Convergent Series

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

Inlay Projects with Hadar Jacobson

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/04/04

In Hadar’s recent workshop here in Pittsburgh, the first project we covered involved making an inlay of one metal (clay) into another one. We began by working with copper and bronze.

Long-time readers of this ‘blog may know that I have been quite happy working with Hadar’s various clays individually. I’d read about combining them (e.g., in her book, Mixed Metal Jewelry from Metal Clay) but, right around the time I started to think about actually trying that myself we started talking about bringing her here to teach it. Since I had enough other things to do and try and experiment with, I just figured I’d wait until I could learn how do do it right from the start.

(The decades-of-experience educator in me is always in conflict with the creative spirit in there too. The latter wants to charge ahead, just try things, and see what happens. The former knows that it’s much (much!) harder to unlearn bad habits than to learn how to do anything right from the start. For me, time is often the simplest mediator between those two. There’s just never enough time for everything. If I really want to try something now, well, I go ahead and do that. But, if I have a list full of things to try, and the definite opportunity to learn some of those from an expert not-too-much later on, then I’m fine with using that as one factor in how I order things on the list…)

So, back to the first day in Hadar’s workshop. Inlay. She mixed up some of my copper to use for her demo (on both doing the mixing and starting the inlay). Since I had that already mixed when I went to start, my first trials involved a copper base (conveniently left to dry while I then mixed up the next material for use) with bronze as the inlay.

As I mentioned last time, I made the first piece just as instructed: texture the copper (I used a metal “wheel” shape Hadar had brought); cut out the shape (I used a circle cutter I had brought); let that dry; inlay the bronze, add an “invisible” (from the front) bail to the back; let that all dry; sand it down smooth and patch as needed; then put it onto the tray of pieces to be fired.

As often occurs with this medium, while “waiting for something to happen” (e.g., some bit to dry), I started on a couple more pieces. For the second, I used the same “wheel” shape for my inlay-depression. But I marked the center so that, on the other side, I could position a “gear” shape for a reasonably well aligned (for first attempt, at least) inlay depression on the other side.

And, with just a little copper clay left mixed at that point, I also made one more base piece, an oval shape, also reversible, with different sorts of “branching” textures on each side (that I showed both last time and at the start of this post).

Had I been thinking, I’d’ve made at least one of the others an inlay of copper into bronze. But, first time around, I was just repeating, for practice, without thinking of much more than the one change that I most wanted to make: to produce reversible pieces.

Hadar walked past just as I was turning over the two-sided wheel-gear piece on my drying plate. She stopped, looked at it a moment, and stated, “So, you’re going to be one of those students who has to make the project more difficult.” Well, yes, of course! All those years I spent also teaching teachers about teaching have shown that I’m typical: teachers are often the most “challenging” students! I’m here to learn as much as I can! That’s only the first variant I want to try but, if I’m going to have questions about even just that, I’d better take advantage of the opportunity to ask them here!

The photos with this post show my first three inlay pieces, fully finished. But getting them to that point is enough of a story in itself, I’ll have to tell that in a separate post….

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