Convergent Series

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

How I Spent Last Weekend.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/09/04

With a bit of island-themed whimsy, in honor of the workshops led by Gordon Uyehara at the Valley Art Center in Chagrin Falls, OH, last weekend, I open this post with a photo of the “Cosmic Honu” turtle pendant made last Saturday by one of my local guild-friends, Michelle Glaeser (who is also the developer of rose gold clay), checking out the “Pearl Box” ring that I made on the Sunday. As I’d mentioned in my last post, not everyone who went had been able to stay for all the events, but Michelle and I met at my studio for an hour or so a few days later to talk about the different workshops each of us had taken.

There are several ways to approach the making of a ring using metal clay, and this class from Gordon uses the method I practice the least myself. So, why did I take this class? First of all, I wanted to push myself to practice this method. Even though I don’t find it particularly easy, if you look at book and magazine articles plus a range of on-line posts, it appears to be the one most commonly used by metal clay artists. (I don’t know how many are just starting from the same point they first learned and extending that for their project, or if they have tried others and simply prefer this one. It is the first method I learned too, but I later figured out, read about, and otherwise explored others that I find easier (not necessarily quicker, just easier) and have, myself, mostly expanded on those. I guess I’d better think about making, and writing about, some of those this winter….) In the meantime, rather than struggle on my own to master this technique, I figured I’d take it (again) from someone reported to have many happy customers (both product buyers and workshop students), and maybe I’d be able to pick up a few tips I’d missed. Besides, there can actually be two ring-bands in this particular design: one that goes around the finger and another that goes around the decorative top. So, this offered double the practice all in one day!

[Several asides: I wasn’t the only one with questions either. At left, you can see Gordon doing a little demonstration for Carole B from Columbus. It was fun to meet her in person at last! We’d emailed each other for months, first over organizing workshops in separate cities when our three groups brought in Hadar Jacobson, which I wrote about early last April, and then there was more mail setting up this combined effort with Gordon last week.]

The finished samples Gordon brought, one of which was shown in my last post, all had the pearl set into a flat-topped, circular box, with the pearl off from the center of the box but positioned centrally in line along the finger when worn. He also discussed, had unfired versions of, and constructed during demos, some other styles: different box shapes, different top-shapes, various wall heights, with the pearl positioned in different ways (e.g., centered or offset relative to the top or to the textured design). At the right, in a snapshot that shows eight of the sixteen pieces that participants made (one kiln-load), you can get a clue about their choices: I can see oval, oblong, and triangular as well as circular, and having flat, curved, or fully-domed tops.

Those who know my work, especially those who take my classes, know that I love various curved shapes: domes, waves, loops, and more. And that, although I often use some fairly “subtle” textures, I do tend to put textures just about everywhere: fronts and backs (making pieces reversible), inside little openings (whether visible in public or a little secret about the space known only to the wearer), and so on. Also, having gotten some of my design sense through working within the math world as a geometer, I know how to find centers and figure angles and such. So one funny thing about this ring, for me, is that I made it with:

  • a flat top;
  • a simple satin-finish on both the wall-sides and finger-ring;
  • the pearl at some almost-random off-center, not-aligned position; and
  • the whole box deliberately set ever-so-slightly off-center on the band (both left-to-right and front-to-back) because it just seemed while I was assembling it as though it would sit nicely that way (too far off might want to topple, but a tiny bit off just felt better to me).

But another, even-funnier thing is that, without us ever discussing any of this during the session (because we were so busy working away on our own projects), both Alice (another local guild-friend, and my traveling companion for the weekend) and I made almost identical choices all along the way! (And this is not her typical style either, which usually has lots of curls and swirls.) We had brought different textures to use, and hers (left) was one that comes out a tiny bit deeper than mine (right). Other than that, however, I don’t think we could have made more-matching rings if we’d tried! We had a good laugh when we each saw what the other had done….

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