Monday, March 07, 2011

Ring a Week 7, 8 and 9

Finally, I'm catching up a tad on my ring design. As you can see, I have plenty of ideas to explore, but time to execute is sorely lacking. Today's offerings aren't quite up to my standards, as I see some finishing issues I slighted by rushing to get all three rings into the kiln last night. I suppose this is how I learn which things need more attention.

First, I wanted to incorporate a larger stone, so I built a mounting for this 12x8 mm pear shaped purple CZ. My method for using polymer clay to create a mold for the mounting was a bit clumsy and more tricky than it needed to be, but now I have new ideas for how to do that more simply next time. I inserted the CZ with mount into a cutout in a domed disc, knowing that shrinkage would distort the circle to an oval. I planned my design to incorporate that and it seems to have worked fairly well, although there is some asymmetry that I would like to learn to control better.

Second, I decided to try a tube mount for a faceted round blue spinel. I learned this technique from Gordon Uyehara at a workshop in Florence, Italy several years ago, but haven't used it since. Even then, I modified the technique to avoid the seam in the tube because of fears of it popping open during shrinkage around the stone. This time I tried Gordon's method and, while the seam didn't open, I can SEE the seam, so I obviously didn't get it perfectly merged. Tricky, tricky. I also had an issue with hiding the seam in the wrap around the ring liner. I thought I would hide the seam completely with leaves and details, but wound up liking the simpler look that leaves that seam a bit too exposed. I did a bit of repair and refired, but it still isn't up to my standards. The concept is interesting however. There are many possibilities to ponder.

Finally, I slapped together another plain domed disc ring made with a texture of one of my Zentangle drawings. This ring I find extremely effect for its simplicity to construct.

Lessons to work on:
  1. Plan better for shrinkage of metal clay vs. other materials, either fine silver or stones, including distortion and reinforcement.
  2. Consider how to make ring inserts blend more effectively: file down edges after shrinkage? Wrap? 
  3. Think more about how revealing macro photos appear -- why do I always see defects here that aren't apparent to me at the stage where it would be easier to correct? Do I need to look at pieces with a loupe? Or buy serious magnifiers?