Our jasmine is almost overpowering!
The sun's been out and things are blooming.
Lots of inspiration in my garden . . . and I'm taking an enameling class at a place called "The Crucible".
The class is called "Fred Ball Experimental Enameling Technique" and it's being taught by a smart lady named Judy Stone who runs the department there. I first heard of her on "crafthaus" when I saw a video (follow the link of her name to see the video) about her and the way she works. Then I found out that she lives and works here in my area and I was intent on taking one of her classes.
The class will hold it's 4th session later today and I've been experimenting at home on the pieces we've started in class. Judy has shown us pictures of Fred Ball's work (he's considered one of the most innovative artists working in the 20th century enameling field) and explained much of his process, which has been part of her exploration in enamel over many years. I think she's been at it almost 40 years so she really knows what she's talking about.
I am enjoying myself and her class. She really keeps the pace going.
On May 22nd, Judy's organized a bus tour of the public artworks made by this guy Fred Ball in Sacramento, California and I'll be going on that tour so I can get more insight and absorb the look of his work in person. I heard that he really has been a great influence on many of the enamel artists of today because of his original approach to using the serendipitous events that occur during the process and that his approach was not a traditional one. Here's a link to a book he wrote that is for sale on amazon.
I guess that's as much as I can tell you about him. He died when he was 40 in 1985.
So I'll just show you my experimental pieces now. I can't explain them really. I'm still learning and you'd need more information than I could explain well.
That's silver leaf on the right piece above (click on any photo for a larger view please)
I love what's going on in the piece on the bottom left!
close-up of that and the other two follow:
super fun reactions!
and . . .
that IS the real copper showing there.
I hear that Judy is teaching this class again at the Mendocino Art Center this summer. It's on the coast of northern California and the weather is perfect there when the class is being offered August 22 to 25.
For our last project in class we are going to be given 9 copper pieces and we have to use the techniques and steps we've learned to make a cohesive set or sampler that we're going to mount on wood at the end of class. I'll show you mine; hope it turns out!
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So then I thought I'd let you know that I'm still making rings and what I've posted this week.
RAW 19/52 - bronze fold formed ring
I fold formed a small piece of bronze sheet metal, just like my friend Mona taught me. Then I soldered it to this coiled piece of sterling wire. I pickled it to get the black fire scale off the surface and then I used my torch for a few seconds to heat patina the bronze. That's how I got those rainbow colors!
see, it's pretty!
Then I wrapped those beautiful orange spessarite garnets across the top of it and it looks like this from the side:
Now I've made the next ring to post later this week. It's a tulip!
RAW 20/52 - tulip ring
I etched the silver in a class I took from Mona Clee (yes, the same Mona) about 5 years ago. I wasn't ready to use it for anything until I got this idea. It was a small piece of silver and I used a disc cutter to cut out the circle that is the middle of this flower. What was left over had the piece on the left that looked to me like a petal and there was still the small piece that I used for the tulip backing.
I read somewhere that many people use way too much solder on their joins and so I tried to use a smaller amount than I usually do. It was very important to do that because I didn't want the solder to flow into any of the pattern grooves on the top of the ring.
What I have here is 3 pieces of the etched silver and a bezel I measured and shaped to fit the circle.
Step 1 - soldered the bezel around the circle.
Step 2 - soldered those to the tulip base.
Step 3 - soldered that hanging petal thing onto the side using my tweezers to hold the edges together as the solder melted because it needed the pressure to stay together during that crucial soldering moment. That took a bit of ingenuity and patience.
Step 3 - soldered a small fine silver 3mm bezel cup I had that I got for firing into PMC many years ago -and also the three little silver balls I made beforehand- very carefully!
Then I use my trusty hammer handpiece to texture the top of that circular bezel so it would match the texture of the rest of it, otherwise it might look odd.
Oh yeah, Step 4 - the ring band!
That was another etched silver piece I had from Mona's class. And I still have some more. It may turn up in another ring one day.
I actually love all the steps and I love working through what order they should be done. I think it through with the left side of my brain and then I do it with the right side. You know how I know that? It's because I lose all track of time, I feel like I am in a wonderful place and I watch the glow of the metal and go by my gut feeling about when it is the right moment for the magic to happen and then there it is, ready to add a patina, then the polishing and then the last step for me is setting that tiny little citrine bullet cabochon that makes it look like only something I could make.
More! I want to make more rings!
I drew this, my next idea!
And a few weeks ago I got this amazing red rutilated quartz cab!
It's very big and round. It's awesome!
And yesterday I found this on etsy:
Does it knock your eyes out or what?! It's only about 3 centimeters but I love this big photo. I could get lost in there.
I'm getting to be who I always wanted to be, an explorer, a creator, a maker and I get to do things with color and it's always different.
I feel more rested. My kids are growing more and more into their independence and they are happy. I'm trying not to control them so much and I'm trying to get along with my husband better during this transition that is gradual, not really so short, in fact it's kind of long. We are in an ongoing conversation about what we could possibly do when these kids are ready to get on with their lives and make their own decisions. We've got some time to work it out. We talk about it every day.
It IS scary and sometimes we get tense but I'm keeping my mind open and busy and I'm trying to be nicer to myself and to him and not expect so much of what I imagined might happen. There are 4 of us sharing this part of our lives and I want those kids to decide things for themselves but I want them to know I will listen . . . and I hope they use me because I know a thing or two.
I'm imagining a day when my kids are adults and they still want to tell me about the interesting things they are finding out for themselves. I hope I was a good example.
Anyway, I'm walking around with my camera still and collecting. Here are a few shots from this last week.
Shadows on my window sill.
from a cutout my son attached to the window
and a polka dot shot glass I use as a tiny vase,
and some leaves that are dried out that give me ideas about color and enameling:
It's the dots! I love them!