Convergent Series

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

Button Class Reminder

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/01/30

Thanks to Cosy for posting this on the Indie Knit and Spin site. If you want in on the fun next Saturday morning (Feb 6), please sign up as soon as possible!

Note: this is a basic “intro” session so, if you want to make a pair of earrings or a few little charms instead of buttons, that’ll be fine too!

Don’t forget to register for Carol Scheftic’s Button Making Class! Learn to make your own silver buttons. We need at least a few more folks for this class to happen. More information can be found here. We need registrations in by Sunday evening so Carol can order clay.

buttons2

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Flash class offer: just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/01/26


The five reversible domed-heart fine silver pendants shown above have all been delivered to The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh in Mt. Lebanon and are now available for purchase there. I was thinking about making a few more to have on hand during the studio sale I’ll be holding when Indie Knit and Spin returns to the building where I have my studio.

But they are fun and easy to make so I’m also proposing a class: you can make one as a gift for someone dear to your heart; or come with a partner and make them for each other; or ask your sweetheart to buy you this class as a gift; there are lots of options, even if you’re a complete beginner!

When: Sunday, January 31, 12 Noon to 3 pm
Where: Wilkins School Community Center in Regent Square.
Cost: $50 / person

That price includes both the class and enough silver to make one pendant (approximately 1 inch long). Extra material will be available for purchase if you’d like to make more than one pendant (or, say, a pair of earrings too). Several different styles of chain will also be available for purchase.

You have two days to decide! I know this is short notice, but I need to have at least four (4) people sign up by 10 pm on Thursday, January 28, in order to run this class. (And the maximum number is seven (7) so I can give everyone enough attention.) To sign up, please either send me an email or leave a comment with this post. I will accept people in the order in which they respond! By around noon on Friday, I will send an email to everyone I’ve heard from with: (a) whether enough people signed up to run the class and (b) whether your request was received before the class filled.

I sure hope that a few of you will be able to join me this weekend!

~~~~~

Update (8 pm on Thursday): Yes! Thanks so much to everyone who emailed me: this class WILL run on Sunday, as indicated. I’ll email everyone (either later tonight or else tomorrow morning, as noted above) with a few little details.

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A couple of ideas evolve into Cranberry Artist Network “Membrrrs Show” entries….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/01/26

Winter has arrived and the Cranberry Artists Network has an appropriately-named “Membrrrs Show” opening today! The prospectus for the show was covered in images of snow and icicles and more that made one go “Brrr!” just thinking about them. What might I decide to enter?!!

Well, from fine silver, I’d made a small collection of long pieces, sort of a tube shape, but not all neat and even ones. I’d been playing around with them: I had sort of an idea what i wanted to do (i.e., I really had made them with a vague design in mind), and at one point I’d assembled them into the first necklace shown here (photo at left).

Except, that still wasn’t quite what I wanted. When I got the invitation to apply for the “Membrrrs” show, however, it came to me: ice cubes and cracked crystal, and a few bits to acknowledge that snow does get blackened after a while, and I ended up with the necklace and earring set Warmth & Hugs Ease Icy Days, made from fine silver, crystal, clear and black glass, black onyx, and copper, all hung from an antiqued copper chain with a copper clasp, shown in the larger image to the right.

OK, but I could submit a second entry too. What else? Had my brain, my creativity, frozen? No, I just had a number of other deadlines looming, and multiple experiments with the silver “hugs” had eaten up a lot of my “spare” time to think about this. But, wait, I had a few “spare parts” I’d made “just in case” I needed them for the Love & Commitment bracelet last fall, which evolved into the Love Warms Our Hearts necklace (bronze hearts with copper and glass bead coils, hung from a bronze chain with a bronze clasp; the last photo, left).

I took them up yesterday, and both entries were accepted into the show! It will be running at the Cranberry Township Municipal Building from January 26 through March 3, 2016. Although, technically, it does open today, the “opening reception” will be on Wednesday, February 3, from 6 to 8 pm. I hope I’ll see some of my friends there!

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And now, my original reason for taking the photos with my last post….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/01/17

I may to have to try to do this again in the summer, when the natural lighting situation is better, because I don’t think these photos tell the tale as distinctly as I’d hoped. But this is one thing I’ve been experimenting with over the past week…. The point is to look at the difference in the color (and size) of the silver pieces at different points in their process. (Next time, instead of trying to capture so many, I think I’ll try to focus specifically on just one or two, with close-ups.)

But here is a shelf-load of pieces, ready to go into the kiln. They don’t look silver-colored at all, do they, even though they are at least 90% silver! Next time, I’ll try to burnish one in the clay-state, to try to show that the silver really is there, but for now:

And here we have that same shelf-load of pieces, after being fired, when the shelf had cooled just enough to safely remove it from the kiln. Note the “white” color of these pieces: this is normal for just-fired metal constructed from silver clay. Comparing this to the previous photo, you can also get a sense of the shrinkage that took place.

And here is that same shelf-load of pieces, after having been run through either a rotary tumbler (with mixed-size and -shape stainless steel shot) or a magnetic finisher (with tiny stainless steel pins). I need to work on the lighting for each of the different versions (and I really struggled with the meager equipment I have to get all of the shined-up ones together without too many shadows or too much glare!), but I hope you can see that they are, at last, starting to look like silver!

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Take a deep breath and “Don’t Panic!”….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/01/16

On the day I’m going to write about, I was already thinking about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when this thing occurred. (I’ll get to the thing in a moment….)

Why THHGTTG? Well, my favorite version remains the original radio plays; and within months I was volunteering with a radio theatre group that was forming at community-radio station WYEP-FM! (Over the decade or so that the group existed, I served as sound man (technical term for that role!), technical director, director, and producer.) When I saw the TV series, there were a few scenes that definitely impressed me, but mostly I thought that my imagination had produced a much richer galaxy than they’d been able to capture on screen (which is a huge part of what I love about audio productions). I went to the movie when it came out (much later, 2005) and I probably would have loved it if I hadn’t already been so spoiled by the earlier versions, but I remember two specific thoughts about that movie:

  • Though it seemed odd to have Simon Jones, who’d played Arthur Dent in both the radio and TV versions, replaced by Martin Freeman, that was still the moment when I realized that MF was an actor I hoped I’d be able to continue watching, and
  • Though it seemed odd to have Stephen Moore, who’d been the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android in the earlier versions, replaced by another actor, I just melted into my seat when I realized it was Alan Rickman‘s voice I was going to have the opportunity to listen to that evening.

So I was thinking about THHGTTG because I’d been thinking about the various times I’d seen / heard / watched Alan Rickman because this was on the day his death was reported. And when I thought I’d lost a student’s piece, I was already primed to quote from THHGTTG, “Don’t Panic (in friendly orange letters)”!

Lost a piece?! A student’s piece?!! Let me back up from the start. Late last week I got an email from some folks who’d “found me” online, checked my website and saw I wasn’t promoting any classes in the short term, but wrote me anyway. With a friend coming in for the weekend, they’d been hoping to find an introductory metal clay class. I responded that, though I didn’t have an “official” class scheduled, I could free up a couple hours on Sunday afternoon for a “semi-private / custom” lesson on basic techniques. My schedule was tight enough for the day that we wouldn’t have time to make anything elaborate, but there’d definitely be time for a few basic pendant and/or earring pieces: textured on both sides, cut into interesting shapes, embellished a little bit, domed for drying if they wanted, and finished nicely all over. They’d get a feel for working with the clay and, if they wanted, we could cover something more involved later on.

I’m very glad I made the offer: they came on Sunday and were lots of fun to work with! I showed some sample pieces where I’d embellished them with metal clay decorations, but also others where I’d kept the clay-design simple and embellished with beads and wire and such afterwards. It’s always interesting to see different techniques resonating with different people, and that afternoon was no different.

Having fit this into my schedule at the last minute, I said I’d fire and tumble the pieces over the next few days, would have them ready at some point, by the next weekend at the latest, and would send a note as soon as they were ready. So far, so good.

Now, most of the pieces were domed, so my plan was to fire them in a small crucible and provide some support for their shape by nestling them into fine vermiculite. Between all their pieces plus a few I’d made during demonstrations, the bowl was feeling pretty crowded. I wasn’t worried about pieces being so close they’d fuse. But I was a tiny bit concerned that, because having a lot of metal in a close space can help hold heat in that one area, I might have to drop the temperature and/or speed a bit. I could have just poured vermiculite on the shelf to spread things out, but I had a few scraps of fiber blanket, so I took a couple items out of the crucible and placed them on the kiln shelf with a bit of that for support, and it all seemed better.

What I did next is something I learned to do a long time ago: I take a photo of everything on a kiln shelf before I put the shelf into the kiln. I don’t necessarily keep those photos for very long. It’s just that, if I notice anything “odd” when the pieces come out of the kiln, sometimes it’s just useful to be able to go back to the pre-firing photo and double-check what a piece had looked like then.

So I fired them one afternoon, did a quick check once the kiln had cooled a little bit, saw that everything looked fine, and headed off to an evening meeting on another of my activities. I came back the next day, prepared to work on something while the pieces tumbled. In the workshop, I’d talked a bit about the different results I could get if I tossed them with mixed steel shot in my rotary tumbler for a couple of hours versus if I ran them for 20 minutes or so in my magnetic pin finisher. So I was sitting there, lining up the pieces according to which they’d asked to have treated each way, when I realized that one of the smallest hearts was missing.

No panic: I must have just missed taking it out of the bowl. I poured the vermiculite from the crucible into another bowl. No sign of it. Don’t panic! I started looking around my studio. No sign of it. Don’t panic! Because I hadn’t felt like taking time to set up the exhaust system (works fine in the summer; doesn’t have quite a good enough seal for use in cold, wintry weather … another project to finish), I’d just put the kiln on a cart and wheeled it into an unused room to fire the day before. Don’t panic! And I’d moved the pieces around, placing a few with support on the shelf in order that the crucible would have fewer pieces crowded in there, so could I have set it down and just missed putting it back in the kiln? No sign of it in the other room either. Don’t panic! I just kept repeating that to myself. I poured the little bits of vermiculite back and forth yet another time, still no sign of it. Don’t panic!

The missing piece was a tiny domed heart. Had it been something I’d made, I would have not had to repeat that mantra as many times: I would just have made another one and found something else to do with the first one if it ever turned up again. But this was not my piece; it had been made by a student. I could offer her some more clay and a chance to remake it. But the missing piece was one by the out-of-town visitor, and apparently she had been the person who’d been most enthusiastic to learn about metal clay and had encouraged a friend in Pittsburgh to find a class they could take together when she’d be here … and this was one of her very first ever pieces. I do remember how attached I felt to my first piece. I had to find this one.

Take it easy, Carol. Don’t panic! Just sit there and think. You took a photo before putting anything in the kiln. See if it’s in that photo (the one shown above). Yes! It was there. So … where did it go?!!

Hold on a minute. Don’t panic! You did something else, not your usual routine, when you checked the pieces last night. You’d been thinking it would be nice to have a good set of before-and-after photos, to show what “dried clay” looks like going into the kiln and how “just-fired silver” looks more white than silver. You took a photo last night so there really is no reason to panic: just check whether the piece was still there afterwards too.

Do my blog readers ever do those “Identify all the differences between these two images” puzzles? (1) One photo of these pieces was taken in the daytime; the other, after dark; so there is a slight change in the overall color tone besides just what is there in the dried- versus just-fired-clay. (2) In the pre-fire case, the shelf is sitting on my metal-top cart; in the post-fire one, I’d put a double layer of black “welder’s cloth” and “kiln posts” on the cart before setting down the then-still-hot kiln shelf. (3) The shrinkage that goes on with the binder-burnout and sintering=phase is visible, which I think is great! (4) But have you, my readers, found the missing piece yet? Is it there, after firing, or not? If it’s not, where could it have gone?

I’ll let you think about that for a moment. I’ll answer, and continue the story, in the comments section of this post. I’d love to see some of your comments there, too.

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One more thought on using my tumbler…

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/01/15

Well, it’s about time! Last night, I finally took two minutes to figure out how to “publicize” a blog post on Facebook. (That time was split between finding where the settings were and choosing among the options available.) And I used that feature for the first time with my last post. This morning, I found the following exchange over there:

Now, Alice is correct. So I could have just “liked” her comment but, well, I admit I don’t know how to be terse, and I thought it was worth trying to be clear about what was going on, for anyone else who might stumble across the discussion here. So I decided that another blog post was in order. Once I’ve got it ready, then I’ll go “like” her comment and share this post too.

This is what my rotary tumbler looks like when I’m ready to use it:

There’s a brown paper bag folded in thirds and stuck under one end. Why?

Well, I don’t think it’s specific to this style of tumbler, though it may be a bit more common with these than with some others. But I discovered this trick with the very first tumbler I ever used: a little, all-plastic, undersized for its intent, rock tumbler for kids. The key is that the barrel has to be in good contact with both rollers, both of which have to be able to turn smoothly.

In an ideal setting, the base would be flat on a table. The motor would turn and the belt attached to it would turn the roller in the middle of the base. That would turn the barrel. Because the barrel is also supported by the other roller–the one at the end–that one would turn too. Thus, the motor, belt, both rollers, and the tumbler would all roll around together.

But, with this particular unit, if I simply put the base flat on the table and set the filled barrel on it, then the roller in the middle–the one that’s driven by the motor–that one turns just fine. That’s my clue that the “belt” connecting it to the motor is adjusted correctly. (If that roller slips, or seems to stick, that’s a sign that the belt needs to be adjusted which, for the record, is a routine maintenance task.)

In my case, however, this barrel would just turn in fits and starts. The “other” roller turns only when the barrel turns, so it’s not helping either. It seems to me that there are two possible solutions (though I do welcome other informed suggestions…):

  1. Slightly raise the end with the motor on it. This pushes the barrel onto the roller at the “end,” which forces that one to move along with the barrel.
  2. Slightly aise the end opposite the motor. This pushes the barrel onto the roller in the “middle,” which reduces the role of the one at the outside end.

I’ve tried it both ways and, in fact, both seem to work. But, as shown in my photo, above, I tend to set things up the first way, so the end with the motor is just slightly higher than the other end. In my logic, the second way seems like it’s putting extra pressure on the motor to do all the work. The first way seems to force both rollers to contribute to the effort, and that’s why I prefer to set it up that way.

If you have any other suggestions, or a better way to explain what’s going on here, please contribute to the discussion via the comments below!

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I love my clear plastic hexagonal tumbler barrels!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/01/13

An art-jewelry-friend of mine, Zoe Nelson, posted this in a metal clay group on Facebook last week. But I check Facebook only sporadically, so I didn’t see it until a day and a half later, by which time she’d already received dozens of suggestions and found a neighbor whose car-repair tool (an oil filter wrench) actually helped to solve the problem.

Until then though, none … none! … of the suggestions were how I would have responded: a few were halfway-decent alternatives, a few were complaints rather than solutions, some were simply sympathetic notes, and the rest were ideas that were far more complicated than I’d’ve thought necessary, a few even likely to damage the barrel. Thus, this blog post, at last, that Zoe knows I’m writing for her (and any others in a similar predicament!) to have for future reference.

I did make a range comments about my tumbler that uses these barrels, and more, a few years ago. (Looking for the link — gosh, that was way back in 2012!) So I have over three more years experience with it since then.

Yeah, the clear plastic lid can be a bit tricky. But (just as Zoe said in her Facebook exchanges with her readers) I’ve had as much trouble, in different ways, with the lid on the kind of barrel that’s made out of black rubber. While your experience may differ, I will take the clear plastic ones any day!

You can follow the link above to read the pros and cons I wrote back in 2012 (and see a few more photos, plus other alternatives, if you landed here without a lot of knowledge of tumblers), but here are the things I want to say now that relate specifically to Zoe’s problem and anyone else who may encounter a similar one.

First of all, let’s try to prevent the problem from the start:

  • After you’ve filled your barrel with shot, water with either a bit of dish soap or burnishing compound, and the pieces you want to tumble, do this: Dip your fingertip in the liquid and run it around the rubber ring that seals between the barrel and the top. You don’t need to soak it, just get it slightly damp. This seems to help it form a good seal.
  • Then put the lid on and turn it backwards until it feels like it is seated correctly and fits smoothly. (I don’t do this all the time, but if it seems to stick at all at the next step, then I always back up and do this!)
  • Turn the lid forward to tighten it. It should turn smoothly and freely: if it doesn’t, stop! If you have trouble getting it on, you will have more trouble getting it off! It should tighten easily. If it’s catching, it’s not seated correctly. Back up a step, and repeat that one and this until you get it to close up easily.
  • Then, tighten it a bit more so that it seals. The lid does need to be tight, but not super-tight. Tip the barrel sideways and turn it around a couple of times (like it will turn on the base), and see if it leaks.
    • If it doesn’t leak, proceed to start tumbling.
    • If it does leak, try to tighten it a little bit more and repeat the test. (If there is some liquid in the little “gaps” in the big part of the barrel, where the straight edges connect to the rim, that might be all that’s leaking. So test it for a bit longer and see if it stops dripping once that has emptied out.)
    • If it continues to fail, don’t over-tighten it! Spin the lid backwards and, if it moves smoothly, go ahead and try to re-tighten it. If it doesn’t move smoothly or still continues to fail, just take it off and start from the first, seal-lubricating step above (checking to see if it may be time to replace that rubber ring).
  • When you’re done tumbling, the lid should come off…. It may take a bit of effort (you did have it sealed up well, you know, so it wouldn’t leak!), but set it down flat on a table, hold the barrel, and figure out how to push down (to press against that great seal you managed to make) and turn the top, let up and turn if you can, push a bit more if necessary and keep trying to turn, until it starts to move.

Now, if that last step doesn’t work, ignore all the suggestions about things like cooling the bottom while heating the top, or hitting the edge of the lid with a knife, or trying to pry the lid off, or any of the other tricks that people have tried in their kitchen, and use the method that I always use in mine and which has always worked on my clear plastic tumbler barrels too. I will quote it directly from the funny but still useful book by John and Marina Bear that is illustrated to the right (just so you get an idea of what the whole book is like, in addition to the tip on what to do…):

Problems with Utensils
Stuck bottle or jar tops

H. Allen Smith revealed to the world the technique for opening all screw-top containers. Now there are untold millions of us who face Mount Kisco or wherever it is he lives and say thank you every time we are faced with an obstinate top.

The technique: Bang the top flatly on a hard surface, like the floor. Not the edge, but the flat surface of the top. Just once. Hard. That’s all. And to think of all those jars we used to hold under hot water.


(Not that I want to date myself here, but I found that book in what must have been just a few months after this version was published. I have the 1973 UK edition: that’s the year I moved there — my second real full-time job after college — and I suddenly found myself cooking in a somewhat different kitchen using a number of unfamiliar local ingredients, and in London at that time there was a waiting list of over a year and a half to get a phone installed! (I was there for only two years, to the day! So I never even applied to the waiting list. We had postal service twice a day, and lots of people I knew didn’t have a phone either: we could simply write letters back and forth to make plans for the evening! But I digress…) Transcontinental phone calls back then would have been way too expensive anyway… so I had no way to call my family or old friends for help and there were times when I just wasn’t ready to admit to my new English friends some things that tripped me up. The book was a hoot — written by former New Yorkers living in the UK — so although it did use the British terminology I was just beginning to learn, the attitude sometimes felt familiar. And it was helpful too! People seem to either love or hate that book, and I’m one of the former….)

Anyway, there may be a few “bad” clear plastic tumbler barrels out there (and others that have been damaged by mis-use) that are harder to tighten, and those will also be harder to open. But I have two myself: one marked A for the Latin Argentium aka silver (or other precious metal) pieces, and the other, marked B, for pieces containing any form of Base metal. I’ve used a few others at meetings or workshops. I’ve seen people struggle to get them to seal and I’ll admit I struggled with mine the first few times I tried to use them, until I got a feel for it. Like riding a bike (or rolling out metal clay) once you "get" it, it seems easy!

And, every time I’ve had a problem closing any of those barrels, I’ve just loosened the lid, spinning it backwards until I’m sure I’ve got it seated right, and closed it back up with little difficulty. If I tighten it just enough to get a seal (and even that does take a bit of practice to get the feel, but it will come if one remains calm and pays attention), it may take a bit of oomph to get it to start to open, but it will come loose again. Or, if it does resist, just use the tip above: lid down, flat, once, hard.

Because we do need to be able to retrieve our beauties once they’ve completed their tumble-burnishing, don’t we?!!

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Buttons, Buttons, Yet More Silver Buttons!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/01/12

Did you miss the button-making class at Indie Knit and Spin last November? If so, you’re in luck: I’m offering it again at the February 6 session, from 10 am to 12:30 pm!

We had a great time last year! A number of folks wandering along the hallway, checking the vendors and classes in other rooms, stopped in to see what we were doing and said they wished they’d signed up. There aren’t going to be many (if any) other classes at the February event but, since I’ll be using my own studio (i.e., Cosy doesn’t need to pay to rent another whole room for the class, and WSCC doesn’t need to schedule other events around IKS’s use of yet another of the by-the-hour classrooms), I said I’d be happy to offer this one again.

Please note: You don’t have to make actual buttons in this workshop! If you’d prefer to make a focal piece to serve as an embellishment on your fiber work, or just want to make some other type of decoration, that’s OK too. Unlike most of my workshops, where I make a point of showing how to make two-sided pieces, for buttons which are typically sewn down onto some fabric, we will just be texturing the “front” side of our pieces. But all it takes is a shift in the placement and/or size of the holes we’ll make in our pieces, and you can have another form of decoration for your work or even a few charms, earrings, or a pendant. It’s up to you!

  • For more details, see the Button Making post at the Indie Knit and Spin website.
  • As described there, to sign up for the class, send an email to cosymakes@gmail.com
  • Please sign up by 8 am on Monday, February 1, so I can have time to place an order that morning for enough material to use in the class. Seating is limited but, if spaces remain after that deadline, I’ll allow others in if but only if I have enough material for late-comers to use.


Once again, I forgot to tell Cosy to change the write-up but, as I discussed last fall, I’m planning to use .960 Sterling Silver for the class. If anyone has problems with that alloy, I will have on hand the .999 Fine Silver mentioned in the class description for you to use. The techniques used are the same either way.

(What problems, you may wonder? .999 means it’s 99.9% silver, and only silver; it’s not certified at 100% simply because no manufacturer is going to swear that not even an atom or two of something else managed to sneak in there somehow, but it’s as pure as reasonably possible. Whereas .960 means it’s only 96% silver and 4% copper has deliberately been added, so if you are someone who reacts badly to copper (or to traditional .925 sterling silver, which contains up to 7.5% copper), then you may want to stick to fine silver. It is extremely rare for anyone to have a bad skin-contact reaction to silver alone; most people who say they’re allergic to silver are actually reacting to the copper in sterling (not the silver element itself), or else to some patina chemical or polishing compound applied to their silver (which I am happy to omit for anyone with a sensitivity–there are several products I’ve learned to avoid myself!).)


Here’s looking forward to another fun class with more great participants: it’s only a little over three weeks away now, so please sign up soon.

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Year #7: Here we come!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/01/07

Am I really already into my seventh (7th!!!) year of musings here?!  Hard to believe that, but it’s true.

I’m a few days late with this one, but things got even crazier than usual at the end of the year.  So instead of posting on my New Year’s Day blogging anniversary, I’ve managed to do this on an alternative holiday, one of several for Christmas as calculated on the Julian Calendar.  What can I say: I do understand the math involved, and why not find another reason for a celebration!

Part of my year-end disruption was due to the main interstate highway near my house (locals call it the Parkway East) being closed for a week so the city could demolish a deteriorating bridge that crossed it.  (How bad?  So bad it had made it onto 60 Minutes last year!)  There had been a temporary fix a while ago: they built a second bridge underneath it, not for anyone to cross mind you, just to serve as a sort of diaper to catch the bits that were falling off the upper bridge so they wouldn’t land on cars driving down the interstate highway!  So the demolition involved covering the interstate with lots of dirt, imploding both bridges down onto the pile, and then hauling everything away.

Now, I tend to use the back roads and simply avoid that stretch of freeway, so the closed road itself was not the problem. No, the problem was that no matter where I wanted to go, I’d’ve had to drive on, or at least try to cross, the detours. For a day or two, no problem; but for a whole week, well, I just left town. Here’s what I missed:


(I like the angle of that video: it shows both structures being taken down, but it definitely plays with the speed (slowing it at the beginning, and speeding it up later on). A more accurate idea of how it went can be found here, though that one was shot from much farther away in a city park, the closest that a “civilian” could get … while I was hundreds of miles away!)

I hadn’t decided exactly how long I’d be gone.  I had friends coming to town from across the country that week and I did want to see them.  But then there arose another complication: if I stayed in town, there were to be several days when I couldn’t get into my studio!  The general community center activities that go on in the building were on hiatus for the week between Christmas and the New Year, and they decided that would be a good time to paint all the public-area floors.  So I left late the night before I thought both the highway and the building were closing, only to learn the next time I checked email that, at the last minute, the painting had been delayed for a few days.   And the Parkway was still closed.  So I didn’t come back early, but instead stayed away a while longer.  And then … yes, there’s more!  The painters took longer than expected, and didn’t quite finish everything, but their time was running out because the community center did have events planned.  I never got the all-clear notice I’d been promised but, finally, I went over yesterday and found that I could get in.  So, now I’m writing!

Happy New Year!  Here’s hoping that everyone’s complications are finished from last year, and we can just get down to some serious work in the realm of having fun in this new one!  The photos with this post showing a pendant from several different angles are one that I started making last year….  It’s made from .960Plus silver clay (a mixture of .925 PMC Sterling and .999 PMC Plus).  That’s the clay we used for the Button Making class at Indie Knit and Spin last November.  I had some mixed clay left over after I’d finished doing my demonstrations in the class but, rather than think about how to store it, I went the route I usually take and just made something with it! (For technical accuracy: the spiral is from plain .999 PMC Plus that I had left over from the previous day….)

Because having several layers loop over the top to form the bail meant that area was thicker (and thus, likely to take longer to fully dry), I didn’t fire it right away with the class pieces.  Instead, I waited until the next month when I made some earrings.  I’d used .960Flex for those, but the same firing schedule works for any form of .960, so I fired this pendant with those earrings.

Having made the earrings just in time for my last Holiday-season show last year, I polished and added a patina to them, but I ran out of time before I got to this big piece.  The first thing I did when I got back into my studio was to finish it up, so I’d have art-jewelry photos to accompany my first post of the year!  I’m happy with how it turned out.  I still have to select a chain on which to hang it.  But I’m back in the groove for the year, and looking forward to new adventures.  And I hope you are too!

 

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Good grief: I can still read it!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/12/20

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night

Good grief

I can still read it!

This old Peanuts strip was reprinted in this week’s Sunday comics. I do wonder what its original publication date was. It did take a few minutes before all the necessary Gregg shorthand symbols came back, but I found it to be an interesting trip down memory lane.

(As soon as I realized that his notes matched her her words, I was able to use that to help me remember which was what; though I swear that he noted her request as a blue setter, not sweater, which could be very interesting!)

If my mother were still alive, I wonder how long it would have taken her to read all of it. She’s the one who insisted I take shorthand in high school. Not so I’d be prepared for the secretarial work that she had done (though having that as back-up plan was not out of the question) but because she believed it was a skill that was generally useful. (Then again, once I’d begun to learn it, she suddenly realized she could no longer hide notes from me by writing them that way!)

I used some shorthand in high school, but much more once I got to college simply because I found myself trying to take more detailed notes then. I didn’t take notes entirely in shorthand, mind you. I wrote out many discipline-specific words longhand, rather than try to sound them out in shorthand style. But being able to use shorthand for a lot of my notes did save time, better enabling me to keep up with the lesson while still taking notes. Sometimes I’d transcribe them back to longhand; but usually, if I did that, it was during a review-session before exams.

So it was funny, in college, when a friend who’d skipped a class would ask to borrow my notes. I’d usually just answer “sure” and hand them over without thinking. And the person would come back in just a few minutes with a puzzled-looking face, and that’s when it would hit me, “Oh, don’t you read shorthand?” Hmmm, it just wasn’t a class that the majority of academic-track students heading to my university had taken!

But now this has me thinking. I’m not a big fan of jewelry with words on it, but some shorthand symbols do have interesting shapes. (If you know Gregg shorthand, you will know whether or not to agree with my feeling that I’ve always enjoyed writing “after” that way. I’m less sure about putting that symbol on artwork, although this thought-exercise has me realizing that I’ve already used “before” on a number of pieces, as well as “great” and “correct” and even “rarity”!) Don’t hold your breath waiting to see any … but I may have to find an old shorthand dictionary at some point and just scan it for interesting shapes that represent words I might like to use. I’ve no clue how many I may ever end up making, but I think I have to at least try it!

If I were to do that, how many of you could likely read what the symbol said?

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Thanks, again, everyone!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/12/17

This is just a quick Thank You note to everyone who came by my studio during one of my recent Open House events. ‘Twas great to see familiar faces and to meet new folks. I am always delighted to see my creations moving on to new homes, but it’s also just fun to have folks stop by, whether you came because I invited you, or you were at an event sponsored by the Wilkins School Community Center, or (such as with the new UE members & their friends from the East End Food Coop) you were just partying at the center and followed the signs to my studio. And I also want to note my appreciation for folks who shopped at any of the other venues that carry my works!

If you missed any of those, or have second thoughts about something you passed up, or want to buy a surprise gift for the person you were with, please let me know. I won’t be keeping a “regular” schedule between now and Christmas, but I will be in the studio off and on. I would still be happy to try to agree upon a time to meet you there!

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Let the Holiday Season Shopping Season Begin … with Small Business Saturday!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/11/25

I don’t care what stores may or many not be open on Thanksgiving, brick & mortar or online ones, I don’t intend to do any shopping that day! There are just a few small things I may head out and try to pick up on Black Friday. For me, Small Business Saturday is the important day, both as someone who believes in supporting local businesses (both the shops and the local producers of their wares) and as someone who is really, really hoping to sell some of her art in order to earn income towards next year’s looming expenses. (I do love my studio, but I also need to pay for it … and lots more!)

So here are some of the places where you can find my jewelry and/or ornaments! They are listed in roughly chronological order from their special-event start times.

  • November 27 – December 24: Ornament Extravaganza (in addition to all the regular ‘Smiths Shop items) at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh (Mt. Lebanon, PA)
  • November 28 – December 6: H*liday mART at Sweetwater Center for the Arts (Sewickley, PA)
  • December 4-5-6: Holiday Gift Shop at the Wilkins School Community Center (Swissvale, PA)
  • December 4-5-6: Studio Open House at my Convergent Series Studio (Regent Square, PA)
  • December 5: Holiday Open House (in addition to their regular Gift Shop hours all the time) at the Hoyt Center for the Arts (New Castle, PA)
  • December 12-13: Studio Open House at my Convergent Series Studio (Regent Square, PA)
  • I also have jewelry items (no new ornaments) up at the Portage Hill Gallery (Westfield, NY). Their hours are much longer during the summer season at Chautauqua; but Audrey will likely have a few events over the coming weekends too, so if you’re in the area, do check that out.

All of these pieces, and lots more, will be available at one or another of those venues. Please stop by if you can and/or tell others from this area where to find them.
    

(Be sure to note that the Parkway East will be closed December 4-5-6! To get to the events in Swissvale / Regent Square, you’ll have to detour around that. While I understand the necessity, all us vendors impacted by that sure wish they’d announced that closing sooner, so we could have at least tried to plan around it! Please find the detour routes, or try to come out at another time! Thank you!)

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Holiday Season Special Earrings!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/11/22

While I was going crazy coloring ornaments, I also colored a few little copper stampings that I then made into earrings. (Done quickly, most have been colored on one side only: unusual for me, but it makes sense since this is an entirely different process.)

Because of the raw copper underneath, these are bound to come out a bit darker than many of the ornaments, but I still think they make cute little casual holiday treats. I don’t normally like to coat my metal pieces, but I did put a waterproof acrylic coating over the colored side of each piece. I still wouldn’t recommend wearing them while you swim or otherwise expose them to any chemicals but they should hold up under normal use beyond that.

I could make more of those, or just make singles and hang them as pendants … if there seems to be interest. Time will tell!

And then, while I had the stampings out, I made a few red-green-glitter ovals too, and priced those the same as the other decorated stampings. Making those reminded me of a number of the reasons why I am not, personally, a big fan of glitter. (Maybe if I did more with it I’d learn more tricks; I do have some dear glitter-crazy friends and I’m sure they’d be happy to help me. But I do know the basics and my issue is that I think it’s too much mess and and what feels like sheer work to justify in my own mind the end result: it can be nice but I just find other techniques so much more fun!)

Still, I’m happy to fulfill custom order requests: I do have all the stuff to make more and would be happy to keep going until I’ve used that up, should anyone want more once these are gone!

Oh, and both kinds of earrings are offered on hypoallergenic niobium earwires that have been anodized to the nice dark-copper-brown color shown here.

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2015’s Crazy-busy Season Is Here!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/11/20

You’d think I’d know better by now … taking on a whole new project right before crazy-busy-sales season! But why not make something new and fun to help celebrate the season?

Though I have made some new jewelry items in recent weeks, I really have been trying to plan ahead more often (you’ll see there’s a joke here in a moment…) and I had a decent amount of “inventory” on hand from summer and early-fall production sessions. The first photo here, for example, shows a handful of simple sterling silver (.960) and bronze pendants I cut using an electronic cutter by Silhouette America. (For those familiar with them, I have both a Cameo, at home, and a Portrait, in my studio. When I add this to my teaching repertoire, I might get their curio too…)

Then I happened to go to a local (regional) crafts store (Pat Catan’s) just to get a roll of vinyl for a little home decor project I wanted to make as a gift for a friend. Worst part of the story is that they didn’t even have the one I wanted in stock just then. Now, I could well have ordered it from somewhere else online: but I only thought of doing this at the last minute (ha! ha!) and I wanted the vinyl in order to make the gift that day….

So I strolled around a bit looking for something else I could make that afternoon (I needed to deliver it at lunch-time the next day, you see), and there they were: clear glass ornaments just calling out to be decorated! Of course, I bought one box (just one!). Again, of course, I picked up a few other little supplies, added those to some I had on hand already, and had a great time decorating. The next day I gave several to the friend and, on my way home, stopped at a different Pat Catan’s to look over the entire selection, walking out with several boxes each of seven (7!) different size / finish / shape combinations and a months-long project ahead of me.

Though five of the shape-size combos are fairly traditional for ornaments, two have flat bottoms so that, while you can hang them on a Christmas tree, you could instead just set them on a flat surface. The round ones even came with a double-loop around the top so that, if you did set them on a table, you could insert some sort of card in between the loops: a photo, a note, a place-card at the dining table (that your guests could then take home as gifts, perhaps!), etc. I looked at how those were made, and ended up making my own double-loop tops to use on the square ornaments in place of the standard (single-loop) ones they came with.

Then I had a grand time coloring them, most of them both inside and out. I made that style just because I like them the most that way … so if they don’t all sell I can still be happy about using the rest of them myself!

As is usual for me, they’re finished on all sides! And, of course, no two are alike, not even when I tried to make a pair to match, just to see if I could. (Those do look related, but they still have noticeable differences. So, in the end, I went for variety. I’m happy with variety!)

To be sure, I will still have lots of jewelry available too! I’ll talk about where everything will be available in an upcoming post!

Mostly, this will be pendants and earrings in silver and bronze. I’ll have a few pieces in other styles and / or metals, but those are my favorites to work in (at different times, somewhat just depending on my mood because they are different in subtle but important ways).

With daylight hours getting shorter and shorter this time of year, I’m glad to have all these various bits of brightness around me, made of glass and metal and love. I hope they’ll soon find new homes and help brighten up the lives of others too.

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Yes, Thank You Indie Knit & Spin!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/11/16

As Cosy said at the Indie Knit and Spin site: Thank you to everyone who helped make this fall’s event yet another success: workshop students (mine and others), my fellow teachers, other vendors, all the wonderful shoppers, Cosy who organizes the whole thing, and Patty who first clued me in to this event several years ago.

Though I’d said I could fit in up to six people, I was actually slightly relieved when I learned I’d only need to find space to fit in five: that’s five plus a space for me to do demos! (I was then disappointed when one of the students got the time wrong, and arrived “early” for the end of the class, which is the time she thought it would start; sigh!)

In theory, I can fit 10 to 12 student into my studio comfortably (probably 14 in a pinch, though I’ve never gone that far: I prefer to limit class sizes so I’m sure I can give everyone the attention they need and deserve…), this was the first time I ever tried to fit a class in behind the space I use when I set up a shop!

Once I’d left some room for my shop assistant, Kathy, and for shoppers, not to mention a variety of my creations, the space left for the workshop did get a bit cosy! I managed to capture a snippet of it all in the photo here, though I couldn’t back up enough, nor squeeze into any other corners, to capture the whole space. Oh well, this shot is a nice memento of a lovely morning. I thought everyone in the class did well, and I hope they’re happy with their creations and will consider making more! (I did promise them a free firing if they did.) Also, though I can’t imagine why she’d see this (but I’m going to be vague just in case), I hope the mother of one student is delighted with the Christmas-present pendant her very focused and productive daughter managed to make in the time we had together!

Even more, I hope they’ll show me / us what they’ve done with their creations, whether it’s in a comment here or by bringing them (or at least a photo) for the next Indie Knit & Spin! Cosy may not organize classes for that one but, since I did this in my own room, I can offer another button-making workshop then. Even better, in a way: if there aren’t other classes that people want to dash off to, we can have time for a slightly more complex project: instead of just making holes in our buttons to sew through, we could even explore making shank-style buttons too.

Mark your calendar: that’ll be on Saturday, February 6, 2016!

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Yes, hand-made: Buttons at Indie Knit & Spin!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/11/10

The delightful Indie Knit & Spin returns to the Wilkins School Community Center this year on Saturday, November 14, 2015. The marketplace will run from 10 am to 4 pm, and there will be classes running from 9 am to 6 pm!

In one of those classes (10 am to 12:20 pm), I will be teaching how to make your very own silver buttons!

And, you may ask, just how do metal buttons tie into an event aimed at “Everyone who loves to work with beautiful and unique yarn and fiber”? Well, the theory is this: if you’re going to go to all the effort to attend this show in order to obtain fabulous fiber arts products and materials, and then lots more time making your own hand-made creations, doesn’t it make sense to have your own hand-made buttons that you can use on those items?

Though I originally announced this as a workshop using .999 fine silver (at least 99.9% silver; not 100% only because we can’t swear that there aren’t a few atoms of other stuff in there somewhere), upon some reflection it dawned on me that .960 sterling silver (at least 96% silver, with up to 4% copper) would be better for buttons.

In general, I tend to make a lot of pendants and earrings and, in that context, fine silver is a wonderful material to work with. But metals-folks have been adding a touch of copper to silver for ages because that alloy yields a slightly harder, stronger product, and that’s useful for things like rings or bracelets that tend to suffer a bit more from normal wear and tear.

Now, the most typical alloy, called sterling silver, is referred to as .925: i.e., it’s at least 92.5% silver, and the remaining 7.25% is usually just copper, though sometimes other metals will be included with copper in that 7.25% as well. The problem is that alloys with even just that much copper or other metals then require lots of special handling, firing and/or finishing than does true fine silver.

But, there is yet another compormise: .960! That designation means it’s at least 96% silver. With that mix, you get (roughly) 90% of the strength of .925 sterling with almost none of the extra complications!

So I’m now planning to use .960 for the class, though I will have a bit of .999 on hand just in case anyone signed up specifically because I’d said we’d use fine silver. But I’m assuming the students will all be metal clay beginners, and happy to use the product the teacher is recommending for their buttons.

I’d also said that it’d take just a minor adjustment to turn a button-project into one where the person is making charms, earring elements, or small pendants. We can make any of those out of .999 fine silver or .960 sterling silver.

Last I heard, there were still just few seats left. If you’ve been looking for a good introduction to metal clays, why not sign up for that session! Or, if you can’t make it that Saturday, let me know if you’d be interested and able to come over the next day, on Sunday the 15th. I’m hoping to offer another little introductory session then: the focus will be small earring, charm, or pendant pieces.

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The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh holds its Grand Opening!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/10/25

At last! Though it’s been unofficially open for (exactly!) two months, The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh had its official Grand Opening celebration yesterday. What a treat it was to see the place bustling, with so many people enjoying all the offerings!

In the ‘Smiths Shop, people explored the wide range of artworks available from several hundred artists, all from the local region! Some visitors just browsed. Others made purchases: thank you! Lots of them made notes (mental or physical) about items they may return for later on.

It was great to notice how much interaction there was among various visitors: some conversations were among people who knew each other already, of course, but there were plenty of new acquaintances made as people shared their discoveries.

That was the case not only in the ‘Smiths Shop, but also downstairs during a series of great demonstrations in the spaces that will be opening early next year with more galleries and classroom spaces. (I’m looking forward to teaching there, and to learning from other other Artsmiths!)

There were plenty of interactions in the Koolkat Cafe too, where folks found more chances to chat and share treats with old friends and new acquaintances. That space was bustling all day as people dined and snacked on both regular menu items and specials of the day, and even had the opportunity to listen to a wonderful series of local musicians.

For more photos and videos of this delightful new community resource, feel free to check back to my post from two months ago, the day after Artsmiths’ “soft” opening on August 24.

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Let’s Be Thankful with the Cranberry Artists Network in 2015

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/10/07

Cranberry Twp Billboard announcing the Let's Be Thankful show.It’s time for another show sponsored by the Cranberry Artists Network, and I’m very thankful to report that I’ve had two pieces accepted!

The theme of this show is Let’s be Thankful, and I’m displaying my pieces along with the thankful / gratitude quotations that inspired me as I was making them. I chose to use silver this time, because I wanted its preciousness to help represent the value of thankfulness. Having done that, however, I deliberately tried to keep them fairly simple, with just a few special embellishments, to keep the prices as manageable as I could. Much as I love making more elaborate pieces, I really do want to offer items that are reasonably affordable.

Joyful Gratitude is in a domed triangle shape. It contains a carnelian on its concave side, said to represent joyfulness, as one form of the depth and range of feelings associated with gratitude. Its convex side exhibits the heart where such gratitude is felt, and held. It is offered on a sterling silver chain cut and attached to gratefully “hug” the top of the triangle.

The slightly heftier Grateful Gardeners is a highly textured oval piece. Like much of my work, this piece is reversible. In this case, however, there is one side that feels like the front to me: it exhibits yet another heart-shaped texture accented by a nephrite jade, a stone of the heart signifying friendship, and also considered to be a water-stone and thus appropriate for a garden-theme. The side I think of as the back (though it could well be worn to the front!) contains a sort of secret garden of textured embellishments: a heart, a leaf, a flower, and a butterfly.

The opening reception will be tonight, from 6 to 8 pm. If you can’t get over to that, I hope my local-folks can get over at some point during the show. It runs through November 2 in the Cranberry Township Municipal Center on Rochester Road.

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Love & Commitment

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/09/05

Back in 2012, I wrote about how much I enjoyed making my first bracelet in the Domes & Coils series. I really liked that bracelet: never even considered putting it up for sale, wore it regularly, but somehow (?!) lost it at the last-ever conference sponsored by the now-defunct PMC Guild. Sigh.

Then in 2014, I wrote about another bracelet in that series, one I called Friends & Lovers, that I made to fit the theme of a bracelet-making challenge with a “Romantic” theme. My cousin Debby liked it, dealt with all sorts of technical issues (some hers, some the site where the contest was being hosted) in order to vote for it (didn’t win; I think it came in second but there was just one award) and when, a year later, she found out I had not sold it, said she wanted to buy it to wear later in the year when her son Adam would be marrying Megan. Great! I was glad for her to have it! (And, assuming the marriage lasts, to have it eventually pass on to Megan.)

I knew it would need some minor adjustments to fit her wrist, so I didn’t sent id to her right away. Figured I’d see her at a shower for that wedding, or at one of several other family-events over the summer. But when she said she wanted it was right before I was going to have a show in my studio, so I carefully set it aside for safe-keeping. Now that I had a buyer for it, I sure didn’t want anyone else going for it. Makes sense, right?

Except, then I couldn’t find where I’d put it! I wasn’t worried: as I tidied up all sorts of nooks & crannies in my studio gradually over the summer, I knew I’d find it. Except, I didn’t.

Sooooo, I finally just made another one! Finished it 12 hours before the wedding! The first Domes & Coils just had coiled wire coiled within its domes; Friends & Lovers had beads coiled within its domes; this one has wire coils or beaded coils, alternately, within its domes. I’m making it to the size she said she wanted, but I think it’s going to be a bit small, so I made a couple extra domed-hearts with the nested coils, and I’m going to take those, jump rings, and tools in case I need to do any on the spot adjustments!

I call this one Love & Commitment. Why? Well, I’m telling Debby this: I love you and I made a commitment to have this for you for the wedding, on top of the meaning of the event at which you’ll first wear it. So it just seemed an appropriate name. I sure hope she’ll like it in person as much as the one she only ever saw in a photograph.

Postscript: I’m glad I took the tools: with a bit of fiddling, we got a fit she calls perfect! I was sure I’d taken a photo of her wearing it and grinning ear to ear (over the wedding, I’m sure, not just the bracelet, though she did seem happy with it). But now, I don’t see one of those. Instead, here’s a shot of the happy couple at the “you may now kiss” moment (along with yet another cousin, the priest who married them!), sent with lots of best wishes!

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Welcome: The Arsmiths of Pittsburgh!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/08/25

Way back in 2008, I was delighted when I was first welcomed into Koolkat Designs’ gallery. Even after they crowded the works of so many artists into their small space that they could no longer host workshops (my metal clay ones, and others), I was still very happy for their continued growth. From the moment I heard about their plans to close Koolkat and reopen under an ambitious new plan, I have been eager to see it launched. When my re-application was accepted, I was thrilled to once again be included in this “family” of artists! And now, although the official “grand opening party” has yet to be scheduled, I am excited to be able to share the news that The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh opened for business on Monday, August 24.

I’ve found two articles, so far, that help cheer the opening, from:

And, on the second day it was open, I went down this afternoon to check it out myself.

To be honest, at this point it’s just the “main” floor of Artsmiths that has opened: but that contains the ‘Smiths Shop and the Koolkat Café, both of which are delightful. (Isn’t great how the café name helps to carry on Koolkat’s legacy?) At the café today, I had a wonderful lunch of pesto chicken panini with a cup of chai. (Locals may recognize the café treats, supplied by the Enrico Biscotti company.) Back in this paint, print, and photo section, I found a couple unique cards to go with the hand-made gifts I’m making for two different cousins with imminent weddings.

Artsmith’s lower level, with offices plus additional gallery and classroom spaces will be launched later on. (Yes, my dear followers, space for classes again for those of you on the other side of several rivers from the offerings in my Convergent Series studio! Likely not for a few more months there, but it’s coming.) In the meantime, Kate Wagle Hitmar is using the chained-off stairway landing up here on the main level as a temporary office, so she can be on hand to help the new staff, as needed, with any start-up questions. (Both that and, farther back just before I swing around to catch her, the ‘Smiths Shop check-out counter (as gorgeous as the rest of the art, and made from reclaimed materials), are shown in this little snippet of the wonderful sunlit display space.)

One of the things I love about the new facility is how it provides the space to expand the range of offerings. Though I didn’t actually buy anything from this side of the shop today, I did spend time exploring what all there is. The holiday season will be on us soon enough… Here’s hoping lots of folks will be celebrating with and from here this year!

(Though I’ll have to go back at another time of day and see what else I can do about all the shadows and reflections, what with glass cases and mirrors everywhere…) if you head over to The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh and are wondering where to find my Convergent Series art jewelry pieces, here’s the case to look for at this point in time. If you stop by, please let me know what you think, both of my works and the whole endeavor!

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Hey, what’s up with Carol & Convergent Series this summer?

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/08/10

This has been and continues to be a great summer … except for blogging, trying to maybe work on a website, and other such “online” tasks.

Now, there are several reasons for this that I’m not going to go into just now (e.g., and in no particular order: the instant-gratification time-sinks like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc., that are full of interesting tidbits but require slogging through far too many individually-irrelevant items to find them; various great travels with friends & family; car-maintenance nonsense that tied me up for a week before getting fixed; ordering, having to wait for, and then trying to learn a new camera; taking workshops & teaching private lessons; my ongoing efforts with the Penn State Master Gardeners of Allegheny County especially at the Urban Edible Teaching Garden; and more!).

The thing I will describe in some detail is that ON TOP OF ALL THAT, the internet connection in my studio is failing. It’s definitely the internet-part, not my own computer, as confirmed by the experiences of others in the building, my taking in other devices that work fine via other connections, etc. And there is no easy way for me to fix that.

I mean, how can one complain when one pays nothing for the service?! Yes, I pay a monthly rental for the studio space, all “utilities” included. I get heat for free. I had to buy my own window air conditioning unit, but they put in an extra electrical line that I can use at no extra cost for the AC in summer, or a space heater to supplement battle between the furnace and the leaky windows in the depths of winter, or my kiln (just one of those at the same time mind you but, for the price, that’s ok with me too). There’s water (restrooms, kitchen, and big utility sinks) and trash pick-up and they take care of clearing away snow outside in the winter. And so on. And the building even has a “business class” internet connection, which has let me post away happily for the past few years.

But my studio is in a “community center” building. The folks that run the center just live in the neighboring community; they organize things through phone calls, visits to each other’s homes, or even just walking around “the Square” (as the neighborhood may be called); they do hold only an occasional formal meeting in one of the center’s open rooms when they want input from the community. But the important thing with respect to today’s topic is that they don’t work in the building at all. They have no need for internet service there. And the center’s budget goes for things like all those utilities and maintenance items and such.

So where do the ‘net services dome from? Well, there’s a local Linux User’s Group that used to meet in the building every month. The are the ones who really wanted the ‘net, so they made a deal with the center: they’d provide it, anyone could use it for free the rest of the time, while they’d get a comparable discount in the rental they paid for the meeting room. That worked wonderfully for my first years in that building! (Well, it was configured so you had to re-sign-in every hour or two, so I’d have to time any long sessions (e.g., system upgrades) to fall between that, but again, for the price, that was never a major inconvenience.)

Except, recently, that group has been rotating their meetings around among other locations. Lots of groups do that (including some I’m a part of), so it does make sense. They have left their conmputer and routers and such at the center, and they are still paying the bills, but something is very wrong with it. And they aren’t coming to fix it. And the center-folks won’t touch it because it’s not theirs.

I could take my computer home (nice desktop model with a huge screen) and connect from there. But it was just so very convenient to have that beast in my studio! Especially with metal clays, there is a lot of time that goes into little bursts of just “waiting for something to happen” — waiting for some moist clay pieces to dry before being able to proceed, or for some frozen stash to thaw, or for a kiln-load to finish firing, etc. Those moments are when I would easily catch a bit of “online time” in my studio. And, yes, I could still catch some via one of my “mobile devices” while at home, but for writing and doing photos and such, I just so much prefer the good, big, fast device I’d hooked up in my studio between my big, bright windows and my tidy little photo-taking table. Besides, I don’t have anywhere near as many “gap times” at home, and I’ve already found ways to use the few I do have productively.

So, I don’t know what to do. The big beast is big! If I were to take it home, I’d first have to figure out where it would go, then I’d have the hassle of packaging it all up and hauling the huge box down three flights of stairs at the center followed by up two more flights at home. If there is any chance the ‘net services will return in the next few months, it will just be easier to wait. Until I know more about the possibilities, though, I’m not going to put myself through everything involved in moving it. Instead, I just ask that you bear with me for a little while longer. I’m fine otherwise. (To illustrate, I’m including two photos from last month’s great road trip across PA with my cousin Marie from CA. The first, with my cousins, her nieces, Becky and Katie, at Phipps Conservatory; the second, at Ohiopyle, after we’d spent an afternoon at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.)

Thanks so much for your patience!

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Sili, Sillier, Silliest

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/07/30

Lately it seems that all I’ve managed to post about are shows, not the creative process. I do love shows, parties, festivals, and more. I want people to see my creations, those are great ways to enable that, and talking about those is generally considered to be a way to help in finding an audience for my works.

But I also enjoy sharing information about the processes involved in my artwork so I’m going to try to slip in one of those posts today. I’ll discuss a technique I use at times that I only just realized I haven’t written about here: using a little electronic die-cutting machine on my metal clays.

As far as I know, Wanaree Tanner is the one who got the ball rolling on using these with metal clays, traveling around doing workshops and promoting the use of the Silhouette Cameo several years ago. It seemed to me that the thing she promoted most was using them to create your own elaborate bezels for setting stones. She doesn’t seem to be making such a big deal about the Silhouettes any more (though anyone who follows her work can see where she’s still using hers).

I can appreciate the way she simplifies the making of such bezels with that tool; it’s just not a style I want to emulate all that much myself. Cindy Pope seems to be the person now leading the charge with Silhouettes and metal clays, making layered designs, etching words and patterns along various shapes, and doing all sort of things I find much more up my alley, design-wise. (Cindy was also a great house-mate in CA and then host in OR the last time I went out to the west coast!) The photos with this post will illustrate one of the very simplest applications of these cutters.

Several years ago, I bought a Silhouette Cameo. I used it a few times with metal clays, enjoyed the results, but still found my own designs mostly going in other directions. But I do use that device at home for all sorts of useful little paper-crafting tasks which is really what that machine was designed for.

Of course, not long after I bought my Cameo, Silhouette America came out with a new machine, called a Portrait (more compact than the Cameo), and then a newer version of the Cameo (with a touch screen instead of the buttons that both the Portrait and my older Cameo have)! I guess those are why the one I got was available at a really good price at that moment in time! But that’s fine, because they all use the same software, and attachments, and so on.

The biggest difference is that the Cameo will cut up to a 12″ width, while the Portrait only goes to 8″ across. Your big scrapbooking papers, wide vinyl, etc., are going to be 12″ across, so the Cameo is best if that’s the sort of thing you’re ever going to do. Metal clay folks work with small bits of clay, however, ones that are typically just one or at most just a few inches across, so the Portrait is more than enough if you’re never going to work on big projects. At one point (after several months of really good sales at my end … and another really good-price offer at Silhouette’s), I bought a Portrait. I figured that having two could be useful: it would allow me to have one each at home and in studio and, even better, it’d give me more options when I finally get around to trying to teach a workshop on using the tools. (Whatever I’m doing, I’m still always thinking about teaching it to others!)

My Portrait now sits on the table next to the computer in my studio. I’m still not into making Sili-cuts as my primary design tool but, now and then, such as times when I’m feeling a bit of a creative block with other methods, I’ll sit down at computer, sketch out a few simple designs, and use those to cut out a few pieces. Just making something, getting a feel of accomplishment, will usually get me out of feeling stuck again. (And that’s probably why I don’t post much about those creations — they feel more like little “interim activities” to me and, once I’m over whatever stuck-ness I was feeling, I’m not particularly inclined to write about them … much as I do enjoy the process (in limited amounts) and appreciate the opportunities they provide.)

So there I was one day a few weeks ago, with a brand new tube of “One Fire Brilliant Bronze” clay powder. This was the only one of Hadar’s basic “One Fire” clays I’d not yet tried. I wasn’t feeling stuck or anything, I was just looking for something simple to make to try out this new-to-me clay. I had fought a bit with the older Quick Fire Brilliant Bronze: I did like the bright golden color; my problem was that I kept facing challenges with the “bottom side” of textured, reversible pieces I’d made with it. (And regular readers of this blog will know that textured, reversible pieces make up the majority of my creations!) The thing is, with pieces cut on the Silhouettes, you really want one side of the piece to be flat: that helps it to stick better to the cutting mat! So, I thought, if I’m ever going to try this One Fire Brilliant Bronze, using it for plain-backed Sili-cut pieces seems to be the way to go.

So, I mixed up a batch, took a part of that and added a bit of glycerin (which gives the dried clay a tiny bit of flexibility, which is extremely useful as you’re separating your just-cut pieces from the cutting mat!). Then I rolled out a few small pieces with light- to moderate-depth textures on one side only, and set those aside to dry while I sketched a few sample designs. Not imagining I’d have any reason to write about it, I didn’t stop to take any photos. I loaded the clay pieces onto the cutting mat of my Portrait, and cut away. The cutting was the easy part!

As always with a new-to-me clay, I did NOT fill up the kiln for my first firing. I started small, taking just one pendant and two smaller, matching pieces (an earring-pair) and fired those. Massive fail: bubbles and cracks: overfired by a lot! I took another earring pair, dropped the temperature, and tried again. Overfired again but, OK, not quite as much. Another pair, dropped the temp a good bit more, tried yet again. Still a bit bubbly, meaning they were still overfired. To drop any lower, though, I’d be going well below the recommended temperature for that clay, so I went online and asked Hadar herself for some advice. She said the firing range for that clay was actually rather large, she often fired at a temperature close to where I had ended up. Since I know my kiln does actually fire a bit hotter than where I’ve set it, it only took me two more tries before I got things to work out the way I wanted!

But, while waiting for Hadar to reply, I fell into one of those pits where I couldn’t think of anything else to create. So …. I mixed up some .960 clay, and rolled out a number of small, thin sheets of that with textures on just one side.

Aside: My .960 was made by mixing .999 PMC Flex, which serves the same purpose as the glycerin, and .925 PMC Sterling, which gives more strength to the thin pieces that are at the limit in terms of thickness hat the Silhouette Cameo and Portrait machines can cut. I used .960 instead of straight .925 because its firing is as reliable as the super-easy .999 fine silvers…

To keep things simple (since I was just trying to perk myself up during a brief lull!), I used the same sketches as I had for the bronze, cut out nine (9) silver pendants and six (6) pairs of earrings (shown in the first photo in this post), cleaned them up a little bit as needed, and fired them right away.

When I finally got a Brilliant Bronze piece to fire successfully, I took a photo of it.

I then fired all the remaining Brilliant Bronze pieces I had waiting and, when those came out fine too, I polished everything up and took a photo. Well, this isn’t quite everything: it’s just pendants (not any of the earrings) and only the ones for which I had enough chain! I’ll have to get some more for that, and finish off the rest. But I am feeling a great sense of accomplishment!

A few final notes:

  • Hadar also now has a number of “One Fire Flex” clays (not every color in her range, but many of them). The were designed specifically to be used with electronic die-cutters, like the Silhouettes and other machines on the market. I have purchased a bit of that, but have yet to try any. Since the winter of 2007-08, I’ve been adding glycerin to clays (in varying amounts, and to different clay formulas, depending on the amount of “flex” I want in my dried clay, anywhere from just enough to peel away a cutting mat without breaking to wiggly-enough to tie a knot!) and, while it can be nice to get a little flex without having to do that, it’s now so second-nature to me the need to switch is just not urgent…
  • Silhouette America had at least one model before the Cameo, which I think was called an SD (for Silhouette Design, I would think), and they’re about to come out with yet another newer one, the curio (yes, they use lower case for it). The bed of curio will be even smaller than the Portrait, but it will be able to cut thicker materials, meaning thicker layers (less fragile after firing) of metal clay! (Though the Silhouettes are all at the low end of cutting-force compared to other electronic die-cutters, so the curio will still be limited by that with regard to some other materials.) Still, though I’d love to have that option, I need to sell a lot more pieces before I spring for yet another machine… I don’t see the curio replacing my Cameo but, if I were just starting out now, I’d get it instead of the Portrait. Still, having all three could be useful for workshops next year…?!
  • I’ve fired a few more loads in the two weeks since the adventures reported above and, at the same temperature (even just a tad lower with the last, very-full load); all have turned out fine! I’ve heard / read about some people who say they don’t like Hadar’s clays because they seem so fussy. My personal experience is that each new one does seem to have its own personality, what it’s like to work with and to fire, but once you find its sweet spot, it’s then at least as reliable as any of the others on the market. Regardless of whose clay I’m using, the scientist / engineer in me is fine with starting off slow, observing what happens, building my understanding, and then taking off! The next time I go on a real Sili-binge, with much more elaborate constructions, I’ll try to remember to illustrate those here too, eventually. It really is a fun little tool!

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Arts on the Riverwalk 2015

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/07/18

I’m late in announcing this one, but I’ve got two pieces (a “pillow” pendant and a multi-part “spools and lentils” necklace) in another show up at the Confluence Cafe in New Castle, PA. The show opened back during the Arts on the Riverwalk weekend, July 10, but it will stay up for a while, through September 10, so interested folks around here still have plenty of time to check it out.

New Castle is sort of at the limit of what I think of as my “local” area (and, I’m just at the edge of the region the Hoyt Center for the Arts there considers a “local” artist, so at least we match there!). I wish I lived a bit closer, because The Confluence Cafe is just a nice little space! How can you not love a place that uses their chalkboard, not for menu specials, but instead for thoughts like those in the first photo shown here!?

I’ve got a ton of other things going on right now, so the rest of this post will just contain a few of the better photos I managed to capture of the pieces on display. That is, these are the shots that I thought turned out OK; I was talking with friends as I snapped away, and didn’t realize until I got back and started to post that I’d changed an option on my camera and messed up some of the photos, including the ones of my entries! Clearly, I’m not quite as familiar with that new toy as I’d thought. Oh well, these 16 pieces are less than a third of the 51 total entries, but they’ll give you an idea of how strong the show was. (As usual, clicking should open a new page with a larger version of each image.)

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PSA’S 2015 Artist’s Choice Exhibition

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/07/12

I had a great time last night at the opening of the latest show sponsored by the Pittsburgh Society of Artists.

I was delighted to find my entry, a pendant, in the “jewelry nook” between the two rooms downstairs at the Panza Gallery in Millvale, PA. I displayed it in a frame which led the folks hanging the show to place it on the back wall in that nook, which I thought was a great location. You just might be able to spot the frame way in the back of the first photo here! (If you want to see the actual piece, I offered up a photo of that in my last post.)

Aside: I keep going back and forth over whether to display pendants in a frame or out on a bust form. For art-jewelry shows, specifically, I’ll usually hang a necklace on a bust, assuming other jewelers will do the same and the sponsors will be prepared to handle the security involved in such a display. For art shows, on the other hand, where my piece may be the only piece, or perhaps one of only a very few, small enough to fit in the palm of the hand, well, though I do think of most show attendees as trustworthy, it hardly seems worth the risk to make my entry so easy for even just one nefarious person to pocket. Does that make me paranoid? Maybe. But I know other art jewelers who won’t even enter shows because they’re worried what might happen to their pieces, and I am willing to put my work out there. So, maybe more cautious than paranoid? I admit to being a bit shy personally, but I’ve always enjoyed having my work out there for others to see and consider, and I’m always thrilled to have intelligent conversations about such creations.

Back to the show itself: I’d never been to an opening at this particular gallery before, so I wasn’t sure quite what to expect in terms of number of people, ease of parking, or anything else. But we found an easy parking space just a block away and, even with that the turnout seemed great: these photos were taken well into the evening, after a number of people had already left, which meant I could capture a few shots that showed some of the art as well as people… For local readers I didn’t see last night, maybe you’ll get over to the show between now and July 24. If you do, please be sure to let me know what you thought of it all!

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My First Show as a Member of the Pittsburgh Society of Artists!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/07/03

Somehow, we’ve sped into another month already and on Friday afternoon I dropped of my entry for another Members-Only show, this time for my first opportunity with the Pittsburgh Society of Artists since being juried into that group. Details of the show’s location, dates, and hours are on the “postcard” shown to the right (as usual, click for a larger image where the details should be clearer). I’m so happy to have gotten in this year, and thus find myself able to participate in some of PSA’s 50th Anniversary events. (Though after all my years in community / public radio, I will admit that I still first register the acronym PSA as Public Service Announcement…)

It was fun to see the entries from a number of other PSA members when I dropped off my selection: I got there a little over half-way through the times allotted for that, but I only thought later that I could have asked what proportion of the expected pieces had arrived by then. No matter — I’m still looking forward to seeing the entire show once everything is in place!

For my local readers, please note that the show’s Opening Reception will be on Saturday, July 11, from 6 to 8:30 pm. I’m planning to go, and I sure hope I’ll see some of you there too! Do let me know if I should be on the lookout for you! Or, even better, let me know if you’d like to carpool. (And, if you’ve never been to the Panza Gallery before, let me know that and I’ll share what I know about parking in that area.)

Ahhh but what to enter?! I debated and debated that with myself until almost the last minute. Finally, I went with the idea to let it be one of the pieces that had gotten me into the group in the first place, the one that resulted from my “Combining Inspirations” from several of my favorite artists.

My hesitation about entering that one was whether or not I should hold it back to use as a sample in upcoming workshops. But I’m happy with the approach to making those, and I’ve been further exploring this approach by making a few other variations to show off in class, so I convinced myself that this is the one that should be given the opportunity to be seen live by a wider audience and, hopefully, find appreciation in a new home!

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More Fun at Three Rivers, or Ivy Woodrose is simply charming!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/06/07

I have loved jewelry for ages. Not mass-produced jewelry, but special kinds of pieces ranging from unique antiques to modern artisanal pieces. Talking with colleagues as we staffed the Arsmiths of Pittsburgh booth at the Three Rivers Arts Festival yesterday, I noted that it’s an interest I shared with my mother. Kate said that, in contrast, she and her mother did not share that at all. Now, it’s not that my mother and I liked the same pieces: our tastes were not mere miles apart, the scale was more like galaxies. But we did both relish finding unusual pieces, and we could pretty reliably spot something that the other would just love. This was in complete contrast to clothes: we could rarely buy clothes for the other that the recipient could even tolerate. But we had great success with jewelry exchanges! And then there were further delights when, shopping for the other, we’d also find treats for ourselves….

In the 1990s, I started experimenting with making some jewelry. My earliest attempts were simple beaded creations of various sorts. I also dabbled a bit in glass-work and polymers and wood and more, but never felt the urge to go full-scale on any of those. Long before that I’d also dabbled in traditional metalsmithing and pottery: those were both far more interesting to me than later media but still had not completely grabbed me. I first heard about metal clays while I was in my beading heyday but for various reasons (including but not limited to a more-than-full-time academic post) I just wasn’t able to pursue it at all at that time. A few years later, enough had changed in my life that I could try to pursue it. I started out slowly but, eventually, I decided to kick it up a notch, moving things off the tray-table in my guest bedroom and into a full-scale studio. By then, my mother was gone and, in fact, I used a fair portion of my “inheritance” from her to set all that up. I figured, if it didn’t work, at least I’d know that I’d tried but, if it did work out, I’d have her (and my dad) to thank for it.

The thing is that now, since both my mother is gone and I’ve started seriously making more jewelry, I’ve pretty much stopped buying it for myself…. Clearly, I can wear anything I’ve made whenever I want (until I sell it), but an even bigger part of it is that I do have a fair amount already, not a whole lot, but enough that I certainly don’t need any more. I still enjoy looking at it, and I believe in helping support other artists, so I do still buy pieces now that I can give as gifts. I’ve continued to buy non-jewelry art for myself and I’ve exchanged pieces with other jewelry artists. I also make a point of taking several of my art- and jewelry-loving friends to shows where I know there will be art jewelers whose work I think they’ll like, and encourage their purchases. But I’ve bought very little jewelry for myself.

But more than zero. And today was one of those “exception” days: I bought a pendant from Ivy Woodrose (aka Ivy Solomon)! I’ve admired her work for years!! I never imagined meeting her in person but there she was, two booths up from the Artsmiths this weekend! I asked if she’d been there before and I’d somehow missed her but no, this really was her first time at Three Rivers. I went up yesterday and gushed and drooled and embarrassed her with my admiration, then went back today with some cash and, after a very lengthy and delightful discussion about techniques and products and sources with this absolutely charming artist (and her congenial husband), I actually bought a piece!

It was a difficult decision, balancing what I wanted against what I felt I could afford. The one I chose has fewer different colors than I first thought I’d pick, but I couldn’t find one with lots of colors that fit both my budget and my personal style. (One or the other, but not both…) I spent a long time debating between this and another “floral” one. That one had more, smaller flowers and thus could fit more pinks and reds and several greens (and far, far less yellow!) than this one. I listened to her talk with other customers about how she’d be happy to listen to the colors the person wanted and the budget she had, and could send her pictures of other pieces that either she had or could (re-)make to suit the person’s taste. But, having decided to get a piece, I just did not want to wait. So here’s the one I picked, and I’m thrilled to have it:

In person, the colors in this one are far brighter, more vibrant, than I was able to capture in this photo. (Sorry, Ivy!) But the image in this one is what captured my heart: the sun / sunflower at the water’s edge (which way is the viewer facing?!), with a hint of sunlight on the water and oddly-geometric constellations / clouds in the sky beyond. Though living in Pittsburgh now, I’ve spent a good third of my life so far on one coast or another, and much of the rest along lakes or streams, loving the water and sunsets (and sunrises too, though I’m less often up for those…) and gardening too. The appeal of the image in this piece, in particular, for me is the way I feel it reflects the following quote, one of my favorites from Douglas Adams (in Mostly Harmless):

“We all like to congregate … at boundary conditions …
Where land meets water. Where earth meets air.
Where body meets mind. Where space meets time.
We like to be on one side and look at the other.”

In the end, the one big problem I’ll have with this piece is that, instead of wearing it, I’ll want to be on the other side so I can look at it myself. But I’ll find a way to manage…

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Another June Event: The 2015 Three Rivers Arts Festival begins at Noon Today!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/06/05

The 2015 Three Rivers Arts Festival opens today (June 5) and runs through Sunday a week later (June 14).

The Artists Market will be open each and every day from 12 Noon to 8 pm each day.

Due to a change in the market this year, a few “Gallery Booths” will still be there, but in a different location from recent years and only on the weekends. My work will once again be carried in the Koolkat Designs booth … except Koolkat closed last month and is about to be reincarnated at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh next month. So the booth will have a black-on-white banner saying The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh (a bigger version of what’s in the opposite colors on the bottom of the map shown here) with another little banner underneath that identifying it as formerly Koolkst Designs. The little arrow on that little map (which shows only the Gateway Center portion of the market) does point to the location but, if you’re trying to find it, probably the best thing is to know that it’ll be a double-space booth in positions #133-134, on Penn Avenue down at the end closest to the Point, on these dates:

  • Saturday & Sunday, June 6-7
  • Saturday & Sunday, June 13-14

Since there will have to be two rounds of setting up and taking down the booth, on top of new artists with new media to offer at the festival, Koolkat has decided that the only Artsmith’s jewelry that they will carry will be earrings. So that’s all they’ll have of my wares. Here’s a photo with a small sampling of what will be in my section of the booth.

I am scheduled be in the booth on Saturday, June 6, from 4 to 8 pm. If you’re around then, do stop by and say “Hello!” Music-wise, that Saturday is what’s being called Bluegrass Day at the festival itself, but just across the river in Heinz Field (where the Pittsburgh Steelers play football), will be the ‘burgh’s offering of the #1989WorldTour by Taylor Swift. Ah, yes, I’ve always considered 1989 a memorable year too: should you stop by the booth while I’m there, do feel free to ask me to share one of my stories from htat year….!

Since I’ll only be working one half-shift, I’ll have plenty of time, off and on, in the market and elsewhere, to just enjoy all the music, art, artists, art-lovers, creativity, makers, and more, filling up the downtown area for those ten days. So do let me know if/when I should be looking out for you at the Festival!

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June Show-Season Begins: Members-Only Show with the Cranberry Artists Network

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/06/02

It’s looking like a busy month. I hope I can remember to post all the various announcements! First of all, there’s the inaugural 2015 Members Show with the Cranberry Artists Network (CAN).

I’ve had two pieces accepted for this show (my first since being selected as a member). I chose to enter two reversible pendants. One is made from fine silver (.999) that I’ve hung on a sterling silver (.925) chain. It’s about an inch across, and composed of three separate layers. The middle layer has a texture pattern that displays concentric circles. A good portion of that is visible through an overlay, a highly polished disk with lines radiating out of its center, where I’ve been able to cut a circle out of it that aligns with the circles on the middle piece. I’ve centered all of that a little above and to the left of the center of the piece: that positioning reminds me of the rising sun, which has always been a part of my vision for this side.

There’s a third overlay, placed on the “back” of the inner-circles piece. It displays a textured pattern of (sun-drenched, perhaps) gingko leaves and is embellished with a lilac-colored corundum stone. I don’t know if there is an “official” name for that pale purple stone, other than simply lilac-colored corundum but, if you’re not familiar with it either, just know that rubies and sapphires are also forms of corundum. I do apologize for the quality of the photo, though: tiny shiny objects are just such a challenge to get right….

My second piece in the show is more of what I’d call an “entry level” piece, deliberately kept relatively simple in order to keep the price down for the beginning collector. This one is made of bronze; it’s a little over an inch across and is another of my reversible creations. One side is a textured and domed disk with a single strip overlay as embellishment, which I see as simple but elegant. The other side is then concave, with a faceted stone set into a hand-formed bezel and nestled down into the curve, to help make that side special too. This stone is in the cubic zirconia (CZ) family, a purple color that the vendor calls “Lavender.” This one is hung on a brass chain, one that’s in a style I seem to have been using fairly frequently lately.

The show runs from June 3 through 25 at the Cranberry Township Municipal Center, 2525 Rochester Rd., Cranberry Township, PA 16066. The Opening Reception will be on Wednesday night, June 3, from 6 to 8 pm, with lots of good refreshments to complement the delightful art. I’m going, and it’d be great to see a few “locals” there! And for several weeks afterwards, you can still check out all the great art in this show any time the municipal center itself is open.

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This Weekend: Open House and More in Regent Square, plus a Garden event

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/05/15

Once again, this Saturday is the annual community-wide Yard Sale organized by the Regent Square Civic Association.

Because there will be all sorts of folks wandering around the neighborhood that day, it’s also the first day of the Wilkins School Community Center‘s Spring fundraiser, the Herb and Used Book Sale from 9 am to 3 pm. There are tons of books available for $1 each (including lots of children’s- and cook-books) but, if you want any of their plants, it’s usually wise to arrive early. (The hanging baskets, in particular, are looking gorgeous again this year!)

And, because there will be all sorts of folks wandering around WSCC, at the same time as the Herb and Used Book Sale I’ll hold an Open House in my studio too. I’m upstairs, over the front door, in room #25. I only have a few of my Three Rivers pieces left (and none with something sparkly to indicate the Pittsburgh Point Fountain, as shown in the photo here), but I’ll be making more next month and will be happy to take pre-orders at the Open House. And not to worry, I do have a lot of other inventory, mostly my usual pendants and earrings, but also a few other items too.

In addition to my usual Art Jewelry selections, again this year I’ll have a collection of Aloe Vera plants for sale too. They are off-shoots of the ones I keep for burns, as in those little mistakes with torch or kiln…! They’re in good “cactus” potting soil in nice clay pots and I’m basically giving the plants away, asking just enough to cover the cost of the pots and the potting mix and the gas it took me to go get those.

I’m later than I’d planned in getting this post up so, if you just can’t get there on Saturday, let me know and we can arrange a time on Sunday if that could work for you. I’m going to the Western PA Orienteering Club‘s meet in Frick Park on Sunday afternoon, roughly 12 to 3, but luckily that’s the one event they hold right in my neighborhood, so I’d be close and happy to meet you in my studio before or after that. (Oh, and the book sale will continue, with even lower prices, during that 12 to 3 span on Sunday, so you could go check that out before or after we meet!) That’d be easy for me to arrange: I won’t pack up most of my pieces and turn the display space back into a work-room until Monday or maybe even Tuesday of next week.

My one disappointment is that there’s another event on Saturday that I’m going to have to miss: I schedule my Open House to coincide with all the Regent Square events, and this one just happens to be the same day, up the street into Point Breeze at the Edible Teaching Garden where I volunteer some time each week. One of our other volunteers applied for a Love Your Block grant from the city, and got accepted! The idea is that they’ll support the cost of some necessary materials if you can get a community group together to volunteer the time needed to work on some neighborhood improvement project. We needed some “hardscape” features for the garden, things like steps at the entrance (several people have already fallen on the slope there, so we have to do something!) and some critter-deterrent fencing. If you’re in the area and able to go lend a hand any time from 9 am to 1 pm, it’d be much appreciated! It’s a great little group working on a delightful urban edible garden project. I’m including the flyer for it here: click to see it full-size.

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The End of One Era Ushers in the Beginning of the Next One…

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/05/14

Do you think Koolkat’s space looks bigger or smaller, now that all the art has been moved out? Here are photos from last December and earlier today:

After turning over the keys to the next tenant, those remaining went outside on a lovely spring evening in mid-May and snapped a bunch of photos that I’m sure they’ll be posting in all the usual places. As usual, everyone was watching out for everyone else, in this case the care was extended to the photographers as they kept backing up into the street to get a shot that included both the wonderful Koolkat sign (that will be taken down and preserved) and the folks in the doorway.

In this one of mine, which I just had to capture from a different angle, Samantha, Katie, Kate, and Paula are posing in the doorway for Jeanne, Elizabeth, Maureen, and Carol Beth.

Though it is sad to be saying good-bye to Koolkat Designs, the mood was one of happiness, anticipation, and excitement as we all look forward to the opening of its reincarnation as The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh (at some date still TBA) this summer!

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