Dancik with the Stars

 
 

 Dancik was Riveting

 

I mentioned last week that I took a two day class called Forming Lasting and Meaningful Attachments with Robert Dancik and sponsored by the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild. We learned all about cold connections in jewelry making including riveting, tabbing, gluing, fold forming, and fastening with miniature hardware. We also learned about different types of resins, epoxies, alternative art materials, and how to use them.

Want to learn more about cold connections? Some of my favorite books on this topic are Wrap, Stitch, Fold & Rivet by Mary Hettmansperger, Making Metal Jewelry by Joanna Gollberg, Making Connections by Susan Lenart Kazmer and a book on the Godfather of cold connections, Alexander Calder, Calder Jewelry by Mark Rosenthal.

And here’s a good illustrated article on how to make rivets by Patty Fleishman.

To see more pictures from the Dancik class, go to the Philly Area Guild’s Flickr site.

Plumpton Says Patina

I have been experimenting with patinas on metal. You can buy patina chemicals, but you can also use things from around the house, like salt, rust, and ammonia.  My feline companion Plumpton  and I sometimes collaborate on artistic projects.   Here are two examples of copper buried in Plumpton’s litterbox.  

Why buy iron oxide when it grows wild everywhere? Yes, iron oxide is another name for rust. Take a rusty object and put in into a plastic bag with a few drops of water and the metal object you want to have a rust patina. Here is a what a steel washer looks like, before and after.   

The next items are salt and ammonia and the process is called fuming. I cleaned brass and copper with a wire brush and wiped it clean with alcohol. Then I filled a small jar with white ammonia and put in inside a big jar. I sprinkled salt in the big jar (not in the ammonia), put in the metal, and screwed on the lid.

At first, the brass started turning black from the edges and I didn’t think anything interesting was going to happen.    

Then I got this.  Kewl!

Here is the same process repeated on copper.

More experiments to follow . . .

A final note – I took “Forming Lasting and Meaningful Attachments” with Robert Dancik last weekend with the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild last week. The class covers cold connections and is one of the best classes I ever took. I didn’t make a thing, but I don’t care. I learned so much it will take time to process it all. Take this class if you have the chance.

Thinking about Design

A book I heartily recommend is Hinges and Hinge-Based Catches for Jewelers and Goldsmiths. It covers more than hinges and catches. You’ll find information on soldering and construction, some tool making ideas, and tips on solving technical and design problems. Even if you are not a Metalsmith, I recommend you read the book for examples of author Charles Lewton-Brain’s approach to creative thinking and problem solving:

Thinking is the most important thing you can do as a goldsmith and a jeweler. Solving problems is what being an artist or craftsperson is about. Utilizing contrast and comparison helps in analyzing a problem. Look for patterns: if something looks like something else, there is probably a relationship, a link. . . .[from which]one can gain a deeper understanding of the principles behind them. This is the same approach used by scientists and art historians; one understands systems and problems by using contrast and comparison.”

In the same vein, I recommend you go to the Polymer Art Archive and read  Rachel Carren’s explanation of why one of Victoria Hughes’s necklace designs works so well. Sure, we all read about design and take classes where teachers use abstract terms and diagrams. Maybe you could take a test on the class and get an “A,” but most of us are not going for the grades at this point. We want to improve our designs. Carren, provides a concrete analysis of how a master approached a design. How cool is that?   The Polymer Art Archive contains some more examples of  Carren’s  insightful commentaries on design.  Well worth a read. 

Finally, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is hosting a not-to-be-missed exhibit of Alexander Calder’s jewelry. The exhibit runs through November 2, 2008 at the newly-opened Perlman Building. This is the first exhibition devoted solely to Calder’s jewelry. What’s especially nice about it is the large number of pieces are displayed in glass cases so you can see the front and back.

Calder used cold connections and basic fabrication techniques to make his jewelry, but this didn’t limit him. All of his designs were well thought out and seem fresh 60 years later. If you can’t make it to the Museum, you can always order the exhibition catalog on line. Or you can do both like I did.

Vicky and Milton

Vicky and Milton are my Mother and Father-In-Law.  Milton died in 1995 and Vicky passed in May.  They were New Yorkers who sought a better life in Baltimore where they moved in the 1950’s.  My Sister-In-law still lives there and my husband had to relocate there a couple of weeks ago to take care of her because she is very sick. I wanted to make something special for her. 

The picture above is Vicky and Milton on a day trip to Bear Mountain State Park before they got married. She was seventeen and he was barely in his twenties. It was during World II and he had a tour of duty in the Pacific still ahead of him.

I made a polymer clay transfer of a photograph with translucent clay and sandwiched it between two sheets of glass. Then I cut and soldered on channel lead and jump rings for the chain hanger and the heart. I put a patina on the channel lead with gun blue.

I hope she likes it. She is not on the Internet, so it will be a surprise.

Some Web Sites I Like

For interesting takes on Metalsmithing and Metal Jewelry,  check out the work of David Paul Bacharach, Barbara Briggs and Connie Fox’s wonderful site, Jatayu

To learn to make just about anything, check out Instructables and the Ready Made Magazine web site.

No matter what kind of art you’re into, you’re sure to find something that interests you on Wet Canvas.

Happy Surfing!

Ancient Patinas

     Here are some new  twists on  polymer clay surface techniques I have been working on.   You can see some earlier incarnations in the Keepsake Memory Book I demonstrated on HGTV, and my work in Ellen Marshall’s Polymer Clay Surface Design Recipes. More to come.

Arlene Groch: Polyaddict

 Let Arlene Groch’s story be a warning to all of you. “My totally out of control addiction to polymer clay had such an innocent birth in September, 2004”, she recalled. “I bought some clay and a couple of books to share an activity with my 8 year old grandson. He was mildly interested; I was hooked. Within a month I had decided to give up my 30 year career as a trial attorney so I could devote most of my time to playing with clay and attending workshops and classes. I set myself a one year goal of learning enough to be able to begin to develop my own style.”  To see more of Arlene’s one of a kind Mezuzah cases and jewelry, go to her site,PolyGemDesigns.

I’m at Polydelphia!

I’m at Polydelphia this weekend!!! To check out my newly designed web site, press HERE. See ya later!

Polydelphia this Weekend

I can’t wait. There’s still room for walk in registrants. Check out the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild’s Website. In the meantime, here is my entry for the 3 1/2 in square tile challenge.

Victoria Hughes at The Artway in May

Visionary polymer clay artist Victoria Hughes is coming to the Artway at Polymer Clay Express in May to teach classes. She was slated to to teach a class on May 25 and 26 Hinged Mixed Media Pendants, but now she is letting her students decide from among several course offerings. She is teaching a class in Pietra Dura on May 23 and 24.

Victoria’s book, Polymer the Chameleon Clay is one of my all time favorites.

There’s lots more happening at Polymer Clay Express. Their Blog is an excellent way to keep up to date on classes and new products.

If you’ve never visited the store in Damascus, Maryland, it’s worth a detour. To see some pictures from the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild’s visits, press here.