Friday, August 8, 2014

Fun at Art Unraveled 2014

My Rendition of Starry Night!
 silver spiral, silver star that moves and star beside a moonstone.
 Wire weaving on the edges.  

I've been going to Art Unraveled (http://www.artunraveled.com/ARTU14/AUindex.htm) for many years and always learn something new.  This year my good friend Judi and I roomed together and attended the same classes.

‘Fun, Affordable and Classy: Composite Laminate Earrings’ taught by April Bower (http://www.downthestreetartgallery.com/april.htm) was the first class we took.  In the 3 hour evening class we learned to saw laminate resin – most of us call it Formica!  We were to design earrings using laminate and accenting with wire or beads or metal.  The trick was to cut 2 of each shape the same!  Not such an easy task.  So here are some of the examples and products from the class.

My Formica (oops  Laminate Resin) Earrings

The next morning after exercising and breakfast we went to ‘Silver Stitched Jewelry’ taught by Mary Hettmansperger (http://www.maryhetts.com/) What a great class!  We used copper for the first piece instead of silver and several kinds of wire.  Each piece has a front and a back that are woven together with wire.  Yes that was time consuming and got to be a bit tedious.  I’m looking forward to making another piece when I have the luxury of picking it up, working a bit, and putting it down instead of meeting the class deadline.  The weaving is really a nice accent.  By the end of the day I almost had my piece finished and all the moveable parts were working! (see first picture)

The second full day of class was also taught by Mary Hettmansperger ‘Torch Fired: Enameled Surfaces and Tab Bezels’.   I have not done much torch fire enamel and was looking forward to learning a different technique.  We played with copper foil sheeting, wire, cold connections and enamels.  I used the square punch and made domes and circles.  The variety of possibilities seems endless.  The point of the class was to play with as many ideas and enamels as possible.  And I came home with 2 pieces ready to put together and a thirst to start torch fire enamels! 

Woven metal strips and wire that is domed and enameled 


Ready to be riveted together!


Copper Foil Scrunched, Domed and Enameled 

Ready to be riveted together.


Art Unraveled went on for a week but we were there only 3 days.  Had to stay for the Saturday Sale and see all the new products and yes, we bought a little.  This is such a good event, lots of artists sharing, and lots of focus on creating.  You should think about going next year!  It’s always in August in Phoenix.












Friday, August 1, 2014

Enameling - part 2


The After Practice Piece  -  Improving
Last week I shared making the piece to enamel from ArtClay Copper.  This week is about the actual process of enameling.  If you are interested in using the enameling techniques, I highly recommend Pam East’s DVD’s.  Last week’s post has the links.

I looked forward to this part as I remembered how much fun it was to blend the enamel colors in Pam’s class.  Three pair of earrings are ready to be cleaned in PreEnamel to remove any oil or fingerprints.  I started do this at my work station and ended up at the sink because the water needed to be hot.  After scrubbing and rinsing until the water sheeted off the metal instead of beading, I was ready to counter enamel. That just means putting enamel on the back of the piece so that there will have equal amount of stress when the enamel is placed on the front and the enamel will not crack. 

The earring on the left shows the counter-enamel
The enamel colors I used are translucent and are mixed with water for easier application. 
The first layer went on and my frustration began!  I found that setting the small metal pieces on a 3 prong trivet was harder than it looked on the DVD.  How can it be so hard for me to place the piece on 3 points and have it level and balanced? If I touched the enamel (which are tiny particles of glass), the smudge had to be repaired.  When I jiggled or accidentally hit the trivet, the enamel fell off and had to be redone.  I quickly learned to take care at each step.  I think it took 5 tries before I got it right.  The rest went smoother!  After practicing with several pieces, I developed a wrist action that eliminated the problem.  My suggestion is to practice moving the trivets and learn how to use the tools before placing the metal piece on it. 

3 Pair of earrings with enamel before firing.  Look at the colors and find the fired ones on this page!
I need to get a digital timer.  My phone timer also added to my frustration!  And I have a new kiln with a window in the door so I’m learning about it.  The DVD shows the shelf on the bottom of the kiln and mine was on cones raised about an inch.  The first firing would have been great but because the shelf was too high, I could not see the top of the piece on the trivet.  That meant I could not tell exactly when to take it out. Should have thought of that sooner! The timer is helpful but you still need to see the exact time to remove the piece.  Later I lowered the shelf and things improved!  The first pieces were over-fired and the color was muddy and crazed.  It took a couple of firings before I understood when the enameled copper was ready to come out of the kiln. 

Seeing the colors before and after firing is part of the magic.  The blues and greens are difficult to tell apart before enameling.  So it is very important to label the colors! 


I fired the earrings with 3 layers of color and learned more about shading.  It is really obvious when you do it right!  The layers of translucent color add so much depth.



Now that I’ve gone through the entire process and gained confidence, I made another piece to get it right.  The first pieces are just practice pieces.  I sometimes forget about the learning curve and expect more perfect pieces the first time.  I’m much more confident and will continue on this path for a while. 

This is the color before firing.  Look at the finished color at the top of the page.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Enameling - My First Attempt At Home

My Piece from Pam East's class
This post started as a quick review of my experience in enameling.  It is becoming a 2 or 3 part post because I want to share my experiences with those of you who might be interested in learning to enamel as well as sharing some of the techniques that go into the art of enameling.  

After taking Pam East’s Enameling on Copper Clay class, I was eager to try it by myself.  I thought I would rush right home and delve in to the process.  Alas! I had too much going on in my life to go off on yet another tangent. I love the two projects I made in her class. I loved being part of her Kickstarter Program and decided to wait to try enameling on my own until her DVD arrived.

My Piece from Pam East's Class
A couple of weeks ago I started watching the DVD to refresh my memory on the entire process.  It’s a great DVD and I highly recommend it if you are interested in enameling on metal clay.  She has one set for copper clay and one set for silver clay.  Her directions are clear and concise as she takes the project from clay to enamel to finish.  It’s a good review for metal clay techniques too!  

First you have to make the copper piece to enamel.  Pam uses Art Clay Copper for her enameling and I had enough of it to do the 3 projects in the DVD.  At least I did until a couple of problems popped up in the basic clay pieces.  Project 1 or the Shield earrings were fairly simple. I made the pieces following Pam’s directions and they looked good when I put them in the kiln.  Part of the magic of metal clay is seeing the metal piece come out of the kiln.  When I took them out it was obvious I needed more practice.  The untextured part was too thin and developed a few holes!

The 2nd project in the DVD has 2 layers of clay and Pam stressed the importance of putting enough 'goo' or paste between then.  I did not and the outer edges separated when fired.  I need to really listen when she says something!   I was surprised that my techniques were so rusty.  It was also difficult to keep the side wall cut out straight with no undercuts or slopes. It really does make sense to take care with the greenware phase to prevent unnecessary work at the end.  I remade the pieces.


The first project:  Shield earrings - half textured and half enamel
The clay pieces came out great.    I wanted to wait until I had the three basic clay projects in the DVD were done and enamel all at one time.  I was out of clay!  Darn!  I ordered more and waited.

Future Experiment:  I have several containers of Hadar’s steel clay.  Maybe it would work with enamel.  Why not try?  After asking a couple of enamel related questions on Hadar’s Clay group on Facebook, there was someone who had tried steel with enamel and it worked! 
I proceeded to make the 2nd project on the DVD out of steel instead of copper.  It is in the kiln firing and soon I’ll have a sintered steel medallion and earrings for the experiment.  Turns out the steel experiment will be another blog in the future and the copper is taking more time than I anticipated.

Project 2  and a Future Experiment
My copper clay arrived and I continued with the rest of the copper shield pieces and fired them, pickled and neutralized them and tumbled them. I love the way the tumbler cleans them up.  There are so many tips in the DVD on how and why to pickle, neutralize and tumble.

Ready to enamel.
I made 3 pr of shield earrings and 1 charm
Had to stop playing and go to Cottonwood AZ and while there my friend and I went into a shop called Art Institute Glitter http://www.artglitter.com/ .
What fun!  I found some stamps that I thought would be terrific for enameling projects, saw great things in magic film and sprinkled fairy dust on me in the form of glitter. I must say the micro glitter felt like powder.  Very cool.


Next week I'll tell you about my experience of actually enameling these pieces.  

A Teaser!!




Friday, August 8, 2014

Fun at Art Unraveled 2014

My Rendition of Starry Night!
 silver spiral, silver star that moves and star beside a moonstone.
 Wire weaving on the edges.  

I've been going to Art Unraveled (http://www.artunraveled.com/ARTU14/AUindex.htm) for many years and always learn something new.  This year my good friend Judi and I roomed together and attended the same classes.

‘Fun, Affordable and Classy: Composite Laminate Earrings’ taught by April Bower (http://www.downthestreetartgallery.com/april.htm) was the first class we took.  In the 3 hour evening class we learned to saw laminate resin – most of us call it Formica!  We were to design earrings using laminate and accenting with wire or beads or metal.  The trick was to cut 2 of each shape the same!  Not such an easy task.  So here are some of the examples and products from the class.

My Formica (oops  Laminate Resin) Earrings

The next morning after exercising and breakfast we went to ‘Silver Stitched Jewelry’ taught by Mary Hettmansperger (http://www.maryhetts.com/) What a great class!  We used copper for the first piece instead of silver and several kinds of wire.  Each piece has a front and a back that are woven together with wire.  Yes that was time consuming and got to be a bit tedious.  I’m looking forward to making another piece when I have the luxury of picking it up, working a bit, and putting it down instead of meeting the class deadline.  The weaving is really a nice accent.  By the end of the day I almost had my piece finished and all the moveable parts were working! (see first picture)

The second full day of class was also taught by Mary Hettmansperger ‘Torch Fired: Enameled Surfaces and Tab Bezels’.   I have not done much torch fire enamel and was looking forward to learning a different technique.  We played with copper foil sheeting, wire, cold connections and enamels.  I used the square punch and made domes and circles.  The variety of possibilities seems endless.  The point of the class was to play with as many ideas and enamels as possible.  And I came home with 2 pieces ready to put together and a thirst to start torch fire enamels! 

Woven metal strips and wire that is domed and enameled 


Ready to be riveted together!


Copper Foil Scrunched, Domed and Enameled 

Ready to be riveted together.


Art Unraveled went on for a week but we were there only 3 days.  Had to stay for the Saturday Sale and see all the new products and yes, we bought a little.  This is such a good event, lots of artists sharing, and lots of focus on creating.  You should think about going next year!  It’s always in August in Phoenix.












Friday, August 1, 2014

Enameling - part 2


The After Practice Piece  -  Improving
Last week I shared making the piece to enamel from ArtClay Copper.  This week is about the actual process of enameling.  If you are interested in using the enameling techniques, I highly recommend Pam East’s DVD’s.  Last week’s post has the links.

I looked forward to this part as I remembered how much fun it was to blend the enamel colors in Pam’s class.  Three pair of earrings are ready to be cleaned in PreEnamel to remove any oil or fingerprints.  I started do this at my work station and ended up at the sink because the water needed to be hot.  After scrubbing and rinsing until the water sheeted off the metal instead of beading, I was ready to counter enamel. That just means putting enamel on the back of the piece so that there will have equal amount of stress when the enamel is placed on the front and the enamel will not crack. 

The earring on the left shows the counter-enamel
The enamel colors I used are translucent and are mixed with water for easier application. 
The first layer went on and my frustration began!  I found that setting the small metal pieces on a 3 prong trivet was harder than it looked on the DVD.  How can it be so hard for me to place the piece on 3 points and have it level and balanced? If I touched the enamel (which are tiny particles of glass), the smudge had to be repaired.  When I jiggled or accidentally hit the trivet, the enamel fell off and had to be redone.  I quickly learned to take care at each step.  I think it took 5 tries before I got it right.  The rest went smoother!  After practicing with several pieces, I developed a wrist action that eliminated the problem.  My suggestion is to practice moving the trivets and learn how to use the tools before placing the metal piece on it. 

3 Pair of earrings with enamel before firing.  Look at the colors and find the fired ones on this page!
I need to get a digital timer.  My phone timer also added to my frustration!  And I have a new kiln with a window in the door so I’m learning about it.  The DVD shows the shelf on the bottom of the kiln and mine was on cones raised about an inch.  The first firing would have been great but because the shelf was too high, I could not see the top of the piece on the trivet.  That meant I could not tell exactly when to take it out. Should have thought of that sooner! The timer is helpful but you still need to see the exact time to remove the piece.  Later I lowered the shelf and things improved!  The first pieces were over-fired and the color was muddy and crazed.  It took a couple of firings before I understood when the enameled copper was ready to come out of the kiln. 

Seeing the colors before and after firing is part of the magic.  The blues and greens are difficult to tell apart before enameling.  So it is very important to label the colors! 


I fired the earrings with 3 layers of color and learned more about shading.  It is really obvious when you do it right!  The layers of translucent color add so much depth.



Now that I’ve gone through the entire process and gained confidence, I made another piece to get it right.  The first pieces are just practice pieces.  I sometimes forget about the learning curve and expect more perfect pieces the first time.  I’m much more confident and will continue on this path for a while. 

This is the color before firing.  Look at the finished color at the top of the page.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Enameling - My First Attempt At Home

My Piece from Pam East's class
This post started as a quick review of my experience in enameling.  It is becoming a 2 or 3 part post because I want to share my experiences with those of you who might be interested in learning to enamel as well as sharing some of the techniques that go into the art of enameling.  

After taking Pam East’s Enameling on Copper Clay class, I was eager to try it by myself.  I thought I would rush right home and delve in to the process.  Alas! I had too much going on in my life to go off on yet another tangent. I love the two projects I made in her class. I loved being part of her Kickstarter Program and decided to wait to try enameling on my own until her DVD arrived.

My Piece from Pam East's Class
A couple of weeks ago I started watching the DVD to refresh my memory on the entire process.  It’s a great DVD and I highly recommend it if you are interested in enameling on metal clay.  She has one set for copper clay and one set for silver clay.  Her directions are clear and concise as she takes the project from clay to enamel to finish.  It’s a good review for metal clay techniques too!  

First you have to make the copper piece to enamel.  Pam uses Art Clay Copper for her enameling and I had enough of it to do the 3 projects in the DVD.  At least I did until a couple of problems popped up in the basic clay pieces.  Project 1 or the Shield earrings were fairly simple. I made the pieces following Pam’s directions and they looked good when I put them in the kiln.  Part of the magic of metal clay is seeing the metal piece come out of the kiln.  When I took them out it was obvious I needed more practice.  The untextured part was too thin and developed a few holes!

The 2nd project in the DVD has 2 layers of clay and Pam stressed the importance of putting enough 'goo' or paste between then.  I did not and the outer edges separated when fired.  I need to really listen when she says something!   I was surprised that my techniques were so rusty.  It was also difficult to keep the side wall cut out straight with no undercuts or slopes. It really does make sense to take care with the greenware phase to prevent unnecessary work at the end.  I remade the pieces.


The first project:  Shield earrings - half textured and half enamel
The clay pieces came out great.    I wanted to wait until I had the three basic clay projects in the DVD were done and enamel all at one time.  I was out of clay!  Darn!  I ordered more and waited.

Future Experiment:  I have several containers of Hadar’s steel clay.  Maybe it would work with enamel.  Why not try?  After asking a couple of enamel related questions on Hadar’s Clay group on Facebook, there was someone who had tried steel with enamel and it worked! 
I proceeded to make the 2nd project on the DVD out of steel instead of copper.  It is in the kiln firing and soon I’ll have a sintered steel medallion and earrings for the experiment.  Turns out the steel experiment will be another blog in the future and the copper is taking more time than I anticipated.

Project 2  and a Future Experiment
My copper clay arrived and I continued with the rest of the copper shield pieces and fired them, pickled and neutralized them and tumbled them. I love the way the tumbler cleans them up.  There are so many tips in the DVD on how and why to pickle, neutralize and tumble.

Ready to enamel.
I made 3 pr of shield earrings and 1 charm
Had to stop playing and go to Cottonwood AZ and while there my friend and I went into a shop called Art Institute Glitter http://www.artglitter.com/ .
What fun!  I found some stamps that I thought would be terrific for enameling projects, saw great things in magic film and sprinkled fairy dust on me in the form of glitter. I must say the micro glitter felt like powder.  Very cool.


Next week I'll tell you about my experience of actually enameling these pieces.  

A Teaser!!