Convergent Series

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

Archive for February, 2010

Slipping In a New Class

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/02/24

At last, my Spring class schedule is starting to evolve. While there are several interesting ones approaching, the title of this post refers to the next one up, on March 14. It should be lots of fun!

I call it “Along the Silver Trail” because we will be creating designs in silver using a technique, adapted from a rather widely used practice in the pottery world, known as “slip trailing.”

While writing this post, I did a quick search for some simple sources of information about the pottery-version of this technique. I found two, at about.com and Wikipedia, each with an interesting illustration or two.

In the metal clay version, we start by using regular (thick) clay to make a basic shape, let that dry and refine it as needed, then we add trails of runny (watered-down) clay (known as “slip” or “thin paste”) to create the design.

It is possible to create very controlled drawings that way, but another alternative is to just “go with the flow” and create more “organic” designs.

Those are a few samples of some pendants and earrings I made up a couple nights ago. There are a couple more of my dome shapes, some gentle waves, and some basic flat shapes. As with all my pieces, each of them is reversible. The other side may also have a slip-trail design, or it may be polished very smooth, or it may have a textured pattern. Anything is possible!

This is a great technique for beginners, but it’s also a class where someone with more experience in metal clay can expand their repertoire.

If you’d like to sign up for the class, contact the host site, KoolKat Designs in Mt. Lebanon. If you have any questions about the class, please just leave a comment here.

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Clay Play Day

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/02/21

I am one of the founding members of the Western PA Chaper of the PMC (Precious Metal Clay) Guild.

Donna Penoyer, Jan Durkin, and I started talking early in 2008 about whether there’d be enough folks interested in joining a local guild, and meeting regularly to share information about working with metal clay. We thought we could probably get a small group together. For a variety of reasons, we chose to affiliate our fledgling group with the international PMC Guild. (Our other choice would have been the Art Clay Society.) Our first meeting, on May 13, 2008, was attended by 7 people: the three of us, three others who had done some work with metal clay, and a representative from one of the local bead shops.

We have continued to meet regularly, about once a month, ever since. As of December, 2009, an amazing total of about 60 different people have participated in one or more of the events we have sponsored. We meet at different times of day, different days of the week, at different locations around the area, with different meeting formats. We have a rotating cast of participants: even if a person can’t make it to every meeting, our hope is that there will be enough variety in the choices that at least some combos should work well with your schedule and interests.

Our latest meeting was a “clay play day” at the delightful shop in Irwin, PA, known as Your Beading Heart. The owner, Linda Pence, was a great host, arranging workspace for about 14 of use, plus another 8 or so who dropped in to see what we had going on. Donna bought her dehydrator and kiln. Several folks brought some extra packs of clay they were willing to sell to anyone who showed up and needed some to work with. Michelle Glaeser had organized a “group purchase” from Brynmorgen Press, and she distributed everyone’s goodies. And we spent most of the day playing with clay: everyone worked on whatever they wanted; we observed how other participants approached various tasks; we asked and answered questions with each other; all in all, we just had a great time.

If you’re in the area, why don’t you consider joining us?

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Reducing Risk.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/02/17

On January 29th, I’d mentioned the possibility of some follow-up surgery on my eye(s). Well, it was scheduled for tomorrow. Except, I now have a nasty mid-winter cold. Not that I feel too sick to go in; that I’d’ve done just to try to finish getting this problem cleared up (pun intended…).

But a big risk with any kind of surgery is infection, and I got to wondering whether having extra-nasty bugs swarming my sinuses and trying to escape out of various facial openings might increase the risk of infection where my eyelid would again be opened up. So I called the doctor’s office and was told, “Yes, that’s a good question to ask. We don’t do procedures on sick people. We’ll reschedule you.”

In efficiency-mode, I’m glad I found that out today, rather than having wasted time, gasoline, and parking fees finding it out tomorrow.

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Winter Textures

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/02/16

One of the things I like about working with metal clay involves the textures you can work into your designs.

I’ve always liked textures of various sorts, for both their look and their feel. Not just in jewelry and artwork, but also for my garden, on clothing, in food … the list could get rather large. I’ll leave that for another time, though; for now, my point is this:

Tree Bark - Facing Uphill

A friend and I went hiking in a local forest over the weekend. Mid-winter, there was lots of snow on the ground and few leaves still holding onto the trees. Which drew my attention even more than usual to the textures on tree trunks.

I kept stopping to look around and around, noting even the differences from one side to another on a single tree.

Tree Bark and More - Facing Downhill

I have no clue how or when any part of that look may crop up in my adornments. But those (phone-camera) shots did seem worth including in this online notebook.

What do you think of these images? Feel free to leave a comment!

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/02/14

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How much snow is there?

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/02/10

Maggie in Columbia, MD, reports that “There’s so much snow that kids are making snow angels … standing up!”

No snow angels in this shot, but here’s what it looks like in western Pennsylvania … now that the power that went out Friday night has been restored!

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Another Basic Shape

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/02/07

Here’s another thought from a lesson-idea involving basic round shapes and other elements of design.

I made this one last summer.

Blossom Medallion

My intention had been to set the two circles, one inside the other, and then decorate the boundary between them.

Except, I was assembling it on a stormy evening, and the power went out. Somehow, I stuck my thumb down right inside the center circle, leaving a very neat thumbprint right on the pattern which still resulted in a rather messy look.

One thing I’ve learned (in some cases, the hard way), whenever I encounter a problem (in silver, or elsewhere in life), is that the best way to resolve an issue is often to look for a simple solution. Working and re-working can, if intended, be a fine approach. But that may not be so good when I find myself just trying to fix a problem.

In this case, when the lights came back on, I did not invest a lot of my own energy into fixing my earlier mistake. Instead, I just made the small disk that sits on top, applied it to simply cover the part I’d messed up, and added just a little bit of decoration to enhance that.

That is, rather than spend a lot of time fussing over the piece, here I just let go of my original idea, applied a simple fix, and then proceeded to make something else. I can always come back to my earlier plan some other time, at a moment when I can imagine it anew.

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Basic Shapes

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/02/02

I spent much of today trying to sort out spring teaching schedule; and it’s still not done.

Working with the products and tools is one aspect of the classes, but there are also questions of design. What is your goal? What look do you want to achieve? What message do you want to convey? How much attention do you want to draw?

And, thinking about that aspect of teaching brought to mind a couple of basic samples I made very early on:

Two Pendants with Plume Design

Both contain the same basic “artwork” in their textures. But one is round, and domed, while the other is oval, flat, and layered. Yes, there are many things one could to to “improve” either one, but the point of these two is just to start the discussion about comparing and contrasting two similar yet different executions of a very simple design.

As they now stand, which one appeals most to you? Why?

Posted in Teaching Metal Clay | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

 
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