Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Initial Compositions via Heat-Exchange

Here's the most recent post I wrote for the Heat-Exchange blog...I had to take a short break from enameling to devote time to other things including planning classes and my upcoming European trip and also to teach a chain-making class. Once I returned to my assortment of samples I felt like it might be time to start considering how the pieces could work together, what steps I needed to take to move forward, whether or not I needed more samples, and so on. ( I start teaching a two-month class in less than two weeks here at Penland and I know my time will be extremely limited then. It really is time to shift from making components to making pieces.)
I am imagining collages or compositions of several elements: an enameled shape, some found steel, a rusty piece, a copper or brass hollow form. These pieces will be held together with rivets, bezel or tab settings, and/or some stitching perhaps. I work well with lots of elements in front of me. I enjoy the process of moving things around 3-dimensionally until a composition feels right, balanced, interesting, complete…I imagine the work as a series with similar but slightly different components. The images I have posted today are a group of sketches. I’m looking forward to seeing how things change once I begin constructing the pieces. Oh! And they will be large brooches!
The enameling is fairly simple as you can see. It’s mostly atmospheric, but I do like the stark quality each has and what they do for these initial compositions.

Thanks so much for reading.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Innovating the Chain, Part 4

I also made a chain during class...I have a hard time making my own work while I'm teaching. My focus is different and I can't seem to motivate myself to think about my own work, only the work of my students. I had a great conversation with fellow instructor, Jane Wells Harrison, during a meal early on in the retreat in which I mentioned this problem. She said she thought it was good to make one's work while teaching because it's good for the students to see their teacher working. This simple comment made a huge impact on me and I committed to making a chain just as I had asked my students to do. Plus, they were all working so hard I felt I should follow suit.
I began with a teardrop link I made during a demonstration where I showed how to create large oval links with two mandrels and a vice. Instead of using the same size mandrel to create equal curves on either end of the oval, I used two different sized mandrels quite different in diameter. I was thrilled to create a new teardrop element! I made lots of these in different sizes, scoring and folding each for added dimension. Then I linked them together, but felt the chain needed something more. Since the chain was all about line, I decided to add a solid teardrop, also scored and folded.
Finally, when I was preparing the piece for patination in a liver of sulfur bath, I wondered what would happen if I left the copper plating that builds up during soldering intact instead of sanding it away. I honestly don't have much experience using brass so I didn't know. I was hoping to get a stained affect and happily that is exactly what happened. There was lots of variation in color all over the chain and great detail in the scratches I created with my wax file.

Thanks to Jane AND my students for inspiring me!

And since I writing about being inspired I thought I would share some pictures of things I like that I took during my stay.

fishing bobbers at the hardware store
 the ceiling of the hardware store
 the floor of the hardware store
a hush of graffiti
 drywall paper on the floor of Pocosin Arts
my room 
(I inadvertently took this picture as I put my camera away one night before going to sleep. I love it.)

More on Flickr.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Innovating the Chain, Part 3

during our final critique

I was going to post pictures of my students' work yesterday, but I couldn't get the images off my camera...the battery is dead and I have no idea where the charger is! I know it's off somewhere with my second battery, too. So frustrating! I was able to find a alternative method today thanks to the new Mac in the metals studio at school. (What will I do when I leave this place?!) Anyway, my students made wonderful chains, each personal to the maker and each innovative in its own way. I'm really proud of them. They worked so hard and I love their chains!
JoAnne Lang
Hilary Anderson
Ron Vick
Tara Locklear

Maura Cartwright

Maia Leppo

Gail Cervarich

More images on Flickr, of course!

Thanks for reading.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Innovating the Chain, Part 2

I just got back late last night from Columbia, NC where I taught the class "Innovating the Chain" at Pocosin Arts Cabin Fever Reliever. I had seven wonderful, hard-working students and we had one excellent time together. I started the class with introductions in which everyone talked about there metalsmithing experience. Next I gave a PowerPoint presentation on chains. It included many examples of thoughtfully designed and often unexpected contemporary chains. As we progressed through the images I talked about the elements and techniques that set these pieces apart from more standard versions--alternative connections, layering, mixed materials, unusual shaped links, and so on. Then I demonstrated how to make jump rings, to construct and fabricate a basic chain, and to twist wire. I asked the class to make some samples and start making a 16" chain incorporating at least three different kind of links while thinking about the points I made during my lecture.

During our introductions nearly every student mentioned a desire to discover their own unique style or voice. This gave me pause and I decided to add a few impromptu process exercises to my syllabus. So on Day 2 I asked my students to write down 50 things that inspire them in 30 minutes or less. Once they had 50 things I told them they could break the list down into basic categories of like things. This list can show one exactly where his or her interests lie and can be used as a tool for idea generation and new work. Later in the day I asked them to take some time to look through the books I brought, find a chain they like, and then make a list of reasons why they like it and to also explain the why behind these reasons. Demonstrations for the day included scoring and folding sheet metal and wire, wire and sheet manipulations, and riveting and other alternative connections. I assigned a final project to make an innovative chain incorporating line quality, visual weight, and variety in sheet metal and/or wire links. I encouraged using different kinds of metal, textures, and details to make a chain that is unique and personal to each person.

More tomorrow...
Lots of pictures on Flickr. 

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Innovating the Chain, Part 1

my work

I begin teaching a chain making class today called "Innovating the Chain" as part of the Pocosin Arts annual Cabin Fever Reliever. There are six classes happening simultaneously including basketry, figurative ceramics, hand-built vessels, encaustic painting, and mixed-media brooches. I arrived here yesterday afternoon and set up my classroom with my assistant, Tara Locklear. We have seven students in the class and all seem rather skilled after my initial email asking about their experience with metalsmithing.

I will begin the class with a short PowerPoint presentation on chains as I always like to start my classes with an illustrated talk about the subject at hand. The pictures I have posted today are all a part of the presentation and among my favorite contemporary chains. After that I will demonstrate how to make jump rings and discuss basic chain design and fabrication. Over the next few days I will also cover wire manipulation, making links out of sheet metal, alternative connections, and scoring and folding. In addition to demonstrations and sample making, I will challenge my students to design and fabricate an unusual chain or "innovative" chain.


Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Guest Star #90...Elizabeth Boyd Hartmann

My interest in grids, structures, arrangements, old factories, oil cans, rust, and signs of age led me to the work of today's Guest Star, Elizabeth Boyd Hartman. I've been pouring over all my images of the aforementioned inspirations as I work on my enameling and also began searching for jewelers who seem to be inspired by such similar things. I like that Elizabeth executes grids and hollow forms with the same light touch and attitude. Both feel intimate and introspective to me, structured but also loose. 

If you would like to see images of things that inspire me, please visit my Flickr Collection, "Things I Like."

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

3D Sketches I Forgot

When I taught my 3D sketching classes at the ECU metals symposium a few weeks ago I made two different pieces as my students made theirs. I recently took all my photos off my camera's memory card and found the images of these pieces. One is a collage of leather scraps taped together and the other is composed of torn pieces of the top sheet of a ream of paper (the piece that advertises the features of the paper and the paper company itself). I made something like this for my solo show using a USPS priority mail envelop. I like the idea so much I felt compelled to make a second version. The other brooch was a challenge to use just the scraps students had discarded on the desk where all the materials were. I like both pieces very much and can see pushing the ideas further sometime in the future in similar materials or in metal.

 Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New Year, New Colors

I decided to change my spray paint colors this year--it was time for a change. I am also feeling more introspective than usual, thus the muted tones versus the brighter ones I was using before. The new subdued palate includes gray, army green, light blue, lavender, and gold. Each color is layered with a darker or lighter color of the same variety underneath instead of the usual white. For example, the lavender has a darker purple underneath, while the army green has an lighter olive tone underneath. I am especially excited about the gold! In general I just really love covering up precious sterling silver with spray paint and now using gold paint seems even more appropriate.

You can find these pieces at Light Art + Design in Chapel Hill and at Galerie Noel Guyomarc'h in Montreal.

More on Flickr.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Guest Star #89...Peta Kruger

Rough Ideas #2

Today's guest star is Peta Kruger. I first saw Peta's work at Velvet da Vinci when I was there for my show. I was immediately drawn to the painted surfaces and graphic, dimensional forms she uses in her work. Then upon visiting her website I was immediately drawn to the arrangement of the work on the screen. Peta works as a graphic designer in addition to making jewelry so the graphic content of the work itself alongside its bold appearance on the page make complete sense to me--they are two separate entities yet act as complements to each other.

Thanks for reading.