Convergent Series

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

Archive for April, 2016

April Recap: First Classes at Artsmiths

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/04/30

Some days I think to take photos, other days I don’t. I can find no pattern at all to which is which!

But, whether or not I remembered at any point to stop and take photos, I want to say how much I enjoyed my first month of teaching at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh!

Our very first class, on April 14, was an easy introductory session, where we covered learning how to texture metal clay, give it some shape (e.g., by drying it over a dome), and embellish it for a bit of extra oompth (e.g., with balls or coils of clay). In all, in three hours, six students completed twenty-one different pieces!

Now, if you’ve worked with metal clays, one thing you know is that you usually should start out with a little more clay than you actually need to make a piece. You’ll roll it out, but then cut it down to the size and shape you want, and trim away the excess. And the question is, always, what to do with the excess? I’ve already written here about this, but the basic options seem to be: make something else (small) with what you have left; get some more clay and add your leftovers to that to make another piece (bigger); or, go to the bother of saving it to do one of the above later on. (Clearly, I lean towards either of the first two!)

And I have to give this group credit for finding ways to use all their clay. First-timer Linda, in particular, kept making smaller and smaller pieces, using the bits she cut out of one piece as elements on their own, and using the final dregs to make tiny ball embellishments.

Everyone’s pieces fired beautifully, but I didn’t think to get a photo of that. No, what I did capture was when, after I’d fished Linda’s last three teensy pieces out of the shot, someone surprised me by pounding on my studio door, and I dropped them back onto the shot. At least, they landed on top, so I didn’t have to search through the whole barrel-full again. Still, can you spot all three pieces in this photo?!! (I think two are pretty obvious, but not the third, which was the center she’d cut out of the little gear/sun-shape.)


Then, on February 21, I taught a “Draped Silver” class. Didn’t take a photo of that group at work…. Don’t have a good photo of all my samples either, but I include here two older pics of two pieces each, one pair in .999 fine silver, and one pair in bronze and copper (because that’s my best one of little “ball nest” embellishments).

In this class, we worked in .960 silver. That allowed us to roll the pieces nice and thin, which is the key to making draped metal clay pieces. It also let us make them fairly thin without having to add a backing or frame for protection.

Several of the folks in this session had taken one of my earlier classes (at Artsmiths or my studio) and had seen a wide range of my textures; for this workshop, however, I took only shallow-texture choices.

The last photo with this post shows the fired and tumbled pieces from this class (though, for some reason I don’t understand, it is not a good representation of any of the colors, nor the textures; though you can see the range of interesting shapes that folks made). The one with wire, beads, and chain (middle of top row) is the one I made as an in-class demonstration. It’s a slightly different color from the other pieces because, before I added the beads and chain, I gave it a very light Liver of Sulphur (LOS) patina and then polished off most of it. But I returned the students’ pieces all shiny-silver, and will let them decide if they want to leave them like that, or if they want to add a patina. I do love patinas but, sometimes, and especially with broad, shallow textures like many of these, I think that pure silver shine is wonderful!

I did have a third class scheduled for April, Woven Silver on April 26 but, as I mentioned before, April was a killer month. (I mean that literally: suddenly, randomly, several friends and parents of friends all died.) It got to the point that I just couldn’t swing that class. I didn’t get a clay order in on time (to get it without express shipping charges) and, even if I had made it to class with clay, it’s not clear where my head would have been. I want workshop participants to know that I am there with them, ready to present, encourage and help! So we rescheduled that one, for May 21.

I’ve got two other classes scheduled for May too. I’m really looking forward to those! More on all that shortly!!

Advertisements

Posted in Teaching Metal Clay | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

2016 Art All Night — Quick Recap

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/04/24

That community-wide celebration of creativity know as Art All Night was held this year, as usual, on the last weekend in April. This was the 19th such event, and I’ve been going for something like 15 (or is it 16?) of those. Note: I have not lived in Pittsburgh that long! I stumbled across my first one while I was still living in California, and just happened to be visiting here the weekend it was taking place. In subsequent years, if I was planning a trip here in the first half of the year, I’d do my best to arrange it to include the weekend of Art All Night! After I moved here, I’d refuse invitations to do other things that weekend. Art All Night drew me in again and again!

This year, however, things got tough. I had a piece selected and framed to enter, registered it, and my schedule was open. The latter ended up being a good thing: without going into details, a special person in my life passed away a few days before. So, with calendar clear, I was able to help out with some arrangements, attend the wake and services, etc. (Oh, and for what it’s worth, this was but one of several dear folks I lost in March and April….Sigh.) Although the events associated with this one interfered with Art All Night in general, at least the venue was located between them and my home. I did manage to drop a piece off and pick it back up in the designated hours, and I was even able to pop in for a quick run-around of about 40 minutes on Sunday afternoon (instead of the many hours I typically spend on the Saturday night!). Ten minutes of that was spent talking with some folks I knew, and the rest was a quick dash to view several thousand entries in minutes! Whew!

With that, let me present a few (very few) of the pieces that caught my eye (and my camera’s lens). Small versions should be visible right in this post, but clicking on any of them should open a new window with a larger view.

In some ways a victim of its own success (i.e., as a way to get thousands of people to wander through unused or under-utilised buildings) since the number of enthusiastic entrants and attendees continues to grow, finding a new venue can be a challenge. But finding the venue is easy: just look for the sign:

This greeted people as they approached the entrance ramp on Sunday. There was more chalk art all around the inside, but I suspect this would have been scuffed out even more had it been there at the entrance through the all-night event. (The bottom line says: No angst. No ennui.)

With almost 4,700 squares, the title, “Yep, I impressed my Mom’s Quilting Group” offered a warm welcome to all near the entrance.

This spray-painted Hobbes was the next piece that drew me in, and the title “True Love” did seem to fit it many different ways!

Amidst a dizzying display of the creativity in this community, soon I was catching glimpses of artwork by folks I know. Fellow-Artsmith Audra Azoury’s “Assemblage” (top-center) was the first one I spotted. I’m showing the whole panel it’s on because I also wanted to capture “Sailing Deer Lakes.” Although I don’t know that particular artist nor the specific subjects, it also brought a smile to my face.

Next, I spotted this piece by my metals-buddy, Barbara Kaczor. I wish we could have toured the show together!

In another whole part of the building I caught my neighbor Sabina Rosenfeld’s framed quilt. I got a kick out of the price on it: not because of the exact number she’d used, but that instead of OBO, she’d put “or reasonable offer.” Isn’t that what so many of us want when compromise is necessary: a reasonable offer?!!

This little collection of cats caught my eye too. I captured the image but only later, when I’d run into Sabina and Peter and she said she was looking to find the location of “a board with little cats cut into it,” did I find out that this was the work of Sabina’s brother.

There seemed to be a lot less jewelry this year than there has typically been in the past. I captured images of these two. There were only maybe three others that I couldn’t get (either the lighting was a challenge, or there were too many people hanging out in front of them).

Then, I had to capture these shots for my friend, Sally, with whom I went to a number of Art All Night events, after I moved here and before she moved away. She and her sweetie, John, will know why these brought them to mind.

I am pretty sure that the name given on this entry is that of the photographer who took the picture, not the artist who actually created the image. I love the original, and notice it every time I drive west on Penn Avenue. The wooden railing on the front is an actual railing; the bride who appears to be entering the next unit in the row is actually painted onto the next building.

At another time, while I might have enjoyed the wood-work on this piece, I’m not sure I would have chosen to highlight it. But with all the current uproar over who uses which rest-room, I figured I should note the artistry here, if nothing else, on this single sign:

The whole show took up three huge rooms. I didn’t take all the equipment I can sometimes get my hands on for taking panoramic photos, but I did try to capture a 360° view of the entire northern (river-side) room from what must have been the all-night “dance floor” in the middle of it. Because it’s flattened out, it gives much more weight to the “wall” that appears in the middle than it does to either of the two sides. But there are hundreds of pieces on panels to the left, toward the front of the building, and then almost as many more behind it.

That shot, above, gives you a glimpse of the venue, but no clue of the experience. It was sooooo empty just then, right as they were insisting that everyone had to leave so they could get everything set up for the pick-up process. For most of the 22-hour run, it is packed with participants. I heard a number of people who’d come down on Sunday said they’d tried to come down earlier in the show, and simply could not park and get in, and they’d had to leave and come back several times before they could. (Despite many things I like about Pittsburgh, they’ve been cutting back on public transportation way too much; and when you can’t use it reliably, people use it less and less even during the limited times / places it is available. Because they don’t feel they can count on it. But I digress….)

Each year there seems to be some surprising “trend” among the entries. That is, something I notice being repeated a number of times that is way higher than I might ever have guessed for that style or approach. When I have more time than I did that Sunday, I’ll then trace my steps back and try to capture shots of all the entries that fit the trend. This time, I didn’t have the time, but the following picture sort of illustrates two trends I noticed:

  • A surprising number of entries (relative to the whole show) included seemingly-random patterns of circles.
  • A surprising number of entries by young children (relative to the total number in this category) were displayed in extremely fancy frames!

So, while Livia’s “Spring Chickens” are not exactly random patterns of circles, they are an interesting minor variation on that theme. And the frame on this child’s art does definitely fit the pattern for the work of 6 year olds this year,

I took the time to capture that last photo, above, as I tried to find the right angle at which to shoot the whole panel on which my entry was displayed. Can you find mine?

In case you can’t quite see my entry, The Empress’s Portal, in that shot, I’ll repeat here the close-up I posted a few days ago, the one I took to keep in the records of my creations:

Until next year, then… Be creative!

Posted in Events | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

This weekend: the nineteenth Art All Night!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/04/23

Yes, once again, the last weekend in April brings us the wonderful community celebration of art that is known as Art All Night.

For this, the nineteenth such event, they’ve returned to switching locations again (hey, it’s a project of the Lawrenceville Development Corporation so besides all the art, part of the point is to get tens of thousands of people circulating through an “empty” site in the hopes that someone will see its potential…!), so I’m eager to see what this one will be like.

Though I had finally gotten comfortable with finding my way to, finding parking relatively near, and finding my way back out of the site they’ve used for the last few years, it’ll be interesting to see what it’s like down on the other side of the 40th Street bridge this year. It’ll also be fun to see all the entries.

I submitted a “woven textured silver” piece that I made, originally, as a sample piece for a workshop at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh. Entering it for Art All Night is sort of a full-circle thing, because I made my first woven silver pieces in 2008, with the clay I’d used while doing my first-ever public demonstrations anywhere that used metal clay, and that was at Art All Night. (Talk about starting big!) I’d over-worked and over-lubricated the clay in the many hours of demos, and I’d heard it might be possible to salvage it by adding some glycerin although the resulting clay would then not harden as it dried but remain flexible … so the obvious thing to try with that was weaving. I’ve made such pieces off an on over the years since then, but I’ve never before entered one in Art All Night. So it seemed about time to do that!

Except this piece, instead of being made from salvaged clay, was made from a mix of fresh clays, PMC Flex and PMC Sterling, to yield a form of sterling silver that contains as much as 96% fine silver. Adding the sterling results in a slightly stronger piece: my earlier ones always had solid “frames” around the weaving which made them strong enough, but the sterling in the mix for a structure like this opens up design opportunities: here, it’s safe to let a few of the ends extend outwards at least a little bit for a more “adventurous” result.

I need to thank Kathy Herbst and Louise Rosenfeld for brainstorming names for this piece, along with Manny Rosenfeld who inspired the name I’ve finally decided to give it: The Empress’s Portal. If you’d like to bid on it at Art All Night, it’s #2919. If you’d like to take a class and learn how to make a piece like this, sign up for one at Artsmiths or get in touch with me to request that I organize one at my studio in Regent Square (or even another venue that you arrange for).

In the meantime, if you’re in the Western PA area this weekend, be sure to check out Art All Night! It’s free and open to the public from 4 pm on Saturday, April 23 straight through until 2 pm on Sunday, April 24. And if you’re not here this weekend, at least consider putting the last weekend in April in Pittsburgh on your calendar for next year!

Posted in Events | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

April 14, 21, and 26: Workshops at Artsmiths!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/04/07

As I mentioned earlier this week, I’m on the schedule to teach three workshops at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh as they launch their Underground classrooms this month. I feel very honored to be one of the first four instructors invited to teach there, especially knowing the caliber of the other artists in that group!

All of my classes this month are suitable for beginners. Those who already have some experience with metal clays are also welcome to participate and learn new techniques. I’m listing three separate classes here, and you’re invited to take one or two or even all three of them! (Just click on the link for each one, of course, to see more details.)

We’ll make a pendant in each session; if there’s time and interest, participants may want to try making a second pendant or a pair of earrings too. I sure hope that some of my readers here will be able to join us there!

Also, there’s no significance to the specifics of dates and times. That is, if you want to take a workshop and those date/time combos don’t work for you right now, please let me (or Artsmiths) know! All of us are trying out different combinations to figure out what will work. For April, select Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday slots were the only ones being tried, and there were other events besides classes on some of those days (e.g., the SOS_Underground opening I mentioned in my last post). But, as long as we know there’s interest, we can work out other day/time combos too.

Or, for that matter, you can just come out to my studio for a class too so, if there’s something you really want to try out, please let me know and we can find a time that’ll work for us.

Posted in Events, Teaching Metal Clay | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

April 2: Artsmsiths’ Underground Opens!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/04/02

The Underground is now open at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh. The launch was tonight, with a great “SOS_Underground” exhibit by one of Pittsburgh’s oldest guilds, the Society of Sculptors (SOS).

For more photos from the exhibit, feel free to check out the Artsmiths’ album from the show on Facebook.

The opening reception was lots of fun, and the exhibit runs through April 30. Should you go some time this month, it’s possible I’ll see you there. I’ll be heading back down to Artsmiths several more times this month for sure.

Yeah, I probably should admit that what has me most excited about the Underground is that classes are starting at Artsmiths this week!

With great sessions planned from Olga Mihaylova, Nan Loncharich, and Maria Richmond, I’m delighted to report that I’m also on the schedule … to teach classes in one of the underground classrooms on April 14, 21, and 28! More on all that shortly….

Posted in Events, Teaching Metal Clay | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

April 1: no joke!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/04/01

What a great evening! I’d planned to treat a good friend to a birthday dinner (’twas actually yesterday, but Friday is a better night for going out), although I’d said we’d have to meet in the Lawrenceville neighborhood first because I wanted to go to the opening of the Pittsburgh Society of Artists’ (PSA) Small Works exhibit too. (I knew that’d be ok since this is someone who’s an active supporter of the arts!)

So we walked in, and headed down one aisle admiring the selections. It was fairly crowded at the beginning, but I managed to wave “Hello” to a couple of artists I know. Too far apart for an actual conversation, I was a bit puzzled when, instead of a waved “Hello” in return I got a wave and a mouthed “Congratulations!” What, I thought, am I missing some bit of social etiquette where we congratulate each other for having our works accepted into a show? It was a members-only show, and you could submit either one or two pieces for consideration. Of the 72 artists who’d applied, 45 had been accepted: 15 had two pieces in the show, and 30 had a single piece on display, for a total of 60 pieces. Now, I did have two pieces accepted, but three award-winners had already been announced and I wasn’t one of those. I knew all of that, from the mailing that PSA had sent out to its members, listing everyone whose work was in the show, and an interesting statement from the juror (which you can read there).

And then I turned the corner into the bigger room, and my entries leapt out at me! What in the world had I done to deserve a wall to myself! The photo below is a 270° panorama of three walls of that room. I shot it later in the evening, after the crowd had thinned out enough that you could see some of the artwork from afar. (And, while the artwork stayed in place, some of the people moved around which is why a few of them are partly cut-off or extended…. But the photo is about the art, so I’m using it anyway.) From left to right, there is a wall full of art, then a second wall of a different height with a strip of artworks, then a third wall with windows and a brick wall in between those, with just two pieces … mine.

You should know that these “small works” could be a maximum of 12 inches in any dimension. My pieces, in silver, were much smaller than that, 40 x 28 mm and 39 x 18 mm. (For those who don’t convert millimeters to inches regularly, 18 mm is just under 3/4 of an inch, and 40 mm is just over 1 1/2 inches.) For display purposes, I’d hung them in 10 x 12 inch black shadow boxes that I’d bought because they fit the specs for this show. And there they were, set off from all the paintings and photographs (plus more jewelry and sculpture, all of which was in two “aisles” behind me as I shot this).

I rarely post photos of myself, but here’s one taken of me next to my entries. And, if you look really closely, you’ll see a little red dot on the tag for the piece I’m standing next to, which means that one had already been sold, either as the show was being hung or in the first few minutes that it opened. That was the reason for the congratulations!

To the person who made my evening via their purchase, I want to say “Thank you!” And I hope that many of my fellow-artists will be thanking their purchasers before the show ends, on May 13. If you’re in the Pittsburgh area and want to check it out, it’s at the Framehouse & Jask Gallery.

Posted in Events | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: