Greetings, everyone, and thanks for visiting my blog! In this installment, I'm going to show you what I've been working on in my metalworking/fabrication class and my metal clay class at the Craft Guild of Dallas, but first, time for some shameless self-promotion!
The annual Arts in Bloom festival in downtown McKinney will be April 13-15. There will be fine art, food, wine, and entertainment for the whole family! For more information, visit www.mckinneytexas.org/687/Arts-in-Bloom
Also, just an FYI, if you are wanting custom jewelry for Mother's Day or graduation, NOW IS THE TIME to get in touch with me. You can do that by going to my contact page on this website, or messaging me on www.facebook.com/hkarlssonjewelrydesign
In other news, the spring session has started at the Craft Guild, and I am devoting my fabrication class time to actually paying attention to the class projects instead of wandering off to do my own thing. This session, the class is working on a technique called "marriage of metal." Marriage of metal is basically butting different types of metal together and soldering them so they don't fall apart, then cutting them into neat designs like checkerboards or flowers or pretty much whatever you want. Since I've never done this before, I figured I would stick with something relatively simple and make a checkerboard.
First of all, you have to use pretty heavy gauge metal, and to cut that evenly, you have to use BIG BERTHA, the metal shear in the back workshop. Here it is in all its glory. You have to be careful how you slide things in, especially small pieces, because you could lose a finger if you aren't paying attention. You also have to have a fair amount of upper body strength (or, like me, a low center of gravity courtesy of tacos).
Once the pieces are cut to the desired width, you line them all up, hose them with flux, then put a whole bunch of little hard solder pieces on them. The trick is to keep the solder from rolling off before you start heating, and also to keep the metal firmly butted together. This is an exercise in patience.
Once everything is lined up, the fun begins. The idea is to get the solder to flow in the cracks to bond the different metals together. This is easier said than done. In this technique, solder is your friend, and the goal is to get rid of all the pits and gaps in the solder. Below is my work in progress. Yes, it looks a fright. Yes, there are still gaps. Yes, all this mess of solder will get filed off, and once clean, I will go and slice across the metal to form my checkerboard pattern. This part took a good three hours to complete. I still have a long way to go before it's ready for round two!
Meanwhile, in my metal clay class, I learned some new things as well. For instance, I learned that one should burnish the clay BEFORE firing it for a smoother finish. I also learned you don't necessarily have to use files to shape the clay once it's dry. We also worked on what was supposed to be a pair of earrings, but since I am a rebel I made a pendant instead. I'm not sure how I feel about the texture (it's a mold I took of the texture on a hotel bathroom garbage can, but it looks like lizard skin), but we'll see how it turns out once it is fired. I do not have any pictures at this time because it's not really much to look at. I also embedded a bezel cup into another little piece so I can put some RHINESTONES on that sucker! Yee-haw! (Okay, technically it's cubic zirconia.)
One of the other things I did was to finish up a trout I carved a couple of weeks ago so I could get it fired in the kiln. It only needed to fire for about twenty minutes or so and then it was done! Kind of like baking muffins or something, really, only at much hotter temperatures. Here's a before and after picture of my little fishie!
Oh! And one more metal clay thing I meant to share with you but forgot, I made a mold of a clarinet key to see if I could form a clarinet key using metal clay! I'm pleased to say it worked! However, don't get any ideas. The clay shrinks when fired, so any custom key you might make would be too small. Also, did I mention that silver metal clay is around $50 for 20 grams (about a teaspoon in volume)? Anyway, here it is: a solid silver top trill key! My plan is to make some molds of oboe keys so I don't have to try to find any more trashed out oboes. Trashed out oboes with silver keys are very hard to find!
As you can see, there's lots of new things to learn and try at school, and I have two Jane Redman workshops the first week of April. In addition, I'm working on several commissions. I'll share those in detail once the recipients receive them. Wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, after all!
I will leave you with some gratuitous cat pictures. Tosca Q Puss has not been handling Daylight Savings time very gracefully!