Convergent Series

learning, using & teaching metal clay, and other aspects of life

Out and about with art this holiday weekend.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2021/05/29

Last minute notice about two events on part or all of this Memorial Day weekend.

  • Eastern edge of Pittsburgh: Swisshelm Park / Swissvale Neighborhood / Community Art Walk. Saturday, May 29, 10 am – 6 pm.

    Interactive Map

    This is my own neighborhood but, given the last-minute notice I had about it and the drizzly weather forecast, I’m not setting up a display for this.

    But I do plan to wander around and meet other artists (all within walking distance for me!), plus chat with others I encounter along the way. I’ll wear a fly fishing vest with lots of pockets, and plan to stuff them with samples of my art-jewelry (and, while I’m at it, a credit card reader too!).

    Let me know if I should be looking for you too!

  • Chautauqua – Lake Erie Art Trail: Hub Crawl, Saturday, May 29 and Sunday, May 30, 10 am – 5 pm each day.

    Interactive Map

    I sure wish I could just zip up for this tour too! If you’re too far north to make it down to my area for the Art Walk, above, then consider heading up for the Art Trail. If you stop at Hub 2, the Portage Hill Art Gallery, please tell artist-owner Audrey that I pointed you to this event (and ask to see some of my pieces that are available there).

  • And, wherever you may find yourself, have a memorable Memorial Day weekend!

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My first real “live” show in 18 months!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2021/05/12

The Wilkins School Community Center in Regent Square, where I have my studio, is still closed to the public. But the big paved area in front is open, outside, and this Saturday, May 15, from 8 am to around 1 pm, will be the site of WSCC’s annual Plant Sale and more! No book sale inside, and I can’t do a show up in my studio, but I will set up a simple sales spot outside among the gardeners and various information tables. I think they’re putting me on the driveway side, but can’t be sure until we set up.

Also at the same time is the annual Regent Square Community Yard Sale. If you’re not familiar with that, it’s typically a big event, with folks coming in from all over to stroll around the whole lovely neighborhood on that special morning seeking good deals. Street parking is first come first served, and please watch out for pedestrians!

Because yard-sale customers don’t come expecting to buy high-end jewelry, my spread this time will feature a lot of my most affordable pieces. Because I don’t do the thing where I mark my pieces up just so I can offer big sale-price discounts, the best I can do (for this show only) is to offer a bit of a deal for multiple purchases: 10% off second and subsequent items (after the first, highest price, one). If you want something I haven’t brought down, at the end of the show (once I’ve taken things back inside), I’ll be happy stay a bit longer so I can bring out some of my very special pieces for your consideration. (I sure look forward to the day when I can welcome visitors inside my studio again!)

Eleven samples: four earring pairs, one hashtag brooch, six pendants.  Silver, steel, bronze, copper, some with enamel.

Students, fellow artists, and others: If I have something of yours and we haven’t been able to connect while the building has been closed, do let me know. I have sone fired pieces, books, a stool, and more that I’ve saved for various folks! It’s probably worth letting me know in advance, so I can be sure to pull it out of whatever corner I stashed it into and set it someplace where it will be easy to grab and bring downstairs.

One final note: I rarely do outdoor shows, just indoor ones. I don’t have all the regular display materials and such for outdoors, so if the weather turns windy or rainy, I’ll have to bail out and haul everything back inside as fast as I can. Cool is fine, just not a lot of wind and/or rain! But predictions are for a lovely spring day, so I’m sure hoping that holds…

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Art All Night 24

Posted by C Scheftic on 2021/04/24

It’s the last weekend in April, so once again it’s time for Art All Night!

Here’s what I posted on Facebook about it:

I just found the specific page for my entry. Both that, and the show itself, should be visible for a mere 22 hours. Then, poof!, the only way to see my entry again will be through one of my posts. (Of course, the piece is for sale … should you wish to look at it any time you want!)

I am really hoping that the show will be able to return to an in-person event next year!

ADDENDUM: Congratulations to Debra for your winning bid on this piece! I hope you’ll enjoy it for many years to come!

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As things start to return, several at once!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2021/04/07

So here we are at the first Wednesday in April of 2021 and this evening I’m not going to be able to meet with other members of the Penn State Master Gardener of Allegheny County at the first regular Wednesday work-night at the lovely Edible Teaching Garden, and not because I’ll be at the opening of always-interesting Quantum Theatre‘s latest story-walk, 10 for 21 (10: based on the Decameron; 21: another year, still in pandemic…)

At the same time, instead, I’ll be at the (virtual) opening of the Cranberry Artists Network‘s spring show, Reawaken, Rejoin, Rejoice, where two of my pieces have been accepted for display!

Yes, while the reception will be virtual, this will be my first, actual, in-person show in a year!

Exit from the Vault is a fine silver (.999) pendant (hung on a sterling silver chain, not shown here) from my Doorways series. What can I say: I just hope it’s an appropriate metaphor for much of the world right now…

Leaves and Tendrils–As Spring Returns! is a fine silver (.999) reversible hollow bead (the other side has a similar but less-deep texture) suspended from Argentium silver (.930) round and square wire “tendrils,” with all of that hung on a sterling silver (.925) chain. This one just seemed highly appropriate for the season.

The reception tonight is from 6-8 pm. You can view the show at the Cranberry Township Municipal Center, 2525 Rochester Road, Cranberry Township, PA 16066. It runs during regular Municipal Center hours through May 6, 2021.

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If you would like to purchase any of my pieces but are unable to get to the show itself, please just let me know and I’ll be happy to review your (all very easy!) options.

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Artists Choice IV: the Spring show at WSCC

Posted by C Scheftic on 2021/04/05

Like so many of us over the last year, I have missed getting together in person with a lot of my usual people although, except for the worst of winter, I have been able to share outside activities with many of the local ones.  In another way though, I have missed even more all the different, random people I would interact with at the Wilkins School Community Center (WSCC) where I have my studio.   

Still, I am very happy to have two pieces in WSCC’s current exhibit, Artists Choice IV, even though is yet another virtual show.  It looks as though I have the only 3D entries in this one! There are two pendants and, once again, I was able to make both of them reversible!

I Will Always Hold a Piece of Your Heart in Mine has two golden-bronze (“brilliant bronze”) hearts, one nestled inside the other, and hangs on a gold-plated chain.  It is fully reversible: you can wear it with the pairing facing forward, or you can turn the chain around to keep the little one snuggled in, closer to your own heart.  To me, the difference in the size of the hearts indicates a visual illusion, a sort of perspective, where the smaller one represents the heart of someone at a distance, for the moment at least, but the two are still firmly anchored together.  

What do you see in it?

Spring is Peeking Out at Last! is another reversible bead, this time a hollow one made from fine silver (.999).  One side is textured with an array of cute little spring blossoms.  The other side shows a different flower eagerly peeking out through an opening in the ground.  Like so many of us, all of the flowers are ready to get out into the sunshine and to get on with their lives!

What are your plans for this spring, and beyond?!

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Both pieces are available for purchase, so do let us know if you’re interested!
There’s info on the show page, or you can simply get in touch with me directly and I can process it for you.

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Three Hairpin Lace Squares for The Violet Protest

Posted by C Scheftic on 2021/04/04

Another creative yet meaningful thing I did in 2020, one that just happened to end up taking place during the pandemic shut-downs, was to volunteer to make three squares for the Violet Protest project.   Personally, I am not happy with the way “politics” is handled by “social media” (and by others, but all that is for yet another discussion) so I don’t tend to say much about political topics online.  (I am not apolitical!  It’s more that only occasionally do I wear politics on my social-media sleeve.)  But this seemed like an idea that people from either / any side could support, which is why it interested me. Because I do believe that we have to stop talking at each other and re-learn how to converse with each other, to stop emphasizing our differences and start making progress for the future via the interests and goals we do share…

So what is the Violet Protest?

In short, makers from across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and all American territories—without regard to their own political inclinations—are joining together in using their time and talents to make 8” x 8”  fiber and/or fabric squares using equal parts red and blue. These are, first, being exhibited in Phoenix, AZ; after about six months, the show will be taken down and the squares will be distributed to all members of Congress, of all parties, to ask them to find ways to come together too.

“Focused on the values we hold dear as Americans, rather than any political beliefs, the color violet symbolizes the literal combination of red and blue, long held as symbols of our nation’s differing ideologies. Our common goal is to send a physical message of friendly protest through this … visual expression to demonstrate that if we as citizens are willing to come together, so then must our elected officials.”

For more detailed information, you can check the project’s website, at violetprotest.com

Why did I decide to make three squares?  

Some people volunteered to make just one; others, scores!  The website is set up for you to easily choose to make one, or else multiples of five, but it was possible to assign yourself a different number of contributions.  I offered three.

Since the idea is that, at the end of the museum exhibit in Phoenix, the squares will be packaged up in groups and sent to each of the current members of Congress, I figured that, even though the pieces given to each recipient would be assigned at random, the fact that there were three people supposedly designated to carry my voice to congress (one regional state representative and two state senators) meant that three would be a good number to make. 

(Also, I made that commitment early in pandemic, when some supplies were scarce and lots of stores were closed to the public.  I did have a few small skeins in appropriate red and blue colors (among several I had “inherited” when the mother of some friends died a few years ago). I knew those skeins would provide enough to make three squares, but I really wasn’t sure if I could squeeze any more out of that stash!)

What Is Hairpin Lace?!

Before I explain the why of my design choices, let me show you a little bit of the construction process.  

The technique I used is called hairpin lace because, in the past, delicate, lacy designs were made by looping and then crocheting very small, fine threads on actual hairpins!  While I do dabble in a bit of miniature artistry at times — various kinds of clay, both ceramic and metal, being my favorites — I am not into working on mini fiber projects (though I have seen some made by others that have been truly stunning!)

I’ve used a larger-scale hairpin lace process to make, for myself and as gifts, a number of winter scarves and hats, and even one large blanket (with a second one that’s turned into a perpetual UFO…).  Most often, I will choose three complementary colors, or three different shades of a hue, and work with them in various pairs.  So I’ll use a big crochet hook and two strands of yarn at a time for each “row.”  I will make each one just a little bit longer than my final goal (because I find it easier to pull out a little bit if it seems to be shaping up to be longer than planned than it is to add a little more at the end.  The latter is possible, just not as much fun!)  Then the individual strips are hooked together to create the final piece.  Picking up an equal number of loops from the strip on each side will yield a flat piece, while differing counts will produce curves.  (And for more advanced designs than I’m showing here, you can also vary the width and counts within and across strips.)

What the process photo shows is this:  five complete rows already woven together, and a sixth complete strip that’s ready to be taken off its hairpin-substitute “loom” and added to those.  

The weaving together is what will tweak the size, both length and width, of the final piece.  Not a problem with a scarf where exact sizing is unlikely to matter, but trickier when your goal is to end up with a square that is exactly 8 by 8 inches!  The photo shows Melting Pot where I did hit it exactly at the 8-inch width but, yikes!, this first of my squares ended up being only 7 inches long.  

I set it aside to make the other two.  Lessons learned, I got those to come out to just the right size from the start.  In the meantime, continued forced closures of public gathering spaces meant the the exhibition dates for the Violet Protest show were pushed ahead by a few months.  Instead of opening just before Election Day in 2020, the museum show would launch soon after Inauguration Day in 2021.  I had plenty of time to fix up the size of my third piece and, when complete, I sent them all in!

My Thinking with These Three Designs

But why the three designs I chose?  Now that you have at least a little idea of how the rows are made, and how they interact, let’s take a look at my three offerings, from left to right, and I’ll describe the symbolism I feel in each one:

Top, left: How can anyone imagine simply staying in their own red or blue lane (even if they try to do so with civility and respect) when ALL OUR LANES ARE CONNECTED?

Center, bottom: Rather than divide by red vs blue, why not combine creativity, courage, compassion, and compromise as we all aim our efforts to be for THE COMMON GOOD?

Top, right:  Can politicians from across our country model, not selfishness and division, but consideration, collaboration and compromise … for all people but especially for the children of our great MELTING POT?

Would you like to join the Violet Protest?

As I write this, you still can!  A few photos from the exhibition can be seen online at https://www.violetprotest.com/vp-at-phoenix-art-museum.html.  It has been open for in-person viewing at the Phoenix Art Museum since March 10, and will remain open though September 5, 2021.  Squares can still be registered (in advance, to get the required exhibition tag!) and sent in.  Submissions will be accepted and added to the display through August 1. 

After the show ends, all the squares will be evenly (and randomly) divided up, packaged, and sent to every member of Congress.  I sure hope that some of them get the message!

Do you think any / many of them will?!! Please leave a comment!

(Well, that is, please leave a comment that (even if it is controversial) shows respect, kindness, compassion, candor, and, perhaps, also creativity; any that do the opposite will be removed.)

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Well, it’s been a while…

Posted by C Scheftic on 2021/04/03

So … I haven’t posted here in a while, have I?  Then let me start with a question: How “creative” have you been during the pandemic?  

Background

Back when I retired from working full time at a university (plus taking on a range of consulting gigs), I was so thrilled to have more time for creative adventures.  I could keep all my other “outside of work” activities going, still do a bit of consulting and/or tutoring,  but start using what had been my regular work-time for new projects.  Wonderful!!!  

Though I had done some things like art-jewelry and gardening when working full time, I really appreciated having more time for those in particular and, through them (as I’d had as a faculty member), more outlets for continuing to meet and interact with new people.  So when so much shut down, instead of seeing it as an opportunity for more creative activities, for me at least it felt more like it shut down so many of the reasons I had expanded those areas.  I didn’t drop those balls completely, of course, just some.  But I went sort of back to the pace of when I’d been working full-time-plus.

(I’ve always done a lot of “creative cooking” and for the past year I have done a lot of very “creatively inefficient” cooking!  That is, instead of cooking “in bulk” to make food for dinner parties and several meals at once, I was making just enough for each meal.  I set the table each time too, with nice glasses and dishes, my good flatware and fabric napkins, etc. (I did often use my smallest plates so it would feel simpler to not over-eat!)  I tried new recipes and re-worked older ones (especially early on, when we were contending with various shortages) which I found to be easy when I didn’t have to worry about timing … beyond all those zoom-calls!)  

One Fun, New Creationf

Ah, but other types of artistry… With this post, I include a photo of one of the jewelry pieces I did make this past year, yet another in my “doorway” series, this one in brilliant bronze.  It was a combination gift for a friend “out west” when she: retired from her (self-employed) job; celebrated a decade-turning birthday; and, by coincidence, had just completed her 2-jab covid-vaccine sequence!  

When looking at a different doorway pendant I’d made on commission a while ago, she had asked for one (rather insistently, I might note) and it did seem a good choice now as she was stepping out into the next phase of her life.  

We don’t normally exchange gifts at the price-level of what I’d’ve normally charged for one of these.  Until now, I’ve always made these in silver.  During the pandemic, the price of silver has gone up even more … sigh.  The relatively few sales I have managed to make were fine for covering fixed costs like rent but didn’t leave enough extra to splurge on more up-priced silver…. But I was happy to see this as a chance for me to explore what it’d take to make doorways in this lovely golden bronze color.  Bronze does take more time than silver at several points in the process so, after balancing the cost across both materials and time, the final retail price would still be close to that of a silver one.  But in this case, I had plenty of time to spend on a gift for a dear friend while both saving myself the cost of more silver and testing for any issues in trying to make these in a base metal alloy.  I’m happy with this result, and she seems to be too!

Have you tried anything new, or modified any previous interests, during the shutdowns?

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Reopenings!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2020/05/29

My studio is still open by appointment only, but I’m delighted that two of the venues that carry my work are reopening (with new safety policies) next week!

  • Portage Hill Art Gallery (Westfield, NY, on the road to Mayville / Chautauqua) will reopen on Tuesday, June 2 (primary election day here in PA!) at 11 am, and
  • the Gift Shop at the Hoyt Art Center (in New Castle, PA), on Wednesday, June 3, at 11 am.

I’m sure a lot of folks will be in no position to buy higher-end pieces, but both of those do carry items from my “black & gold” gifts series — affordable, reversible, golden-bronze pendants on black chains (and earrings on black wires):

Let me know if you have any questions! And, please, be safe and help keep others safe too.

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Which Direction?

Posted by C Scheftic on 2020/05/14

Sometimes when I make a piece I have an idea, a theme, a story in mind, from the very beginning. Other times, I make a design, a geometry, and then let it tell me what it’s saying. Early this year, in January, BCO (see note 1, below), I had an idea for the piece I wanted to make for this year’s Art All Night event, a reversible pendant in steel and bronze. Then the pandemic struck and, DCO, it took me a while to get started on it. And the Art All Night show that’s usually held in late April was, first, postponed until the fall and, later, rescheduled yet again as an online event in mid-May. The piece discusse here is what I ended up making. It still exhibits my original idea, but is it now saying what I’d first been thinking, or something else … or both?

Let’s consider this side first. What might it represent?

  • Many people local to me here in the Pittsburgh area (2), and beyond, will read it from right to left, seeing the design as a confluence: where two major rivers flow along until they join together to make one that’s even stronger.
    • Please note that while one can hope that together+stronger means better, that is hope talking, and we should act accordingly!
  • But others (from here or elsewhere) will read it from left to right! In that case, it could represent a path that reaches a fork, where you must make a choice, or pick a side, and go with that. In some cases, the decision can be between right and wrong, while in others, simply a divergence where each one is neither is better nor worse, even though it will yield a very different outcome in the long run.
    • From this vantage point, at this scale, and as so often happens, it feels impossible to be sure where either path leads…

Now, consider the other side:

  • For a very special Pittsburgh event, this sort of art deco design could be an homage to many of our lovely older downtown (3) buldings built during that era, with the golden-bronze element in the center of the steel design reminiscent of the logos of US Steel and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
    • It could also represent the light at the end of the tunnel (4).
  • In general terms, a brilliant star in the swirling darkness could be there to help us see our way forward, whether we are traveling downriver amidst strong currents, or standing at a crossroads trying to make the right decision for ourselves and for all those we care about.
    • Alternatively, it could be the light of an explosion hurtling towards us, potentially signaling our destruction if we don’t muster adequate defenses.

For me, one good thing about Art All Night going online this year is that it suddenly become easy to display both sides of my piece together! Here is the collage I created for my entry this year:

What do you see in these images? Do you see what I’ve seen here? Do you see a confluence or a crossroads? Do you see yourself uniting with others to make something stronger, or choosing a path that could go beyond the point of reconciliation? Do you see the star as a beacon of light to help guide you forward, or as an explosion signaling potential destruction speeding towards you? And … what might you do with that understanding … of yourself, or of your reaction to others being faced with the same choices? Or do you see something else?!

And … what might you do with that understanding … of yourself, or of your reaction to others being faced with the same choices?

It’d be great to read your thoughts on this:
Please respond in the comment section below!



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Endnotes:

  1. BCO –> Before Covic-19 Outbreak;
    DCO –> During Covid-19 Outbreak.
  2. Here, specifically, the confluence is when the Allegheny, down from the north, and the Monongahela, up from the south, flow together to form the Ohio, which later joins the Mississippi River that flows the whole way to the Gulf of Mexico.
  3. Locally pronounced dahntahn, of course!
  4. Though the shapes don’t match, one interpretation of that note is another local reference: traffic congestion in both directions on the interstate at either end of dahntahn Pittsburgh is common since many drivers slow down as they approach the (Squirrel Hill or Fort Pitt) tunnels, and seem only to get back up to speed when they can see the light at the end….

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2019 Holiday Happenings!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2019/12/06

Merry Christmas to you, or Happy whatever-other Holidays you may be celebrating this season! If you’re looking to shop for some art jewelry, colorful glass ornaments, or miniature pottery this month, whether to give as gifts or as a treat for yourself, this post will list the times and places where you can find items I’ve created!

All of these events are have for a while been on my public events page, and on the “blogroll” down the right side of this blog (when viewed on a computer). But I thought I should also list them all together here, just in case you (or your mobile device) didn’t catch them in either of those places…

You should be able to find me in person with many of my creations on these three Saturdays:

  • Dec 7 from 9 am to 6 pm: Arts & Crafts Fair, C.C. Mellor Memorial Library, 1 Pennwood Avenue, 15218.
  • Dec 14 from 11 am to 5 pm: Second Saturday Holiday Open House, WSCC, 7604 Charleston Avenue, 15218.
  • Dec 21 from (probably) 1 to 4 pm: Third Saturday Holiday-Extra Open House, WSCC, 7604 Charleston Avenue, 15218. (Note: If, at either of the first two events above, I get requests to change the time for this day, then I will.  You can confirm any modifications to that schedule on my public events list a few days ahead of this one.)

Here are other places where you can find some of my creations, listed in order by end date. 

  • Dec 6 – 8.  Stop #41 on the Lawrenceville Joy of Cookies Tour, 3100 Penn Ave through 5600 Butler Street, Pittsburgh (10-5 Fri-Sa; 10-4 Su — the Steel City Craft Emporium* is the tour-stop closest to downtown!)
  • Dec 6 – 8: Portage Hill Gallery* Open House, 6439 Portage Rd, Westfield, NY 14787 (10 am – 5 pm on those days).
  • Nov 23 – Dec 14: Holiday Artisan Market at the North Hills Art Center, 3432 Babcock Blvd, 15237 (10-3 Mon-Sat plus 7-9 Tues).
  • Nov 8 – Dec 20: Season of Joy Show in the Cranberry Township Municipal Center, 2525 Rochester Road, 16066 (10-8 M-Th; at least 1-4 Fri-Sun).  One enamel on copper show piece with bronze accent: It’s in the Middle of … Where?!!
  • Nov 23 – Dec 22: jewelry plus ornaments in the extended Holiday Collection at the Hoyt Center for the Arts*, 124 E Leasure Ave, New Castle, 16101 (11-8 Tu-Th; 11-4 Fri-Sat). 
  • Nov 11 – Dec 23: Pop-up Shop of The Artsmiths** of Pittsburgh, 329 E Main St, Carnegie, 15106  (Fri-Sun, 11-4). 
  • and through Dec 24: The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh, 1635 McFarland Road, Mt. Lebanon, 15216  (Mo-Sa 10-6; Su 12-4).

* My works will be available in the sites marked with this asterisk even after the “special event” noted in this list, although the open days and hours may vary at other times of the year.
** Artsmiths will be moving from Mt Lebanon to Carnegie early in 2020, and my creations will continue to be available there (daily!) after the move.

I hope I’ll get to see you in person at one or more of these events. (And while I’d be thrilled if you chose to make a purchase, there’s no pressure to do so. I’m always happy just to see familiar faces and catch up a bit!). But, even if I don’t see you, please know that I wish you all the best for 2020!


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Studio: starting year ten!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2019/09/29

I can’t believe I’m about to start the tenth year in my studio!

Which means I’m into at least my fifteenth year with metal clays.

It’s clear when I moved into my studio, and I now can’t imagine not having it. The other date is harder to pinpoint: from when do I start counting?!! While visiting my family home in Florida, when I first saw something made using fine silver metal clay and immediately became intrigued? While I was still teaching in California, when I first succeeded in tracking down some good information to learn more about it? After moving to Pennsylvania, the first time I actually opened a package of clay? In my friend Bonnie’s barn, the first time we each held a piece we had made and fired entirely on our own? At home in my family room, the first time I felt comfortable enough with every step in the process of a piece — design, construction, firing, finishing, assembling into its final form, pricing — to consider offering it for sale? The point at which I felt committed-enough to pursue this that I started looking for a studio? All of that (and more!) developed gradually, over some years.

But what I’m thinking about today, this week, at this time… is back to when I first opened my own studio and, specifically, to this day back in 2010 when I first picked up the keys to my studio and arranged to meet my friend Jeff at Ikea; we reviewed the options I was considering; and I bought the basic tables and shelving I started off with (all of which still use). We loaded it all into our vehicles, and he followed me back to this new location. After hauling all the boxes up all the stairs, we took a break a block or so up the hill (at D’s, including a stop in their “beer cave”!). Then we spent the rest of the afternoon assembling (almost) everything. It was a magical day for me, in so many ways, made even better by sharing it as we did.

Thank you, J.e.f.f…I.I.I.
Miss you!!!

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Pittsburgh Society of Artists 2019 Artist’s Choice Show

Posted by C Scheftic on 2019/08/01

Well, I did it again, first time in a while, though: delivered a piece to a show and then, when I went to post about it, found I can’t find a photo of that piece!

This is an Artist’s Choice show with the Pittsburgh Society of Artists. So the artist has to be juried into the PSA in the first place, but then we get to pick which piece we want to exhibit. This time, in fact, though only one piece would be displayed, you could register either one or two. If you registered one, then you just had to deliver it. If you registered two then, when you delivered your work, you could talk with the show chairs and other people who were there about which one of them should go into the show. Unlike most juried shows, where you don’t get any kind of feedback on your work, I thought it would be interesting to hear some discussion of my two choices.

I chose to register two of my biggest, and thus heaviest, pieces. Pricey, in part just because each one used up a big chunk of silver. (Thus if either one of them were to sell, I could buy a good chunk more!) Another factor in their prices is that, because of their size, the construction techniques were not simple either. While I was delighted with the results each time, at that size and heft, both were what I’d call “learning experiences,” made a year or so apart. Because of that “status,” I was sure I had taken photos of both of them.

And then I went to write this post and, guess what: I can find a number of lovely photos of each side of the one that I did not end up leaving for the show, but none of the piece that’s in it. I know when I made it, and I can find others from that same time. It is a kind of unusual shape, so I guess I just figured I’d spend time another day figuring out what angles I wanted to try shooting from … and then forgot to do that? (That still doesn’t explain why I can’t even find any in-process shots….) Who knows!

So, to see what it is (hint: it’s a lovely, multi-sided, fine silver (.999) pendant with a citrine cabochon, hung on a sterling silver (.925) chain) you’ll just have to come to the show! As shown in PSA’s promo-card, the show is at the Christine Frechard Gallery which is now at 5126 Butler Street, 15201.

I’ll be at the opening reception on Satuday evening, August 3. The show will be open through August 30. (Check with the gallery for days and hours: I think it’s We-Fr-Sa-Su but the Gallery website indicates different days!) I also plan to attend the closing reception, on August 30. If you want to see me, but can’t be at either of the receptions, let me know so that we can arrange to meet some other time.

p.s., I probably won’t be at the opening for the full three hours, but I’ll be there for at least two. I also want to get downtown to catch the Squonk show! I’d planned to do that on Sunday, but then there was the mess of the annual Pittsburgh Regatta being cancelled. I’m delighted that Squonk was able to salvage at least a few Saturday evening shows in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s Saturday Night Market & Downtown Sound Music Series! I hope lots of folks will show up to support that!

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What a great surprise!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2019/05/08

This is just a quick “Thank You!” to the Cranberry Artists Network (CAN) and Artist and Craftsman (sic) Supply (A&C) in Pittsburgh.

A&C was the “presenter” at the semi-annual CAN membership meeting this month. Instead of a presentation, however, two folks from A&C spread out a wide range of paints, brushes, and papers across a line of tables, just encouraged participants to try them out, and were happy to discuss the results and suggest other things to try. There was technical information too if you wanted it, but mostly it was just a chance to explore and play for yourself!

They also provided us a with small sample-size tube or jar of a few items we were most curious about. I left with two different texturing media I’d never tried before. Well, to be honest here, I work mostly in 3D. I’ve done much less painting, so there are a lot of things I haven’t (yet) tried! But I love samples because, obviously, they give me a chance to explore a little bit in order to decide if I like that product enough to spend my own money on a full-size supply. Thus the evening ended quite happily.

There’d been a bit of confusion about the time of CAN’s meeting. I arrived for the earlier time, and enjoyed the chance to mingle with others who did the same. But that meant I’d thought it would end sooner, and had said that I could stop at a friend’s house to offer a quick extra hand on a little project there. So I had to leave a bit before the end. I said to the A&C folks that, should I happen to win the door prize, please don’t leave it with anyone in Cranberry (30 miles away) because I could easily stop by their store (where I do shop: it’s maybe 3 miles from my studio, at a corner I pass regularly). But it was just an off-hand remark, because I really did not expect to win.

But I did win it! What a great collection! Thank you so much!

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Introducing “Hashtag Equality” at Art All Night

Posted by C Scheftic on 2019/04/27

Off and on over the past couple of months (the delays are another story completely!), I’ve been working on a new series of pieces I’m calling Hashtag Equality.

Now I could write that as #equality. That does nicely emphasize the equality part, but minimizes the hashtag. And in these designs, the hashtag itself is an important element!

Look at a hashtag: two verical lines and two horizontal lines. Look at an equal sign: two horizontal lines. Ta da: Design inspiration!!! Use a hashtag itself to present ideas about equality!

The first public presentation of my Hashtag Equality series will be an installation at the wonderful local celebration of community art known as Art All Night. It’s this weekend, from 4 pm Saturday through 2 pm on Sunday. I hope I’ll see some folks I know there! I plan to go down with some friends for a while on Saturday night. After that, I’ll decide what time to return on Sunday, but I’ll definitely go back (snapping pictures of the art is often easier then). The show itself closes at 2 pm but, if you entered a piece, you’ll also be able to find me there at checkout: I volunteered to help with that until 4 pm!

(I had hoped that another Hashtag Equality installation would be at the Spring Regional Show at the North Hills Art Center, but I missed getting it there on time… The show is still worth seeing, for all the other entries in it!)

You’ll also be able to see some pieces at the May Open Houses in my studio. There are big “events” in the building on the First and Third Saturdays of May, so I’ll have two Open Houses then (and skip the often-second saturday one for that month).

Somewhere during all of that I’ll post more information about the concept, along with photos of a few of the pieces. But this is just a teaser: come to Art All Night, if you can, for the unveiling!

(Second teaser: The idea for the series was inspired by what I might call a near-omission, or perhaps a mis-attribution, in the Washington Post last January discussing the Suffragettes. Rather than complain, I just decided I’d have to correct the story and, while at it, update their idea for our current times by incorporating the hashtag!)

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CAN’s 2019 Spring Show: Seeing in a New Light

Posted by C Scheftic on 2019/03/04

2019 - Cranberry Artists Network - Seeing In A New Light

I was delighted to have two of my pieces accepted for the Cranberry Artists Network‘s Spring Show, Seeing in a New Light, that will be on display in the Cranberry Township Municipal Center at 2525 Rochester Road in Cranberry Twp, PA 16066 from March 4 through April 15, 2019.

The photo with this post shows CAN’s postcard announcing this show, annotated with little images of my two pieces:

Left: Seeing the Spirit in a Cube. Could a flat-sided cube hold the spirit of a few curves deep in its heart?!! This 18 x 22 x 23 mm sterling silver pendant with “puffy cube” black onyx bead (displayed here and in the show on an 18″ sterling silver snake chain) was made in August, 2016.

I’ll have to dig back through unfinished drafts: I really thought I’d at least started a post about it at the time, but can’t find it right now. I faced a number of serious challenges with that piece! If I can’t find a draft post to finish and publish here, I’ll try to recreate that story from my archived “troubleshooting notes” so I can tell that story here … eventually.

I did exhibit this Cube in one other show, the 2017 Annual Exhibition of the Pittsburgh Society of Artists. It did not find a new home at that show, and has been tucked away for safe-keeping ever since. And that’s not right: this cube with it’s puffy little center bead deserves to be out and about, decorating a new owner!

Right: What Is Behind Door #3 ?!! The answer to the question, shown in this little snapshot, is that you can find a moonstone back there, and it will be the owner’s choice whether to keep or to reveal that little secret when it’s worn! This 26 x 27 x 8 mm fine silver pendant with a 6 mm white moonstone cabochon (displayed in the show on an 18″ sterling silver rolo chain) was made in February, 2019, specifically to submit to be considered for this show.

This is yet another piece in my Doorways series, which I‘ve mentioned before. I made this one out of PMC Flex which in some ways is not the ideal silver metal clay formula to use for this specific layered construction. But I wanted to make a couple more of these, I had some “Flex” I’d opened for another project, and the amount left seemed like just about the right amount, so I went with it! And with a lot of wet-finishing, supplemented by some heat-fixing so the Flex would harden up enough to do just a bit of sanding in a few places, I’m happy with how it turned out.

Adding the moonstone on the back was not part of my original design but, as I worked on it, propping its little door open, the question “and what is behind that door?” kept popping into my head. I may have to explore other ways to “answer” that question in my next few Doorway pieces. But whoever ends up taking this one home will have the piece that sparked that exploration!


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Mid-Winter Hues, 2019

Posted by C Scheftic on 2019/01/31

Spring Thoughts on a Gray DayThis Saturday, February 2, brings us the opening reception and awards celebration for the 2019 Mid-Winter Hues show at the North Hills Art Center from 7 to 9 pm. The show runs through March 1 and, after the opening night, can be viewed on weekdays (M-F) from 10 am to 3 pm, plus Monday evenings from 7 to 9 pm.

The juror for this show was Katie Koenig, a local artist (and very new mom!) whose realistic acrylic paintings of everyday objects I just love! So I’m particularly interested to hear what she’ll have to say at the opening / awards event about various pieces in the show.

Apparently there are a total of 106 entries (wow!), and I’m delighted to report that the two pieces shown in this post, both of which I made late last winter, will be among them!

Spring Thoughts on a Gray Day is an enamel-on-steel pendant. Mid-winter days here in this “rust-belt steel-town” are often rather gray…. We remember that brightly colored skies, hillsides, gardens, and more will return. Cars will have snow and salt washed off them, and those with bright colors will reappear. People will take off their heavy, dark coats and again sport bright colors. But in the cold, dark, gray of mid-winter, pastel tones may be the brightest colors imaginable on some days….

Serendipity WaveBut then there are days when the sun does come out and various bits of sparkle do brighten things up for a while. I tried to capture that idea via the lavender cubic zirconia and selective polishing in the reversible sterling (.960) silver pendant I’ve titled Serendipity Wave, while the textures on each side of this piece remind me of various kinds of tracks in the snow … or perhaps dreams of tracks in the sand dunes of an escape to warmer climates!

I’ve seen some preview pictures of a couple walls of paintings (probably about a third of the total Mid-Winter Hues show) and the thing that impressed me was how many seemed to be attempting to banish the grays of winter with bright colors! So I’m looking forward to seeing the whole collection on Saturday. And to seeing some friendly faces at the opening. Oh, and after having spent that afternoon in my studio, to suddenly trying to fit in a little stop at the Mt. Nebo Pat Catan’s (did you see my last post?!) on my way there.

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It’s been great knowing you, Pat Catan’s…

Posted by C Scheftic on 2019/01/30

We’ve seen it coming, as all sorts of brick and mortar stores struggle to compete against online shopping. (While there are times when I appreciate the convenience of online shopping, I do highly value both the touch and serendipity of in-store shopping…)

We knew it was coming, three years ago, when Michael’s bought Pat Catan’s … not for the few dozen wonderful regional stores, but for Darice and the other wholesale operations behind it. (Have you noticed that Darice products have disappeared from JoAnn’s? That’s because Michael’s now owns Darice…)

We’ve known it was coming, watching some of the changes in the inventory and pricing that have slowly but surely changed the feel of Pat Catan’s stores over the past three years.

But it was still a sad day, today, when Michael’s announced that they will be closing all the Pat Catan’s stores. (A handful will be reopened, rebranded as Michael’s stores, but we don’t yet know whether those will be the ones in less-urban areas where the loss of any store would be a big loss.)

And, from here in Pittsburgh, I will admit that it hurt even more that the best article I could find on the whole thing came from Cleveland: https://www.cleveland.com/business/2019/01/michaels-to-close-pat-catans-nearly-three-years-after-buying-local-craft-store-chain.html

We knew loss was coming. I’m just trying to be thankful for the roughly three extra years we had before it did. So I’ll close with a photo of one of my “serendipity finds” from Pat Catan’s: I still remember the time I went to grab a quick roll of vinyl and found the clear, flat-bottom card-holder ornaments from Darice that I’ve been happily decorating (as a fun, back-porch, summer project that later helps to boost holiday-season sales) for a number of years now…

2015_11_FiveCardHolders_OneGearBusinessCard_PB241207

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Ten Years!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2019/01/07

Happy New Year! OK, I am a few days late with that thought, but where has the time gone? How can it have been just over ten years already since I started this blog?! I want to thank everyone who has helped to make the past ten years so wonderful!

And here are a few of the things coming up early this new, coming year:

After a break for the Holidays, my (mostly) Second (mostly) Saturday Studio Sessions return on January 12!

Two Pairs of Reversible Earrings (enamel on copper)

This month the time will be from about 2 to 6 pm. I’m setting it a little later than usual so it will run into the International Pot Luck Dinner that Global Pittsburgh is hosting in the same building from 6 to 9 pm, to make it easy for folks who want to attend both.

I’ll have a little mini-shop open. Mostly it’ll have my newer enameled pieces on copper or steel, along with a selection of silver earrings and a few of the smaller silver pendants. (If you missed getting something special that you wanted last year, let me know ahead of time and I can try to bring that in too!).

And I’m planning to have one worktable set up, so there should be room for one or two students to join me. Again, give me a heads-up … otherwise, I’m likely to just spread out over the whole thing myself since I have several deadlines looming. (But company is always welcome!)

The next two Studio Sessions are tentatively, hopefully, scheduled for:

  • Saturday, Feb 9, 1 to 5 pm
  • Saturday, Mar 9, 1 to 5 pm

If I make any adjustments to the dates or times for February or March, I will post updated information for those events over here.

My first workshop for the year will be on Friday, January 18.

A Workshop Sample

Petites on a Post is scheduled to be held from 6 to 9 pm that Friday night at the North Hills Art Center. You’ll learn how to make a pair of fine silver post-style earrings. But my classes are always flexible: No holes in your ears: join us anyway and make a couple lapel pins! Not into posts: they’re the “bonus step” in this class, but you can join us and make dangles instead. Not into tiny things: join us anyway and just work larger! (NHAC’s course fee includes enough silver clay for two petite items, but I’ll have more that you can purchase from me in class.)

Technically, registration closes a week ahead, so that’d be Friday the 11th. But since I’ll be able to show off samples and answer questions during my Second Saturday open house, I’m hoping they’ll still let folks sign up that weekend. But registration will definitely be closed before that next Monday, so if you’re interested, please sign up as soon as you can! (Click on the link at the workshop title, above.)

I’m currently recruiting students for two workshops in my studio.

  • February (date & time TBA): Learn to Make Buttons!
  • March (dates & times TBA) A Two-Day Introduction to Bronze.

If you’re interested in being kept in the loop for one or both of those, let me know! Send me an email, or leave a comment with this post, and you’ll be included in the discussion of when we’ll meet and some specifics on the possible projects.

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2018 Holiday Season Events!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2018/12/01

Yellow Flower Birthday Quilt (Both Sides)It’s that time of year again…!

Even though I haven’t been able to post much here lately, these are the major events I have planned for December!


Where you can find me in person:

Arts & Crafts Fair, Saturday, December 8, 9 am to 6 pm, curated by the C. C. Mellor Library in Edgewood, PA. Find me and dozens of other local artists in the festive Edgewood Community House adjacent to the library.

Studio Open House: Saturday & Sunday, December 15 & 16, Noon to 6 pm on Saturday (probably more like 1 to 5:30 on Sunday), in my studio at the Wilkins School Community Center (WSCC) in Regent Square. Since this is where I make my creations, this is the place to see the widest selection of my offerings! Please note that my Saturday event runs right up until WSCC’s Sustainable Neighborhood Holiday Potluck, and you’re welcome to stay and join in on that too!

UPDATE — A (very rare) SALE!
In my studio (Dec 15-16 only), select class-demo pieces will be 10% off!
I don’t mark my prices up just so I can later offer them at a discount… But in classes, I often make smaller, simpler pieces to illustrate a technique or concept, or to answer a question, ones that I later finish and offer for sale.  This will be your chance to purchase a few of those at a discount!

Second-round Studio Shopping, by appointment only, again in my studio at WSCC. For those who come at one of the above times, and someone you’re with expresses interest in something, and you’d like to come back without them to see if it’s still available for you to purchase as a gift, but can’t get there at another official event-time … I’m still happy to try to help you out! Schedule an appointment for Dec 17, 18, or 19 at a time that will work for both of us!

Other places where my art jewelry,
colorful ornaments, and more
are currently available for purchase:

Spring Thoughts on a Gray Day

And I’m honored to have entries on display
(and for sale!) at these current art shows:

Cherry Blossom Botany (below) is in the Cranberry Artists Network’s 2108 Holiday Show (Nov 8 – Dec 20, 2018) at the Cranberry Township Municipal Building, 2525 Rochester Road, Cranberry Township, PA 16066.

Random Rainbow #2 (shown in my previous post) is in the Pittsburgh Society of Artists 53rd Annual Exhibition (Nov 9 – Dec 7, 2018) at the 3rd Street Gallery, 220 3rd Street, Carnegie, PA 15106.

Cherry Blossom Botany (cherry blossom side)

Looking for a class or workshop?

Private / Semi-private lessons. If you want to make something special yourself, the only times I still have open for the remainder of this year are the afternoons of Dec 17, 18, or 19 (Mon thru Weds). Contact me for details.

(mostly) Second (mostly) Saturday Studio Sessions will resume on Saturday, January 12, 2019. These are for students who want to come and use my tools and equipement while I hold my monthly mini open house and / or work on my own projects. (I’ll answer questions but don’t hold formal lessons during these times.) It’s first-come / first-served, so just let me know if you want me to hold a space for you (or put you on my waiting list) for that date.

My next workshops will be in 2019. The first one I have scheduled for next year will be on Friday, January 18, from 6 to 9 pm, at the North Hills Art Center. Petite on Posts will involve a fine silver project where you’ll learn how to make a pair of post earrings (or, if you prefer, small lapel pins). Registration should open on their website by the start of January (maybe late December) and I’ll (try to remember to) update the above link then. I’ll post news about other 2019 classes early in the new year too.

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Lately, I’ve just felt the need for some rainbows…

Posted by C Scheftic on 2018/11/09

Random Rainbow # 2… because we get rainbows when light breaks through the haze and clouds in just the right way!

So I’m trying to bring that on by making rainbows, adding vitreous (porcelain) enamel to hand-made steel pieces.  And I’m delighted that the juror for the Pittsburgh Society of Artists selected this one (whose little photo I’ve added to their postcard) for their 53rd Annual Exhibition!

The thing is, I really thought I’d taken a “final” photo of this piece, after a couple more firings of red and orange. Those are among the most sensitive (i.e., most easily “burnt”!) colors, so I’m super-careful with them. But I can’t find any later ones (after I’d added some jump rings for hanging it, and strung it on a nice black snake chain). I just had to crop the little image out of a big “what I did today” shot that I took before I left my studio that night.

That collection had a number of rows, with several pieces in each row.  Ones at the top were finished; lower rows needed increasingly more work.  This one was in the middle of the bottom row: not too bad a starting point, if I do say so myself! You can see where I was going with it. Anyone in SW PA who wants to see it in person is welcome to stop by the 3rd Street Gallery in Carnegie, PA. It’s a delightful little gallery (and frameshop) that I am happy to have discovered through the process of getting juried-into this great show.

I’m heading over to the show opening this evening, wearing another of my rainbow-pieces. I’ll have a few for sale in my Open House tomorrow; there are several in the works on my bench; and I’m hoping to find time to make more before the holdiay-sales-crunch, which has already begun, gets fully underway! They’ve already helped me feel better and I’m hoping they’ll do that for others too!

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The Most Important Election….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2018/11/06

I am writing this on the morning of the 2018 “Mid-Term” Election.  Here in Pennsylvania there is no early voting: soon after I’ve posted this, I’ll walk down the block to my polling place and cast my votes.  Then I’ll head the mile over to my studio for a day of sorting my wares into the groups that I’ll start delivering to the various shows where they’ll be available this holiday season.  (I’ll be posting more about those events soon.)

But for the past few days I’ve been thinking about the claim from both sides, Democratic and Republican, that this could be the most important election [of some time-frame].  In some ways I would agree, with both, that it is.  But not entirely.

I am going to date myself here: when I was 18 the voting age was 21.  Soon after I turned 21, the voting age was lowered to 18.  I always felt a bit cheated by not having been eligible to vote during the elections in between those birthdays.  Maybe that’s part of why I’ve voted regularly since then, including even the years when I lived overseas (pre-Internet and phone-less!) and had to travel to the local embassy to apply for an absentee ballot.

I will admit that, even into my early 20s, I was still a bit naive about elections.  I did vote in both “general” and “midterms” but sometimes I felt frustrated: while I was happy with some of my choices and voted eagerly for certain candidates, in other races I didn’t really like the choices and felt forced to pick between the lesser of two … well, not necessarily “evils” but at least “less than optimal choices.”  Sometimes I was thrilled when candidates I’d voted for won; other times I tried to find ways to understand why a particular race had gone another way.

What to do?  By the time I was 26 (why that age is another story entirely) I had figured out that “the most important election” is not the General or Mid-Term ones that get a lot of hype.  It is the PRIMARY that preceded it.  That’s where the decisions are made about who will even be on the ballot in November!

Since then, whenever anyone complains about either the results of an election or the candidates on a November ballot (especially anyone who says they don’t vote in November because they didn’t / don’t like the choices) my first reaction is, “Did you vote in the Primary?”  I try to avoid getting involved in (over time, increasingly angry) arguments over the November slate.  Sure, I’m happy to have intense one-on-one conversations (i.e., not via social media) about the issues and the candidates.  But angry arguments, when people talk at each other rather than with each other, and often in mere sound-bites, don’t help anyone….  Informed and respectful debates, combined when necessary with elements of compromise, do help us all.

Whatever the results from the election-season ending today, I am going to continue my campaign promoting the idea that the PRIMARIES are THE MOST IMPORTANT elections.  Unlike the November elections, primaries are held with different rules and on different dates in different states.  So outside one’s immediate community, they are a sort of moving target.  No matter: please find out when yours are, and VOTE in them!  Extremists do, and everyone else should as well.

If you haven’t been an active participant in primary elections, they may seem a bit intimidating.  It’s often harder to find good sources of information about all the candidates; for that matter, sometimes it’s even hard to find out for sure what will even be on the ballot and who-all is running!  Don’t let that stop you. Here’s a hint: voting is not like a school exam: you can leave some slates blank!  That’s the same as what you were doing when you didn’t vote at all, except now you can at least make some progress by voting in select races to start with!

That is, if necessary, you can build up your primary-voting response slowly.  Simply pick one or two races, research those thoroughly, and go vote on them!  Once you’ve figured out the process, you can expand your knowledge, support, and voting for more races in later primaries.

And start right away.  Now!  OK, the holiday-season is coming; if you must you can wait until January, but that’s all the slack you should allow yourself.  Make it a New Year’s resolution, and stick with that one!

And NOW means 2019.  Don’t wait until 2020.  2019 may not be as “big” an election, but there will be lots of local races, and that can be an easier place to start.  School boards, city / county councils, mayors, and so on often hold their elections in “off” years.  Ease slowly into the primary-voting process by getting informed at least, and perhaps even actively involved, in races like those.  Those are important too: not only do they involve races that are likely to have a direct impact on your life right where you are, those are often used as stepping-stones to the “bigger” positions later on.  If you get to know (know about or even know personally) those folks now, you’ll be a step ahead in knowing what to expect of them when they’re ready to move up the ladder! Here’s another hint: If you don’t know what races to expect in your 2019 primary, go to the website of your state’s election services and look up the results from 2015 primaries and general elections, the year before the last (2016) general election.  While there may be a few minor discrepancies (propositions change, a few votes are held on a 3-, 6-, or even 10-year cycle, etc.), that can be a great starting point for discovering the races you can, and should, monitor.

Another reason to not wait until 2020 is that, if you’re in a state that holds its primaries later in the cycle, the decision on who will be on the 2020 presidential ballot may have been made before you have a chance to have your say.  Do not let that stop you!  Make sure you’re informed about, and vote for, candidates for the checks-and-balances seats of the House and Senate!  (I would hope that you would vote, not for the obstructionists who think balance means only opposition, but for the collaborators who are able to compromise just enough to make things work for the better for us all!)  And go ahead and vote for the presidential candidate you wished to have as the nominee, even if someone else already has the lead: that way your candidate can still have some effect on the final “platform” for that election, and the parties may get a better understanding of what folks seem to have truly been seeking with their votes. In the meantime, however, please go out and VOTE in the election that’s upon us right now, today.  If you do, or have done so already, you have my sincerest “Thanks!!!”

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I knew it would work!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2018/09/16

There is absolutely nothing special about the enamel work on this piece but it is a proof-of-concept for an idea I’ve had for ages:

Proof of Concept
  • save a bit of left-over (negative space!) bronze metal clay from a piece cut with one of my Silhouette machines;
  • fire that onto a piece of copper to sinter it; then
  • enamel onto the copper around the bronze!

I figured it should work, and I’m happy to finally confirm for myself that it does.

So the big question now is: when can I find time to make another batch of bronze pieces so I’ll have more “scraps” to play with!

And I ask myself, what was I waiting for?!!  I’ve wanted to do this with bronze and copper since I first started using bronze clays! When did Hadar release her first “Quick Fire” bronze?  2010?  If that’s right, since then!  But I waited what seems forever before taking even the next step (though, to be fair, I was playing around with a lot of other ideas in the meantime).

I remember how it felt the obvious thing to do when cutting clays with one of my Silhouette cutters (in this case, my Portrait).  Though I’d had that thought for a while, I remember firing that particular “drop” of cut-out clay onto a copper oval during my initial trials of “one fire brilliant bronze.” (That was the last of Hadar’s “one fire” clays that I tried, and I struggled with it a bit through several rounds of testing … but it is now a favorite when I want to work in bronze!)  I came across the “blank” last week as I was firing a few steel pieces with enamel: it was the last piece I fired before cleaning everything up so I could use that work-table for an Open House this weekend.

Looking back for when I’d made this piece to test with, I realized that it had been sitting in a corner of my studio waiting for me to stop and enamel it for over 3 years!  At the time, I did make three more such “blanks” to play with, but now I know I’ll spend even more time designing pieces for additional possibilities from both their positive and negative space components…

O, yes, that’s why I waited! On top of that, even the test-piece shown here has a simple “separation enamel” flower on its other side!  Simple in case this side should have failed for some reason, but there because …. that’s just what I try to do!

And now I ask myself: why couldn’t I have just been satisfied with making pieces that are reversible?f  But I know the answer: while there’s a big part of me that really likes, and strives for relatively “simple” designs, there is another part that just has to add some little “twist” while I’m at it…

Are you drawn more to minimalist or complex designs? (Not just mine: anyone’s!?)  Leave a comment!

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Doorways!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2018/09/08

Several years ago, I made a small series of “doorway” pendants.  I have no clue why I don’t seem to have stopped to photograph and write about them:  I must have been busy with something else at the same time and devoted my social media time to that instead.

Digging back through photos now, the only one I can find is a rather blurry snapshot of the last one from that series.  But the funny thing is how that piece, Ancient Doorway, is the basis for this post!

Ancient Doorway had been bought by one of my regular customers.  She comes by at least once a year, usually with her mother and/or occasionally with a sister, often with children and/or spouses in tow too, and they entertain me for a while as they explore my offerings, provide interesting critiques, and debate which to buy for themselves or each other.  They are very enthusiastic, and thus a lot fun to have as  customers.  And I remember the time she bought that piece because, as she walked in the door her eyes landed on that one first and sparkled!  She headed straight to it, picked it up, turned it over, checked the price, set it back down, looked at several other pendants, came back to it and made a few comments, looked around some more, returned to it again and held it up in front of a mirror, looked at some earrings, and finally declared something to the effect that it was definitely her favorite of all the new pieces I had that day.

The funny thing about that is this: I knew from the moment she first headed for it that it was the last piece left from that older series, adapted from a project in one of Hadar Jacobson’s great books (and being the last one is probably why I got at least a quick shot of it). And she had to have been shopping at least two previous times when it was there.  So I stood there trying to remember if she’d expressed interest in it earlier, and didn’t think she had.  But she was definitely intrigued that day.  I was happy to have the sale, but I was also very happy that it made her happy even if that had taken a while.

Except when she came in earlier this summer, she was sad.  I could have a few of the details wrong here, but I remember her saying that she usually doesn’t take jewelry with her when she goes on vacation with her family, but she liked that one so much she wanted to have it with her when they took the kids to DisneyWorld.  She clearly remembered seeing it on the bathroom counter the last morning when she went to take a shower, but realized on the trip home that she wasn’t wearing it, and didn’t remember putting it back on as they rushed to get everyone out the door that morning.  As soon as possible, they called the hotel to ask if it had been found, and were told no.  She was disappointed in herself for having lost it: could I make another one?

Of course I said, “Of course.  Yes!”  I did add that I’d never be able to recreate it exactly, but was it OK if I  made something similar.  Sure.  I said that I was in the middle of some other projects, so it wouldn’t be right away.  Was that OK, or did she want it asap?  She said that as long as she knew it’d be coming, that was fine.  I said that what I’d do would be to make several, give her first choice, and then just put the rest up for sale to others.  She liked that idea.

Through the Arches / Into the Vault

Through the Arches || Into the Vault

So I started out by making two more, shown above.  With the old series I remember trying to make them two different ways, and I couldn’t remember which way I’d ended up preferring  So, for those first two, I made one each way:

  • starting from the back and working towards the front, and
  • starting at the front and working backwards.

The techniques to make it work are a bit different and, in some ways, I now think that “easiness” may be a toss-up.  It is far easier to control the design with the approach I used with the former (Through the Arches), but far easier to get great, smooth side-edges using the techniques I applied to the latter (Into the Vault).  So I guess I’ll just have to make a couple more!

Just as I finished those two, I looked at my calendar and realized that I needed several entries for two upcoming art shows, so each of the new doorways went to one of those!

  • Through the Arches (left) will be on display (and available for purchase) at the North Hills Art Center in Ross Twp, PA, from September 8 through October 5, (along with a second piece, a quilt-design piece with a cubic zirconia).
  • Into the Vault (right) will be on display (and available for purchase) at the Arts on the Riverwalk art competition, sponsored by the Hoyt Art Center at the Confluence Cafe in New Castle, PA, from September 8 through November 1 (along with a second piece, a shamrock design that incorporates dichroic glass).

    And I’m delighted to report that I just learned this great news:Into the Vault
    has earned a Merit Award … and was the only 3-D piece to win an award!

You may notice that both of those shows open on September 8. In order to get to both of them (and accept the award in New Castle), I’m moving my usually-Second and usually-Saturday Studio Session & Open House one week later, to September 15. I hope I’ll see some familiar faces at the shows this weekend, and in my studio next weekend … though of course I also look forward to meeting new folks too!

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The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh Art and Cultural Center!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2018/08/14

Their Announcement on FacebookI’m a month late in sharing this news about the Artsmiths of Pittsburgh Art and Cultural Center, but I’m still delighted to re-post their announcement.

As one of their first instructors (having started teaching way back in their previous incarnation as Koolkat!) I knew this was coming, but at the time of the official announcement I was up at Chautauqua on vacation and just missed it.

Why is this great news? While nothing has changed regarding location (they’re still in the big, now-green, barn-shaped building at the end of Banksville Road in Mt. Lebanon, PA), the non-profit status with APACC now provides a wider range of options both for what can be offered and how that can be promoted, especially regarding classes.

To keep these opportunities coming, of course, we’ll still need folks to:

  • visit Artsmiths and explore the shop offerings from hundreds of local artists;
  • browse their class and workshops offerings, then sign up for some;
  • encourage friends and family, when possible, to both shop and learn too; and
  • just generally share Artsmiths’ information from their website or social media sites including Facebook and Instagram.

I’m affiliated with several arts organizations in my local area, and I enjoy them all in their own way, but I am particularly impressed with the combination of both breadth and depth of support that Artsmiths offers to the local community. I hope they will continue strong, with more new opportunities, far into the future, and I’ll hope you’ll help in that effort too! 

Many other arts organizations are really struggling these days. Regardless of where you may be reading this, if there are any near you that you like, whether they are going great or struggling to survive, please remember to support them in whatever ways you can so they remain available to you and others!


 

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that I have a workshop scheduled for Artsmiths, on making silver “Shadow Box” pendants, this coming Saturday afternoon, and as I write this several seats are still available!  This is an amazing and versatile project: you can complete a gorgeous, reversible piece in one afternoon (I’ll see if I can add a photo in the comments), but we’ll also consider ways you could, if you want, continue to develop it after class, such as stringing your creation with interesting beads, adding sculptural wire elements, and/or even filling it with something interesting and colorful (e.g., resin, enamel, concrete, polymer clay, etc.).

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“Nest” workshop follow-up: tiny is in!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2018/07/30

One of the questions on the evaluations I ask participants in my workshops to fill out is, “Please describe one of the best things about this class.” And one of the most common responses to that goes something like, “I could use your samples for inspiration but then, with your help, I was encouraged to make whatever I wanted!”

The photo with this post shows four pieces related to a class I taught last month. The three to the left of the pencil (included to indicate size) show three of the samples I brought with me. The piece to the far right was made by one of the students.

Silver "nests" class: 3 samples, 1 student piece.
The “nest” piece to the far left is the one that was included in the venue’s printed and online catalogs. But the description said that the techniques could be used to make other designs; participants would not be limited to that exact nest design. And I took several dozen others, showing lots of different ways to apply the techniques.

Reading left to right in this photo, the next piece shows one of those variations. It was a quick sample (done in a previous version of this class) as a demonstration of how to work “balls” (aka dots) into an existing design, how to create a spiral, and how to nestle that up against a dot-filled design. (In-class comment: Had I made that in my studio, instead of in a quick demonstration, I’m sure I would have domed the disk first before adding the embellishments. The flat disk is fine, and was quick to make for the demo, but in the design part of my workshops, I do bring pieces, like the one to the far left, to illustrate how even a little bit of dimensionality adds so much to a final product!)

The third piece was my smallest sample, showing how to fill a little nest inside a cut-out opening (rather than inside a nest from coils). It may be the second-smallest pendant-piece I’d ever made at that point. (I do make smaller pieces, but typically use those as earring components or as elements in larger designs, rather than on their own as pendants.)

I didn’t have time to set up a tripod and fiddle with camera settings, so I don’t have a decent photo of what everyone made (and even the bits farthest to the side on this one are slightly out of focus). But here’s what surprised me about the class: seven out of the total of fourteen pieces that students made in that class were smaller than my smallest sample! And the one in the photo I include here was the biggest of those!

Clearly, the students made what they wanted! I hope they were as happy with their pieces as I was with teaching them.

And I can go with the flow: one of the new workshops I’m now designing for the fall is tentatively called Tiny Is In!

Here’s hoping for a big turn-out for a making-tiny-pieces class! Full details should be available later in August.

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Will you cross a river for a class?

Posted by C Scheftic on 2018/07/19

While I work in both precious metals (silver, gold) and base metals (steel, bronze, copper), my classes tend to feature silver. In response to requests for more base metal lessons, I have two bronze workshops coming up at the end of this month.

three samples, two bronze classes
Reversible Draped Bronze
(pendant or earrings)
Friday, July 27, Noon to 4 pm
at the North Hills Art Center
more information
register here
Reversible Domed Bronze
(pendant or earrings)
Sunday, July 29, 1 to 4 pm
at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh
more information
register here

Knowing the local lore of how hesitant some ‘burghers are to cross rivers, I thought I was being clever when I scheduled both of them for basically the same weekend. One north, t’other south. The thing that happened is that some people have signed up for each and, between the two, there are enough people to run a class …. but not quite enough yet to run each of them individually!

If you really want to take one in particular, please sign up for it now! (If it’s cancelled, you’ll get a full refund.) BUT, if you could take the other one, please let either me or your second-choice venue know. My understanding is that registration for each of them will close on Monday (July 23): at 10 am (firm!) for North Hills and a few hours later for Artsmiths. If your first choice is cancelled but there are enough to make the other one run, we’ll let you know that and accept your registration there after the “official” deadline. (That’s why there are deadlines: so we have time to scramble if necessary to keep as many people happy as possible, and still give me time to organize (and, if necessary order) all the tools and materials we’ll need!)

After that weekend, I’ll be back to offering workshops in silver for the next few months. (And using silver, steel, bronze, and/or copper in the pieces I make for (lots of) fun and (a tiny bit of) profit.) If you want to learn about any of those metals, of course, in addition to my pre-scheduled small-group classes, I’m always happy to schedule a private lesson with you in my studio!

~~~~~~~~~~
Update: Good news and bad. The bad first: the Friday class at NHAC was cancelled. The good (yay!): The Sunday one at Artsmiths is running! Since most venues (including these) don’t share participant names in advance (just the count: I get the surprise of seeing who shows up at the start of class!), I don’t know (yet) if that’s because new people signed up after I posted this, or whether some NHAC folks did decide to go to a class on the other side of some rivers from their site. Either way, though, I’m delighted to be looking forward to a great class this weekend!

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This weekend, and next!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2018/07/07

Six-wall panorama of the Instructors Show at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh

If you haven’t been over to The Arsmiths of Pittsburgh to see their great Instructors Show yet, you still have two more chances, this Saturday or Sunday (July 7 or 8). Not only does the show include a range of different styles from the various artists who teach there, but Artsmith’s proceeds from this show will be targeted specifically to support their great education programs!

If you’d like to talk with me in person, I’ll be over later in the afternoon on Sunday. (I should get there at or very soon after 2 pm, and I’ll stay until the closing, at 4.)

Whether or not we manage to connect in person this weekend, we’ll have another chance next weekend! You’ll be able to shop some of my creations and / or talk with me about any of my upcoming classes (at four separate venues), when I’ll hold another Second Saturday Open House session in my studio. That’ll be Saturday, July 14, and I should be there from about 1 to 5 pm. Stop by any time!

Next weekend’s bonus for one or two of my students: If you’d like to come over and use the tools & equipment in my studio during the Open House, I can have part of one table set up for that on the 14th too. Because I’ll have a few of my own projects going too, for students it’s really best if you reach out in advance to be sure I’ll have a spot for you.

(Since I’m still getting questions about these sessions, let me repeat that they are not the same as my private lessons or small group classes: I’m not saying I won’t speak to you at all, because I’ll help as I can. But they’re meant as an opportunity for students, working pretty much on their own, to continue or follow up on projects they’ve already learned how to do … but without having to invest in the great range of tools and supplies I bring to my workshops!)

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A little heat wave surprise!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2018/07/05

And now for a different kind of note… With a particularly large number of keep-cool items in my cart at Trader Joe’s last week, as I walked past the large insulated carrier bags they sell I thought, “If this heat wave keeps up, I may have to spring for one of those. But, not today: for now I’m still holding out until I win their bag-lottery. Though if I should ever win that, one of these bags is the very first thing I’ll get!”

What’s the TJ bag-lottery? You may already know, but I’ll explain it for anyone who doesn’t. Different stores (TJ’s and others), in different parts of the country, at different times, handle the issue of “shopping bags” differently. Some expect you to bring your own bags and, if you need them to provide one, they charge you for it. Others provide bags for free (or, more accurately include bags in the “overhead” part of their basic pricing!), but give you a small discount if you bring your own bag. What a few of the Trader Joe’s around here do (and only TJs) is that, if you bring your own bags, you can fill out a little slip and, according to some schedule (I’ve no clue what that is though), they will select a “winner” and give that person a gift certificate for their store.

I take my own bags, regularly fill out one of the raffle / lottery slips, and deposit it in the “treasure chest” box by the exit.

So, there I was on Monday of last week, thinking, “I’ll get one of those insulated bags if / when I win a TJ’s gift certificate.” And, on Tuesday of this week, I got a call from “Shelby” at my local store saying I had just won a $15 gift certificate! I made a special trip over to claim it and pick up one of the large insulated bags. (With tax, that was nearly half of my winnings! I so am grateful I could use it that way, and not feel I had to use it for food!) While I was there, I used the rest of it to grab a couple things I’d missed from my list when I was there this Monday. Those could’ve waited, but the bag was actually helpful for taking my contribution to a Fourth of July picnic.

I bought this bag when I won TJ's bag lottery!

And, finally, now on Thursday night, I’ve found a few minutes to tell the tale. Has anything gone surprisingly well for you recently? Let’s chat about it in the comments!

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If at first you don’t succeed … create an alternative!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2018/07/03

There was an announcement for a Quilt Show at a local venue. (Which one may slip out elsewhere but, for the purposes of this post, I don’t intend to name it… Though I had a few moments of frustration, this is not meant as a rant against them; it is simply intended to describe some aspects of the life of a working artist…)

Here’s something you need to know about that Quilt Show from the start: it was announced as being non-juried opportunity! Entries would be juried for awards, but not to get into the show in the first place. The call for artists said that they’d accept entries all day each day for a week, as long as they still had room to exhibit them.

So I started to design a quilt to enter. My “medium” these days is more often metal than fabric, and my “scale” is typically jewelry-size. I decided to make a quilt-pendant out of fine silver, using the process of sintering powdered metal (aka “metal clay”). I would “piece” samples from a selection of different textures for one side. The other side would be textured with a floral pattern that I would accent by setting a small, yellow CZ into the center of one of the flowers. The pendant would hang by the use of an integral bail: a sort of woven-fiber pattern shaped into a “tube” much as could be used for a fabric quilt displayed as a wall hanging. And, yes, all those elements were deliberately designed as a nod to more traditional quilting!

I hoped that a quilter, or quilt-lover, or quilter-lover would appreciate it during the show and decide to buy it… I also wanted to make a piece that, while it did incorporate a number of elements, wouldn’t be an exceptionally complicated piece to make: I didn’t have a lot of spare time to work on it but, even more importantly, I wanted to keep it to something that could be sold at an “affordable” price! I started it several weeks before the entry-week but, with one thing and another going on, hadn’t finished it as the deadline approached. With a lot of other things on my schedule for every day leading up to the opening of the drop-off time, my only option was to use the one and only day I’d been holding open as a “day to play” for at least a few hours. Instead, I spent all of that time, and more, playing with ways to complete the creation of my quilt piece, then firing it, polishing it, adding a patina, finding a chain that I thought would work well with it, taking a couple photographs, deciding how best to display it, giving it a name, filling out the entry-paperwork, etc. It ended up being a rather long day.

Yellow Flower Birthday Quilt (Both Sides)But, eventually, my Yellow Flower Birthday Quilt pendant was finished and ready to go on display!

First thing the next morning I packed it into a carrier bag and drove off to the Quilt Show venue. I looked around for a couple minutes, taking in pieces from the previous show that were coming down and noting that already a few entries were there for the new one. When the person handling all that was ready for me, she greeted me with a cheerful, “Oh, I didn’t know you made quilts too!”

I pulled the quilt-pendant out of my bag, smiled, and said, “I know this isn’t a traditional quilt, but I read the prospectus carefully, and it does not specify fabric. I hope you’ll take this silver quilt.”

“What? It doesn’t say anything?! That’s a lovely pendant, but please hold on.” She went to get a copy of the prospectus, and came back saying, “You’re right. We never thought to specify fiber as the medium because I don’t think we ever imagined anyone would enter any other kind of quilt.”

“Well,” I replied, “when you’re dealing with creative people, don’t you expect to be surprised? She laughed, with “Personally, I’d be happy to have it in the show, but I think I’d better check.”

The person she went off to check with wasn’t available. She sighed and said, “If you’re willing, you could just leave it with me, and I’ll let you know the final decision as soon as I can.” I said that was fine, we chatted for a moment about logisitics, and then she got a call. No, they wouldn’t accept my quilt. She was sorry but wanted to assure me that before they presented another quilt show, they’d take care to be more specific about their requirements…

The show is now on. Because I’m not naming them, I can’t promote it for them either. In this case, I figure that’s fair enough. I’ve been back, have seen the show, and am impressed with a number of the entries. I did also note that the showroom still has in place several of their usual display pedestals–empty–where it would have been easy to exhibit my quilt-piece on any one of them. But that’s all water under the bridge, as it were.

But … the story doesn’t end there!

This past Sunday was drop-off day for this summer’s Artists Choice show by the Pittsburgh Society of Artists (PSA). Technically, that is a non-juried show too, but one big difference is that this one is not open to everyone, just to artists who have already been juried into the PSA Guild in the first place. It’s always an interesting show. Entries may be from highly prolific artists who are always looking for show possibilities to those who only make a few pieces and seldom enter any shows other than this one. They may be new, experimental works that an artist is just putting out there to see the reaction, or pieces that just did not fit into the “guidelines” for some other show. Now do you see where this is going?!

Yes, my Quilt Show piece has been renamed as Help Me Get Over the Quilt Show Rejection “because It’s Silver, not Fiber”! and entered in the PSA show at the Brew House Association (at the corner of 21st and Mary Streets in Pittsburgh’s South Side flats area). That one runs from July 6 through August 3, 2018.

And I’m still hoping that a quilter, or quilt-lover, or quilter-lover will find it there and want to take it home!

If you’re in the area, please join me at the Opening Reception from 6 to 9 pm on Friday, July 6. (At this point, I’m also hoping to head over to the Closing Reception, same time & place, on August 3, but who knows what may change in my schedule over the next month!)

2018 PSA Artists Choice Exhibition

Regardless of where you’re reading this from, feel free to comment: Do you enter art shows? Why or why not? How do you handle it when a piece doesn’t get accepted? Or gets accepted but doesn’t sell there (especially if you let the announced theme of that show serve as a part of your inspiration for the piece!)?

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Nests … or should I call them Dots & Lines?

Posted by C Scheftic on 2018/06/21

ProjectSample_SilverNests“Nests” are a workshop-project that I teach every now and then. It’s scheduled again for next Friday, June 29, at the North Hills Art Center. Online registration is available. If you’re interested, please sign up asap: the last day you can register is this Friday, June 22. There are two sessions listed, for afternoon OR evening. Sign up for your preferred time, but please let someone (me or NHAC) know whether or not you’d be able to participate in the other one (in case one or the other ends up over- or under-subscribed).

Having gotten the “promo” stuff out of the way, I’ll get down to the reason I decided to write a whole blog post on it: I’ll use that workshop to talk a bit about how an instructor builds up the ideas for a class. Different teachers may look at theirs in different ways, but this is the approach I favor.

Some “consumer arts & crafts” classes are designed so that participants all make exactly the piece illustrated. Others use the image as a starting point to explore a process or technique. I tend to teach the latter, simply because those are the classes I enjoy taking the most. Of course, participants are always welcome to make something very close to the illustration; it’s just that I encourage exploration, experimentation, and creative variations too.

Unless noted otherwise, I try to design each workshop so it will be great for beginners with metal clay, serve as a refresher for those with limited experience, and offer specific techniques so you can continue to build both your repertoire and your local metal clay community with each new class.

We start with the basics of rolling and texturing clay, cutting it into an interesting shape, giving it some dimension, deciding how to hang it, and more. Students are welcome to make a pendant and / or a pair of earrings.

What varies across my classes is what else we do each time. In this one, we explore ways to hand-decorate those creations with silver strings and balls. So I call the class Lovely Silver Nests because it’s really easy, and fun, to shape those into an interesting “nest” design, as shown in the first photo with this post, my usual illustration for this class.

But once you know the process, you are free to arrange the strings and balls in various other patterns, instead of or in addition to nests! We also consider several ways to decorate the other side of each piece: with more strings and balls, by using more complex textures, by adding layered embellishments, and more. My goal is to help you create a unique piece of silver art that is reversible.

As usual, those with some previous experience with metal clay are welcome in this class too. My target audience here is not folks who’ve mastered the medium and seek advanced challenges (those, more advanced, sessions are usually just held with a small group in my studio); here, it is people who are curious and interested in learning more about manipulating metal clays in their creations. They may work right along with the beginners, perhaps finding time to create a more complex bail for hanging their piece, or they may add this style of decoration to a more complex project they’ve already mastered. I’m often surprised when folks tell me how hesitant they’ve been to try these specific techniques before this class, and I’m delighted when I see the designs they come up with as soon as they’ve learned how to follow a few specific steps to make this work.

TechniqueSamples_LinesAndDotsSo, while I call the class Lovely Silver Nests, it’s not a nest-project class. It’s a strings and balls techniques class. They can be used in so many ways: on some of the simplest pieces, on many very elaborate designs, and even for pieces constructed solely using them!

That’s why I’m also including in this post a quick snapshot with (a) one pair of basic earrings, and then (b) the back sides (or as I tend to think of them: the simpler, other sides) of three pendants. Even if you only know it as the “back” you can still know that there’s another little piece of art hidden back there!

Hmmm, I wonder if I should call this workshop Dots & Lines then, or leave it as Lovely Silver Nests? I’d love to see photos (or even just links to photos) of what other folks have done with their own dots & lines!

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