Monday, May 17, 2010

Workshop with Hadar Jacobson

Despite the wheelchair and walker, despite the inability to drive, despite limited utility of the "making" arm, I refused to cancel my weekend workshop with Hadar Jacobson. My angelic husband drove me to San Antonio and returned later in the day to retrieve me, both Saturday and Sunday. He ran up and down the stairs to help me pack tools, searched for the last minute supplies I totally forgot about until time to leave, and even packed drinks and snacks for me.

Hadar is rather an icon in the metal clay community, with a distinctive style of her very own, a beautiful aesthetic that I've admired for years. It was a huge treat to sit beside her for two days, listening to the accumulated wisdom spilling from her soft-spoken lips and watching her worn, stained hands easily forming clay into things of beauty. Although I couldn't afford to purchase the piece of jewelry that called to me (a lucky fellow student took it home), I did so enjoy holding piece after substantial piece, examining the details: design, finish, size. Who knew that fabulous dress was as large as my hand??

We had two main projects in class: copper clay combined with silver or bronze.

The first project involved making copper clay pieces to fire, with holes for later "hot rivets" of silver, torch-fired. I'm afraid my planned earrings are heavy enough to pull my earlobes to my shoulders. I should have made them much thinner and lighter. But I have the concept down, and I can make these into pendants or some such.

The second project started as either bronze or copper clay, deeply textured, then inlaid with the other clay. I experimented with two approaches for the texture, one from my Flock texture, bronze inlaid with copper. I notice that filling around a raised texture leaves the edges open to more erosion during the polishing phase. Obviously there are voids arising from poor filling technique, too. Hadar warned me that my textures were probably not quite deep enough, so I'm happy that it worked this well. I could have polished out more of the roughness, but with a loss of the image, since the copper is clearly thin here. Notes for future applications.

Since I remember liking the carvability of bronze, I tried a simple carved bird on a branch. Let's just say, leaving my Dockyard carvers at home and having limited hand mobility didn't produce anything much. But the concept is good. Better finishing needed, again.

Perhaps the most useful part of the workshop to me was to see Hadar's approach to finishing. We purchased tool kits so that we could use our Dremels to follow her techniques in class. Some of the tools were things I use already, and others I'd read about in her books. Using them her way still seemed different and I'm sure some elements will creep into my later work. Planning ahead for removing material after firing is definitely a different mindset, so I'll have to give it some thought.

It was really nice to feel almost normal for the weekend. Distraction with a fun project took my mind off my leg, but I paid with increased swelling and exhaustion. Everyone was so very helpful in making it possible for me to participate, from bringing me food to ferrying work and materials around for me. An injury does at least make it obvious how many nice people there are in the world. Thanks to all, old friends and new, who helped me have a fun weekend away from my preoccupation.