Convergent Series

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

Archive for June, 2011

2 half-days, 6 people, 52 pieces …

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/06/26

… and I forgot to take photos!

On Thursday, it was great to have several folks came over just to use my studio as a workspace. Then, on Friday, I taught a small semi-private introductory workshop.

And everyone was very productive, as you may be able to guess from the subject-line of this post.

The thing is, I had my camera with me, but everyone (including me, myself) kept me so busy that I only thought to take one quick snapshot, after everyone was pretty much done on Thursday, then not even that on Friday, neither the people nor their any of their many, lovely, silver pieces (lentil beads, domed pendants, foldover pendants, earring components, charms, and more!). But, since I had my camera with me, I stuck it in a little black case I have for it, and put that into my pocket as I headed off to the Summer Music Festival sponsored by community radio station WYEP in a local park that is tucked into a curious little space (called Schenley Plaza) between Carnegie Mellon University, the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, the Carnegie Library, and the University of Pittsburgh. (The city actually tore out a parking lot a few years ago to install a public park area!)

With a series of bands playing, an array of vendors, and lots of general socializing, etc., I just didn’t think to take photos there either. But I did manage to lose the camera! Somehow it fell out of my pocket. I didn’t even realize that until well after the first big rainstorm of the evening. (The band playing a few minutes before that started had commented on everyone just sitting around in lawn chairs or on blankets as storm clouds gathered; but they seemed stunned as the downpour began and most people just stayed right where they were, popping open the umbrellas they had brought!) Anyway, on top of that, I only noticed that the camera had gone missing after sunset, after most of the park had gotten pretty dark.

We spanned out in different directions and, amazingly, my friend Lyn (thank you!!!) still managed to find that little black case with the camera inside, spotting it (in the near-dark) somehow underneath a folding chair (and thus relatively dry) about 20 people away from where we had camped out. (It must have fallen out of my pocket when I got up to wander over for some browsing in the crafts market along the east side of the venue: that’s the only time I headed off in that direction, and I was not sure of the exact path I had taken to get there.) Miraculous as that was, the camera did not acquire any additional photos while lying there in the dark. So I still have only words (and a few numbers) to use to illustrate all those events. But they were lots of fun!

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Portage Hill Gallery is now carrying my work!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/06/15

I am absolutely thrilled to report that, as of June, 2011, my work is also available at the Portage Hill Gallery in Westfield, NY. It’s on route 394, NW of Lake Chautauqua (just past Mayfield) on your way from there to Lake Erie.

Of all the possible venues for my work, I have to admit that this one is particularly special to me. Because I just love to shop there. Over the years (decades!) this is a place where I’ve bought–both for myself and to give as gifts–paintings, photographs, pottery, CDs (and, before that, cassette tapes), candles and, of course, jewelry as well as several different wooden jewelry boxes. (And that is just a sampling; I’m sure I’m missing some items!)

To have a place where I’ve shopped so happily now be interested in carrying my creations is a real delight. If you ever find yourself in the area, do stop by to check it out. It’s run by Audrey Kay Dowling and Donald Dowling who for years, in addition to the gallery, have been involved in various aspects of education and of the making and displaying of art. Which should give you a clue that they’re really interesting people. Be sure to tell them I suggested you check out their Portage Hill Gallery!

And if you’ve never been to the Chautauqua Institution for any part of their summer program, that’s really something else to check out. Their main summer program runs from late-June through mid-August, supplemented by other events off and on throughout the rest of the year. There are other “Chautauqua-style” events at various locations around the country, but this is the original one and, at least from what I’ve seen in my various travels, the largest and best of them all!

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Follow-up re Late April Bracelet Workshop

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/06/10

I said I’d try to get to it eventually, and it’s only taken about six weeks to get around to trying to organize some of my workshop snapshots. This shows a happy crew on the second evening of the custom bracelets session at Zelda’s Bead Kit Company at the end of April.

I tried to get some quick snapshots of the final results. If you were there and want copies of the ones I took of you, please let me know. I’m not sure if it was the wine, or the lighting, or what, but there were a lot of rather blurry shots from that batch. Which is a real shame, because the results were fabulous.

I was able to find a small section of one that did a decent job of showing Ellie’s creation: click on the small image at the left if you’d like to see a slightly larger version of that one.

To illustrate that all the fine silver components can be made to be fully reversible if you want, I’ll close with a shot of one of the pieces that I made during various demonstrations (taken later, once I was back in my studio with better lighting) with little inserts showing the reverse sides of those elements. (As always, click to enlarge the image.)

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More reasons why I love my studio!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/06/08

I had a relatively small “Big Links” workshop scheduled to be held at Koolkat Designs at the end of May.

For a number of reasons not worth going into, it became necessary to reschedule it. Three of the participants and I were all available to gather on Sunday, June 5. Except, the Koolkat folks were all tied up with the Three Rivers Arts Festival that day, meaning they were not available to open and later close the shop for us.

Not to worry, however, because Abby, Jane, and Rose were all willing to come over to my studio instead. So that’s what we did. Everyone learned several tricks needed to make metal clay links connect to each other without obvious joins, and everyone had a little bit of clay left over to make a few other trinkets of their choice.

And since I’d dashed out on the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend (the first hot weekend of the year) to buy and then install and connect to the new electrical line (that the board at the Wilkins School Community Center had approved & installed for my studio), we even had a room at a great temperature to work in. (Yes, the dehumidifying nature of the A/C led the clay to dry out quickly, but I just helped everyone to keep kneading in more water between each step, and things came out fine.)

So it was great to have a place where we could do this, and everyone seemed to agree that it was a great place to work. Thanks to all for coming over there!

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But severe storms on Tuesday….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/06/07

I did not go down to the Three Rivers Arts Festival today to take any more photos, but thought I should add a quick note.

This morning started out miserably gray and dreary, with all sorts of weather-related alerts and warnings. After they had expired and the sky had begun to lighten up, well, that’s when the severe winds suddenly arrived, catching all sorts of people by surprise.

The photo with this post is of the Koolkat Designs booth as the Festival opened on Friday. I include it now, despite its looking like there are few people around, because this shot is the best view I have of the variety of items on various glass and wire shelves, in bins and rotating towers, hanging around the sides, etc.

Tonight’s local news reports included interviews with some artists who had each lost thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, displays, and booths. But here’s the news we got from Kate tonight about “our” booth:

After a very intense storm this afternoon that saw about 20 artist lose their booths, we are happy to report that all is well at the Koolkat booth. It took 4 people to hold down the fort but thanks to Beth and Leroy we are back in business with no damage. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for the rest of the week!


For what it’s worth, only the three “gallery” booths remain for the entire time. Any of the individual artists who were there today would have packed up and headed out tonight anyway, to make room for the next wave of artists coning to the market tomorrow. While that doesn’t help with damages incurred, in the “be thankful for small favors” department, at least this happened on their last day. Here’s wishing the best to everyone who made it through today, and to everyone else who will be opening a booth in the morning.

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Little Rain the First Weekend….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/06/05

After all the rain we had here in SW Pennsylvania throughout May, would that continue into June? Even after a dry May, it always seems to rain during the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Some years, more; others years, less; but rain is to be expected for at least part of the time.

The only rain we had the first weekend were a few overnight storms. There was no rain when the Artists Market booths were open, the various hands-on activities running, the outdoor concerts playing, the exhibits displaying. And it’s looking like a pretty good week coming up too: predictions are for a few hot days and a few rainstorms, but mostly typical weather for the days approaching the summer solstice.

The larger photo (top, right) is of the Koolkat booth on Gallery Row (Artist Market spaces 78-79). They may rearrange the booth shelves a few times throughout the show but, at least on that first day, my pieces were on the end, in the corner, on the top shelf (i.e., above the blue carrier bag in the photo). You can check out my copper+bronze pieces (some with steel too) for the first time there, along with some of my newer silver pieces. (And by check out, of course, I mean that I hope that at least some folks will buy a few!)

The smaller photo (bottom, left) is of Jill West performing with Blues Attack at the Main Stage in Point State Park on Friday night. There are a number of free performances on each of the ten days of the show (and lots of other good stuff too: follow some of the links on that page to see what else is going on).

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2011 Three Rivers Arts Festival begins at Noon Today!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/06/03

The 2011 Three Rivers Arts Festival opens today (June 3) and runs through Sunday of next week (June 12).

The Artists Market will be open from 12 Noon to 8 pm each day.

My work will be in the Koolkat Designs Gallery Booth, in Artist Market spaces 78-79, which are by the Gateway Plaza fountain.

The individual artist booths rotate in and out over the course of the festival, with no one individual there for more than five days (and some, for fewer than that).

But the three “Gallery” booths will be there for the full ten days. Those of us who have been invited by a gallery to participate are not listed individually as market participants but, though we do lose out on a bit of publicity, in some ways it’s not as much of an issue as we’re the only ones whose work can be there for the full ten days. So you need not time your visit to find our wares: Just come on down!

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Another example of the “mokume gane effect”.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/06/02

The thing is, once I get started posting, it is hard to stop.

Shown is one more example of the “mokume gane” effect technique, a pair of earrings in copper and bronze.

I sort of felt I had to post another image from my (somewhat incomplete) selection, to give a better idea of the nice satin finish that’s possible on these pieces (and which, however, drives their price up because of the time–and tools and skill–it takes to achieve that).

The “effect” is visible on both sides, but these niobium earwires wanted me to decide on one side that would be the front (unlike the various ones I use with my silver pieces, that permit me to offer them as fully reversible). With these, however, choosing the front was easy: one can make these so that one pair of sides (but not, or at least not easily, both sides) are “mirror images” of each other.

So, even though these will be separated by the wearer’s face, meaning that the casual observer is unlikely to notice the “mirror” effect, at least the wearer can know…. It’s little “surprises,” like that, that make it so much fun for me to create these little adornments. They’re also going up for sale at the Three Rivers Arts Festival starting tomorrow.

(For those seeking out technical details, these were made using Hadar’s Quick Fire Copper and Quick Fire Bronze.)

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One piece I was weaving….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/06/02

Sorry, I’ve been a bit too busy to continue the thread I started back there. But I suddenly have a little “found time” this afternoon, so I’ll try to sneak in one quick post in between some crazy rescheduling. (Long story about a leak in the water line at my house that I thought was finally going to be fixed today, but the water company called to say they were “too busy to get to this” today so we’re trying to coordinate a time for next week … PA is so not-CA sometimes, and a water line leak, even if it’s just a small one, that can stretch on for a month with no one but me seeming to be very concerned about it is one of them…).

Anyway, the photo at the top of this post is a straight-from-the-kiln shot of a piece with a “mokume gane” effect in the metal on this side (it’s all-copper on the other side, shown in the second image, below) and strips of solid copper or bronze or steel woven inside the little heart-shaped opening. At this point, it has been fired twice: once to burn off the binder, and a second time to sinter the metals. (It’s not true mokume gane, because it uses an entirely different technique–pioneered by Hadar Jacobson from whom I learned it–but the end result has a somewhat similar appearance, not identical, but closer to mokume gane than to any other technique.)

And this sure does illustrate the difference in shrinkage among the various metals and clays! If you realize that the “mokume gane” had been sanded to a very smooth finish on that side when it went into the kiln, you can see some of the variation by just looking at the bumps and valleys on that surface. But the three distinct woven bars illustrate it even more. Hadar’s “original / traditional” bronze shrinks the most: look at the huge gap that opened up in that bar! Her copper is in the middle: you can see a fairly small crack in it. The steel, both because it’s steel and because it’s available only in the Quick Fire formula, shrank the least, by a lot. I actually find it rather interesting the way the steel bar in the weave bulged a little bit out the back of the heart-shaped opening as the rest of the piece shrank down into it.

So, it was time for some repairs, followed by a refiring (another two-phase episode). This second photo shows the patching in-progress, from the other (textured copper) side. I had filled in some gaps in the copper, and had just finished adding the bronze patch when I got a phone call. So I caught this shot quickly while taking that, and then went back to texturing the patch as soon as the call finished (before the clay dried).

Fast forward through what ended up being several rounds of patching and refiring (… what can I say: each two-phase refiring can fix some places while opening up cracks somewhere else, until you just say, “Enough! It’s done!”…) plus some polishing (especially on the side with the “mokume gane” effect), and I had a piece that looked like the final photo shown below (though it got a bit more polishing, then a good oiling to protect the steel, and finally a nice coat of wax, plus a hanging-ring and a cable-chain, all before it was really done…).

I call it, “Heart on the Mend.”

It’s among the hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces that will be available at the Three Rivers Arts Festival.

I’ll say a bit more about that event in a follow-up post, but do let me know (leave a comment) if there’s a chance I’ll see you there. (I’m “working” there only two half-days, but I’ll be around and about at other times.)

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