Friday, March 28, 2014

A Change of Plan



When I start a project I try to have a plan – at least a loose idea of where I’m heading.  This experiment started out with me wanting to make links for a bracelet with mokume gane  that I learned to do in Hadar’s class in Tucson.  I used Friendly Copper, Friendly Bronze and Pearl Grey Steel clay in my extruder to make a long square rope that I cut into sections.  The sections had all 3 types of clay in concentric circles that mimicked the Japanese mokume gane. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mokume-gane 


I made the back layer for the 8 links in bronze and placed the cut squares in rows making sure I had good contact with the backing.  The nice thing about using these there clays is firing them all at one time and in one stage.  So much easier. 

Before I started the project, I made U shaped wire tabs (nickel chromium) to insert between the bronze backing and the mokume gane squares.  I thought that would be the best way to connect the links.
 
U shaped wire tabs(nickel chromium)
I also knew many of you were not familiar with the finishing steps in working with Hadar’s base metal clay.  After I fired the links, I finished them so I could photograph all the stages at one time to show you.


Starting on the left: #1 is just out of the carbon and the kiln.  #2 is cleaned off with the radial ceramic disc.  #3 is sanded with 220 sandpaper.  #4 is sanded with 400 grit sandpaper.  #5 is buffed and patina'd with Baldwin's Patina to bring out the colors and #7 is sealed with PYMII.

These are all finished and ready to assemble.  Each little square within each rectangle has pattern made by the 3 kinds of clay - that's the mokume gane pattern.

And this is where my original plan to make a bracelet took a detour and turned into a necklace with Tiger Eye beads between each link!  I really like the change and the combination! Plans are just that…. A roadmap with unexpected turns!



Friday, March 14, 2014

Quothe the Raven

As I sit at my desk or at my work space, Ravens swoop between the tall swaying pine trees.  In the evening they gather in those same trees and ‘talk’ to one another with their varying individual voices.  I am entranced with them.

The Raven is the subject for my latest base metal clay pendant.  I want a pendant to feature the Raven and relate to its environment.  I want to use a piece of Poe’s poem and have the finished project look rustic and a bit organic. 
I’m using some of the older clay from Hadar’s clay line-up; this time I used Quick Fire Copper, Friendly Bronze and Quick Fire Steel XT.  The Quick Fire Copper was used for the back and the bail.  All three clays were used for the applied sections.  I put them on coconut carbon and set the stainless round bowl on the camp stove.  When both sides were black, I added carbon and put the bowl in the kiln firing on the mid-fire schedule.

Finished Piece
Waiting is the most difficult part of this process in my opinion!  When I removed the piece from the kiln, there were 2 cracks on the back and a repair was needed on the front.  The piece curled and I was hoping for that.  After the final firing, I sanded and finished the piece, put patina on the raven and printed on vellum part of the poem, ‘The Raven’ by Poe.  I glued the part I wanted to the back of the pendant, used gel medium to coat the paper and mixed Ice Resin.  The curve of the metal held the resin in place and cured in 6 hours.  


Back

The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”

    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
            Nameless here for evermore.

    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
            This it is and nothing more.”

    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
            Darkness there and nothing more.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
            Merely this and nothing more.

    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
      Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
            ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
            Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    Much I marveled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
    Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
            With such name as “Nevermore.”

    But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
    Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
    Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
            Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
    Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
            Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

    But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
    Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
            Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
    This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
    On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
            She shall press, ah, nevermore!

    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
    Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
    Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
    On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
    And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
            Shall be lifted—nevermore!
Share this text ...?

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Saga of My Copper Paperweight

Hadar's Friendly Copper Paperweight
For the last two weeks I've been experimenting with a copper paperweight that I started making in Hadar’s class.  My last post explained base metal clay and I showed you some of my successful jewelry projects.  (While this post might be a little technical for those of you not working in metal clay, it does illustrate my tenacity or perhaps just my stubbornness.)  And perhaps you will enjoy the pictures.

This paperweight actually started out as a possible pendant.  The basic hexagonal box was made with Hadar’s Friendly Copper clay.  I rolled the bottom layer 4 cards thick (that’s playing cards) and added the 6 sides after the bottom dried.  Since I was going to put on a top, I needed supports.  The supports were to be placed less than ½” apart.  I think I made mine a little too close but I did not take a picture of each step.  I wish I had.  The supports dried and I placed the top on my 2”+ box. 
The next step was to texture 1 card thick clay and put the texture on the box.  My original idea was to texture each side a little differently.  I used a terrific circle texture plate for the top of the piece. The top hexagonal was thicker than 1 card to press the design into the clay.  I dried everything and sanded and was ready to fire the piece in carbon. 

Hadar's Mold - Organic Mechanics with the detached top of the paperweight


I ran out of time in class and decided to finish the piece at home.  It also became clear that it would be a paperweight instead of a pendant!
Since it was a large piece and heavy, I was to fire it in my kiln for 2 hours after slowly getting the temperature of the kiln to 1800 degrees F.  (I ramped the kiln for 1000 degrees per hour). 
I was expecting a sintered all metal piece when I opened the kiln and that is NOT what I found. 

Fired piece showing where the clay did not sinter
The piece had not sintered and there were several places to repair.  Also the top circle had detached from the box.   I expect some cracks and know how to add clay and fire the piece again.  That often happens with base metal clay.  I decided to fire the detached top separately from the box.  That worked and the top will become another piece of jewelry. That is the piece shown above with the mold.

The next 3 times I fired the box I still had repairs to do. 


I don’t give up easily.  Finally I emailed Hadar Jacobson and Lyle Rayfield, explained the problem, sent pictures and waited for a reply.  We went through all the stages and Hadar thought perhaps oxidation was taking place and I should cover the entire piece again and fire it.  I did that and when I took it out of the kiln it looked like it had never been fired.  I sanded off the clay and changed the carbon to new and fired it a last time.  I must have fired this box 6 times.  And it still had one gaping hole in it. 


 I have no real idea why this did not work correctly and someday I will try another large heavy piece.  In the meantime, I allowed aleatoricism (my new word for this week) into my creation.   That’s the incorporation of chance into the process of creation.  I decided to see what I had in my stash that might come out of my copper box.  Fool’s Gold seemed so right!



Friday, March 28, 2014

A Change of Plan



When I start a project I try to have a plan – at least a loose idea of where I’m heading.  This experiment started out with me wanting to make links for a bracelet with mokume gane  that I learned to do in Hadar’s class in Tucson.  I used Friendly Copper, Friendly Bronze and Pearl Grey Steel clay in my extruder to make a long square rope that I cut into sections.  The sections had all 3 types of clay in concentric circles that mimicked the Japanese mokume gane. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mokume-gane 


I made the back layer for the 8 links in bronze and placed the cut squares in rows making sure I had good contact with the backing.  The nice thing about using these there clays is firing them all at one time and in one stage.  So much easier. 

Before I started the project, I made U shaped wire tabs (nickel chromium) to insert between the bronze backing and the mokume gane squares.  I thought that would be the best way to connect the links.
 
U shaped wire tabs(nickel chromium)
I also knew many of you were not familiar with the finishing steps in working with Hadar’s base metal clay.  After I fired the links, I finished them so I could photograph all the stages at one time to show you.


Starting on the left: #1 is just out of the carbon and the kiln.  #2 is cleaned off with the radial ceramic disc.  #3 is sanded with 220 sandpaper.  #4 is sanded with 400 grit sandpaper.  #5 is buffed and patina'd with Baldwin's Patina to bring out the colors and #7 is sealed with PYMII.

These are all finished and ready to assemble.  Each little square within each rectangle has pattern made by the 3 kinds of clay - that's the mokume gane pattern.

And this is where my original plan to make a bracelet took a detour and turned into a necklace with Tiger Eye beads between each link!  I really like the change and the combination! Plans are just that…. A roadmap with unexpected turns!



Friday, March 14, 2014

Quothe the Raven

As I sit at my desk or at my work space, Ravens swoop between the tall swaying pine trees.  In the evening they gather in those same trees and ‘talk’ to one another with their varying individual voices.  I am entranced with them.

The Raven is the subject for my latest base metal clay pendant.  I want a pendant to feature the Raven and relate to its environment.  I want to use a piece of Poe’s poem and have the finished project look rustic and a bit organic. 
I’m using some of the older clay from Hadar’s clay line-up; this time I used Quick Fire Copper, Friendly Bronze and Quick Fire Steel XT.  The Quick Fire Copper was used for the back and the bail.  All three clays were used for the applied sections.  I put them on coconut carbon and set the stainless round bowl on the camp stove.  When both sides were black, I added carbon and put the bowl in the kiln firing on the mid-fire schedule.

Finished Piece
Waiting is the most difficult part of this process in my opinion!  When I removed the piece from the kiln, there were 2 cracks on the back and a repair was needed on the front.  The piece curled and I was hoping for that.  After the final firing, I sanded and finished the piece, put patina on the raven and printed on vellum part of the poem, ‘The Raven’ by Poe.  I glued the part I wanted to the back of the pendant, used gel medium to coat the paper and mixed Ice Resin.  The curve of the metal held the resin in place and cured in 6 hours.  


Back

The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”

    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
            Nameless here for evermore.

    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
            This it is and nothing more.”

    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
            Darkness there and nothing more.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
            Merely this and nothing more.

    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
      Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
            ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
            Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    Much I marveled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
    Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
            With such name as “Nevermore.”

    But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
    Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
    Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
            Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
    Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
            Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

    But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
    Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
            Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
    This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
    On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
            She shall press, ah, nevermore!

    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
    Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
    Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
    On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
    And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
            Shall be lifted—nevermore!
Share this text ...?

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Saga of My Copper Paperweight

Hadar's Friendly Copper Paperweight
For the last two weeks I've been experimenting with a copper paperweight that I started making in Hadar’s class.  My last post explained base metal clay and I showed you some of my successful jewelry projects.  (While this post might be a little technical for those of you not working in metal clay, it does illustrate my tenacity or perhaps just my stubbornness.)  And perhaps you will enjoy the pictures.

This paperweight actually started out as a possible pendant.  The basic hexagonal box was made with Hadar’s Friendly Copper clay.  I rolled the bottom layer 4 cards thick (that’s playing cards) and added the 6 sides after the bottom dried.  Since I was going to put on a top, I needed supports.  The supports were to be placed less than ½” apart.  I think I made mine a little too close but I did not take a picture of each step.  I wish I had.  The supports dried and I placed the top on my 2”+ box. 
The next step was to texture 1 card thick clay and put the texture on the box.  My original idea was to texture each side a little differently.  I used a terrific circle texture plate for the top of the piece. The top hexagonal was thicker than 1 card to press the design into the clay.  I dried everything and sanded and was ready to fire the piece in carbon. 

Hadar's Mold - Organic Mechanics with the detached top of the paperweight


I ran out of time in class and decided to finish the piece at home.  It also became clear that it would be a paperweight instead of a pendant!
Since it was a large piece and heavy, I was to fire it in my kiln for 2 hours after slowly getting the temperature of the kiln to 1800 degrees F.  (I ramped the kiln for 1000 degrees per hour). 
I was expecting a sintered all metal piece when I opened the kiln and that is NOT what I found. 

Fired piece showing where the clay did not sinter
The piece had not sintered and there were several places to repair.  Also the top circle had detached from the box.   I expect some cracks and know how to add clay and fire the piece again.  That often happens with base metal clay.  I decided to fire the detached top separately from the box.  That worked and the top will become another piece of jewelry. That is the piece shown above with the mold.

The next 3 times I fired the box I still had repairs to do. 


I don’t give up easily.  Finally I emailed Hadar Jacobson and Lyle Rayfield, explained the problem, sent pictures and waited for a reply.  We went through all the stages and Hadar thought perhaps oxidation was taking place and I should cover the entire piece again and fire it.  I did that and when I took it out of the kiln it looked like it had never been fired.  I sanded off the clay and changed the carbon to new and fired it a last time.  I must have fired this box 6 times.  And it still had one gaping hole in it. 


 I have no real idea why this did not work correctly and someday I will try another large heavy piece.  In the meantime, I allowed aleatoricism (my new word for this week) into my creation.   That’s the incorporation of chance into the process of creation.  I decided to see what I had in my stash that might come out of my copper box.  Fool’s Gold seemed so right!