Convergent Series

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

Archive for June, 2012

Networking: Human versus Electronic

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/06/25

I’m just back from the (last ever) PMC Guild Conference, held just outside of Cincinatti, Ohio.

The very BEST thing about the gathering involved the interactions among all the participants. Whether it was a presenter sharing information, an audience member asking or answering a question, folks in the vendor’s hall doing a demonstration, or all the interactions among everyone at the various social events (including out in the swimming pool under the stars late at night) … well, those interactions are the things that make this such a valuable event.

Blogs, websites, newsgroups, Facebook, online workshops, etc., are fine, but nothing like that wonderful, live, personal interaction among the hundreds of attendees. And seeing everyone’s “bling” live, for real, in person! Yes, many of the initiatives that the PMC Guild and Art Clay Society started have been picked up elsewhere. But not the big conferences; at least, not yet. And I’ve always found those to be very special events; and, coming from someone who generally prefers small groups to crowds, that’s really saying something! A girl can hope that good, strong, viable alternatives will re-appear in the next year or two….

Because I found that electronic-versus-human difference to be magnified even further by what I consider the worst part of this year’s event: the extremely limited ‘net access at the meeting site itself (especially since it had promoted its “Free WiFi” as part of the service). I really had hoped to get started on at least some new posts while on the road immersed in thoughts of metal clay (a few to finish and post immediately, and others to continue working on to post over the next week or two). But those posts just didn’t happen, and my schedule now is jammed up. I’ll try to get a couple of posts going, but it may be a few weeks before I can get back to any real writing.

Since I want to end this note with a positive thought, more in keeping with my overall positive feeling about the event, I will end with a photo from Tim McCreight’s “History of PMC” talk, showing him with CeCe Wire. My guess is that this was taken in 2006? Anyway, I’ve enjoyed learning things from both of them (whether it was when we agreed, or disagreed, about the best way to approach a construction…).

There’ll be more here about other people and interactions, plus news about my own workshops and projects, as soon as I can find the time. In the meantime, regarding the title of this post: yep, the direct human interaction won, for sure!

Posted in Events, Guild, Learning Metal Clay | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Fifty for the Charm Exchange!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/06/20

As I’ve mentioned several times in the past (both here and here, and maybe elsewhere…), one of the regular events at PMC Guild conferences has always been an evening reception that involves a charm exchange. For the conference this year (the last one ever of this particular group, since it is disbanding at the end of this week … but those details will have to wait for another post!), no time was allocated for it. So no one knew whether or not to stock up on charms in preparation for the exchange.

Then, at pretty much the last minute, a way to do the exchange was decided upon by a few people who were going … and, presumably, already had a stash they were wanting to trade! Those of us who did not have much of a stash ready were left to assemble ours amidst the flurry of other things involved in preparing for the trip.

But I managed to make fifty! Of course, they all still need to have jump rings added so recipients can hang them, but I’m hoping to do that on the ride over. Lucky for me, Alice said she’d drive us! (If I’m really lucky, I’ll also have time then to make a bracelet or two from which to hang the charms I’ll get in exchange for these too.)

They are all similar, but no two are alike! And, of course, this being me, they are all reversible.

I call them “Moonlit Garden” charms, not just because I cut them in a waxing/waning moon shape, but also because they have a sort of moonscape texture on one side, and some sort of garden-theme texture on t’other (cherry blossoms, gingko leaves, roses, ferns, or various daisies).

In rough numbers:

  • 60% are made from fine silver and, of those:
    • 35% were polished in a magnetic finisher, and then got a LOS patina;
    • 65% were tumble-polished and left all shiny.

  • 40% are made from bronze and of those:
    • 30% are a rose bronze color;
    • 70% are the more-typical yellow bronze; and
    • both colors were lightly hand-polished in the hope of maintaining a bit of their lovely but random kiln-coloring.

The silver costs more in raw materials, but the bronze ones take longer to complete. At what I figure is a reasonable rate for my time, they come out at about equal in value to me. I still need to find the little grab-bag I used last time to haul them around in, so anyone who wants to trade can just reach in and get whichever kind their hand is drawn to.

And now that I’m over the concern about whether I’d manage to finish them, at last I’m able to look forward to seeing what I might get in exchange! Might yours be one of them?

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How much to polish?

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/06/15

How much to polish is a recurrent question with my work, one that has been reappearing even more often since I started doing more work with different bronze formulas of metal clay.

I’ve been using that photo to promote some workshops I’ll be teaching later this summer (at both Mars Beads and Zelda’s for sure, but I can schedule a session in my studio too if you’d like). You may have noticed that I polished the “sandy border” around the circular one, but not on the rectangle.

In many cases with metal clay, and the various bronze formulas in particular, polishing is something that one can’t always decide for certain at the design stage. Sometimes you have to wait until a piece comes out of the kiln. So far, I have polished that one border the round piece in both the first and last photos with this post. (I also polished its “other” side.) And that decision was an easy one: it emerged from the kiln simply looking dark, so the polishing brightened it up, whereas the rectangular one just showed up with more interesting colors.

But the choice is not always that stark. I’ve made even more than those two. Here are a couple others I have on hand:

With those, I’m still debating: will I polish any other borders? Will I polish some of the interior sections? Should I let them age naturally, or put some sort of protective coating on them (knowing that any coating will not be permanent anyway, though some do last longer than others…)?

In the end, I’m sure I’ll end up doing some mix of all that. I just need to decide which area gets what treatment. (On, and, of course, all these pieces are my usual reversible designs, so the questions arise with the very different designs on their “other” sides too!)

But it’s part of why there is often no simple answer to the question, “How long did it take you to make that?”

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A hot ending.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/06/11

After ten days, and increasing heat, this year’s Three Rivers Arts Festival has come to a close.

And a very hot ending it was. Hot for Pittsburgh. And, officially, it’s still merely Spring. What will summer bring? Time will tell….

In the meantime, a few quick comments. The festival organizers rearranged the market yet again, but somehow managed to leave the Koolkat Designs booth down at the very end of Gallery Row. (I added a silly purple arrow to the photo here to show where my pieces were once again displayed on the top corner shelf.)

The trees as well as the breezes wafting up from the Point over the fountain are what made the location bearable on the hottest days. (It was well over 90°F the last weekend; though I did not note the humidity, that was high too.) The photo of the fountain, below, was taken from the same spot as the first shot, though I’d just turned a bit to my right. That location is a bit of a challenge on the windiest-stormiest days but, over the years, Koolkat’s owner Kate and the rest of the crew have figured out increasingly better ways to manage that.

But during the hottest times down there this year, and especially the final weekend of the festival, I kept remembering my mother, standing in the kitchen of our house in South Florida–with the big double patio doors slipped into their wall “pockets” so the whole room was open to any breeze that might come from the ocean and up the canal behind our house–and saying, “The heat won’t get to you as long as there’s a good breeze.” As a child (especially as a teen, and one who was happiest at temperatures she considered cold) I would argue, “I will not agree to anything beyond that the heat won’t get to you as quickly as long as there’s a really good breeze.” I know she’d’ve liked the weather at this year’s festival, and the breezes in Gateway Plaza, and I wish she could see the art jewelry I only really got into making, and even selling!!, after she was gone.

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Summer in the Studio

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/06/08

It dawned on me t’other day that it’s been a while since I gave a progress report on my studio. Here’s what it looked like recently, between when I finished getting pieces down for the Three Rivers Arts Festival and taught my next workshop there.

The slightly warped look to the image is because I “stitched’ together several individual shots, trying to include as much as possible at one time.

I still love the sense of space from its 13-foot tall ceilings, the north-north-west facing wall of windows that allow in so much light without having to deal with with many direct direct rays, and the tree just outside that lets me feel like I’m working up in a delightful aerie!

I’m gradually earning enough to permit me to indulge in a few more bits of furniture. Yep, I’ve still got a few more adjustable-height chairs on the wish-list, but we manage to shift around so everyone is comfortable (if necessary, borrowing some different-height chairs from the community center for a few hours now and then).

The “blue kiln” is shown here on a wheeled cart, so I can move it to a space with adequate ventilation when I fire it. Also on the wish-list is a good ventilation hood, which I plan to hang over the cabinet in front of the air conditioner and vent out right over that — since I can’t run both the kiln and AC at the same time anyway…. (My “silver and white” kiln wasn’t in the room when I took these photos.)

The other little table over on that side is my finishing station, the place where I polish up pieces after they’ve been fired. The white table in the middle (rear) is set up with lights so I can try to take photos. (I’m still waiting for the return of the little stand that holds them at a much better angle….) The two long tables in the middle are set up for a workshop; when I’m there on my own I spread out all over them to make my own creations. The various cabinets on the left hold a mix of personal tools, workshop supplies, books and magazines, and even a few finished pieces on display. The table covered with a blue cloth is still serving as a bit of a place-holder. I have a china cabinet at home that I keep thinking I’ll move over to the studio for holding the pieces I want to put on display (thus getting those out of the white cabinets) with some storage space below it. Some day….

In the lower-right corner are a few baby aloe (“burn relief”) plants on top of the little refrigerator (with a real freezer compartment, for storing chunks of Hadar’s Clay that I’ve mixed up and not yet used). Next to it is a rolling cart (you can just barely see its handle) that holds (lower tray) my tumblers (one each of rotary and magnetic) and (upper tray) all my patina doodads. With those on a cart, it’s easy to just roll the whole set-up to one of the sinks across the hall.

The long “chalkboard” area is in a bit of disarray: I still haven’t gotten it set up quite the way I want, but it’s even worse than usual because I haven’t “cleaned up” after all the prep for the Arts Festival. And I won’t even try to deal with that until I get everything back, and can organize my various display elements. I’d never get anything made if I stopped to sort that out all the time.

Speaking of making things, the pieces in the dehydrator should be ready for their next steps, so I should end this post now too.

While I do that, you may want to see what the building looks like on a late-spring (feels like early-summer) day … and night. (Yep, I also love how the building lights illuminate the tree outside my aerie at night!)

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We should all be this lucky!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/06/04

Have you ever taken a workshop using metal clay and, in the demonstration of how to roll out a textured design, been told to roll only in one direction (or, perhaps, start in the middle and roll out from there just once in each direction) … and then been warned that, with textures, to not roll multiple times, and to not roll back and forth?

Did you ever wonder why you were told that?

In a workshop I led on Saturday, one of the participants didn’t quite heed that warning for the element she was going to use on the back of her piece. And she found out the reason for the rule. Sort of. I say that because the “shadowing” you will get usually turns out looking rather messy. Rarely does it turn out looking this interesting:

Do you see all the parallel ridges? That’s the good effect you can get if it’s your lucky day! It is more likely to work well only with certain textures. And you have to multi-roll just right. So you should not count on getting this effect, but do take a moment to enjoy it when it does appear!

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2012 Three Rivers Arts Festival begins at Noon Today!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/06/01

The 2012 Three Rivers Arts Festival opens today (June 1) and runs through Sunday of next week (June 10).

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 65-66, which are by the Gateway Plaza fountain. (Top right end of artist booths on the map.) This year, I’ll have both pendants and earrings, mostly in fine silver and bronzes (both yellow and rose forms), with a little bit of copper, plus some gemstones, pearls, and lucite too.

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 “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. Though we do lose out on that bit of publicity, on the other hand 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!

Another advantage to participating in a Gallery cooperative is that I have more time than the individual artists to explore all aspects of the festival. So I’ll be wandering around, on my own and with various friends, off and on throughout the festival.

If you want to see me in person, I’ll be at the Koolkat Designs booth for sure at these times:

  • Friday, June 1, 12 – 4 pm;

  • Friday, June 8, 4 – 8 pm.

Let me know if/when I should be looking out for you at the Festival!

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