Monday, 14 June 2010

Pebble Brooch

After the peacock fiasco, this was the piece that earnt me the qualification. 

I worked hard to make sure the syringe lines had a form and purpose.  To be honest, I'm not a great fan of the syringe - something to do with my total inability to keep a steady hand whilst also pushing down on the syringe - but I am often amazed at what others can do with it.  So I did want to push myself to showcase some of the possibilities of the syringe in openwork pieces.  The syringe can do more than openwork, but this was the requirement from the certification board.   I had to try really hard for this piece to have well defined lines (I ended up with my arm on a block of rubber, my left hand holding the unsteady right one, and not breathing, ha ha!).   Also this piece is quite small, only about 4 or 5cm square, so you can imagine the fiddliness of the job...   I started by doing a series of pebbles individually, cleaning those up and polishing the edges before choosing the nicest ones and attaching them together with paste.  Attaching the brooch findings is always a bit tricky but I had calculated the shrinkage well in this piece so it all matched up nicely when fired. 

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Fine Silver Peacock

I promised a better introduction to the peacock brooch. He was made of silver clay for the body and a more diluted silver clay which is extruded through a syringe which once fired forms fine lines of fine silver wire, for the plumes.   He is quite big at 10x7cm.  This was one of the pieces I submitted for my level II ACS certification, and sadly it didn't make the mark.  The criticism I received was that the tail was too messy, and I have to agree.   The tail actually broke before it was fired, so that made the repair all the more difficult and in the process I lost some of the detail (yes, I had originally syringed individual feathers... so my expletives hit the ceiling when the piece broke and I realised that the repair would make the carefully designed plumage sort of disappear...).  You can't see it so well in the picture, but the tail is actually openwork, which means you can see through it in places, a bit like lace.  

The problem with this piece was confounded by the fact that as soon as you set out, as an artist, to make a respresentation of something recognisable you automatically add another level of difficulty in ensuring that the piece looks like the thing it is meant to look like.  So whilst my melange of feathers did not work as feathers, I wonder whether, had I set out on an abstract piece, the expectation would not be somewhat different.  I'm not even talking about the Art Clay Guild judges, as their requirement is very specific, and this piece would not have passed whether as a peacock or as a Pollock.  However, even for me, as the maker, I find there is something much more unforgiving about a representational piece as the added challenge is to try and achieve a little bit of realism.  

Evidently, a bowl of noodles doth not a peacock's tail make, but I still love this handsome boy.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Too Many Projects

Hands up, who suffers from wanting-to-do-it-all-nitis?  I have a goal to be an expert at a huge list of things (yes, expert - any old experience just won't do).  On my list:
  • Silver etching projects - tried it and got a large quantity of iron nitrate some weeks ago for a lot of pieces, except it's sitting on a shelf, keeping company to the other chemicals
  • Laser-cut projects based on my own drawings - [note to self:  'prioritise']  
  • Keum boo - some weeks ago I mentioned I ran to the gold shop to buy gold sheet, right?  I did run, and I evidently have more ideas than time
  • Resin - bought all the kit, tried it and put it all back on the shelf for later
  • Engraving - ditto bis
  • Making my own stone settings - ditto ter (though I do set my own stones)
  • Making hinges, boxes, rivets, clasps, vessels, utensils - I so want to make a spoon, I really do!
  • Other metal clays - I want to know all the ins and outs of all the other clays, there's copper, bronze, steel... and before I get to grips with them fully, someone goes and brings out a glass clay.
  • 3-d CAD programmes such as Rhino - the fun I would have...
  • Wax carving, and lost wax casting, delft casting (oh and broom, and cuttlebone casting - add those too)  
  • Gemology and lapidary
  • Glass - I loved making my own cabochons, and using dichroic glass in my silver.   'Must learn more' I thought at the time.  I'm still with that same thought.
  • Enamels - oh lordy I love those enamels, but I'm not sure they love me back 
I have been on a very steep metal rimmed learning curve in the past couple of years, and I have taken in a huge amount of knowledge that I never envisaged would be there, but is it ultimately a positive that the more you know, the more you need to know, when this self imposed need to learn is actually just adding more things to your to-do list and therefore, pressure on yourself?    Is it better maybe to focus on one thing and be really really good at that, or is it preferable to have a little good first-hand knowledge of a lot of things?  

To be fair to myself, the list is huge and a large number of things are not included here because they are already ticked (in pencil - full "expert" capacity is a tall order), but in the course of this blog - I expect to tick off one of those every few months.   Unless I find something else to divert my attention, like oh bugs, Palladium.