Convergent Series

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

Archive for October, 2010

One thing I did this weekend….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/30

… was to go to the Bead Mercantile show organized by Jane’s Fiber and Beads. It’s a small show, but I really like a few of the specific vendors that show up there.

I bought some nice small crystal beads (to use mostly on earrings), three larger drilled stones (that I’ll use with some hand-made headpins embellished with metal clay), and a few clear glass beads with colored linings (that I just found interesting, and will use in beadwork somehow).

But my favorite find of the day were several miscellaneous pieces of crazy lace agate from S & S Lapidary (who always bring such a lovely collection to this show). These are polished, in various almost “natural” shapes, and the challenge will be to figure out how to set them.

Suggestions are welcome! Comments on this blog are, of course, fine. But if you’re one of my local readers and plan to find yourself in the neighborhood of my studio, let me know (to be sure I’ll actually be there) and come on up to see several more of these pieces and suggest some designs.

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Thanks, Susan!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/28

Yesterday, I found time to work on a number of silver pieces. Only one did I start new, from scratch, a design I’d been thinking about for a while. The rest were all from the stash: pieces I’d started at one time or another but had not finished. In most cases they were ones I’d simply started, hadn’t had time to finish, and had had to “put away” until I could get back to them. Now, with studio, I was able to do just that! They’re still sitting in greenware state: most ready to fire, a few still needing a bit more attention. Oh, how great to be able to just leave them there, awaiting those finishing touches, rather than forget about them stashed away in a closet. I’ll post some photos once they’ve been fired and finished.

On the other hand, I’m still spending plenty of time on “moving in” chores. My friend Susan came over today. (I’ve known Susan for a few years now. We met through Penn State’s Master Gardener program in this area.) We had tons of fabric-fun. Susan had been with me when I bought several remainder-bolts of fabric back when The Textile Studio was going out of business. I’d bought four more glass doors to install on my shelving units. Susan and I took some of the pale green bolts and lined those four new glass doors. Then we just draped more of it over a pair of curtain rods that Jan and I had hung two days ago. (Eventually, I’d like to stitch them up in proper drapery-style, but with my first open house scheduled for next week, I’m not taking time to do that too right now.)

Before we hung the glass-panel doors, however, it seemed particularly important to secure all the bookcases themselves against the walls. More up and down on the ladder! I have a couple bolts of blue fabric as well. At some point I’ll take down the four doors I’d installed earlier, and fit some of that into those….

After Susan left (to get ahead of rush hour traffic), I looked around and decided I wanted to finish a number of other chores that required the ladder. Hopefully, I’ll soon be done with that! I hung some plant hangers on the frames between some of the outside windows. I’ll get plants over there eventually but, for now, I’m just using them to hold a couple strands of holiday lights….

Before I left, I also hung some prints high up on the inside windows. I had six prints of various birds perched on a range of different flowering trees and bushes that I’d gotten when I visited China (back, ages ago now, it seems…). They came as a set, and I’d only ever gotten around to framing four of them. Susan noticed that they were of both a good size and aspect ratio to fit inside the frames of those windows. It was a bit tricky to get hangers safely into those frames, and then to string up the pictures themselves evenly, but I think they turned out nicely.

Let me know what you think. Also, if you think you can get to one of my open houses (on the evening of Nov 3 or the afternoon of Nov 20), let me know that too!

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Thanks, Jan! Hi, Beth!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/26

My friend Jan came over today. (I’ve known Jan since we were in college together. After graduation, we both moved around a lot, and didn’t keep in close touch over those years. Then we both moved back to this area and reconnected through another classmate, Nancy, who’d stayed in the area.)

Jan has taken one class using “metal clay” techniques, but she’s done far more using “lost wax casting” techniques. She’s also done some wire-wrapping and brought some of her latest (lovely!) projects in that area for me to see.

We spent the day: climbing up and down ladders–hanging posters and prints and drapery rods and whatnot; crawling around on the floor cutting fabric to fit into the bookcase door panels; and moving furniture back and forth around all of that. We didn’t finish all the fabric-related tasks, but Susan is coming over on Thursday and I think we should be able to make good headway on the rest of those.

We had one visitor, Beth, who’d read about my upcoming classes in the WSCC newsletter. She’s taking a watercolor class now, and came up after that finished today: to see what metal clay feels like and what it looks like after it’s been fired to fine silver. She signed up for the pendant class (November 17). After that, Jan and I walked over to the Regent Square business district for a delightful lunch at the Square Cafe.

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Experimenting with glass.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/25

I just had to take a day off from “moving chores” and really “make” something. I didn’t actually start anything new, but I do have a collection of pieces I’ve started at one point or another and, for some reason, had set aside without finishing them. So I spent a day getting about a dozen of them ready to fire.

This was one of those pieces. At a guild chapter meeting, gosh, almost a year ago now, a few local glass bead makers came and brought some “scraps” — pieces that for one reason or another hadn’t worked out right for them, but which had some elements that were still potentially interesting. I took a few half-beads, meaning to use them to practice “setting” glass in a metal clay piece. On one of my earlier trips up to Alice’s, I’d started this piece, but hadn’t had time to complete it. So … this was one of the pieces I worked on today.

The top photo shows what it looked like going into the kiln. The second one, above, after it’s been fired to fine silver, and tumbled to give it a bit of shine. (While the lighting conditions were a bit different from one day to the next, notice that the firing led to a significant shift in the color of the glass bead!)

This third photo shows what it looks like after it’s had a liver of sulphur (LOS) patina applied. It’s still not done–needs a final round of polishing–but I was really tired by that point and didn’t want to risk damaging it with any of my powered polishing tools. But I’m happy with how it turned out.

(If you’ve never done this, I’ll note that some of the “snakes” and “coils” of clay were pushed up against the glass to help secure it. And, while I’m fairly sure I made this out of PMC3 (not Plus), it was long enough ago that I’m not 100% certain, so I treated it as though it could have been PMC Plus. That is, I fired it at 1470 degrees for 40 minutes; opened the kiln door to crash-cool it to 1000; then closed the kiln door again to slow-cool it down to room temperature. Firing it to 1470 means the glass might “move” a little bit, and it should fuse to the metal.)

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A week and a half to first Open House.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/23

I’ve got a couple friends coming over to the studio-to-be next week, to help me “decorate” a bit. In preparation for that, today I hauled a bunch of framed posters and prints up all the stairs. They’re just stacked around here and there for now. With the high ceilings, I plan to hang them high, above the former chalkboard, and I’ll just wait until Jan (Tuesday) or Susan (Thursday) are there to haul a ladder up and tend to that.

In the meantime then, a small photo of three unfired white bronze pieces. [This post was edited on Tuesday with a slightly clearer photo than I’d used earlier.] I was using Hadar’s powdered product, where you just mix up as much as you think you’ll need at one sitting. The couple little flowers, and the handful of rings are just a few “components” that I made with the little extra I had left over after making the bigger items. You may have noticed that half of one of the little rings appears to be missing: that’s what I used on the back of the gingko stem to make its bail. (I’d first tried rolling a “snake” of clay but, even after I’d added lots of extra water, it was too stiff to use that way: I could bend it but it really wanted to crack way too much. The half-ring was my work-around.)

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It’s even-more official!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/18

The late fall / early winter newsletter from WSCC is out, with a nice little opening-page blurb about my new studio and my “open house / demo” sessions, and listing my first introductory silver clay classes at the top of the “mini-courses” section.

If you missed all that news when I first mentioned it, feel free to go back and check my post from October 1.

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Another “new” acquisition, or two…

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/17

This morning I headed off to meet some folks at the monthly (from May through October) Flea-Tique, sponsored by the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Historical Society, where I was delighted to discover this base for a “Hoosier Cabinet” for sale. And only the base, which was great for my purposes: this way, it fits nicely under the studio windows. And in two shades of green that seem to fit in with the evolving color scheme in this room. To top it all off: at some point, it had a bit of “refinishing” done to it; it’s had some use since that (including taking a couple small hits in the finish on the top) but is still in reasonable shape; and the entire upper section is missing—all of which reduced the price to something I found very affordable for my purposes.

I looked around at some other items, but the only additional one I sprang for was a bit of depression glass. The seller informed me it’s from Anchor Hocking’s Miss America series, from the 1930s, but it intrigued me because I saw some potential in this “round compote” as an earring display….

But if I hope to ever have any more earrings to display (whether as items to sell or as sample for classes), I’d better finish up this moving in and get back to making again!

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Progress, be it ever so slowly.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/10

I got a new-to-me cart, shown at the far-right, and now have a place to start setting up some equipment: one of my kilns, a torch station, tumblers, patina station, etc.

I’m on the lookout for another cart of some sort as well, since I have the room to spread things out a bit, but at least I’m now able to start setting everything up. The kiln will stay on the top here, for now. The other items can be stored below, and brought out one or two at a time, as needed.

I taught a class at a bead shop on Saturday (at Your Beading Heart in Irwin, PA), and brought everyone’s pieces back to the studio to be fired. (I’ll mail or deliver them early in the week.) Up until that point, I hadn’t tried plugging much in. All these items “should run” on “normal household current” but, still, there’s something about trying a new site out for the first time…. I was delighted to have everything run as expected, without tripping circuit breakers or causing any other sorts of mayhem.

‘Twas also great to have the workshop pieces turn out beautifully. Sorry I don’t have a photo of them here: I’m still not fully moved over and I realized that camera and lighting setup are not yet both in the same location! I tried shooting them with my phone’s camera but, though it’s fine for quick wide shots like the one above, it just wasn’t up to focusing in closely on those gorgeous little shiny objects.

Which is why I am simultaneously pleased with all the progress while still wondering why everything seems to take soooo long.

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Another week, another dollar…

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/06

That is, today silver’s been trading at a nominal price that’s now up around $23 per ounce.

Spinner Disk Earrings #1Of course, it’s not just silver. Gold is approaching $1,350/oz, and platinum is close to $1,700/oz. In that sense, of course, silver is still “relatively affordable,” so I’m not thinking of making any major moves in one of those directions. But other metals are spiking too, ones like copper and tin and more. Hmmm, where might all this be going … and what’s a girl to do while it does so?!

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More moving-in (Saturday).

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/02

Well, I’m still only part-way done, making slow but steady progress. Seven hours today and I have four doors on cabinets and one new table assembled (with only one medium-sized blister as a result), a couple tables from home and my three seven-drawer storage units moved over, plus several other loads of “stuff” hauled up the stairs (i.e., up the equivalent of about 3 flights at my house).

Some of the stuff is back in its drawers, or behind the doors of the bookcase-cabinets, or arrayed out on a temporary shelf or table location for the time being.

The community center offered me the use of the two rugs shown (in the image where I tried to quickly photo-merge several individual shots….). I’m a bit undecided about those: the hardwood floor is actually better for finding those inevitably dropped bits and pieces, but the rugs do help to reduce the hollow, echo-ey sound of the room. I may well end up leaving the one closer to the door, while rolling and unrolling t’other one based on what I’m doing. No need to decide now, however; that can wait until I get everything moved in.

But it’ll be a while before I get to that point. Though the cabinets are filling up (especially behind those newly-installed doors) there’s still lots to move (e.g., kilns, all my finishing tools (from tumbler to “liver of sulphur” set-up, to hammers and daps and dremel and more), the “bead stash,” plus chairs, lamps, etc.). And once it’s all in the room, I’ll be better able to figure out what should go where in this studio.

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Starting to plan ahead a bit.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/01

It will likely take me a few weeks before I feel really settled in to my new studio, but I’ve begun to schedule workshops there for later this year. They should be listed in the last newsletter of 2010 from the Wilkins School Community Center (WSCC), whose last course series of the year runs through November and December (and whose “entry door” logo I snagged to use with this post), so that’s the timeframe I’m planning for.

I don’t often write actual posts announcing upcoming classes. They (and, sometimes, a few recently-past ones) are typically listed in one of the collections off to the side of this ‘blog (currently, down the right side). But with this new venue, I figure I should highlight them for a moment:

  • Demonstrations & Discussions — These are free, so just stop by whenever you can.
    • Weds, Nov 3, 5-8 pm
    • Sat, Nov 20, 1-4 pm. Stop by the WSCC Art Show that day too.
  • Introductory Workshops — These three are each $35 + materials and pre-registration is required.
    • Weds, Nov 10, 6-9 pm: How Charming! Make several small charms.
    • Weds, Nov 17, 6-9 pm: So Precious! Make a simple reversible pendant or focal bead.
    • Sat, Dec 4, 1-4 pm, Use Your Head(pin). Sculptural headpins, especially for beaders. Stop by the WSCC Holiday Gift Shop that day too.

As I do with each new site, these are tailored for total beginners. In the new year, I’ll also start adding some advanced-beginner, intermediate, and other sessions to the mix. But most of my workshops are designed so that total beginners can fit right in, continuing students can learn new techniques to add to their repertoires, and everyone will end up with results they’ll be proud to wear, give as a gift, or otherwise show off.

I’ll also continue to teach at some of my other favorite local shops (and will continue to list those in a sidebar too). But I’m really excited to have sessions at the WSCC Studio in the mix as well.

I hope you’ll soon be able to join me at one of these events. (Or more than one! A small discount may be available to those who sign up for multiple sessions with me at WSCC.)

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