Convergent Series

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

Fine Silver Butterflies.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/06/28

Periodically I teach a beginning metal clay workshop on Fine Silver Butterflies. I had a wonderful time at one of those this past Saturday, at the delightful Your Beading Heart in Irwin, PA. (Follow owner-Linda’s directions, but not your GPS, if you want to find the place!)

This is a very wide-open, do-what-you-want, workshop, but the butterfly-theme gives us a definite starting-point for our designs. In all my beginner classes, I take an assortment of tools for participants to use, and samples for them to consider if they want. I have neither the space nor time to haul everything around to each workshop but, for the Butterflies class, I make a point of taking all the butterfly-related doo-dads that I have: texture sheets, stamps, pastry cutters, paper punches, etc. Folks can make one or more of: pendants, charms, earrings, key fobs, etc.

(I’ll try to remember to revise this post by adding a photo once they’ve been fired…) I meant to add a photo once they’ve been fired but then I was so eager to get them back to their makers that, sigh, I forgot that step.

I also take other textures, cutters, and such, in case someone comes because they were really interested in the beginner-class, not so much inspired by the butterflies themselves. (The one person in Saturday’s class who fell into that category wanted to make a piece in a shape for which I have an ideal drying-form which, of course, I’d left out of my kit when I added the extra butterfly-theme items! Not to worry, though, we improvised quite well. Have I ever mentioned how much I love this medium for its flexibility?)

Out in my garden at this time of year, however, I start trying to figure out how to make pieces that resemble lightning bugs. I can sculpt the creatures themselves, but how might I best represent their intermittent light, their lovely glow, their gentle motion? I haven’t yet come up with a solution I like for that.

I lived in England for several years and, much as I loved other aspects of gardening in that green land, during my time there I did miss the blinking yellow courtship signals of these critters. (Even though I know about variations in native species, I was stunned to realize they didn’t have lightning bugs! And I’ve encouraged friends I made there to come over at this time of year, to experience for themselves what I was talking about.)

I also spent one spring and early-summer in China. (The photo shows our lodgings near Baoguosi. It was taken one afternoon, walking back from Southwestern Jiaotong University, a day or two before we headed up Emei Shan.) Here, we slept under mosquito-netting while watching the lightning bugs flitter around the room, glowing in a wonderful pale green color. What a delightful surprise that was!

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