Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Playing with fire...again

I'm glad my next door neighbor goes to bed early. If he happened to be up late at night and out in his backyard he might be wondering what I am doing with a propane torch in the kitchen in the middle of the night. It shouldn't surprise him. Soon after we moved into the house way back when.....we had to take down the antenna....yes I said antenna..... from the roof. Being the girly girl that I am......I climbed up the ladder onto the roof with Lou. Once he detached it....I picked it up over my head and threw it off the roof. I was shouting something about being super woman and laughing maniacally. I looked over into the next yard...and there is my neighbor with a really confused look on his face. Our relationship has been like that ever since. He always catches me doing strange things.

Anyway. I grabbed the green piece from below and retorched it tonight to see if I could get some different colors. This is what I got. The colors are a bit more vibrant in person and there is a hint of purple in it. Metal patinas are just so cool!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My new marketing plan

So my BFF Cris commented on the shields that I made with a suggestion for a marketing plan.....

"You could create a whole new line for Barbie...... Ax Wielding, Village Plundering, Braveheart Barbie! Imagine the fun your little girl could have lopping off Ken's head and burning down his house! Viking horn hat sold separately!"

I think that's awesome. Stay tuned for a Barbie you won't see for sale in the store.

Katie commented on the holes and if they caused the pieces to shrink less. I'm having a DUH moment right now. I kept looking at these pieces thinking they didn't shrink near as much as I expected and I was wondering if they had really sintered well. I was bending them and picking at them to see if they would crack...but they're good. The holes are the reason why they didn't shrink as much. Brilliant Katie!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Copper Shields

These are only paritally done but I have a couple of pics....

Just out of the kiln.....

After the torch. This one gave such a great brownish green. It looks so old.

Fresh from the kiln....

After the, green blue and purple. This one really went crazy.

That's all for tonight. It's been a long day. Lou's surgery went well. We were in by 9:30A and out by 1:30P. I think I was more nervous than Lou. The whole crew down at the surgical center were wonderful. He had an umbilical hernia that had to be fixed. I told him that they needed to re-tie the knot in his belly button because one day it would blow and he would sail around the room like a ballon deflating. He wanted to know how long I'd been saving that one....a while :))) When he was in recovery they gave him IV pain killers and then some Vicadin. I referred to it as the "I love ya man" medicine. He started stroking my cheek and telling me how much he loved me and appreciated me being there for him. Maybe I can save one or two of those pills for later :))

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I had a great hermit weekend....

How great was this???? I pretty much had Saturday to myself because Lou and his buds went to the Golf Show for about 6 hours. And today was a great quiet day for the both of us. I did get two rounds of copper fired. I am having problems with an attachment on one of the lentils and I had another one split apart. I was reading Hadar Jacobson's most recent book and it talks about not using filings for slip from dry pieces that have either been heat dried or have been sitting out for a few days. That dust is oxidized and will make bad slip. So I need to try some fresh clay and I am going to try a different firing routine to see if it works. That won't be until tomorrow night. Other than working on the lentils this weekend I made some cool pseudo-African shields. I won't have pics until tomorrow night.

Lou is having surgery tomorrow. Luckily it is what they consider "come and go" surgery. The get you in, cut you open, sew you up and kick your butt to the sidewalk. So tomorrow I will be his moral support, driver, afternoon/evening nurse, cook, maid....wait...that's what I do everyday. But then it's back to work on Tuesday for me. He is out for the week. He has these great plans of working in his home office his martial arts business...but I think he is going to be sleeping most of the time...especially if they give him some good pain killers.

It's going to be in the low teens you know where your cat is?????

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Over 10,000 hits........

My blog has reached a milestone of sorts....10,000+ hits. As a little girl I grew up on a farm in a small town in Ohio. My world was was very small and the thought of reaching out and writing to people in other countries was unimaginable. When I was in high school I worked at the front desk of a local Holiday Inn. We sent reservations over a teletype. When things were slow I used to send "hello" messages to hotels in foreign countries. I was always so thrilled to hear the teletype start up and get a response back. Even though communication is much easier these days, reaching out across the world hadn't lost its appeal. So I'm celebrating 10,000 hits. The world map gives a breakdown of where these hits are from. Below are those countries that have at least 10 hits and there are 58 other countries in the single digits.

United States 4,064
Canada 333
United Kingdom 181
Australia 67
France 39
South Africa 33
Germany 29
Sweden 21
Belgium 18
Poland 18
Italy 16
Netherlands 15
India 11
Brazil 10
Spain 10

Woo Hoo!!! Thanks for stopping by for a look. Hope you come back soon. Stay tuned tomorrow because I have metal in the kiln.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I love my torch

One of the really cool things about copper is the colors you can get when you heat it. If you haven't tried need a torch and ice water. Heat the copper in the flame and pull it out into the air to see if it develops color. If your piece gets too hot dunk it in the ice water and reheat it. While its in the flame you can see that it wants to take on color. Pull it out of the flame and hold it for a few seconds and you should see a bloom of color across the metal. When you have a color you like, dunk it in the ice water to cool down the piece before you touch it.

I'm not one to like metal pieces clean and pristine. I've always dumped my silver pieces in liver of sulfur until they are black. With the bronze and copper I like to add color and make them look like they've been buried for a a few millenia.

Below are some of my copper pieces after a good torching.....

I haven't made up my mind about this piece. It is a 2D version of an ancient tool. I thought it would make a cool pendant but I don't know if I like it 2D. I'll have to try to make a 3D version to give it more depth.

Moe the Moo with a little color. I still need to fix his eye. He was inspired by a piece at the Louvre although I'm not sure they were cows (see pic below) and I don't think mine has quite the same look :)) But I like him and I want to make more. Guess that's all that counts.

A link for a bracelet. The other link I had broke. I think it sintered just fine. It was stressed to much on a design line. The stamp I used for this is too deep in areas and I was playing around bending it....a little too much.

A round pendant. It picked up a really nice blue green color on the left side and a little orange-red on the right. I also included a pic of the back. It came out orange-red also.

And my heart and soul pendant. I picked the stamp up in Amsterdam about 3 years ago and I'm finally beginning to use it.

That's it for now but there is another weekend coming up and I am full of ideas...among other things. And I think we have no plans for the weekend. Now I just hope that nobody calls and wants us to do something. Lou is headed to the Golf Show on Saturday with his son and and golf buddy....YEAH....I'll have most of the day undisturbed.

Monday, February 16, 2009

More Copper Metal Clay

No patina yet...but here are a few pieces from Saturday. Since it was Valentine's Day I had to make at least one heart.

A little bit of color on this pendant.....

I was trying to make a bracelet with one long piece of copper but this piece cracked apart as it was drying because the back was stuck to the teflon it was resting on. I forgot that the bronze and copper clay shrinks more than silver as it dries. If it is stuck to the surface it is resting on it will tear itself apart.

And my crazy cow. He lost his right eye but I'm going to refire him and hopefully give him full sight again :))

I've fallen and I can't get up

Well I did get up...eventually. I slipped on some ice in the parking garage at work. I was actually looking where I was going but was focused on a pile of salt they had thrown down and didn't see that I was stepping on a sheet of ice. I was down before I realized it...on my left butt-ock (you have to say it like Forest Gump...butt-ock). I was also on an incline and slide for a bit...wiped the floor. My backside and left leg were soaked. Luckily my butt is the only thing I really hurt. Feels like someone hit it with a sledge hammer.

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Perfect Valentine's Day

You know you're an old married couple when you wake up in the morning, exchange Valentine's Day cards and both go into your respective workrooms and spend the entire day there :)) I think we crossed paths just a couple times today and that is mostly because Lou has to walk through my room to get to his. We are the happiest when we are doing our own thing...but next to one another. No big dinner tonight....staying at home, eating leftovers, and watching a movie. We know how to celebrate :))

Anyway, I have a load in the kiln and I want to be around when it finishes. I'll have pics later.

Friday, February 13, 2009

More on Copper Metal Clay

Here's my experience so far.....

The copper metal clay is similar to the bronze in workability.....which makes sense since bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. To start I always take a hunk of it with a little spritz of water and knead it in saran wrap. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and it's ready to go.

To make slip I use olive oil for all three types of clay. I know some people use lavender oil for bronze but I don't have any in the house and I do have olive oil. It works well and the slip seems to last a while when I keep it in an air tight container. Some people recommend making new slip each time you work with the bronze and I would assume the same with copper. I don't, but you decide. I've had some of the faux rivets in the bronze come off after firing. Maybe it was due to old slip or maybe it was due to not using enough slip. I suppose I should try using new slip every time to see if I continue having this problem :)) DUH.

If I'm in a hurry I dry the wet clay on a cup warmer. If you don't want it to warp, put it on the cup warmer and press down on it very lightly with something flat. Flip it over and do the same on the other searing a piece of meat. This will keep the warping down to a minimum. Unless you want your piece to warp. I like the warp least in bronze and copper. It gives it an aged, beat-up look.

You fire the copper as you do the bronze...buried in carbon in a stainless steel container. On Bill's recommendation I have been firing in the coconut shell based carbon. I use a full ramp up to 1650 and held for 3.5 hours. It comes out of the kiln a matt pink/peach a very new penny. I have been using a 3-sided nail buffer to shine up the high spots on the bronze and copper. I know some people prefer to throw the pieces in a tumbler for a high shine....just depends on what look you want.

Since the coconut shell based carbon doesn't give colors, I use a torch to heat patina the copper. You can get varying colors by heating the copper and then pulling it away from the flame and exposing it to the air. It's really cool to pull the copper away from the flame and see color flash across the surface.

That's about it for now. I'll be working with the copper some more tomorrow. I've got some ideas for some new shapes based on old tools. Everything old is new again.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Did someone say....COPPER METAL CLAY???

I did!! I did!! Groovy Bill Struve and his lovely wife Lacey Ann from Metal Adventures have developed another metal clay...this time copper. It will be available from Rio Grande and other distributors in the spring. They have given permission to post pics and talk about it.

It works similar to the bronze clay...which I love. Here are some pics of the dried clay before firing.

I ramped at full speed up to 1650 and held for 3.5 hours. Pieces fresh from the kiln with a short polish from a 3-sided nail buffer to shine up the high spots are shinnier than a new penny.

I applied a heat patina with a propane torch and ice water quench...or in this case I went outside and scooped up snow. It gives a nice color to the copper. I was using a big ass plier that I had in the garage and held the lentil a little to tightly. Pressure and heat caused the lentil to crack at the point where I had a hole for the bail.

I'll be working more with the copper metal clay over the weekend.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

4000 year old Babylonian love letter

After some research I found a 4000 year old love letter that was written in Cuniform on a clay brick in Babylonia.

To Bibeya, from Gimil-Marduk. May Shamash and Marduk grant you, for my sake, to live for ever. I write this in order to enquire after your health. Let me know how it goes with you. I am now settled in Babylon but I am in great anxiety because I have not seen you. Tell me when you will come, that I may rejoice. Come in the month of Arakhsamna (November). May you, for my sake, live for ever.

Not much of a love letter by today's standards but they lived in a different world than we do. I wonder if Gimil-Marduk created the clay brick himself or if he had to pay someone to do it for him.

New Texture Sheets

I'm in the process of making some new textures sheets. People who see my bronze pieces want to know what the pendants say. Quite honestly I don't know...I got these sheets from one of my instructors. So I decided to make a new batch and I have used a love letter from Beethovan to his immortal beloved as the text. My new pieces will carry his words of love.

July 6, 1806

My angel, my all, my very self -- only a few words today and at that with your pencil -- not till tomorrow will my lodgings be definitely determined upon -- what a useless waste of time. Why this deep sorrow where necessity speaks -- can our love endure except through sacrifices -- except through not demanding everything -- can you change it that you are not wholly mine, I not wholly thine?

Oh, God! look out into the beauties of nature and comfort yourself with that which must be -- love demands everything and that very justly -- that it is with me so far as you are concerned, and you with me. If we were wholly united you would feel the pain of it as little as I!

Now a quick change to things internal from things external. We shall surely see each other; moreover, I cannot communicate to you the observations I have made during the last few days touching my own life -- if our hearts were always close together I would make none of the kind. My heart is full of many things to say to you - Ah! -- there are moments when I feel that speech is nothing after all -- cheer up -- remain my true, only treasure, my all as I am yours; the gods must send us the rest that which shall be best for us.

Your faithful,

Translating Beethovan's words into some of the first written languages seems a little strange to me. I'm still not set on it in my mind yet. I would like there to be some connection between the language I am using and what is being represented on my jewelry.....something original from the time period. But historically the first written languages were used to correctly count agricultural products and for keeping the calendar to plant crops at the correct time. I brought back a cuniform tablet from The Louvre. The card that came with it explains that the writing represents the sale of land and slaves. It's original...but doesn't capture the heart or imagination of someone considering a piece of jewelry. I prefer to have it be a representation of a love letter....even if the author had nothing to do with that culture. Love is universal and timeless.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

"Are you late for something"

Gail: Why yes Officer Dan, I'm late for my Mother's house

Officer Dan: Well, you were going 78 in a 65 zone. I'm going to have to give you a citation (he flashes a cute smile). I'll have you out of here as soon as I can.

Gail: (under her breath)...Fuck Fuck Fuck.

So tomorrow I have to call and find out how many hundreds of dollars I will have to pay because I was racing to my mother's house. I got to Mom's house late and apologized to everyone and let them know I was late because I had a nice conversation with a police officer. This elicited a hearty round of laughter from my brothers...and from me too. I had a really bad week and this should have topped it off but I managed to just laugh about it. I'm either really balanced or gone over the edge.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Reclusivness seems to be the norm....

for artists. And it seems to be when we are the happiest except for when we are with each other. The comments that were left on the last post prove this. And this coming weekend that I thought was going to be sooo perfect has just been shattered. I have a family dinner on Sunday...damn :)) But I will make the best of it and squeeze as much time out for myself as possible.

I love The Cleveland Museum of Art and don't get down there nearly enough. Ever since I started working with bronze clay I have started researching ancient cultures. They are going to have an exhibit...Art and Power in the Central African Savanna...starting March 1st. The have assembled 60 central African sculptures whose original purpose was to mediate betwen the humand and spirit worlds. I cannot wait for this exhibit to open. I may have to go more than once. It's one of those things were just walking by and looking isn't enough....I'm going to want to stand there and study them. Wanna come with me?

Just a little peak at a piece of unfired clay. I got a really nice dome on this lentil by using a small light bulb. It had a larger arc than a regular light bulb. I dried a strip of clay across the bulb also so it matched the arc of the lentil.

While I was making this I kept thinking about the Paris Metro. It's been driving me crazy. This is one of the metro logos....

Sunday, February 1, 2009

It doesn't take long....

for me to make a mess in my studio. My nice new workspace now has clay, oil and metal dust all over it. YEAH!! I spent a good part of my weekend up there. I just need to consider getting the room wired for cable. When I work I have to have noise in the background. So I turn on the TV and listen to movies.

I found this in Chicago when I was there in December at P.O.S.H. I love that store. It is a some type of bottle or drink caddy. It's perfect to keep all my tools handy and it's cool :)

Next weekend Lou will be in Florida on a golf trip. I am looking forward to having the whole weekend by that wrong. I plan to stock up on groceries Thursday night and I am NOT going to leave the house all weekend. Lou told me that I am turning into a recluse ... DUH. Althought I'm not sure that is the issue. I'm work all week and most of the time get home around 7 PM and then I try to run errands, keep the house clean, and get a little time in the studio...usually very little. So I guard the weekends like a pit bull with a bone. I'm in 7th heaven when we don't have plans. I begrudgingly go places. I mail order from stores that are only a few miles away because I don't want to waste the time shopping.

I also believe that I have a finite period of time to get my jewelry out there. I got into the game late. I envy my friends who have found this passion at an early age. They have so many years for their art to develop and evolve. Probably my only regret in life so far is that I left art behind so I could concentrate on creating and advancing a career in healthcare. But there came a time when I realized that I didn't want this to be my identity. I needed more in order to have a fulfilling life. Many women at this point have children, but that wasn't to be my path. So I went back to art. I feel like I have to make up for lost time plus when I am creating I am in a zone. And as many of you know, getting into a zone...whatever it may a great feeling. So...I guard my time and others see it as being reclusive.