Convergent Series

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

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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