Sunday, August 30, 2009


I was so excited about the new brooch design that yesterday, after I made the silver parts for a Garden Windows Pendant class sample, I had to give it a go.

It's really a very simple design, with a smooth window surround and handformed branches and leaves. I wanted to support the bird and branches going across the window at the same height as the rest of the piece, so I tucked some cardstock under that area. I should have cut a piece of teflon sheet to go there as well, but instead I unthinkingly stuck all those delicate parts to the cardstock. I debated firing it with the paper intact and finishing after, but I really wanted to reinforce from the back. You can tell where this is going...

I broke several of the branches and spent way too much time repairing, rebreaking, and repairing again, before I finally got all three pieces into kiln last night. Humph,I thought I'd cut out a bunch of earrings to go in as well!

This is just out of the kiln, with only a little brass brushing. I decided to go with the smooth surface on this brooch, so that I could do a little hand sketching on it. All those scratches you might see are deliberate scratches on my part, rather like the scratch marks I will use for texture on faux bone back, to take color. You can see what I mean in the drawings of the previous post. These will be clearly intentional when the patina brings them out.

I've been really thinking about the metal clay process lately. I want to make sure that my work really NEEDS to be metal clay. I keep asking myself with everything I make, "Could I do this with other metal processes? If so, then it shouldn't be metal clay." The smooth surface on this piece has that issue -- why isn't it sheet sterling? Well, because I can't sketch easily like that on sterling, nor can I form and attach the bird, branches and leaves easily in sterling.

I'm ready to move on to faux bone, which I loved when I took a workshop with Robert Dancik. I bought a pack of the material from him more than a year ago, and I bought a small belt sander just for working it, which is still in the box out in my glass/metal studio. Guess I better find a place to put it.


  1. Just beautiful, as usual. Can't wait to see it finished.

  2. Absolutely wonderful, Vickie! This design gives me a sense of strength and calm at the same time.

    I was struck by your comment that your metal clay pieces should only be metal clay if they NEED to be metal clay. A metalsmith-turned-PMC-student-of-mine recently said the same thing. I would ask both of you, why is sterling/traditional metalwork the default? Why do your pieces NEED to be done in traditional metalsmithing unless they can better/easier done in metal clay? It's a question that may have a very good answer, and I can make some guesses about what you might say, but neither you nor my student have really explained what you mean.

    For me, many of my pieces really NEED to be metal clay simply because I love working in clay. I love the medium. It responds to me, and I respond to it, in ways that no other approach has even come close. It opens me up creatively to make even a plain slab of clay, I feel a thrill from even that, more so than cutting out a piece of sheet metal. I'm perfectly good at sawing, but I feel in the groove more when my fingers are rolling, shaping, and sanding clay.

    Does cutting metal give you a creative thrill? I'm not being ironic--I really want to know. Or are you concerned most with the cost of each process, something like that?

    Thanks for letting me join the discussion. Terrific work, terrific blog! I'm a HUGE fan.

  3. or what about lost wax casting? Also includes carving and modeling. Make a design, have a mold made and reproduce it multiple times.

  4. This bird is beautiful. I love it.And the window takes your mind into the distance.....

  5. I love your new pieces Vickie, this one is gorgeous, delicate and so peaceful.

    I agree with Donna about why I choose metal clay instead of traditional fabrication. In my experience I feel that the clay let me transmit a lot to my piece, I feel closer to the design than when I cut metal sheets.