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!
Greetings, everyone! I guess I'm just going to be high maintenance this month in regards to blogging. In this installment, I thought I would run some stuff by you regarding my policies on custom or commissioned jewelry. For what it's worth, custom jewelry and commissioned jewelry is pretty much the same thing. "Commissioned" just sounds fancier. Take a gander below at what I have thus far, and if you have questions or have anything you think I should add, post in the comments!
THE COMMISSIONS PROCESS:
If you like my work, but don't see anything that quite fits what you are looking for, then you can request a custom piece of jewelry from my studio! Here's how it works:
Pre-design consideration will help you decide if the commission process is right for you. In the pre-design consideration phase, the following are discussed:
This will guarantee you a spot in the production queue. Once design services have been secured, we discuss the following important factors:
After the type of stone is determined, if it is a stone I don't happen to have in my collection, I will go on the hunt for the type of your choosing. Once I have found candidates, I will send pictures of them and you choose the one you want. Also, if you already have the stone you want to use, then I will need it to begin the preliminary sketches.
Once general design ideas have been put into place, I can begin the preliminary design sketches. These are rough sketches that give the general idea of the direction a piece might take, to help you visualize what the finished piece may look like.
Final draft sketches.
Once you have selected from the preliminary design sketches, I will make sketches that show the commissioned work in more detail. You will be presented with the design sketches for final approval.
Once final approval is made, an estimate for cost of the piece will be given and the difference of 50% of the final cost will be due (nonrefundable).
For example, let's say you commission a piece, put $100 down to secure design services, and approve a design that will end up costing $400, not including tax and shipping. Fifty percent of the final price would be $200. Since you already put down $100 as a deposit, another $100 will be due at the time final design approval is made, bringing the total amount you have paid so for to be $200.
After final design approval is made, production begins.
Please keep in mind, once final design approval is made, no changes will be allowed in order to facilitate timely delivery. The production process includes:
Once the piece is completed, it is lovingly boxed up and ready for its new home! At this time, the remaining 50% of the final price is due, along with applicable sales tax and shipping.
Greetings, everyone. This part of my adventure took a little more serious turn. Most of you may not know that one of my most favorite places on this earth is Port Aransas, Texas. I first found the place a few years ago when I was down visiting Dr. Kellie Lignitz-Hahn at Texas A&M University-Kingsville for their clarinet day. It was the first time I had ever been to the beach by myself, and I had a fine time hunting for seashells, talking to day-drinking retirees, and I met the absolute best bar tender and had the tastiest meal of my life, which, coincidentally, was the first time I ever had crab or red snapper. Ever since, I've been drawn to those barrier islands, and each experience has been peaceful and restorative in its own unique way.
When Hurricane Harvey basically wiped Port Aransas off the map back in August 2017, I cried. To think of all that was lost, and to see pictures of the devastation was heartbreaking. I didn't know what to expect once I got there, but I was willing to take a chance. Everyone I mentioned my trip to thought I was nuts, that nothing could possibly be open or ready for the public. I figured it didn't hurt to look, and perhaps in some small way, my tourist dollars could help. I made it a point not to take any pictures of the damage. It seemed rude and voyeuristic, and that it would trivialize another person's suffering. Instead, what I did was travel around, talk to local people, and visit my favorite places to see if they were had rebuilt, or were even still around. I also had some shop cats to check on.
I drove in on 361 and to my surprise, there seemed to be more beach condos than when I was there the previous year. I also saw a new water tower being installed. I could see in the distance where they had brought in a big oil rig close to the island. The weather was cold and gray and windy, and was threatening rain. I cruised on in to town and was shocked to discover that a lot of buildings looked as if nothing had happened. Don't get me wrong, there were some grim reminders of Harvey's wrath six months previous, but reconstruction was moving along at a rapid pace.
My first stop was Winton's Island Candy. At first glance, everything seemed unchanged, although I did notice that there was a wave painted on the front door to mark the flood line from the hurricane. The shop was full of candy, and the proprietress and her helpers were as friendly as always. I sampled some caramel and some fudge and made my selections. I mentioned that the gift shop that used to be next to them was gone, and a liquor store was opening up in its place. One of the ladies told me that Connoisseurs had opened down the road in a new location.
I headed down the road, noting that one of the gas stations was still completely mangled, and there were a few of the old restaurants still torn up. Everything seemed to be in a state of mid-repair, but it was thrilling to see so many familiar places either open or just about ready. I went in to Connoisseurs and had a lovely chat with the lady running the shop, and got to check in with the shop cat. Sukey the Shop Cat had had a very rough time of it during Harvey, but was finally back in house, firmly ensconced in a sorting tray on the front counter.
When I left the shop, I saw small groups of people gathering and pulling up chairs to the sidewalk. I then remembered someone mentioned a Mardigras parade. Since I had never in my life been to a Mardigras parade, I thought I would stick around. Two shop owners who were seated on a bench nearby noticed my look of bewilderment, and were kind enough to offer me a place to sit and watch the show. I overheard many interesting conversations about the way things were shaping up since the hurricane, and some of the things that some people had been through, and the nightmares of dealing with insurance companies, and trying to get things worked out. As the parade progressed, it was mentioned that it was a little sparse this year for obvious reasons. I was just glad to be there to witness it. To me, it seemed like an act of defiance against the worst that Nature could throw at a community.
Y'all, I could talk all day about the stories about the storm the locals told me. Nothing I could write would do them justice. I can't even imagine what it must have been like to come back to all that destruction, or to have actually stuck around on the island and lived to tell the tale. I will tell you this, though. Port Aransas is bouncing back, and the best gift that we can give them now is to go visit. Go down for Spring Break. Go play on the beach for a weekend. Heck, take a whole week. Go visit Sukey the shop cat. Go see the taxidermied rattlesnake at the candy shop. Go out deep sea fishing. Go look for sea shells. Go shopping for souvenir t-shirts. Every dollar you spend helps bring Port Aransas back to life, and helps these good folks rebuild. And no, nobody is paying me to write this (and you'd sure have to question their reasoning if they were). I just really like Port Aransas.
Since this wouldn't be a blog without pictures, I'm going to share some of the pictures I took at Padre Island National Seashore, which is just south of Port Aransas. The park ranger on duty said that they had missed the bulk of the hurricane, but the shore was pretty churned up. Someday I'd like to take a drive down to the beach at mile 60, but I need four-wheel drive first!
For more information on things to do in Port Aransas, Texas:
The official tourism site of Port Aransas: portaransas.org/
For more information on the town and it's inner workings: www.cityofportaransas.org/
For yummy caramel and fudge: wintonscandies.com/
A lot of my favorite businesses don't actually have websites or even Facebook sites, so look for their locations on Google:
Connosieur's Gifts & Crafts: home of Sukey the Shop Cat!
La Playa Mexican Grill: home of delicious seafood and fajitas
Islander Souvenirs: home of souvenir t-shirts, flip-flops, beach towels, and so forth