Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hammer Time

I do not enjoy hammering.  It makes me think of those arduous days welding in a tight spot, flailing away with my chipping hammer at some stubborn flux that wouldn't come free, but I couldn't get a grinder in there, and it probably was one of those welds that was going to be x-rayed so I couldn't just leave it.... 
But I wasn't welding this week I was "Forming", and I did really like the end products, just not all the hammering it took to get there!  When I use the skills I learned this week it will be in moderate doses, not a solid week at a time.

So, my biggest achievement was my chasing project, pictured above.  I'm a little surprised that I actually finished it.  Yay!  My next one will be a bit less involved.  I'm planning to use it as a box top on a leather box that I will make someday.  We also made synclastic (picture a curved shape that could hold water) and anticlastic (a curved shape that could not hold water) bangles and rings.  The anticlastic shape is more appealing to me, the synclastic too plain, although one of my classmates did a pierced design in hers and it is awesome.  The most sophisticated looking pieces we made were forged bangles, one in copper and one in silver.  Very chic looking if you're a bangle type of person.  And lastly we spent an entire day fold forming.  Lots of interesting shapes possible there, and, although everything we did was in copper and was just unfinished samples, Jeffrey Ellis showed us some finished pieces in silver that looked quite elegant.

Other than the one forged bangle, everything we made this week was copper.  With the application of heat we achieved some very exciting colour effects.  This makes me even more determined to find an ideal protective coating for these to prevent oxidation.  Several have been recommended over the last few weeks with varying levels of satisfaction: beeswax, floor wax, shoe polish, turtle car wax, or a spray on lacquer of some sort.  I had some gorgeous colours show up on my fold formed pieces, as well as on my chasing project that I didn't want to lose, so I purchased some turtle car wax, and have applied it to almost everything.  It didn't alter the oranges, red and pinks I'd achieved, in fact making the pinks even richer, but it did make the gorgeous blues on my chasing project vanish, boohoo.  Now I'll just have to assess the durability.  I've put it on my anticlastic ring that I intend to wear, so that should give me a decent idea if it will last.

Outside of school, the world is slowly melting in places.  The turkeys are venturing onto the bare patches of lawn to look for victuals, and they're talking about it too, in the mornings especially, sounding like something that's strangling.  Last weekend I took a little road trip to find the cottage where our family used to visit my grandparents in the summers when we were children.  It's still there, and looks much the same.  It's oddly reassuring that it hasn't been replaced by a mega-mansion, though why that should matter to me now I'm not sure.  I noticed the property next door is for sale, but couldn't find the listing online.  Just curious to know how the market value of a property that is mostly unchanged for the last 50 (?) + years has no doubt skyrocketed in this: The Muskoka Region.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Last weekend I took some family on a ski through the sculpture forest.  There was a lot less snow than when I'd first skiied it and I saw sculptures that I'd missed entirely the first time.  The pan-pipe playing goat pictured above is my new favorite.  Everyone should have one of these I think; maybe a small one to carry in your pocket, or a large one to sit outside your front door.

I always pick my favorites. Even when it doesn't matter. Which ikea kitchen do I prefer; which sports car (I don't even want a sports car!)... Our second fabrication week took top spot for the creative freedom we were given. I've decided this week is my favorite for new techniques learned. Stone setting ideas are percolating like mad. I wanted to make MORE samples. MORE. Yes! samples!. I had long believed I was allergic to samples, but this week I may have conquered it once and for all. I made bezels from 1mm thick silver, "crazy thick" I thought, but in fact very do-able and effective for many things. I also set a 1.7mm, 3 point black diamond in a flush setting and made a "beaded" prong setting with .8mm prongs. That's so much smaller than anything I've ever done before. I'm so excited to put these new diverse skills to use.

For my final assignment I made something I think I will submit for the Annual Member's Exhibit at Devon House this year.  I'm only giving you a sneak peak of it because I'm not sure ethically whether I should show something I intend to submit for an exhibit.  But I'm so happy with it!! 

I am sorry not to be in St.John's this weekend. Wesley Harris, silversmith and jeweller extraordinaire, has an exhibit opening at the Gallery at Devon House. To read an interview about his work follow this link to the Canadian Metal Arts guild site: , his is the third (right now) artist profiled on the home page.  Below is information on the Devon House opening.

With the ongoing tragedy in Japan my Metal Clay Heads Team on Etsy has put together a treasury of items in support of relief for the victims of the disaster.  If you'd like to help out AND own a fine item of craft please check out this link:

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I had trouble finding my momentum this week, after such a laid back week during Reading Break.  This was our second week of our split course of Art/Jewellery History and Surface Design.  We covered most of the course material in the first week, so this week wasn't as packed full of projects as I might have liked.  I certainly do enjoy seeing the slides of jewellery from the different eras though, very inspiring. 

In surface design we reticulated silver, with varying degrees of success.  I love that surface texture a lot, but it is time consuming to produce and would take some practice to repeat with consistent results.  We also did depletion gilding this week.  That turns silver a matte white colour, but it scratches SO easily I don't think I'd find an application for it.  Above is my sample for cold mechanical gilding, more commonly known as copper leaf (or gold, silver, aluminum leaf).  I roller printed a real leaf, and then tried to just place the copper leaf in that space.  Very finicky work.  And fragile unless sealed afterwards.  I'm finding I am disappointed with how fragile a lot of the surface treatments are.  They are susceptible to oxidation, scratching, and wear more than I would've thought, considering they are used by many jewellers on finished pieces.  Many surfaces are treated with a wax of one sort or another to seal the surface, but that doesn't last forever. 

We're halfway through the course now, and I'm feeling anxious to be back in my own studio churning out my own work.  At the same time, that comes with scary financial stresses, and means I have to leave a lot of the dreamy equipment I have access to here behind.  The price of silver is scary right now at $36, but our instructor this week says that when she started in the 70s it was $50 an ounce.  Ouch!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Taking a Break

The Haliburton Sculpture Forest is located right next to Haliburton School of the Arts in Glebe Park.  In the summer you can hike the trail that winds amongst the sculptures, but in the winter it is integrated into the Glebe Park Ski Trail System and walkers are not permitted.  Glad I brought my skiis!  The sculptures are given an additional sculptural element when covered in snow.  Some I had to look hard to find them at all, others just seemed to have nestled themselves in scarves of snow for the season.  It will be interesting to walk the trail in the spring after the snow is gone and get a different perspective.  Above is a detail from one of the first sculptures on the trail, Dreaming Stones, by Kevin Lockau.  Below are a selection of my favorites from the rest of the Forest.

Sound Vessel: Forest
by D.Dickson and A.Doolittle
(this sculpture has tall wind chimes inside - very neat)

Beaver: Large Beaver Contemplates Lamp post
(created by the arts students at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School, with support from artists M.A.Barkhouse and M.Belmore)

Moose Scraps
by L.Spa
(his nose is made of horseshoes)

Sleep of the Huntress
by D.Stephens
(she was completely hidden in her blanket of snow, but that didn't make for a very good photo!)

A Walk in the Woods in Haliburton
by M.E.Farrow

Standing Figure
by C.O'Neil
(I skiied right past this one and had to backtrack to find it)

It was with sighs of longing that I read through the newly released course calendar for the Haliburton School of the Arts summer sessions this week.  It's only a three hour drive north from Toronto, so if you're in the neighbourhood this summer, maybe you'd like to check out a creative workshop.  Shoe-making? Chainsaw Carving?  Encaustic Painting?  Millinery?  Most workshops are a week in duration.