Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Silver Clay in Italy, pt. 1

Our silver projects were geared around lentils. Riffing on lentils, Gordon called it.

Regular lentils are pretty standard, and I've made my share of them. Open, domed discs are pretty common, too. Putting together domes and rings and center planes in various combinations is a good way to get interesting, but simple to construct, 3D structures.

I made a pair of simple earrings -- concave discs with reverse domed frames. I took along my stash of bird photopolymer plates so that I'd have my own imagery to work with.

Then I made a pendant as well. This one was trickier, because it's double sided and I needed both sides centered. The bird didn't come out in the right place with respect to the flower on the back, so I added a few leaves on one side to balance a bit. Then I slept on it overnight, trying to decide what to do with the frame.

I drew in my sketchbook for a while, and finally something flowed. The finished piece isn't quite like my drawing but close enough. By morning, the idea popped into my head to cut an index card stencil to impress a reverse leaf pattern into the frame. It's just like quilting -- I often use that reverse at boundaries.

I really enjoyed the syringe work. I typically don't use much syringe. It's probably a frugality issue. Or maybe it's that the PMC syringe I've always used doesn't work for me as well. But ACS syringe was available, and it seemed so much like doing stringer work in glass! I worried that ACS syringe might not play nice with PMC clay, but I figured this was a time for experimentation, so give it a go. Worked perfectly! The beaded edge really appeals to me.

One of the new things I learned was Gordon's method of making a clay bezel for a fired-in-place faceted stone. I made a solid disc of clay, then cut the hole for the stone with a setting bur (by hand!!). I used a cutter for the outside that resulted in a very thin wall bezel. I thought it would probably crack during firing, but it held soundly.

The most annoying moment of the entire trip for me was a fumble during brass-brushing the small disc that hangs below the pendant. One slip of the fingers and that treasure was down the drain. Not a chance of retrieval. I cussed under my breath and then quickly made a replacement.

I'm pleased with the results, although they are certainly far from perfect. They are fun to wear. And I'm going to try something similar to my glass stringer work in silver syringe. I can just visualize it!

Oh, and Louise found the bird nest. It's tiny and just perfect for photographing my bird jewelry.