Convergent Series

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Archive for the ‘Guild’ Category

Arriving at the Conference: Goodies

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/08/04

I’m just back from the 2010 PMC Conference at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, with nearly 300 participants this year, from (as I recall, at least) the Americas, Asia, Australia, and Europe. So my next few posts will cover a range of different items, activities, and impressions from that.

Rarely terse myself, I’ll give lots of detail. While some readers will surely choose to merely skim this, I figure that detail will (a) be good for someone new to this who might appreciate it and (b) as a log for myself, should I ever want to go back and review any part of that.

I’ll start at the beginning, with registration. When you sign in at the conference, you are given a name badge and a carrier bag. The badge clips onto a rather long lanyard. This is a great design because it means you can either (a) take it off that and clip it onto your clothing as you choose, or else (b) wear it on the lanyard but hanging well away from any of the lovely pieces of jewelry you brought to wear. The font used for the names is fairly large, which permits most people to read them from a distance. Some people hand-write where they are from on the tag too.

This year the carrier bag was black with red trim and lettering, sponsored by Eclectica. In it was a large, clear plastic water bottle from Rio Grande. There was also an “easy rolling sheet” from Metal Clay Today that consisted of a sheet of graph paper, ruled 1/4 inch, with two thin sheets of plastic (a bit thinner and more flexible than the “report covers” I sometimes use) along one edge, so you can put your clay between those two to roll it out.

It also contained the following items (or, in some cases, coupons you could turn in to receive them):

I did find all the “pampering” products a bit of a surprise, such as the sample of hand & body balm from Oregon Sunstones and a little scented oil diffuser set with reeds from Rio Grande. But a nice surprise. (Note for next time: Open everything up while you’re there. I didn’t open these until I got home, and was sorry to see I’d missed the raffle ticket that was to be turned into the booth for Oregon Sunstones in the Vendor’s Hall.)

The “aluminum detector” fromNatureScapes Studio is a bit of an in-joke: it’s a magnet, so if it sticks to the tool in question that indicates the item it steel which is safe to use. If it doesn’t stick, then the item could be aluminum (which you don’t want to leave in contact with your metal clay) or some other non-ferrous metal (which might be OK, or might not, and you get to decide what risk-level you can handle…).

There were a couple different notepads, from PMC Connection and the Masters Registry, always useful at an event like this. (Though one pad and one something to write with might have been a better mix! Still, I’d brought a couple pencils, so I was set.)

The small Sunshine Cloth, also from Rio, was a good idea. For anyone not already familiar with those nice yellow polishing cloths, it was a good introduction to the product. Better yet, since (almost) everyone had come to the conference with an assortment of jewelry items, it was very useful for those last-minute touch-ups, or for a bit of cleaning after a number of people had handled and admired your work.

Also included in the bag were two bronze-related items from Rio Grande. There was a coupon for a 30 gm (sample) pack of the new “quick fire” bronze clay from (the one made by Bill Struve at Metal Adventures). When I’d at last decided to try some bronze clay, I’d chosen to start with Hadar Jacobson’s quick-fire powder, so it’ll be nice to have this to try for sake of comparison. The last item (that I remember) in the bag was a small embeddable bronze bail that will be nice to try using with that sample.

One thing I somehow missed at registration was the sticker-table. You can embellish your badge with a range of stickers that enable you to spot people you may know online (e.g., on the MetalClay group at Yahoo) but not in person, or who participate in various activities (e.g., have signed up for the Masters Registry program). Oh well, no crisis over that.

Especially because one reason I was distracted is that I took the time to sign up for one of the last remaining “1-2-1” slots. There is a marker board with a number of columns (times) and rows (people). The people listed down the side are “senior” folks of various sorts, and the timeslots are 20 minutes long. You get to spend that time talking privately with your person about any topic you wish to raise.

One of the 1-2-1 people was Jack Russell. He is not actively involved in working with metal clay. Instead, his own “arts” are sculpture and photography, and working with other arts-related agencies (e.g., the NEA). In particular, he spent many years as director of the Brookfield Crafts Center in Connecticut, which had the “nerve” to sponsor one of the first major events to showcase pieces made using metal clay techniques. I signed up to talk with him on Friday afternoon, and took advantage of the opportunity to engage in some discussion about how he saw metal clay fitting into the larger “arts & crafts” world. Since I am coming at this from a non-arts background (if you don’t already know my background, my blog-page on “Who’s This Blogger?” has some info), I found that to be a pleasant and informative session.

Over the next week or so, I’ll post some more “notes from the Conference” on a variety of topics. Feel free to add comments or ask questions! (Just, please, be patient if I don’t respond right way, especially if I know that, “It’s coming!” I don’t spend much time online, and try to not let myself get toooo distracted when I am there… Thanks!)

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Two pieces with a trio of good causes.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/06/24

On Wednesday, metal clay guild-mates Michelle Glaeser, Debbie Rusonis and I led a workshop that was “donated by our Guild” to the Society for Contemporary Craft‘s annual fund-raiser last April. (Donna Penoyer and I offered something similar last year, before I started this blog.)

Here’s how the deal worked:

  • Our guild donated a basic “private lesson” for one to four persons to the SCC. The SCC auctioned it off as a part of their “Out of Hand” event.
  • In thanks for the donation, SCC offered the use of one of their basement studios to our Guild for a day-long “clay play” session.
  • As a result of the auction, a couple of women with no prior experience with metal clay were able to get individual guidance on hand-crafting a piece of fine (.999) silver jewelry of their own design.

‘Twas a wonderful win-win situation all around!

Prior to the lesson, both participants claimed they “were not artistic” and would need a lot of help with their creations. But our guild members knew that one of the delights of working with metal clay is the way that “mere mortals” can produce interesting results right from the start.

We brought examples of pieces we had created and, as a part of the lesson, demonstrated various techniques in the making of several more. We provided our guests with a choice of stamp designs, a collection of cutting tools, plus quick demonstratons on shaping sheets of clay, and rolling little bars, balls, and bails. But the final results (finished on both sides) were entirely the designs of our students, Sandra and Terry, and bore little resemblance to the demo-pieces. At the end of the evening, I expressed how much I’d enjoyed spending the evening with such talented artists.

You can judge yourself, from the results illustrated above.

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Congratulations, Ann!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/05/16

One of the members of our local chapter of the PMC Guild was the lucky winner of an Opaque Enameling Kit from Tonya Davidson’s great Master Muses project.

So this post is to offer congratulations to Ann, with whom I often carpool to chapter meetings. But it’s also to point out that Ann is one lucky woman: she wins things!

Green Traveler (Both Sides)

Here’s an example of why I say that: on our way home from a guild meeting last fall, Ann and I passed one of the best local bead shops, Crystal Bead Bazaar. I couldn’t believe Ann when she said she had never been there, so we parked the car and went in so she could check it out. It happened to be their anniversary, they were giving away door prizes, and Ann won the one for that particular hour. I’ve been going there for years; And was there 15 minutes and won a prize, a goodie bag full of short strands of a number of different beads.

Maybe Ann deserves such luck because she’s such a generous person. She gave me some of the beads she had won, including some green glass ones that went beautifully with the Russian Jasper beads I had bought while we were there. The photo shows how I combined them with a fine silver "lentil" bead. Thanks, Ann!

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Preliminary Notes from Art All Night

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/04/25

What a wonderful weekend!

Just the center aisle of the first building.

I first started going to Art All Night as an observer, but soon added participant (in both the exhibit itself and the On-Site Art activities). This year, I think Allison (the coordinator of On-Site Art Activities) saved us the very best demonstration location in the entire site!

The venue included several integrated buildings. We were in Building 2, along with all the other on-site and hands-on activities, but set off a bit to the side. Now, there are advantages to being in the midst of all the hub-bub, but with flaming torches trying to get metal clay to sinter at 1650 degrees Fahrenheit, being off to the side is good.

But the really great parts were that we were right next to the walkway that everyone who went from Building 1 to Building 2 had to use AND we were in a dim corner, which meant that our display lights, torch flames, and burning binder caught people’s attention as they passed us.

We were busy all evening. I did manage to catch one photo of our table, taken during one of the few lulls the entire time. Ann and Mike had just left, but it shows Debbie, Lois, and Jess. A great crew: thanks to everyone!

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This weekend: Art All Night

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/04/20

The wonderful celebration known as Art All Night is this weekend!!! Are you going? This year, it’s going to be held in the former Iron City Brewery on Liberty Avenue, basically between the Bloomfield and Lawrenceville neighborhoods of Pittsburgh.

“Moon ‘n At”

The photo shows the piece I entered last year (2009), the first time I ever participated in the exhibit part of the event. I have this year’s entry ready, but I want to encourage you to come to Art All Night to see that one.

Both last year and the year before that, I participated in the On-Site Art activities. In 2008, about a month before the first-ever meeting of the Western PA Chapter of the PMC Guild, I was down there with finished samples, clay, greenware, and my torches: the first time I’d ever given demos of working with metal clay and I did it at a venue that attracts 10,000 people! Gutsy, or nuts-y?

The big thing I learned, on the fly, was how to give a demo via a backwards spiral. The torch and flaming binder are what draws in an audience. Once there, they want to see what has just been set alight, which is the dry greenware. Some are then interested to see the previous step, the moist clay, while others tend to be more curious about finished samples; which of those I do next therefore depends on what the audience at that point wants to see. After a bit more chatting, and a little break, I’ll fire up the torch again, set some more greenware alight, and draw in the next group.

The following year, I had colleagues: several members of our fledgling guild came along to give their own demos. That time, they put us in an area with much more light than I’d had the previous year, so the flames didn’t stand out as much. But having a crew to cavort with did. We were there from about 6 through 10 pm on the Saturday night. Our timeframe for demos this year is the same. The show itself runs from 6 pm on Saturday straight through (i.e. all night) until 2 pm on Sunday.

If you’re in the Pittsburgh area, I hope to see you there!

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Clay Play Day

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/02/21

I am one of the founding members of the Western PA Chaper of the PMC (Precious Metal Clay) Guild.

Donna Penoyer, Jan Durkin, and I started talking early in 2008 about whether there’d be enough folks interested in joining a local guild, and meeting regularly to share information about working with metal clay. We thought we could probably get a small group together. For a variety of reasons, we chose to affiliate our fledgling group with the international PMC Guild. (Our other choice would have been the Art Clay Society.) Our first meeting, on May 13, 2008, was attended by 7 people: the three of us, three others who had done some work with metal clay, and a representative from one of the local bead shops.

We have continued to meet regularly, about once a month, ever since. As of December, 2009, an amazing total of about 60 different people have participated in one or more of the events we have sponsored. We meet at different times of day, different days of the week, at different locations around the area, with different meeting formats. We have a rotating cast of participants: even if a person can’t make it to every meeting, our hope is that there will be enough variety in the choices that at least some combos should work well with your schedule and interests.

Our latest meeting was a “clay play day” at the delightful shop in Irwin, PA, known as Your Beading Heart. The owner, Linda Pence, was a great host, arranging workspace for about 14 of use, plus another 8 or so who dropped in to see what we had going on. Donna bought her dehydrator and kiln. Several folks brought some extra packs of clay they were willing to sell to anyone who showed up and needed some to work with. Michelle Glaeser had organized a “group purchase” from Brynmorgen Press, and she distributed everyone’s goodies. And we spent most of the day playing with clay: everyone worked on whatever they wanted; we observed how other participants approached various tasks; we asked and answered questions with each other; all in all, we just had a great time.

If you’re in the area, why don’t you consider joining us?

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