That’s the name of the class I am teaching at the Main Line Bead Society ‘s 2014 retreat. I plan to teach the students some methods for using metal, fabric, paint, wire and found objects ( to name a few) to make jewelry or anything else we can dream up. I want the class will be a guided play session for grownups, and the students feel comfortable enough to create with wild abandonment. I plan on bringing a ton of tools and materials and inspiration pieces. (see pictures below). And I hope to learn as much from the students as they learn from me. Wish me luck! I’ve never done this before.
All articles filed in Metal
We all know what fun it is to peek into someone else’s studio. I got the chance to peek into Olivia Surrat’s studio not too long ago. Olivia works in metal and wire with some polymer clay added for color. Her studio is compact and efficient. She’s lined it with Billy bookcases and added doors to take away some of the visual clutter you get when you have thousands of components stored in see through containers. Olivia also snagged couple of old card catalog files and a great long sturdy jeweler’s bench that looks much more comfortable to sit at than a regular bench. And will you look at that stake in the picture with the anvil? She found it at a house sale. That’s where you find great stuff.
The doorway to Olivia’s Studio
The window gives lots of light
Metal waiting to become jewelry
Here’s that great forming stake!
Some polymer clay beads in the making and some interesting glass and shell beads.
View from the bench. Note the slots for pin vises and mandrils.
‘Polymer clay and PMC bracelets, and some strung glass beads.
Close up of polymer clay beads in various stages of finishing
Some of Olivia’s wire work. She was lucky to be able to take a class with Lynn Merchant
Beads from around the world or the house sale around the block
Olivia collects polymer clay pieces but we were having so much fun we never got to pull out her collection. The item above is a purse by Kathleen Dustin. The sign on top of the shelf is a reminder that you don’t need to take everything so seriously.
Truman, Olivia’s Canine companion is a charmer. He’s not a true studio dog because he’s not allowed in the studio, but he gives encouragement from the hall way where he plays with his toys and anything else that people bring into his house that seems new and interesting. Like my husband’s briefs which kept him occupied for a good long time until we realized why he was so fascinated.
Meanwhile in my Workshop
I’ve been a little scattered these past months last through months jumping from beading to quilting to casting glass to polymer clay and crocheting without much focus. I’ve also been practicing my soldering and playing “let’s put that through the rolling mill and see what happens.” Or arranged components in different combinations to see how they look. The picture below shows a copper spiral I put through the rolling mill, some bent wire, and an enameled metal scrap. I don’t think the pieces go together, but you don’t know until you try.
Here are some ceramic shards from my pottery days.
I used high fire white porcelain with mason stains to color the clay. I had previously tumbled the the with cheap cleanser until the surfaces were a buttery matte. A couple of years ago I took the same shards and tumbled then with the polish meant to be used in the last stage of rock tumbling. Boy was I surprised-they got glossy shiny.
Some shards were finely crazed on the surface and I rubbed ink and shoe dye into a lot of these. I have made pendants out of some of them; you can drill holes in them the same way you drill glass.
Here’s my box of of metal scraps. I should call it my magic box because whenever a need a certain piece of metal, I can find it in there. The brass pieces in the left compartment of the middle shelf are these cool fixtures of a chest of drawers. I am going to use them upside down as focal pieces in necklaces. I am still thinking about the design
Here are some bezels. The one in the foreground holds a bullseye glass cab I fused awhile ago. The curl of copper in the back (left) is what remained when I cut a thin sheet of copper with metal shears. The metal curls up and looks so interesting. I still have to think of a way to use these.
Fold forming and patina experiments. I think the verdigris needs to be toned down or eliminated. This might make for an interesting pendant.
Here I am trying to hold a piece steady for in order to solder one little thing to it. When you solder, anything you use to clip or bind pieces together draws the heat from your torch and makes the process more difficult.
Bead caps are easy to make. Just take a disc (bought or cut with a disc cutter) make a hole in the center with a hole punch, and shape with a dapping die and punch.
More components looking for a home. The white bead is polymer clay.
You enamel the bead caps after you make them. You don’t have to use them as bead caps. The above dangle could be an earring or an embellishment.
More enameled scraps
A few years ago, Theresa Mowery of Patina Studio suggested Miracle Gro plant food after reading one of my posts on patina experiments. It works great! But I live in an urban area where my own garden is a weed growing out of a crack in my front steps. So I got liquid plant food that has similar ingredients to Miracle Gro ( just compare the labels) so I would not have to buy a large box of plant food and mix it up. The liquid plant food even comes with an eye dropper.
Here are some finished copper pendants tucked into my patina jar that’s filled with Kosher salt. I screwed the lid on and will check it after a few days to see how the patina is developing.
Here’s some other pieces. I put on the patina and am leaving them in the open air to see what happens.
The pictures below show the front and back of a pendant in progress. I etched a piece of brass and patinated it with the ammonia and salt method. Then I cut out the shape, made a hole and shaped it in a swage block.
I filed the edges smooth and added a ring, washer and dangle with enameled ends. I think this pendant will undergo some more changes before I’m happy with it.
Once it’s the way I want it, I will finish the pendant with a coat of Renaissance Wax to protect the patina.
If you’re in Philadelphia this weekend, don’t miss the Spring Art Star Craft Bazaar Saturday, May 12th & Sunday, May 13th, 11-6pm at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, which is along Columbus Blvd, between Walnut & Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia, PA
Learning to Make Metal Beads
I’ve spent some time this summer learning how to make metal beads. The above bead is a copper lentil about 2.5 inches across. I etched the metal I used on the front before I made the bead and I patinated it afterwards. Theresa Mowery of The Patina Studio who commented on an earlier post, suggested that I try Miracle Gro as a patina agent. What a GREAT TIP! I ended up using African Violet food because I didn’t have to mix any powder, but the principle is the same. This stuff works fast! I got the patina you see above after a couple of days. I sealed the pendant with Sophisticated Finishes sealer and then gave it a buff with Renaissance Wax. Here are some more pictures:
The glass beads in the last picture are hollow lampwork. The beads are lengths of copper pipe that I cut from found scrap. I pounded them (after annealing) so they looked wrinkled,filed and sanded the ends smooth and soldered copper disks (with holes in center) to the ends of the pipes. More filing and sanding followed. I have a way to go with these. I found the lentil beads went together with less effort; maybe because it’s easier to sand the edges to get flat surfaces for soldering, so they clean up much more easily. And the metal is thinner than the pipe metal so it’s easier to work with. An addendum: forging can damage your joints including your elbows and wrists. A safer way to make the wrinkled beads is through use of a hydraulic press.
Here’s the part of the post where a recommend a book! Making Metal Beads by Pauling Warg is a fabulous book on how to make all kinds of metal beads, not just soldered ones. Be warned that there is no Precious Metal Clay in this book, but Warg does have directions for using cold connections to fabricate unique beads that will catch everyone’s eye as well as tutorials on how to alter ready made beads into something that looks unique and totally hand made.
Here’s a video featuring Pauline Warg:
Resin and Bezels
I have been practicing soldering and trying new projects including backless bezels and prongs. All the pieces below are made from recycled metal.
I poured the resin into the bezel after completing the bezel. I put packing tape on the back to keep the resin from seeping out. The color comes from alcohol ink. I put in a tiny bit and carefully swirled it with a tooth pick so as not to make more air bubbles. After pouring a layer of resin, I put in another tiny drop and allowed it to spread without swirling. I also put in some glitter and metal leaf to see what it would do.
The back. I had a hard time cleaning the metal as you can see. Next time it will go in the tumbler with the stainless steel shot!
I didn’t like the way the top turned out, so I sanded it and poured it again. I think the dome is a little too high, but now the top has no dings.
The circular pieces of metal are scraps left after I trimmed a thin piece of metal with tin snips. The blue comes from blue pulver powder. Pearlex would work, too.
There are obvious air bubbles in the resin, but I didn’t try to coax them out. I think they give the pendant an aquatic feel. I also floated some metal leaf in the resin.
My first attempt at prongs using Joanna Gollberg’s article “Fresh Prongs” in the July 2011 issue of Art Jewelry as a guide. No binding wire needed! Check out Gollberg’s book, Making Metal Jewelry for more great ideas.
I poured the resin cube in a plastic pill organizer. They make great resin molds; the cured cubes just slip out and the surface on the top and sides are nice and shiny. I probably poured resin in the back before unmolding because the resin will shrink and dip a bit in the curing.
The prongs need to be higher, but they hold the cube securely. I don’t think the resin cube is spectacular enough to make this a memorable necklace, but I wanted to try making a prong setting before attempting to make five or six more and using them and resin cubes to make a bracelet. I think that would look interesting.
Take a look at Susan Lenart Kazmer’s DVD Exploring Resin to learn some interesting resin techniques including how to cast resin in an open bezel.
And now for the sculptures
The Medical Arts cylinder was installed on the corner of 9th and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia in 2009. It interesting by day but captivating at night.
When the cylinder is lit up at night it reflects cryptic symbols and foreign words onto the walkway and an adjacent building. What do they mean?
I got a clue one night as my husband and I walked across the plaza. He pointed to the top of the cylinder and asked me, “Do you recognize that? It’s a DNA sequence.” He should know, because he wrote a book called Corporate DNA: Learning from Life and did a lot of thinking about DNA and how it works while he was writing that book. I admitted that the letters bore a strange familiarity even though I would be hard pressed to remember anything about DNA from high school biology.
Another look at the cylinder by day. See the DNA sequence at near the top? Can you recognize anything else?
The Medical Arts screen on the other side of the plaza on 10th Street was placed there in 2008. The first time I saw it, I was transfixed. When I finally looked down, I found two rusty X shapes from the stamped out metal that lying on the sidewalk.
There is other beautiful art on the Jefferson Campus and I wish they would let the public know more about it. You might remember the controversy that ensued after TJU decided to sell Thomas Eakins’ painting “The Gross Clinic” to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2007. American surgeon Samuel Gross taught at Jefferson Medical College and the story is that Eakins took one of his anatomy classes.
There is a statue of Gross in the courtyard by Alexander Sterling Calder who was the father of Alexander Calder, known for his jewelry and better known for his mobiles. There is so much history at TJU both artistic and scientific. But that is a topic for another post.
Enjoy the video about Jim Sanborn