Friday, December 18, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - Hanukah Edition

On this final day of the festival of lights, I wish you all peace of mind, joy in your heart and warm friends.

Welcome to the Carnival...

Step right this way... Each month a group of jewelry artists use their blogs to get together online and answer the same question - each in their own way. The topic this month is:

Which misuse of a jewelry term most annoys you?

Ah, pet peeves. something I know something about. Most people have 'em. As far as jewelry goes there are folks who hate it when anything other than minuscule melted shards of vitreous glass is called enamel. Resin inlay? Painted cells? Fine. Just don't call it "cold enamel". And others who insist that Mokume Gane can only be done with various colors of hard metals. None of this polymer or metal clay stuff is the same because the technique used to achieve the look isn't the same. And it's all about the technique.

Me? I get really annoyed when folks refer to the white appearance of freshly fired metal clay as a coating that must be brushed off to reveal the silver metal beneath. Do some casting, put something in a pot of pickle - you'll see the same phenomenon. It's nothing to do with the firing of the clay specifically. White is the natural color of unpolished silver. Break a piece of fully sintered metal clay and you'll see white. I bet you'll see the same thing if you use brute force to break a piece of milled wire too. Although I could be wrong.

To bring out the gorgeous silver color we're used to seeing, the metal must be laid flat. Otherwise the surface texture that was developed while the silver was heated to such an extreme temperature remains. What happens is that during firing the metal crystals arrange themselves in such a way that they only reflect the white part of the color spectrum. Celie Fago has referred to this surface as the topography of the metal. So my story to all my students is that while in the kiln the crystals are so excited that they're jumping all over and on top of each other - when we open the door to let the cold air in they freeze (much like our dolls and stuffies do when we open our eyes in the morning) in a position that is very like the mountain tops of the Himalayas. In order to reveal the shining silver we must use some elbow grease. My first line of attack is always to use a steel or brass brush. This tones down the highest peaks until the crystals resemble the rolling hills of Julie Andrew's musical landscape.

Many people (myself included) like this surface and are done with it. Others prefer a super shiny, highly reflective look. To reach that level, we must burnish. Either by hand or with a variety of machinery. It is only then that we approach the super smooth grooming of a top rated golf course.

So People - The only thing that needs to be "brushed off" is the idea that the white is some kind of powdery accumulation. Just get out your tools and mow that metallic lawn!

Oh, and back to pet peeves - if you ever feel a little tickle at the back of your neck, don't worry. It's not an ant, it's just me tucking in the label that's sticking up at the back of your shirt. I even do it to strangers in the grocery store. Is that so wrong?

Be sure to check out what tweaks all the other carney's:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Onwards and Upwards

Clasp with fine silver wire and Three Texture Pendant

I'm getting ready to teach my very first Level 2 Certification class in January. So this week has been dedicated to thinking about the schedule, timing, available lunch options and making the demo pieces that will demonstrate each of the projects.

Cert classes involve a lot of back and forth. Starting one project, doing some finishing work on another and planning or quick sketching a third - all at the same time. One of the things I like best about the PMCC program is that it gives the student a lot of leeway to create their own original designs, tweak the sample so that it fits their own style. But that also introduces the possibility that there will be too much time dedicated to getting the design perfect, which takes time away from the actual *making* of the piece. In a classroom situation - timing is everything, and in a certification class where the projects need to be totally finished by the end of the second day, compromises sometimes need to be made. The idea is to learn the technique. Not fabricate a masterpiece.

But if the teacher spends the time to really think about pacing, give students basic information at the beginning of the weekend which will help them to start thinking about projects that might not be started until the next day - that little bit of pre planning time will help to make a more successful, stress free and creative experience for everyone.

If you've thought about taking the Level 2, I'd love to see you next year! And if you still need to complete the Level 1 I've got one of those in April. Just sayin' :D

Monday, December 14, 2009

Getting To The Bottom...

Paper! Where does it come from? Envelopes, junk mail, bills, handouts, receipts, business cards, notes on little scraps of unrecognized ephemera...

That's my challenge for the day. Really it's a challenge every day of my life. It just seems to appear - unbidden, uncollected, unwanted. I know, I know, if only I would take care of those rectangles of white at the end of every day... If only I would simply open the envelope to see if it's something I need to keep, take care of or file in the cylindrical container I could be in charge of my life. But the paper seems to be winning.

I just found a bill for my business license which was due in November and a check for work I did in October. Certainly this can't be good for my cash flow! And to top it off my file cabinet fell apart and I've just been too lazy to fix it. It's a nice file cabinet that a friend donated to me when re arranging things. It only needs a little wood glue (which I don't usually keep around the house) and a piece of metal to support one side of the files. I can get the metal thingie at Staples, but then I have to find someone with a saw sturdy enough to cut it to the right length. Arrgh... Maybe I should just rent a husband for a day. Any volunteers? Anyone? Bueller?

Anyway, all energy today will be dedicated to 1. going through every piece of pulp in the place, 2. lunch with a dear woman I haven't seen in too long, and then 3. dealing with the piles of receipt books I need to go through to prepare my sales taxes. I *will* have them done before the first of the year. Really. I will!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - Fiona Chapman Edition

It's grey, cold and rainy in LA this morning and I felt the need for a little color to brighten up my world.

I only know Fiona Chapman through Flickr, But I'm especially intrigued with how she takes one, simple theme and expands the form to create such a variety of lovely work. I'm just starting work on the resin project for the Master's Registry and I wanted to try my hand at a "Plique a Jour" application. Fiona's perfect technique is giving me quite a lot of inspiration.

Ms. Chapman writes a blog from her home in England and more of her work can be viewed on Trunkt.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Something To Crow About!

Just how thrilled am I this month I'd like to ask! Thiiiiiiiiiiissss thrilled. Upon receiving the premier edition of MetalClay Artist Magazine, I was floored to see a beautiful full page ad from PMC Connection featuring my Woodland Altar pendant! Then I turned the pages to discover my Amazonite Hollow Ring adorning Whole Lotta Whimsy's 1/4 page ad. They had both asked permission to use the images of course, so I knew the advertisements were in the works - but holey schlamoley! I never expected to be so very honored, surprised and touched to see the final layouts. Thanks so much to Tonya, Ken and Mary Ann for this exceptional opportunity.

And if *that's* not enough, Lora Hart Jewels will now be represented by Mindful Nest Gallery in Burbank, California! The adorable owner, Amanda Vernon, ran Handmade Gallery (where I had a booth) for many, many years. When she was in the process of opening Mindful Nest, she contacted me and now the time is right for both of us. I'll be stocking my case this afternoon! *jumps up and down in glee* For those of you in the vicinity, I cannot praise MN enough. They have some of the most beautiful, charming, amusing and unusual handmade art I've seen in one place. Do come down to do a little holiday scouting. Hanukah starts tomorrow and Christmas will be over before we know it (how did that happen?).

Wheeeeeee!!!!! :D

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wherefore Art Thou?

I've been a.w.o.l. - m.i.a. Away without leave and missing in action. I'm not sure why. I just haven't been interested in blogging or reading other's blogs. Going through a period of social disfunction I guess.

I love this blog and all the wonderful friends and readers I have through it. And I promise to get back in the swing. I will say that the kitties have added to my distraction. They just couldn't be cuter or more sweet! How could I push them away when they love to cuddle on my chest and lap early in the morning. And every single time I sit down to type. Best avoidance technicians ever!

And what exactly have I been up to in the past few weeks aside from getting kitten hair all over my clothes? I've been up, up and away! Flew to Richmond, Virginia for Thanksgiving with some of my Father's cousins whom I've never met before (his Uncle Mush was just 6 years older than he was so Mush's children are closer to my own age than Dad's). We connected through FaceBook of all things and decided that cyber visits just weren't good enough, so off I went for 8 short days.

They couldn't have been more welcoming and nice, better hostesses or more simpatico! Richmond is a lovely city filled with history, beautiful architecture and a breathtaking landscape. I admit to having a little fantasy of moving there someday. Yes, I took a few pics and had a few adventures and if you're very, very good I'll tell you all about it. Until then, Have a lovely day. Thanks for sticking around!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - Blindspot Jewelry Edition

Janos Gabor Varga is the genius behind Blindspot Jewelry. A Hungarian living in Italy, I *met* Janos (pronounced Yahnosh) through Flickr and have lusted for a piece of his ever since.

Janos works with iron, sterling silver, copper, marble, lucite, old coins... whatever sparks his flame. His designs are totally unique, some based on ancient axes or oil lamps, some inspired by the many reference photos he's collected of door knockers. Others spring from his imagination fully formed, articulated, multi functional and spectacular.

His pieces are at once strong, ancient, familiar and completely contemporary. I love the world he lives in.