Tuesday, August 20, 2019

My Two Favorite Things

Last week I combined 2 of my favorite things, gardening and jewelry! I took a fun class out at Old Goat Farm Nursery on using plant parts to create molds that get filled with PMC (polymer metal clay) to create jewelry components.

PMC was created in Japan in the 1990's. The material consists of microscopic particles of metal (copper, bronze, silver or gold) and a water-soluble, non-toxic, organic binder that burns off during firing.

For our class we used sterling silver clay. I was surprised at the weight of the finished pieces. For molds we used sheets of polymer clay that had been created by imprinting various leaves. We evenly pressed our small rounds of PMC onto the molds. Then we carefully removed them from the molds.

The playing card was so that we could transfer our pendants to the drying area.  I used an imprint of  a cedar frond for one side.

They were all laid to dry on a warming tray. At home the artist uses an old toaster oven.

Drying is important. If there is still moisture in the piece then it can explode during the firing process.  Once dry they all go into the kiln, at about 1650 degrees!

After firing they are cooled in water. Then we brushed off the burs with a brass brush. Next step was to apply patina with liver of sulphur.  Surplus patina is removed with a baking soda scrub and a brass brush. Patina is removed from detail areas with steel wool. The last step is to tumble and polish.   

My completed piece.  Not the best design, but when I take a class I focus on learning technique rather than the outcome!

While we waited between steps we had lunch in the garden and toured the nursery. We met the rescue goats, peacocks, donkey and other birds. A very nice way to spend a day. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Back to the Studio

This spring I have been putting my creative energies into my garden and home. It is time to start getting back into the studio! I find I can not just step back in and expect to be creative. I have to be in the right frame of mind to be creative. 

Recently I wandered into the studio and started to straighten up. I ran across a bag of old necklaces and parts that a friend had given me to repair and remake. It is rewarding to see how well worn some these older designs were. I appreciated getting the chance to improve upon my older work with better materials and techniques. 

 The original necklace circa 2007. The wire was likely 7-11 strand. It had become brittle and broke.
 For the remake I upgraded the wire (I use a 49 strand steel wire now) and restrung all of the beads. I redid the end where the strands and leather come together, making it more secure. The added a small piece of amber to the golden chalcedony. She had lost one of the matching earrings so I was able to find similar beads and remake those.

Circa 2002. I could not find a before of this one. I restrung the glass beads, crystals and pearls with the better/stronger wire, gave it a new dragonfly clasp and gave it a good cleaning. 

The turquoise earrings were circa 2002. My friend had lost one. I no longer had the original large sterling bead, but I found something similar. The other 2 earrings are not my designs, but I was able to remake them using similar materials.

 Thanks to my friend for providing me with a good exercise to ease me back into my studio.