Convergent Series

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

Hadar Was Here!!!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/04/01

It’s time for me to admit the real reason why I’ve put so much effort lately into fiddling with various aspects of working with copper (and a bit with bronze too, though I didn’t take the time to write about that): I wanted to get my brain out of “silver-only” mode in preparation for a workshop with Hadar Jacobson.

I’ve been a fan of her work — in any metal she chooses — since I first discovered her, years ago now. I’d been working on plans for a trip back to the west coast (where I’ve lived, at several different times, in a different location each time) and had been trying to figure out how to work in a study-visit to her studio (in Berkeley, CA) when our local chapter of the PMC Guild (MetalClayWesternPA) started talking with the chapters in Columbus and Cleveland (Ohio) about sharing the costs of bringing her across the country to do a series of workshops here. I have been looking forward to this since last summer and, I’m delighted to say, she certainly lived up to expectations!

Both Columbus and Cleveland opted for two-day sessions, but our members voted to go for thee days and I am sure glad we did! There was just so much information to absorb, and try, and adapt, and think about, and experiment with, and compare notes on, and…..

There were a dozen of us, and four kilns. Each kiln had to be be tested (in a two-step firing process!) before we used it. Then, each piece had to go through a two-phase firing, each phase takes several hours, and everything has to cool down between phases. Oh, and each kiln had to be run on a different electrical circuit! We met in a community center (an old school building, one that’s been around for over a century -> at best one circuit per room) with lots of young children and elderly seniors wandering about. That meant we had to be careful where we located the kilns at different times of the day or night! And that involved moving them around, and being extra-careful with any loads we had to move after just one firing (when the binder has burned off, and each piece is very fragile). Which of course just added to the “adventure” of it all!

In a single firing with precious metal clays (silver and gold), you can tightly pack lots of pieces onto a kiln shelf, and cram several shelves at once into the kiln. With non-precious metals (copper, bronze, and steel), pieces are typically positioned in just a single layer per load, and you need to leave at least half an inch between everything, so you can fire only a very few pieces at one time.

We covered two major techniques (inlay and caning), with a number of variations on each of those. (My first one was done exactly as instructed–design on front and “hidden” bail on the back–and I am happy with it but, for all the rest I reverted to my normal mode of making life more complicated, as shown at the left, by having them fully reversible….) In those three days, I was able to complete half a dozen (6) good-size pieces. I did manage to get all six of them fired during the session, though I had to finish “finishing” four of them afterwards. On the last afternoon, I rushed to begin making ten more small pieces that will eventually be used to make five pairs of earrings. But they were merely started, and need a good bit of pre-finishing, then to be fired and, finally, lots of polishing. I chose to try just a couple specific techniques during the workshop, and to thus reinforce my learning by making several pieces each way, but I look forward to trying the rest on my own in the coming months.

Over the next week or two, I’ll try to write and illustrate a few posts about the workshop, and to show more of the pieces I made in it.

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