Convergent Series

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

Archive for August, 2012

The Charm(s) of Mika Tajiri

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/08/15

This note will finish up on one item, leftover from my last post, about the charm exchange at the 2012 PMC Guild Conference….

The first two photos here, to the left, show both sides of the charm I received from Mika Tajiri in the charm exchange at the 2010 PMC Guild Conference. Although I did not make a big deal about it at the time, my immediate reaction was that, while I certainly enjoyed all the charms I received that year, this one was definitely among my favorites, both for the overall design, and for its being reversible!

But there was something else. Right at the moment of exchange, all I knew was that I was trading with a couple of “the Japanese ladies” who had come over for the conference. In retrospect, I did not recall noticing any jewelry this artist was wearing: But I remember being charmed by her, in particular, with her apparent delight at participating in the exchange.

Later, I saw her again in the “Show and Sell” area, and that’s when I did notice the jewelry she was wearing. I had just seen it in a recent issue of Fusion (which was (then) the quarterly journal of the (now much modified) PMC Guild): She had won one of the “Favorites” awards at the 2010 Hobby Show in Japan! And that evening she was wearing another piece from that collection. I recognized it immediately.

With a lot of smiling and hand-motions, I managed to ask, and she managed to confirm, that she was the person who had made the pieces (i.e., she wasn’t just wearing something gorgeous that she’d bought from that artist), and that my memory was correct that the charm I was already wearing on my bracelet from that year was also hers. Honestly, I felt like I had won the charm-lottery: a favorite charm was by a delightful artist who had won an award for a piece that I really admired!

So, at the 2012 conference’s charm exchange, I will admit that she was one of the artists I was hoping to spot for an exchange. When I caught sight of her, she was again wearing one of her signature pieces. I gave her a big smile, which she returned immediately. Which was just the friendly thing to do, right? Since I was wearing a collection of my charm-exchange bracelets linked together as a necklace, I reached for the segment from 2010, located her piece, and held it up with another smile, to indicate that I recognized her. Which brought on happy hand motions to say that, if I’d brought charms this year, she’d be happy to exchange again. Yes!

Well, the business card she included this year (photo with black background; but with no website listed … unless I just missed that in the part written in Japanese) included an image of her winning piece from 2010. And her “charm” for 2012 was a simpler, miniature piece made the same way as those other elements (the last photo, left, with this post). She was giving these lovely pieces away to others, in exchange for whatever little piece we had made. I was delighted with its design, and thrilled by this generosity!

I know, from talking with several other artists who traded with her, that we all think this one is both too lovely and too delicate to risk getting beat up on a fun-but-clunky charm bracelet. This is the one I held out (as mentioned in my last post): it has gone on a chain all by itself so I can wear it as a necklace. People I know ask if I’ve made it and I have to say, “No, but I sure wish I could both imagine and execute pieces like the charming Mika Tajiri makes!”

And this post is my way of saying an extra “Thank you!” to her for honoring me with one of these.

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Posted in Events, Guild | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Two More Charm Bracelets for the Collection….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/08/12

It’s taken me almost two months (where has the summer gone!) but I figured it was time to post a follow-up showing all the treats I got during the Charm Exchange at the 2012 PMC Guild Conference.

With a change of both venue and of overall schedule, there had been a bit of uncertainty as to whether this very popular exchange would even happen at all this time. Once there was confirmation that a modified form of the exchange would take place, and in between lots of other commitments and deadlines, I did manage to make a collection of small, very simple (but, this being me, reversible) charms in a mix of silver (some shiny; some with a patina) and bronze (some the traditional yellow color; others in the more-coppery rose bronze).

Alice and I had a great time “carpooling” out to Kentucky for the conference. Since we’d taken my car the last time we went together, this time we took hers. And she drove, which meant I was able to sit in the passenger seat and add jump rings to all of my charms while we chatted our way across five states: whew! Once I’d finished adding those, I kept going with jump rings and made a pair of bracelets: one out of Argentium sterling silver (with a sterling lobster clasp) and the other out of bronze (with a copper lobster clasp). Admittedly, a moving car is not necessarily the ideal setting for those activities, but it’s not like I was doing complex chain maille, we were mostly on good interstate highways, and Alice’s driving was nice and smooth. (I will let her declare whether that’s her normal mode or a concession to my activities.) So it was easy to complete those tasks and they even added to how quickly the time seemed to pass.

As I’d said before the conference (an event which also happened to extend over the Summer Solstice), I called mine “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).” My idea was that all followed that same theme, but no two were alike.

Curiously, as I was adding their jump rings, I did notice three “pairs” that seemed to match up nicely. I stuffed those in a different pocket, thinking I could later sell those as earrings (and make a little money to help recoup a bit of the cost of all the charms…). One of the fifty charms I made went into the thank-you box that was presented to Tim McCreight and I kept a bronze one for my own bracelet as a record of what I’d done. That left me 42 to exchange: an ideal number for the two bracelet-chains I’d just made.

And, now, I’d like to thank all of the following metal clay artists for exchanging charms with me:

All but one of those charms are shown above. I’m hoping to find time to write about that other one in a separate post….

Also not shown here, but much appreciated as well, are the non-charm trades I received from:

I’m thanking you here too, because I’m not sure when I’ll get around to posting something about how I used your little treats. But I expect they will show up eventually….

For anyone who included a link on the card that came with your charm, I included that on my list. If you didn’t, but I could find you in a quick, easy online search, I added what I found. Otherwise, I’ve just listed you without a link but, if you stumble across this note and have one you’d like me to add, let me know and I will update this post with that information. (Ditto for any other changes or corrections I need to make.)

I sure hope all of you (as well as any of the other artists I somehow missed in the exchange) are as happy with your new charm collection as I am with mine! Happy claying, everyone!

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Sometimes I compare beading to framing….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/08/06

Much of the time, on this blog, I show a piece when I’ve completed the cycle of converting it from the “raw” form (metal that feels like clay) into its “finished” state (hard metal). With earrings, of course, I’ll show those complete, meaning connected to earwires (or posts or clips or…); that is, ready to wear. But I often will post here photos of pendants in a very plain state: just sitting there or, at most, strung on a simple cord of some sort. In this context—that is, since this is a ‘blog that’s mostly about using metal clay techniques—that seems appropriate to me.

And, sometimes, I actually offer them for sale that way. Why? Well, to me, there’s a lot of “artistry” in that main piece. While I do hang pendants so that they are wearable immediately, I don’t see why I should force everyone to buy an expensive chain or other fancy decorations simply so they can own a piece of my art jewelry. What if they like the main piece but not the other doo-dads? What if they already have a wonderful chain or necklace that they think would complement my little piece of metal art? Many of my beading-friends see my simply-strung pieces as incomplete. While I understand that their artistry is in their beading, and appreciate it for what they can do, I just don’t think every piece needs that double-dose of artistry (both in the focal bead and in the hanging mechanism). It’s almost like I see myself as I view a print-maker, photographer, or other 2-D artist, for example, who offers a number of pieces simply matted. I’ve bought plenty of those over the years, and then framed them as I want (keeping or even changing the original matte board) so it will fit in where I want to hang it.

Of course, those same 2-D artists will also have a select number of items available that are not just matted, but also framed and ready to hang. I have bought a few of those (though, nowhere near as many as I have un-framed) and I do offer a few pendants hung on something a bit more elaborate. I try to do that in such a way that the beading or chain complements the focal piece without competing with it: trying to find the right balance between adding an interesting touch without going overboard. So I thought I’d wrap up my recent round of reporting on the “push” pendants, for the moment at least, by showing what I ended up doing with (adding to) a couple of those pieces.

In closing, I will ask: do you agree or disagree with my comparison of hanging pendants to framing pictures? Answers, and other comments, are welcome!

Posted in General Techniques | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Pushing through the storms….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/08/04

Well, I spent all that time preparing for several workshops at various locations where we’d make the items I have taken to calling Push Pendants. And then a couple of them, for perfectly reasonable reasons not worth mentioning here, ended up getting scheduled for September and October instead of this summer. I’m fine with offering this topic later into the fall … it’s just that I’d been so looking forward to doing them sooner. But one of them was scheduled for last Friday evening and was actually held then and … what happened? After extended heat with little rain, that night some flood-generating storms arrived and, of the five students I was expecting, only three had the nerve to venture over to Mars Beads for it.

Thank you so much — Kim, Tammy, and Carol — for braving both the elements and the processes involved to create such delightful pieces! I sure enjoyed spending the evening with you, and I hope you are glad you made it over to join in on the fun.

I’m also glad I remembered to take a photo this time. I take my camera to every workshop I teach and, probably nine out of ten times, I think of it while setting up, and then not again until I’m packing up to leave. I get so focused on what everyone is doing that I forget to step back and snap a shot. But, during this moment when everyone looked both intent on and satisfied with what they were doing, I did take a deep breath and think, “Oh, I should capture this.” So I open this post with what I saw just then.

I will also note that, while these Friday night workshops are fun, they are a little more limited time-wise when compared to what we can do when we have a whole afternoon or an entire day. Which is why I am especially impressed with all the pieces made that night, and include a little view of the final results (fired after class).

To give you a sense of perspective: this was the first-ever time for Kim and Carol to even touch metal clay. Theirs are the two pieces with simple holes and jump rings for hanging them. Tammy, who had attended one other Friday night session about a month ago, was all set to add a few extra embellishments to hers. As shown, the colors are just the luck-of-the-kiln. Each participant can still decide for herself how much she may or may want to shine hers up instead of leaving it like this. Their “other” sides are all nicely textured which, of course, is the thing this time for which I don’t have a photo to post. Sigh. I did take a few shots before delivering the pieces, but they just came out so much darker than the fronts, I don’t think they do justice to those pieces…. So, for now at least, dear readers, you’ll just have to enjoy these sides.

And, if you like these results, do feel free to leave a note of encouragement for these brand-new metal clay craftswomen!

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