Saturday, July 5, 2008

Feats of Metal Clay - Part 2

Structural Metal Clay - Inspirations in Creativity With Structural Stability

You can always tell when you are watching someone work who has mastery of the subject. They make everything seem so easy, seamless and effortless. Twirl, clip, tuck and it's done.

Then when you try to take up the materials and tools and try to do it yourself, you realize how much more is involved than you thought.

This work area was the demo area, where Kate Mckinnon showed how to make headpins, clasps, toggles and other useful jewelry components.

She has a distinctive vocabulary and visual style in her work, you can see one of her jewelry pieces in person or in a photograph, and immediately have awareness that it's her work.
Even in the unfired pieces, you can recognize her jewelry style and visual language.

This also flows over into her teaching methods. During this one-day workshop it was not a requirement that everyone create the same project, there was no handout of the steps to create the specific item.

Instead, and more usefully, she taught the way to create textured and structurally sound clasps, toggle bars and large scale fine silver chain links, and the means to translate that information into other expressions.

How to create beautiful silver patinas safely, how to work harden the fine silver fused components so they are sturdy and up to daily wear and use, these and many other useful hints and tips were shared with the group. Individual attention was given to each student and questions answered in detail.

And the student results were supurb. In a one-day workshop there wasn't enough time to put everything in the kiln and fire it, so the photos are of the shaped but unfired metal clay student work.

I think you will agree that the results are simply beautiful.

The little structural houses made by the students were unique and each one was different.

The toggle clasps and the chain links were beautiful and each reflected the student's creativity.

The long thin bands are a type of ring shank. Most of the students in this class are lampwork bead makers, such beautiful glass beads. The style of ring shank being taught will allow them to use their gorgeous torch-made glass beads and wear them as a ring.

Kate also taught how to create and use rivets, how to make spinner rings (so fun!) and making fine silver prongs and settings for use with gemstones, glass beads and other objects that need to be set securely but can't take the high temperatures of firing the fine silver metal.

Brought the pieces of chain, toggles and items back and put them into the kiln to fire them.

Tomorrow, photos of my finished pieces after fusing and before applying the patina and tumbling. The fine silver comes out of the kiln oddly white in color, reflecting the light from its surface and looking unlike the final silver after the patina is applied, the silver is burnished and tumbled to create the highlights.

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