat, I'm sure it's easier to teach the two classes separately than to try to juggle the fabrication toddlers and the casting toddlers and whichever returnees happen to turn up. For me, it's neither here nor there. As long as I have studio access, and a studio monitor form, I'm good no matter what.

I signed up to take Dietrich Dohrmann's class through Community Ed. I'm hoping that since the man trained in 'the old country,' he might be able to teach me raising techniques. If not, I'll have to search further afield. The course description though mentions enameling on copper. I'll stay in the class for that. That is, if the man is content not to force me to set a cab in a bezel on an asymmetrical pendant and call it 'art.'

I'm supposed to write a post, the same post, to three different 'people.' I'll have to think about that. Ticking off the list--my mom, oh wouldn't that be whiny and unpleasant, with a big dash of self-pity thrown in. Museum curator, art critic, nah, I don't think so. BFF, that sounds good, ideal reader, that's not too bad, fellow artist, I could get behind that. I think I'll break out the paper journal and ponder it that way, when I put pen to paper I write differently, I get more contemplative or something. Maybe I'm just making it up.

The cat at the top of the post is Miracle, also known as the Noodle
Read More!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

And I won't get any older, now the angels wanna wear my red shoes

In other words, blogging class has begun.

With a commitment to building a more vibrant blog, I signed up for the 4-week Blog
Triage class with Cynthia Morris and Alyson Stanfield. Today’s assignment is to
describe the people I want to visit and read my blog.

That's the suggested opening for this first blogging class post. Through the day, as I have thought about what I wanted for this blog, from this blog, the people I want to connect with and the things I want to get from blogging, I have come to the conclusion that this will only be the first of many times that I visit this idea.

Because I haven't a clue what I want. Or maybe I do, somewhere deep. What was it that Chomsky called it--deep structure, I think. So, yeah, maybe on that deep structure, non-verbal level, on that I-know-it-in-my-gut-but-not-in-my-brain level, I know it all. But here on the surface, it's hard to tell.

Do I care if my readers come from a particular region? I figure I'm restricted to Earth right now and that's good enough for me. Fluent in English would be good. I've watched enough misunderstanding flare up on LJ (or read enough incomprehensible stuff in fanfics that turn out to have been written by non-native speakers). Someone who can spell reasonably well and has some understanding of grammar. Am I being too picky? No text-speak. The occasional LOL is all right, much else and I'd scream. Age? Mature enough that their moms don't get on me for corrupting the morals of a minor if I let slip the occasional expletive. Someone who doesn't think that history began last week. Artists, for sure, and not just metalsmiths or glass workers. People who don't take themselves too seriously, who don't go on and on about deeper meanings and nothing else. Gender? Why would it come up? Politics? Religion? I won't show you mine if you don't show me yours.

People who are

  • mensches
  • kind
  • intelligent
  • funny
  • multi-faceted
  • bipedal
  • non-dogmatic
  • animal lovers--I go riffing on the Fairy Princess once in a while, I'd like them to smile and nod and not yell at me to get back on task
  • gardeners--same thing, if I wax poetic over a new old fashioned rose that I've found that thrives in Florida...
  • honest, not people-pleasing. I'd rather have someone look at my stuff and say, I don't get it, rather than oh my god that's the most scrumptious solid gold thing [I] ever saw? Oh sister!
  • whose heads are not lodged up their butts
  • reasonably comfortable with blogging and computers, but then again, how would they find me if they weren't
  • I'd rather have the rare, pithy comment, something with insight and humanity and humor, rather than 'me toos' and 'omgs'

What do I want to get from this blog? Some far-flung friends I would never have met otherwise because I live in Gainesville and they're in Dublin or Kiev or sailing around the world on a sailboat. To make a place where I document what I'm making, how I got there artistically, emotionally. A place to direct people who are interested in my work, where it's going (in terms of design), shows and things that I might take part in. People who can laugh with me at my foibles and commiserate over the pieces that turn out, well, embarrassingly bad. Who can remind me on those days when I ask myself who the heck am I to think that I'm an artist of the times I've touched them. And let me return the favor.

I'm gonna get me some new red shoes.

Read More!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Proof of life

It's amazing, I added a counter some weeks back and thought to check it. I've actually had people, who are not me, look at this blog. It's not like the numbers are threatening to drown me in a flood of followers but hell, someone looked.

The days are counting down 'til blogging class starts--two weeks. It's far enough off yet that I haven't got a case of butterflies or performance anxiety or what you will but close enough to be real. It's almost here.

Class this term is almost a placeholder. Same thing happened last summer. It's hard to get motivated to drag bags of metal and tools back and forth to the studio in this hot, humid weather. I'm looking forward to fall; I'm looking forward to nights where the temperature dips below 70 degrees; I'm looking forward to using a blanket (heck, I'm looking forward to using a sheet); I'm looking forward to a studio cool enough to use on weekends and a parking lot that doesn't radiate heat up through my bones. Read More!

Monday, July 13, 2009

I have my new book!

I'm so glad I checked at the desk here at Books-a-million (by the Haunted Walmart). My book had come in, on the fourth and they 'tried' to call me. And here I was cursing their name and asking myself why I hadn't ordered from Amazon or from Alyson B. Stanfield herself. All moot now. I have my book. Now I will be getting beaucoup marketing knowledge.

Bob and Martha are expecting. So now in addition to the bowl I'm learning to make as a wedding present, I'm going to make a 'christening' gift for the incoming sprog. I'm planning a teething rattler made from heavy-walled sterling tubing with jinglies added for sound. One of the simpler projects I've planned.

I need to stop dithering around and order from Hauser and Miller (reticulation silver and sterling sheet and wire), Rio (the tubing) and Storm Copper. I want to make more of the 'tribal armbands' and expand their range somewhat. I also want to try my hand at some champleve.

I need to take more pictures. I need to swing by Harmon's and see if I can find a nice graduated backdrop--black to white--to take the pictures against. I still need to get or fashion things to hold the work without busying up the picture. I should ask Pat if she has any ideas.

My new book--it's here! Read More!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Three 'Tribal Armbands'

The famous Tribal Armbands, the only thing I got into the Student Show this last spring. The one on the brick is the weakest. I need to make some more, perhaps play with some sterling or try out keum-bo on copper. It's supposed to be possible.

I exchanged emails with Cree and found out it is true--the Harn Museum Shop takes fifty percent of the selling price. Thanks but no thanks. How can anybody make any money that way? Anyone except the Harn Museum Shop, that is.

I picked up the latest issue of Profitable Glass. I do very little glass and only could be considered a glass artist by the kindhearted and very generous. I melt some funky, organic beads from time to time and want to get back into fusing someday when I have the time, money and space. But the magazine has an article on photographing work and that crosses over from medium to medium. Bit by bit, I'll get a handle on what I'm doing photographically. I know I need to get a graded background and also something, or things, to support my pieces. Some sort of wire frames--especially if poseable/moveable--or lucite or something that can hold things up but stay out of sight.

I pulled out my copies of the latest issues of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist and Art Jewelry magazines. I was looking for an article that I'd briefly glanced at, I mean a nano second long glance, on getting publicity in the internet age. I glanced at it a little more but got already some great ideas. I signed up for a free internet newsletter from Alyson B. Stanfield and browsed around on her site. I'm enthused. I'm thinking tres seriously about signing up for her blogging triage class. That could be a great help. I did try to friend her on facebook--it was her idea after all--hey, friend me! Helas, nothing. I'm feeling...bereft and abandoned. Perhaps I have issues.

Sandi and I have another trip planned for the hinterlands. I hope she's expecting to stop at FDJ and not just the Sewing Studio and Ikea. I expect I'd go into withdrawal if I came within FDJ's sphere and didn't stop in and look around. And spend money. Probably on a Foredom drill press and vise.
Read More!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Chased wedge t-fold, work in progress

Chased wedge t-fold, copper.

This is the first chased wedge t-fold that I opened the legs out on and then folded and crimped the legs.

It shows a fair amount of oxidation. I will probably clean it up when all is said and done. I might end up putting some sort of enamel on it, probably just a clear flux. Anything else would take attention away from the form itself.

I expect that I will eventually use it as the focal piece of a collar but as yet don't have a clear vision of the collar itself.

I also need to come up with a way to attach it to said collar. Soldering something onto it is always a possibility but one I want to steer clear of if at all possible.

Jump rings and their kind are a failure of imagination.

When I know what the collar is supposed to look like, the attachment will come clear.

All the chased wedge t-folds with opened, crimped, curled legs have a Rorschach test like effect on people--it's a fox head, etc. Read More!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I miss Alphatype

I continue to play with this page and gain a little more understanding each time. Yet it is so frustrating. I want to drop the blog title--it's way too high in relation to the photo behind it, but I don't know how. I'm beginning to get a little clue of what the html means when I read it but not enough as yet to be effective. I did a damn fine job, though, as a typesetter using only code. Html is just different code. I'll master it, if I put my mind to it.

I'm going to the Teaching Zoo with the Digital Photography Meetup. And yeah, it will be fun. But, oh, look at that, the studio is just a stone's throw away, might as well go in and work. I've begun a new bracelet, made of the heavy copper wire from Lowe's (gauge 4 I think it is). I began it with a mind to making a companion piece for the collar I'm working on. Not sure, though, if they'll really blend. I've put a squiggle in each length of wire for the bracelet (also seven pieces, like the collar). But a choker with a similar squiggle would be nifty, too.

I have yet to work out a clasp for the bracelet. It will need something.

I searched through my toolkit and bags and have not found my piece of reticulation silver. This is all right as I still haven't dug out my brass scratch brush so I couldn't begin to depletion silver it anyway. I must sort out the car. I have decided to throw out the original clasp and make cones of the reticulation silver and thread something through them, possibly some kind of fiber.

I feel like the collar is slowly coming into focus. When I'm in the studio Saturday or Sunday I will get some more work done on it. I spent part of Wednesday evening straightening and annealing the 16 gauge square wire that I had wrapped around one of the strands. I'll need to make sure there's some drafting tape on hand; I think that will work okay for holding the square wire in place whilst I wrap it around the copper. I plan to use two pieces of it and crisscross them, weaving over and under. I still haven't decided how to attach the stuff. Read More!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Collection of random cuffs

Trying to add a little pizzazz to the blog and not happy with the picture sizes I'm getting from flickr. Oh, well, when I know what I'm doing, I'll be really dangerous.

Hardly got anything accomplished in class last night. As the evening wore on, I realized I was coming down with a cold. Well, that explained the complete lack of ambition.

I did read through some books and things on enameling and have a little better clue on what I want to do. I need to order a few more things--some kiln wash, some liquid enamel, etc., before I get down to business.

Pat asked me what I would need to do the plating. As I've thought about it today, really, for my beginning experiments, I might as well get the large boro beaker with lid that is available everywhere. The first little bowls and things I do should easily fit inside something like that. Then I wouldn't really need to worry about such things as 'throwing power.'

Got to know Janis a bit last night and she's all right. She teaches at Lake City Community College and she's crazy. I told her about coming in extra, like weekends, and she's interested. So who knows, I might have another partner in crime.

I mentioned, mostly to Karen and Sandi, how frustrating it is searching through blogs to find anyone interested in any kind of serious metalsmithing. I said something to the effect that finding that the person has an etsy 'store' is the kiss of death. Olivia's friend (the one with the tats and piercings) said, defensively, "I love etsy." The guy that's in class seemed a little shocked that I'd say anything negative about it. I said that I'd seen some really good stuff on it but that most was nothing special--bracelets assembled from pre-fab beads, pre-fab chain, pre-fab charms. Read More!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

We need to boost enrollment

The powers that be have told Pat that we will need to boost enrollment in the jewelry classes to the max. Federal funds have been cut, so the only way SFC will allow the classes to continue is if they fill all the seats every term. Pat and I are planning a brainstorming session.

I have threatened in the past to take over the display window for ad hoc, guerrilla shows when class is in session. Maybe that would be one little way to increase our visibility, especially if we could get a few large pictures made to put up in the display as well as pieces of actual jewelry. And how about that window right next to Jayne's office? It's had the same three pieces in it for months and months. Why not some jewelry instead? Or in the window at the other end of the art building? Are there other display windows/spaces we could use on campus? Or places we could get our pieces in around town? I will need to ponder and to keep my eyes open.

It's hard to get back into gear this term. I did get some work done yesterday. I have discovered that I am lousy at rivets. There must be some secret that I haven't figured out yet. I still have fourteen more rivets to make, I think, for this collar. And then I need to figure out how to attach the square wire to the ends of each copper piece. I suppose I will drill the copper and will probably need to taper the ends of the wire to get it into the copper.

I am very unhappy--no, that's too strong an emotion--I'm very blah with how the clasp pieces are turning out. I need to do something with them to give them some sizzle. I'm thinking of carving on them a little bit with files to give them some shape. Silly, really, when you consider that the clasp will be largely unseen. And the rivets are really lousy. I don't want to drill them out and start over.

It looks like the studio is open this Sunday. Sandi and I are meeting for breakfast and thought we'd try the studio if it's available. The temperature is unlikely to get to the mid-eighties.

Karen has begun working on the prototype of the bracelet for Aspen. It seems like she is intent on replicating the design from the magazine. I don't see what the point of that is. I don't think much of the design to begin with, but that's just a taste thing. But why go to all that effort to reproduce someone else's vision? I can understand doing it for Aspen, she wants to make the bracelet her daughter desires. But to make two of them? I wouldn't make the same thing twice if it were my own design, not without trying to improve it, or explore it further. I was joking with her--you can reticulate it! you can hammer it! you something, anything!

More pictures this weekend. I'm making a promise to myself to put the tripod in the car with the light tent, camera and the spare batteries and memory card. Read More!

Saturday, May 16, 2009 Read More!

Summer Term has begun

Class started Wednesday. Sandi, Karen and I sat together at the table closest to the patio door. We were all lackluster but that is sure to change.

The new bunch, the ones who showed up, seem to be a good crop. One woman, the oldest, teaches at Lake City (or something). She learned enough fabrication recently to begin teaching it. There's a young woman with long hair who seems a little ditzy (her reaction to what put on the Studio Monitor form was--I mean, oy, just because it says 8 a.m. to midnight, doesn't mean you have to live there, right?) But obviously enthused enough about jewelry to request a monitor form right off. Another woman turned out to be a friend of the long-gone Olivia. I had to bite my tongue, no, we don't all miss her. She's not a bad sort, but too, hmmm, needy I suppose is what comes to mind. Pay attention to me, I'm a wacky artist, look, look, I do crazy stuff. Olivia's friend has tats and piercings. God, I'm getting so tired of them. There's one guy so far in class. I have even less of a sense of him than the others. There are several others signed up who didn't show. And the girl who's working as class helper/studio clean up girl. So far, though, the group has a very low toddler quotient. I am so happy. Read More!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Field trips are fun

I told myself I wasn't going to do it. And I really meant it. This was only going to be a fact-finding trip and to pick up a few odds and ends. But I asked my questions about rectifiers and after I made it clear that, no, if the 10 amp only would work on say a bangle, then, no, a 10 amp really wouldn't do the job for me. Not at all. And lookee there the 25 amp only costs $10 more. All this and heaven too.

So I bought it.

And the Grobet booklet on plating which seems to be just about the only thing out there. (Maybe finding info on plating is like knowing the password to get into a speakeasy, once I know where to go and who to talk to, suddenly the doors will all open up.) I also picked up a steel anode and a fine silver one. Apparently I need to 'silver strike' first, using the steel anode and then switch to the fine silver anode to do my real plating.

I am so excited.

I also picked up the Fretz planishing double-faced planishing hammer with changeable heads. I realized that I needed that after buying the Fretz shell stake on the last field trip. It's the correct size to work with his mini stake and the changeable heads will not mar the surface of the stake. I'm one step closer to some serious anticlastic forming.

Class starts again on Wednesday. I'm so excited. I am sooooooooooooooooo excited. Class starts on Wednesday.

On the trip down I picked Pat's brain about various teachers with a mind toward's taking more classes. She highly recommends Newell, says that he pushes his students really hard but I won't mind that. It's just the stuff I've heard about some of his rather high-handed practices, taking stuff and ripping it up. Whoa, there, Sonny Jim, there's no call for that sort of behavior. She says that Robert Malinowski teaches painting. And that would be good, I very much like the man from the few days I was in his class (before I sprained my ankle and had to withdraw).

Did I mention that I'm excited. Read More!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

It seemed like a good idea at the time

Why am I suddenly tongued tied? I always have a lot to say. I haven't a clue yet on how blogger works but I'm sure I'll puzzle it out in time. I tried to add a picture to my header and that doesn't seem to have worked. I'll try again. After all, that's what this blog is about, about my metalsmithing and drawing and whatever other creative pursuits I wind up following. Talking about them is all well and good but without some ability to share them, well, what's the point.

I wish there were more fonts available. Times is all well and good but I'd like something else. Who knows what I'll discover is possible after I've wandered through help a bunch more times. Read More!