Convergent Series

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

Archive for December, 2017

Need a last-minute, hand-made, one-of-a-kind gift?

Posted by C Scheftic on 2017/12/23

Sorry for the last-minute confirmation, but I will be in my studio this afternoon! The section of my work-area nearest the door is still set up for shopping! Stop by and see what’s available at a whole range of prices. I should get there by 2:30, and should stay until about 6:30.

Since I didn’t go in either Thursday or Friday (instead doing late-season yard-work!) with today’s rain I’ll be back in the studio working on a few pieces I need to have finished by the end of next week. (Pretty much everything I make takes several cycles of activity, often spread over several days, with time in between for drying or re-hydrating or kiln-firing or …) I’ll be wearing grubby work-clothes, sitting at my other work-table, so you’ll get more of a clue of what my typical working environment is like than usually happens when I open up for a show!

I don’t know if I’ll go back on Sunday, Christmas Eve: I’ll have to see how things go today before I decide that. I am holding a couple hours open tomorrow just in case, so if you can’t make it today but would like to schedule a time to meet me there tomorrow, please let me know!

And, whether you come by today or if you’ve already made a purchase from any of my collections earlier this year, please know how very much I appreciate your interest and support!

I couldn’t do this without YOU!

Thank you … Merry Christmas … Happy Holidays … and Best Wishes for the New Year!

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December 22, and I can’t believe I was out in my PA garden again this year!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2017/12/22

Last year, I reported on mowing my lawn on December 27. This year, predictions are that we will have snow on the ground for Christmas, with highs in the high 20s (Fahrenheit) and lows in the mid teens then and into the rest of that week.

But yesterday, December 21 (aka Winter Solstice), the temperature reached around 50. Today it headed well into the mid 50s. Even warmer than last year! I’d planned to go into my studio but couldn’t resist the urge to spend both afternoons in the back yard, wearing just sweatshirt, jeans, and boots. And very heavy suede gardening gloves.

I had some black raspberry bushes that I’ve been wanting to take out. I do love the berries—when I can salvage some that the birds leave me—but keeping them from spreading everywhere had just ended up being far more work than the berries were worth to me. I’ve been saying for few years that they had to go, that I’d dig them out in the fall. Then I’d get busy, not get to them beyond maybe a bit of pruning, and the next year it’d be, “Well, the bushes are there. I might as well enjoy another year’s harvest, and take them out this fall.” I’d spend some time during the summer trying to stop new runners, and promising myself they’d all come out after I was done harvesting. And then I’d go into busy-season and….

So, this week with warm temperatures and soft, moist ground, it was time for berry-bush-removal! I wasn’t counting, but I think I took out about 15, and cut them into small enough pieces that city-trash will take them. Half were picked up this morning; the ones from today are bagged up and will get put out for next week’s collection. There are two left that I didn’t get to before dark (though sunset has already started getting later, I just didn’t have quite enough daylight to finish those). But the ones I chose to leave are, deliberately, those in the least-convenient locations, so I hope that will convince me to complete the removal at my next opportunity! I’m almost there, though those last two may just stay where the are until spring…. Now what I have to do is to decide what I’ll put into the spaces where the (overcrowded!) berries used to be.

(Oh, and to compare this to last year, I didn’t feel the need to mow the lawn again this December. But I did spend an hour after sunset, after I’d had enough with the berries, both yesterday and today, raking up the last round of sweetgum leaves by street- and holiday-lights, and dumping those in my “browns” compost bin. Once again, though, no after-dark photos of any of this.)

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A few final pieces from 2017…

Posted by C Scheftic on 2017/12/21

Whenever I walked into my studio last week, I passed lots of red and green Christmas decorations throughout the building.

Urban Flower: Lucky Shamrock (Four-leaf Clover)As I sat down with some silver clay and a small box of dichroic glass cabs, I think that decor is what lead me to be drawn to several green pieces.

With over half of my studio turned into a show-room, and only one “holiday” show left after I’d have time to fire and finish anything I made between visitors, I had to work simple.

But then my maker’s-sales brain kicked in and I picked up those green cabs and used them in … shamrocks! Three fine silver pendants for spring.

And the “lucky” four-leaf one, with a “spring green” piece of glass, has already been purchased! Knowing that it will age slowly over time, the customer wanted it like this, without any patina. I managed to grab this quick photograph while the buyer selected a chain to go with it. The photo shows a sterling rolo chain though it went out the door on (what I do agree was a better choice for this particular texture) a foxtail style chain.

Urban Flowers: Two ShamrocksFor those interested in technical details, all three of these were made with PMC Plus and PMC Flex. Why those clays? I’d taught a lentil-bead class last week in which we used Plus, and I had a lot left from a big packet I’d opened there, so I used that for the backing pieces, the leaves, and the bails. To be sure those were fully sintered, that much was fired at full time & temperature: nominally, that’s 1650°F for two hours. (I say nominally because, since my kiln fires about 50° hot, I set it to 1600 … which means it should have fired at about 1650… And I did hold it for two hours.) That gives all the “structural” elements the maximum strength possible for that particular silver formula, even though it would have been way too hot for the glass.

The next day I made the “bezel” elements to surround each glass piece and hold those in place from the top. I used PMC Flex for that. I could’ve used PMC3 or Art Clay 650 or any of the “low-fire” fine silver formulas but, again, the Flex is what I had handy, so that’s what I used. The point here is that I needed a clay that would reliably sinter at a low-enough temperature that I could fire the glass in place! Clay fired down at “glass” temperatures might not be quite strong enough for the leaves (that hang off to the side) or the bail in back (from which the piece is hung when worn), but with a good, strong backing, the use of a lower sintering temperature should be fine for just holding the glass onto strong backing pieces. I used a four-segment program that experience has shown to provide good strength to the silver bezel while keeping the glass happy.

I did choose to add a patina as I finished polishing these two after their second firing. And, if you’re interested in a few notes I wrote about using a mix of sterling and fine silvers in this sort of design, feel free to check out my post from October of last year.

Even though these designs reflect the shape of shamrock (young clover) leaves, because of the textures I used and the glass centers, I’m calling them part of my Urban Flowers series. I never claimed that my urban flowers were going to be biologically correct representations of particular species, more that the plants would serve as “inspiration” for those pieces.

In some ways that concept also fits with the colored glass ornaments I make during the summer (when I can work outdoors). Those are designed with a double-loop on the top of the ornament and a flat bottom to the glass bases: they can hang on your Christmas tree if you want and then, for the rest of the year, you can set them on a table or desk and use them ho hold whatever kind of note or photograph or other reminder that you want!
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Similarly, I hope that these shamrock pendants fit both with the green fir / pine / spruce decorations during winter holidays, and can continue being worn to reflect the natural world as spring returns! Or maybe the heart-shaped leaves will even warm someone’s heart in time for Valentine’s Day?! Regardless of the “connection” made, I do hope the rest of these will soon find good, new homes!

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December Events!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2017/12/04

Enameled Flower EarringsFolks on my mailing list should know about all this already, but here’s what I have happening the rest of this month:

  • Where you can find me in person:

    • Studio Open House: Saturday & Sunday, December 9 & 10, 10 am to 4 pm, in my studio at the WSCC in Regent Square. Please come upstairs and let me know what you think of my new designs! I will, of course, also have plenty of old favorites too! (Also in WSCC that day, downstairs from me, La Dolce Vita Boutique will have all sorts of Italian imports for sale. And just up the street, the Environmental Charter School will be holding their Fair Trade Market!)

    • Guest Artists Show, Saturday, December 16, 10 am to 6 pm, at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh in Mt. Lebanon. (I’m thrilled to be one of several Artsmiths Artists invited to bring a larger variety of items than we normally have in the shop. If you know me only from there, do come see what else I’ll bring! Or, if you’ve not yet been to Artsmiths, use this as a reason to check out the whole shop + gallery + classroom facility!)

    • SampleProject_LentilBeads_Reversible_KarmaWonderlandMy last workshop of 2017 will be at a new location for me! In my class on Tuesday, December 12, at the Appalachian Rock Shop & Jewelry Emporium up in Harmony, PA, we will be making reversible, hollow, “lentil” style fine silver pendants or beads! (If it’s too late for you to sign up for that aone, I’ll be back there again in March of 2018 with a Woven Silver workshop!)

  • Other places where my art jewelry, colorful ornaments, and more are currently available:

  • I hope I’ll see local folks at one or more of those! If I don’t see you, no matter where you’re from, please know that I’m wishing you all the best for this holiday season and beyond!

    ~~~~~

    p.s., Sorry for the big gap in posting! I have a slew of articles started, in draft form, but for one reason or another (e.g., I may not have photos to illustrate what I’m trying to say; or I have photos but haven’t written the words yet…) I just haven’t managed to get any of them finished and posted. Most of them should still appear eventually!

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