Convergent Series

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

Archive for the ‘Studio’ Category

Thanks for stopping by!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2013/10/05

Just a quick note to say “Thanks!” to everyone who (a) came to EcoFest at WSCC today and (b) came upstairs to visit me & my studio! And, of course, a double-thanks to everyone who left with a purchase…!

For those who could not make it over today, the photo with this post shows what it looked like, as I converted my studio / classroom into a little showroom for one day. The worktables were cleaned off and draped. Display stands were pulled out of the cabinet. Inventory was brought in from its usual (secure) storage area. A few seasonal decorations even appeared … courtesy of a delightful Harvest Dinner that I attended on Thursday evening, sponsored by the Edible Gardens program at servePGH. I was lucky enough to win the mums (table centerpiece). And a fellow-gardener, Bertha, collected some gourds that she shared with me. Perfect timing!

For now, though, it’s time to stash the extra inventory again (leaving out just a few pieces to keep in the studio, ones that I want to use as examples for upcoming workshops), pack up the displays, get out all the tools and such, and get back to making things!

My next Studio Open House will be during the Art Buzz Tour which, this year, will be on December 14-15 (10-4 each day). Mark your calendars now, if you’ll be in the area then. I’ll post more news about that as the time approaches. (Hint: I’m hoping to have a few great additions to tell you about!)

If you are interested in doing some shopping between now and then, of course, feel free to stop by and see if I have anything on hand that will suit your needs, or let me know what you’re looking for and I may be able to dig out some other possibilities before you come over.

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Posted by C Scheftic on 2013/03/16

My bifocal safety glasses have reappeared! I am delighted!

They went missing months ago. I forget when. Maybe October? Sometime back during the big making-rush before the holiday sales season.

I kept thinking, “Where could they have gone?” And, eventually, “I really need to replace those.” Then, when I was off placing an order for something or other, I’d forget about them—didn’t need them to do that! Later, when I wanted to use them, I’d remember. And think, no, they cost enough as it is and I’m willing to pay that, but I’m not going to pay an extra full shipping and handling charge just for them. Next time I place an order…. And the cycle continued.

Today, I was working on some pieces for an assignment in the accreditation program for Hadar’s Clay teachers. I’d finished the necessary pieces but thought, hey, why not make a few other things too, to be efficient and fire up a full kiln-load. I was just finishing up on a few flower-theme pieces for the Western PA Garden Marketplace on April 20 when, carrying several from the dehydrator back to my worktable, I dropped a little dried-clay (“greenware”) tulip onto the floor. Being still-fragile in that state, it broke into several pieces. And they went heading in several different directions. As I was crawling around on the floor trying to retrieve those, something caught the corner of my eye. What is that, I thought?

I reached under the middle of the futon in a corner of my studio. I had to lie down on the floor and stretch to reach the black “thing” I could barely see. When I got my hand on it, I was suddenly pretty sure what it was, but I actually had to do some maneuvering to get it out from under the base of that seating. And, yes, it was the missing bifocal safely glasses!

I have no idea how they got there. I have no idea how I did not see them when I moved everything around doing a major clean-up before the Art Buzz tour last December. I suspect that they may have gotten extra-hidden by all that moving, because there’s no way they could have just fallen down to where I finally found them. But who knows….

All I know is that they are back and I am very happy!

They are an incredibly useful tool!

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2012 Art Buzz Tour — This Weekend

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/12/03

Have you heard the buzz? It’s even louder this year! Over forty artists! Seven sites! All in the Pittsburgh area’s “East End” this weekend. And my studio is one of the locations on it again this year.

At WSCC (where I’ll be), the Holiday Gift Shop will still be running downstairs, and I am pretty sure that Daviea Davis will have her glass mosaic studio open too, upstairs across the hall from mine.

2012 Art Buzz Map

If you’re in the area, I sure hope you can stop by. To say, “Hello” and “Happy Holidays” at least. If, for some reason, you can’t get yourself there in person, how about leaving a holiday greeting as a “comment” on this blog post. Even having you say just “Hello” or “Happy Holidays” would be much appreciated!

I look forward to seeing / hearing from you, dear readers, so I can extend my best wishes for this holiday season to you too, in return, in a more personal way.

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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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Starting 2012 with a note of appreciation.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/01/01

fireworks above skyline -- just some clipart I found online for thisFor my New Year / Blog Anniversary post this year (third time now, wow!), I want to take a moment to say a few words of “Thanks” to all the wonderful folks who have expressed interest in my art and supported my various efforts in that realm.

I’ve tried to do some of that at appropriate moments all year, and I still think fondly of y’all. But, recently, I’ve been feeling it was time for another statement of gratitude. It’s taken me until today because, although I do love all the wonderful light in my studio, we are well into that time of year, when I just need more hours of daylight! And while I am often happy to make art at night, it still seems, to me at least, like the “balancing act” that includes all the holiday-season activities (on top of everything else) is so much more of a challenge when the “balance” between day and night swings so far away from daylight. In the past few weeks, of course, the balance has already begun slowly shifting back to more daylight so, as the New Year begins, I decided I had to take a moment to stop and once again offer some words of “Thanks!”

Especially as last year drew to a close, I was delighted to see everyone who came over for my Open House during the Art Buzz tour, and for the event at Zelda’s the following weekend. I also appreciated everyone who attended any of the holiday-special shows where my jewelry was available. (The photo to the right is of my studio, turned into a shop for the Art Buzz weekend, shortly before I opened up for the second day; I meant to take more photos, both there and at Zelda’s, but just never thought to do so when the rooms were jam-packed full of such interesting people! Clearly, I’ll have to work on some better display options if I do that again but, for the moment, let me bask in having managed to convert it from workspace to shop at all!)

‘Twas really wonderful to see everyone. Especially delightful was having people turn up in my studio who knew me from when I’d lived here before, some that I hadn’t seen since before I’d moved away the last time (first to the Monterey – Pacific Grove area of CA; then to the Twin Cities area of MN; then back to CA, but down the coast in San Luis Obispo, aka SLO-town … so, you see, that could have been a while!). Also great was having other folks show up who have been customers of this current venture of mine, to talk about what they might next like to purchase or to learn. And, of course, it was wonderful to meet all the new folks: ones who’d come up to my space after WSCC’s Holiday Gift Shop or as part of the great Art Buzz tour, and others who were customers at Zelda’s and came over to see the sorts of things I offer there. I must also include my other friends who just happened to stop by at some point, and especially those who finally came to visit my studio for the very first time. Here’s hoping we’ll be able to spent time together other again in the new year!

Last but not least, I want to note my appreciation for the (increasing number of) readers of this blog. (I can see from my “statistics” page that you are out there: what can I do to encourage more of you to leave a comment every now and then?)

Best wishes to all!

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Art Buzz Tour — This Weekend!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/12/09

Have you heard the buzz? Eighteen artists! Seven sites! All in the Pittsburgh area’s “East End” this weekend. And my studio is one of the new locations added this year….

Map of 2011 Art Buzz tour

If you’re in the area, I sure hope you can stop by. To say, “Hello” and “Happy Holidays” at least. If, for some reason, you can’t get yourself there in person, how about saying “Hello” or “Happy Holidays” or something else even more interesting as a “comment” on this blog post.

I look forward to seeing / hearing from you, dear readers, so I can extend my best wishes for this holiday season to you too, in return, in a more personal way.

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A Room of Her Own … for a year already!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/10/01

Officially, I’ve had my studio for a whole year now, at the Wilkins School Community Center in the Regent Square section of Swissvale, just over the eastern border from Pittsburgh, PA. The photos shows what the then-empty room looked like back when I first took the plunge.

In fact, I got the keys a couple of days before October 1, and spent a few weeks after that moving in, so the exact anniversary-date is debatable. I’ll post a one-year-later update closer to a year from the day I really opened the place to others. But I couldn’t let today pass without at least noting the date.

Still, no matter how I count the days, it’s been quite a year….

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2 half-days, 6 people, 52 pieces …

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/06/26

… and I forgot to take photos!

On Thursday, it was great to have several folks came over just to use my studio as a workspace. Then, on Friday, I taught a small semi-private introductory workshop.

And everyone was very productive, as you may be able to guess from the subject-line of this post.

The thing is, I had my camera with me, but everyone (including me, myself) kept me so busy that I only thought to take one quick snapshot, after everyone was pretty much done on Thursday, then not even that on Friday, neither the people nor their any of their many, lovely, silver pieces (lentil beads, domed pendants, foldover pendants, earring components, charms, and more!). But, since I had my camera with me, I stuck it in a little black case I have for it, and put that into my pocket as I headed off to the Summer Music Festival sponsored by community radio station WYEP in a local park that is tucked into a curious little space (called Schenley Plaza) between Carnegie Mellon University, the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, the Carnegie Library, and the University of Pittsburgh. (The city actually tore out a parking lot a few years ago to install a public park area!)

With a series of bands playing, an array of vendors, and lots of general socializing, etc., I just didn’t think to take photos there either. But I did manage to lose the camera! Somehow it fell out of my pocket. I didn’t even realize that until well after the first big rainstorm of the evening. (The band playing a few minutes before that started had commented on everyone just sitting around in lawn chairs or on blankets as storm clouds gathered; but they seemed stunned as the downpour began and most people just stayed right where they were, popping open the umbrellas they had brought!) Anyway, on top of that, I only noticed that the camera had gone missing after sunset, after most of the park had gotten pretty dark.

We spanned out in different directions and, amazingly, my friend Lyn (thank you!!!) still managed to find that little black case with the camera inside, spotting it (in the near-dark) somehow underneath a folding chair (and thus relatively dry) about 20 people away from where we had camped out. (It must have fallen out of my pocket when I got up to wander over for some browsing in the crafts market along the east side of the venue: that’s the only time I headed off in that direction, and I was not sure of the exact path I had taken to get there.) Miraculous as that was, the camera did not acquire any additional photos while lying there in the dark. So I still have only words (and a few numbers) to use to illustrate all those events. But they were lots of fun!

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More reasons why I love my studio!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/06/08

I had a relatively small “Big Links” workshop scheduled to be held at Koolkat Designs at the end of May.

For a number of reasons not worth going into, it became necessary to reschedule it. Three of the participants and I were all available to gather on Sunday, June 5. Except, the Koolkat folks were all tied up with the Three Rivers Arts Festival that day, meaning they were not available to open and later close the shop for us.

Not to worry, however, because Abby, Jane, and Rose were all willing to come over to my studio instead. So that’s what we did. Everyone learned several tricks needed to make metal clay links connect to each other without obvious joins, and everyone had a little bit of clay left over to make a few other trinkets of their choice.

And since I’d dashed out on the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend (the first hot weekend of the year) to buy and then install and connect to the new electrical line (that the board at the Wilkins School Community Center had approved & installed for my studio), we even had a room at a great temperature to work in. (Yes, the dehumidifying nature of the A/C led the clay to dry out quickly, but I just helped everyone to keep kneading in more water between each step, and things came out fine.)

So it was great to have a place where we could do this, and everyone seemed to agree that it was a great place to work. Thanks to all for coming over there!

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In the news!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/01/14

OK, so I have a few Valentine’s Special pieces fired, polished, patina’d, and re-polished. They still need to be assembled, strung, inventoried, and tagged. I hope to have a photo or two taken and put up this weekend.

By Saturday, hopefully, because on Sunday afternoon (and, again, this next Tuesday night) I’ll be holding an “Open House” with free demos and discussion in my studio. This metal clay stuff is still new enough, if people want to come over, see it, see a few examples of what can be done with it, and ask some questions before plunking down money for registration and materials in an actual workshop where they can make their own pieces, I figure I can offer that.

The photo that accompanies this post (of me, reacting to having my hair fall in my face just as I was demonstrating how you work with metal clay) was taken by the delightful Stephanie Rex, who interviewed me this past Tuesday about these upcoming Open Houses (and kept asking me to say more about the math references I thought I just made in passing a few times). Her article appeared today, on the Forest Hills – Regent Square section of the website.

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Thanks, Kathy (and Jeff)!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/01/06

Don’t GrayC (for “gray cat” but pronounced “Gracie”) and Bailey (named for Bailey Ave, overlooking the Monongahela River, from where he was rescued) look like they approve of the gift Kathy & Jeff got me for Christmas (delivered early this year)? Or would you say they think the wrapping was the best part?

The gift itself is a (rather old, used, but still working) Excalibur dehydrator. I normally just let my metal clay pieces “air dry” myself. For classes, I’d used the “low tech” solution: a hair dryer jammed into a small opening cut into a cardboard box. But Kathy is a somewhat avid Ebay shopper and, this time last year, I’d asked her to keep her eye on them and let me know if she ever found one that looked like it might be going at a reasonable price. She found this one right when I was feeling overwhelmed by the expenses in setting up new studio. Good friend that she has been for decades, she just went and bought it herself, as a gift from her and Jeff. I can’t wait to try it, especially for a whole class-full of pieces: Thank you!


p.s., The flowered rug on the floor was the gift my mother and I gave to Kathy and Jeff at their wedding. I bought the materials, and Mum hooked the rug.

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Two more tables, at last.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/12/20

At last, I got the two other tables I’d planned to put in the studio (though I still need to earn some more so I can add better chairs!) but I’m really torn over which way they should face.

Aesthetically, I’ve always thought they should go lengthwise, down the middle of the room. That corresponds to the shape of the room, but it also means I could sit “sideways” and see both out the window to the outside, and out the doorway into the hall, rather than having my back to one or the other of those.

The advantage to crosswise, however, is entirely practical: I can put the “small” ends right up against the wall, where the electrical outlets are, and run cords safely under the table, plus there’s less “conflict” between chairs and where the rugs meet.

For now, I just set it up with one going each direction. I figure I can try each for a week or so, and then decide…. Or, maybe I’ll end up rotating them between positions, lengthwise for when I’m working there on my own, and crosswise for classes?

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What I learned from the latest tripped circuit.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/12/10

I was just too tired after the WPaPMC meeting in my studio Wednesday night to do much clean-up. Alice W and Carol D were staying over at my house, and we did simply haul out the trash and such, but that was about it.

I was running all over the county on Thursday, so I didn’t make it back to the studio then. Today, I did get over, and the first thing I chose to do was to vacuum the carpets and wood floors pretty thoroughly. And for some reason that tripped the circuit breaker.

I had overhead lights on, small FM radio on, and the vacuum. Furnace was running, but apparently on a different circuit. Power went out: vacuum stopped, overhead lights went out, and radio switched over to run on its own battery power. At least, this time (unlike what happened last month) I knew where to go to reset it. And this time, with mid-afternoon sunlight in the hallway, I read the labels on the various circuits, clearly left over from 30-some years ago when this was an actual school.

The switch for my room was labelled “Library.” Which actually makes sense, given the size and “feel” of the room, which never had seemed right for a classroom. I really like the thought that I’m now working in what had been the (small, primary school) library!

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Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/12/09

The Western PA Chapter of the PMC Guild held its inaugural meeting in May of 2008 in the Trevanion Room of the Wilkins School Community Center–the same center where I now have my studio. At that meeting were the three founding members (me, Donna Penoyer, and Jan Durkin), along with four other charter members (Alice Walkowski, Karen Haugh, Laura Tabakman, and Stacey Carulli who was representing Beyond Beads). In both 2008 and 2009, the shop Beyond Beads hosted our holiday season meeting but, between our growth and their move to a location with less meeting room, we were not able to hold it there this year.

Not to worry, I thought (way back, months ago, before I’d actually moved into new studio), I can now just offer to host that one. Although we have over 60 local “members” in our online community, we rarely get more than about twenty at any one particular meeting. We’re actually delighted with our current size: big enough to have a great mix of people, but with a small enough regular attendance that we can still fit into a range of different sites!

What with the first serious cold snap and snow of the season, a series of nasty “bugs” going around, and all the activities this time of year, I was delighted when sixteen members still managed to get to our annual “Holiday Season” meeting on Wednesday night. We could have squeezed in a few more, had they shown up, but sixteen was just about the right number to fit in, ah, cosily. The photos with this post were taken during a break for refreshments and small-group discussions.

Our meetings always start with a “show & tell” session. Particpants show off their latest creations and talk about making them: new techniques tried, problems encountered, work-arounds involved, lessons learned, etc. Others are free to ask questions or offer suggestions. Lots of ooh-ing and aaah-ing is involved. New rings, in particular, seem to get delayed in their trip around the table, as people try to figure out which finger they best fit and how they feel, as well as how they were made. If you weren’t at the meeting, you can see photos of a few of the rings and other pieces that were passed around, such as two of the rings Donna Penoyer made for Whole Lotta Whimsy’s Master Muse projects, and one of the rings and a couple other pieces that Holly Dobkin made for Morgan Contemporary Glass’s annual Teapots! exhibit. (If any other members have relevant online-links, please let me know and I’ll be happy to add them here.) My major new creation for the Show & Tell this time, of course, was the studio in which we met!

Lindsay Newell, who came to join us after a number of years doing traditional metalsmithing (using sterling silver) had requested a demo and discussion on making fine silver bezels. Several other members generously met that request: Donna P demonstrated several techniques and issues with using fine silver bezel wire; Michelle Glaeser demonstrated the use of PMC+ sheet clay on a metal clay backing piece (one of the “Jen Kahn” approaches). In both, other members chimed in with additional questions, tips, and more.

If I can find the time in a few days, I’ll add another post discussing some other items from that evening. For now, however, I close with the thought that, in this season of giving, then, I want to thank everyone who gave something to help make that evening such a success.

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Holiday Gift Shop Banner!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/11/24

The former Wilkins School has been a Community Center for over 30 years. (I think it’s 31, but I might be shorting it by a year or so.) And they’ve held a Holiday Gift Shop for a large part of that time (though I’m not sure of the exact count there either … in the last 30-some years I’ve lived a number of other places…).

(Thanks to Francine for the photo.)

This year, for the first time ever (at least, as far as I’m aware), there’s a banner across Braddock Avenue in Regent Square announcing the event. Here’s hoping it helps to bring in more shoppers (both because I hope this local center does well, in general, and because this year I’ll have pieces of my own for sale in the shop)!

For readers not from this area, I’ll mention that “Regent Square” is an interesting little community: it is a small business district surrounded by several blocks of houses (most 100-ish years old) on the edge of a large urban park. Within that little space are chunks of each of (in alphabetical order) Edgewood, Pittsburgh, Swissvale, and Wilkinsburg (each of which have separate business districts of their own, somewhere else, as well).

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Thanks for stopping by!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/11/20

Just a quick note to say “Thanks” to everyone who stopped by during my Open House today. Whether you came because you saw the announcement in the WSCC newsletter (or on the board outside), or came up from the Trevanion Gallery show, or just happened to walk by looking for some other session and came in to see what was going on, or were one of my long-time friends who came to actually see this studio I’ve been going on and on about, it was great to see you!

Even if I was so engaged the whole time that I didn’t even think to take any photos, we (me and all those who came by) all have our own visual memories.


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Tripped Up!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/11/20

It looks so innocent, doesn’t it? But that little kiln load is what I am guessing led to a lot of hoop-la tonight. It has a few of my pieces for an upcoming holiday show, plus the pieces from my last workshop–that is really what I intended to write about tonight–but I’ll catch that up in a few days now I guess. Because I lost a bunch of time tonight when I lost power in my studio. Just my studio. Not the rest of the building.

When it happened, I was setting up for Open House tomorrow. I figured I’d let this load run while I was doing that. If the set-up went smoothly, I thought I’d have time to finish polishing and labeling my pieces for the show, so I could have them all on display too. Ha! Ha! Ha!

Of course, by the time I lost power, it was late, and dark, and everyone else was gone. (Not real late, but 9 pm-ish). I hunted around (which included hunting for light switches for various stairwells), found a couple electrical panels, tried flipping any circuits labeled in any way likely, no change in my space. I called one member of the community center board, got voicemail. Called another, may have woken him up, but he came over. We went hunting all over the building: what an amazing experience. There are all sorts of rooms behind rooms, and electrical panels in several of them too, some better-labeled than others.

For what it’s worth, there are also multiple furnaces: those are set in closets between rooms, and heat just the adjacent spaces. I have run the kiln a number of times now, but I was thinking that this may have been the first time I’d run it since starting to run the heat, and that might have been the problem.

Well, Sam did find the circuit breaker for my furnace, reset it, and the heat was clearly working again. But no power to the room. We found nothing else, he said he’d just call electrician in the morning. He left.

I had enough light between the hallway and the light outside my window over the front door that I could move around OK. Not really work, but I spent time packing up a bunch of stuff to take home and try to work on. I was just about ready to head out when Patty arrived. She’d gotten the voicemail and had then come right over. She knew exactly where to go for my breaker. It didn’t look tripped, but we turned it off and on again, and everything came back on.

Which of course raises the question of why it tripped in the first place, if the kiln and the furnace are on separate circuits. Phase of the moon, perhaps?

By the time I’d unpacked everything to get back to work, it was nearly two hours later. I stayed to finish the Open House set-up while I let the kiln run through its entire cycle. I’ll have to finish the show-pieces tomorrow night. They must be delivered by Sunday, but at midnight or later, I was just too tired to trust myself with precious pieces….

But I had lights on, furnace running, and the kiln seemed fine that whole time. So I’m just hoping for a good afternoon on Saturday.

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First Open House!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/11/03

OK, my studio is now officially “open”! It’s still far from “done” but it’s into shape enough that I’ll take a few weeks off from further “moving in” tasks so I can focus on “making” tasks. (And wait for Ikea to restock the long narrow tables I want for the central “classroom” area. The plastic table with green plastic tablecloth in the middle there is only a placeholder until those arrive….)

These snapshots give a clue of what it looked like for this evening’s Open House. Of course, when people were there, I was too busy talking to think to take photos, and I didn’t think to ask anyone else to snap any either. Oh well.

‘Twas a nice evening. Several guild-chapter members showed up, as did a couple of my neighbors who wanted to offer me some support. People who’d seen the WSCC newsletter took advantage of being able to come by to see what this metal clay stuff was all about before sending in money to register for any of my classes (which was the specific reason why I’d scheduled an event for tonight). Some folks who were just in the building for some other reason tonight stopped in to see what was going on. As I was almost ready to close up for the evening, who bounded in but a delightful woman I’d taken a class with the summer before last (and just happened to run into at the bead show last weekend).

I enjoyed the evening. Got a few people to sign up for classes, and sold several pieces. Maybe I will actually earn enough to pay for next month’s rent!!! Will I make enough to pay for all the silver, beads, wire, etc. too? Here’s hoping…

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Thanks, Susan!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/28

Yesterday, I found time to work on a number of silver pieces. Only one did I start new, from scratch, a design I’d been thinking about for a while. The rest were all from the stash: pieces I’d started at one time or another but had not finished. In most cases they were ones I’d simply started, hadn’t had time to finish, and had had to “put away” until I could get back to them. Now, with studio, I was able to do just that! They’re still sitting in greenware state: most ready to fire, a few still needing a bit more attention. Oh, how great to be able to just leave them there, awaiting those finishing touches, rather than forget about them stashed away in a closet. I’ll post some photos once they’ve been fired and finished.

On the other hand, I’m still spending plenty of time on “moving in” chores. My friend Susan came over today. (I’ve known Susan for a few years now. We met through Penn State’s Master Gardener program in this area.) We had tons of fabric-fun. Susan had been with me when I bought several remainder-bolts of fabric back when The Textile Studio was going out of business. I’d bought four more glass doors to install on my shelving units. Susan and I took some of the pale green bolts and lined those four new glass doors. Then we just draped more of it over a pair of curtain rods that Jan and I had hung two days ago. (Eventually, I’d like to stitch them up in proper drapery-style, but with my first open house scheduled for next week, I’m not taking time to do that too right now.)

Before we hung the glass-panel doors, however, it seemed particularly important to secure all the bookcases themselves against the walls. More up and down on the ladder! I have a couple bolts of blue fabric as well. At some point I’ll take down the four doors I’d installed earlier, and fit some of that into those….

After Susan left (to get ahead of rush hour traffic), I looked around and decided I wanted to finish a number of other chores that required the ladder. Hopefully, I’ll soon be done with that! I hung some plant hangers on the frames between some of the outside windows. I’ll get plants over there eventually but, for now, I’m just using them to hold a couple strands of holiday lights….

Before I left, I also hung some prints high up on the inside windows. I had six prints of various birds perched on a range of different flowering trees and bushes that I’d gotten when I visited China (back, ages ago now, it seems…). They came as a set, and I’d only ever gotten around to framing four of them. Susan noticed that they were of both a good size and aspect ratio to fit inside the frames of those windows. It was a bit tricky to get hangers safely into those frames, and then to string up the pictures themselves evenly, but I think they turned out nicely.

Let me know what you think. Also, if you think you can get to one of my open houses (on the evening of Nov 3 or the afternoon of Nov 20), let me know that too!

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Thanks, Jan! Hi, Beth!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/26

My friend Jan came over today. (I’ve known Jan since we were in college together. After graduation, we both moved around a lot, and didn’t keep in close touch over those years. Then we both moved back to this area and reconnected through another classmate, Nancy, who’d stayed in the area.)

Jan has taken one class using “metal clay” techniques, but she’s done far more using “lost wax casting” techniques. She’s also done some wire-wrapping and brought some of her latest (lovely!) projects in that area for me to see.

We spent the day: climbing up and down ladders–hanging posters and prints and drapery rods and whatnot; crawling around on the floor cutting fabric to fit into the bookcase door panels; and moving furniture back and forth around all of that. We didn’t finish all the fabric-related tasks, but Susan is coming over on Thursday and I think we should be able to make good headway on the rest of those.

We had one visitor, Beth, who’d read about my upcoming classes in the WSCC newsletter. She’s taking a watercolor class now, and came up after that finished today: to see what metal clay feels like and what it looks like after it’s been fired to fine silver. She signed up for the pendant class (November 17). After that, Jan and I walked over to the Regent Square business district for a delightful lunch at the Square Cafe.

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A week and a half to first Open House.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/23

I’ve got a couple friends coming over to the studio-to-be next week, to help me “decorate” a bit. In preparation for that, today I hauled a bunch of framed posters and prints up all the stairs. They’re just stacked around here and there for now. With the high ceilings, I plan to hang them high, above the former chalkboard, and I’ll just wait until Jan (Tuesday) or Susan (Thursday) are there to haul a ladder up and tend to that.

In the meantime then, a small photo of three unfired white bronze pieces. [This post was edited on Tuesday with a slightly clearer photo than I’d used earlier.] I was using Hadar’s powdered product, where you just mix up as much as you think you’ll need at one sitting. The couple little flowers, and the handful of rings are just a few “components” that I made with the little extra I had left over after making the bigger items. You may have noticed that half of one of the little rings appears to be missing: that’s what I used on the back of the gingko stem to make its bail. (I’d first tried rolling a “snake” of clay but, even after I’d added lots of extra water, it was too stiff to use that way: I could bend it but it really wanted to crack way too much. The half-ring was my work-around.)

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It’s even-more official!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/18

The late fall / early winter newsletter from WSCC is out, with a nice little opening-page blurb about my new studio and my “open house / demo” sessions, and listing my first introductory silver clay classes at the top of the “mini-courses” section.

If you missed all that news when I first mentioned it, feel free to go back and check my post from October 1.

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Another “new” acquisition, or two…

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/17

This morning I headed off to meet some folks at the monthly (from May through October) Flea-Tique, sponsored by the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Historical Society, where I was delighted to discover this base for a “Hoosier Cabinet” for sale. And only the base, which was great for my purposes: this way, it fits nicely under the studio windows. And in two shades of green that seem to fit in with the evolving color scheme in this room. To top it all off: at some point, it had a bit of “refinishing” done to it; it’s had some use since that (including taking a couple small hits in the finish on the top) but is still in reasonable shape; and the entire upper section is missing—all of which reduced the price to something I found very affordable for my purposes.

I looked around at some other items, but the only additional one I sprang for was a bit of depression glass. The seller informed me it’s from Anchor Hocking’s Miss America series, from the 1930s, but it intrigued me because I saw some potential in this “round compote” as an earring display….

But if I hope to ever have any more earrings to display (whether as items to sell or as sample for classes), I’d better finish up this moving in and get back to making again!

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Progress, be it ever so slowly.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/10

I got a new-to-me cart, shown at the far-right, and now have a place to start setting up some equipment: one of my kilns, a torch station, tumblers, patina station, etc.

I’m on the lookout for another cart of some sort as well, since I have the room to spread things out a bit, but at least I’m now able to start setting everything up. The kiln will stay on the top here, for now. The other items can be stored below, and brought out one or two at a time, as needed.

I taught a class at a bead shop on Saturday (at Your Beading Heart in Irwin, PA), and brought everyone’s pieces back to the studio to be fired. (I’ll mail or deliver them early in the week.) Up until that point, I hadn’t tried plugging much in. All these items “should run” on “normal household current” but, still, there’s something about trying a new site out for the first time…. I was delighted to have everything run as expected, without tripping circuit breakers or causing any other sorts of mayhem.

‘Twas also great to have the workshop pieces turn out beautifully. Sorry I don’t have a photo of them here: I’m still not fully moved over and I realized that camera and lighting setup are not yet both in the same location! I tried shooting them with my phone’s camera but, though it’s fine for quick wide shots like the one above, it just wasn’t up to focusing in closely on those gorgeous little shiny objects.

Which is why I am simultaneously pleased with all the progress while still wondering why everything seems to take soooo long.

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More moving-in (Saturday).

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/02

Well, I’m still only part-way done, making slow but steady progress. Seven hours today and I have four doors on cabinets and one new table assembled (with only one medium-sized blister as a result), a couple tables from home and my three seven-drawer storage units moved over, plus several other loads of “stuff” hauled up the stairs (i.e., up the equivalent of about 3 flights at my house).

Some of the stuff is back in its drawers, or behind the doors of the bookcase-cabinets, or arrayed out on a temporary shelf or table location for the time being.

The community center offered me the use of the two rugs shown (in the image where I tried to quickly photo-merge several individual shots….). I’m a bit undecided about those: the hardwood floor is actually better for finding those inevitably dropped bits and pieces, but the rugs do help to reduce the hollow, echo-ey sound of the room. I may well end up leaving the one closer to the door, while rolling and unrolling t’other one based on what I’m doing. No need to decide now, however; that can wait until I get everything moved in.

But it’ll be a while before I get to that point. Though the cabinets are filling up (especially behind those newly-installed doors) there’s still lots to move (e.g., kilns, all my finishing tools (from tumbler to “liver of sulphur” set-up, to hammers and daps and dremel and more), the “bead stash,” plus chairs, lamps, etc.). And once it’s all in the room, I’ll be better able to figure out what should go where in this studio.

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Starting to plan ahead a bit.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/10/01

It will likely take me a few weeks before I feel really settled in to my new studio, but I’ve begun to schedule workshops there for later this year. They should be listed in the last newsletter of 2010 from the Wilkins School Community Center (WSCC), whose last course series of the year runs through November and December (and whose “entry door” logo I snagged to use with this post), so that’s the timeframe I’m planning for.

I don’t often write actual posts announcing upcoming classes. They (and, sometimes, a few recently-past ones) are typically listed in one of the collections off to the side of this ‘blog (currently, down the right side). But with this new venue, I figure I should highlight them for a moment:

  • Demonstrations & Discussions — These are free, so just stop by whenever you can.
    • Weds, Nov 3, 5-8 pm
    • Sat, Nov 20, 1-4 pm. Stop by the WSCC Art Show that day too.
  • Introductory Workshops — These three are each $35 + materials and pre-registration is required.
    • Weds, Nov 10, 6-9 pm: How Charming! Make several small charms.
    • Weds, Nov 17, 6-9 pm: So Precious! Make a simple reversible pendant or focal bead.
    • Sat, Dec 4, 1-4 pm, Use Your Head(pin). Sculptural headpins, especially for beaders. Stop by the WSCC Holiday Gift Shop that day too.

As I do with each new site, these are tailored for total beginners. In the new year, I’ll also start adding some advanced-beginner, intermediate, and other sessions to the mix. But most of my workshops are designed so that total beginners can fit right in, continuing students can learn new techniques to add to their repertoires, and everyone will end up with results they’ll be proud to wear, give as a gift, or otherwise show off.

I’ll also continue to teach at some of my other favorite local shops (and will continue to list those in a sidebar too). But I’m really excited to have sessions at the WSCC Studio in the mix as well.

I hope you’ll soon be able to join me at one of these events. (Or more than one! A small discount may be available to those who sign up for multiple sessions with me at WSCC.)

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Well, now I’ve gone and done it.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/09/29

I signed the lease, paid first and last months’ rent, and received the keys. Then I got in my car, headed out to Ikea, picked up a few bookcases and a table (I’d wanted 3, but only 1 was in stock, so I’ll have to go back later…). Brought them back to the studio, hauled them up two flights of stairs (huff, puff, pant, etc.), and assembled them.

My friend Kathy was out of town and, thankfully, her husband Jeff was sort of at loose ends and agreed to help me this afternoon. The photo at the top of this post shows him beaming at what we managed to accomplish. Thanks, Jeff!

Cabinet doors and table legs do remain to be attached, but we quit when I’d reached the 8-hours mark for the day, which did not include our walk around the corner to D’s for a “happy hour” break, and to show Jeff their “beer cave” (where I snagged some raspberry cider) between the hauling and assembly.

As we were packing up to go get some dinner (my treat, of course!), I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful sunset colors out the window to the west.

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A 25-foot-long drying tray?

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/09/17

I’m trying to figure out how to arrange my studio-to-be. Here’s another photo of the space, facing back t’other way:

From Studio

This is in a former elementary school now being used as a community center. One thing I find particularly interesting is that one side-wall has a chalkboard along its entire length. It’s been painted-over, so I can’t use it as an actual chalkboard (well, not unless I re-paint it with chalkboard paint, which I am considering doing for a _small section_ of it…). I cannot hammer into it to hang anything, but there is a rail above the board that I can use as a sort of “picture rail” if I want. Whether I hang items from that, or just tack them onto the board-area, I’m thinking I can use a lot of that “board” space to display an assortment of useful printed materials. (And I have prints and artwork to hang above it, including a framed set of Escher’s Metamorphosis II that is almost 13 feet long.)

Working in metal clay, however, I do keep thinking that at least some of that chalk tray (a bit over 25 feet (7.6 meters) long) looks like it’d make a superb clay-drying rack (with a nice safety-lip along its edge)! But it’s rather low-down (27 inches (about 0.7 m) from the floor). If it were higher, I could imagine fitting tables or storage or something underneath it. Since it’s sticking out, there are a number of things I cannot push completely against the wall in front of it. I can put any of my taller bookcases / display units along the wall opposite that, but at least part of the tray will be blocked by some work benches.

Stay tuned to see how this plan evolves…. And, of course, constructive suggestions for designing this space are welcome!

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A Room of Her Own!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/09/03

From Studio

I can’t believe I’m doing this: I’m going to rent this studio, starting next month!

After nearly 4 years of begging space here and there, trying to work in nooks and crannies, paying for sites where I could teach, etc., I finally decided to try dedicating a space for “Convergent Series” designs to live and, hopefully, grow.

I’ve no clue how much chance I’ll have to post about playing, working, or teaching with metal clay for the next few weeks. Look for “grand opening” info in early October.

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