Wow, when I retired over a year ago, I thought I would spend much more time writing blog posts but little did I know that I would be busier than ever! I’ve got to travel, learned new skills, attended a great conference and spend more time with my family. This summer has been busier as we are doing a complete update to our backyard and pool. I think I might have to go back to work to get some rest!
As of March, I have been showing my jewelry in the Viewpoints Gallery in Los Altos, CA. It’s a co-op gallery with 13 painters, a ceramic artist and me. I work in the gallery 2 days each month which has been really fun. I have met so many new people and acquired new customers. If you are in town, stop by and check out all the wonderful art.
One of the things I wanted to do when I retired was to learn lamp work glass bead making. In early summer I took a class from the wonder Jelveh Jaferian at Graceful Customs Studio in Gilroy with some of my friends. It was a beginning class, just a couple of hours, but it was crammed full of information. I left that day with my head spinning. The studio holds open torch time on Mondays, so I made a commitment to come back whenever I could to practice what we learned.
As you can see, I have made a few beads but I have a lot to learn. I remember that centering a lump of clay was one of the hardest things I had ever done. Well, making a round bead is just about as hard! And making a group of beads that are all the same size, well, that’s another learning curve I’m struggling with. But I am having so much fun. Maybe it will come to me some day!
School’s out and it’s time to learn new things. I have wanted to learn lampworking for ages and my friend, Maureen, found a wonderful teacher in nearby Gilroy. Jelveh Jaferian has been a lampwork artist for thirteen years. Her work is amazing! Maureen, two other friends and I signed up for a 5 hour beginning class and learned the basics of lampwork bead making. We had so much fun. Jelveh is a hoot! She showed us so much in that 5 hours that we left with our heads swimming with so much information. We returned on Monday to pick up our beads and to spend a couple more hours at the torch. It is definitely my new “addiction”!
I will take some pictures of my beads when I get a few more done and post them. This is definitely one skill that will take lots of practice to become proficient.
I have been teaching a metal clay class through Los Gatos Saratoga Recreation for the last year and this session we have been experimenting with bronze and copper. I have fired quite a bit of bronze clay in my Paragon SC2 kiln but I bought a new Paragon kiln, one with a brick interior and exposed elements. I wanted this kiln because bronze and copper take higher temperatures and longer firing time. What I wasn’t prepared for, though, was the difference in the firing schedules. After some initial failures, I have gone back to the SC2 to fire my student’s work, to get more consistent firing results.
I fired my first samples in the new kiln using the temperature suggested in the BronzClay package. Things came out blistered and lots of cracks and broken pieces. I was able to mend a couple of things but most went into the “recycle” bag.
I then did some research and found some information on the Cool Tools website about firing schedules.
I adjusted the firing schedule by slowing the ramp and lowering the temperature by almost 50 degrees. I still had problems with cracking. It seemed like the metal was sintered because the test strips of metal could be bent to 90 degrees. At that point I decided to go back to my SC2. I fired the bronze clay with the schedule I had previously used with success,
I still had some cracking with the open work pieces but these were easily repairable. Now I just need to see if I can figure out how the two kilns heat and hold temperature differently to see if I can fire successfully in the brick kiln.
Are you interested in making jewelry or working with metals? Next weekend, August 17, 18 & 19, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History is having a fantastic program with exhibits, demos and hands-on workshops. I’ll be there on Saturday, teaching 2 basic silver clay workshops for beginners. I’m going to show the participants how to texture, shape and fire fine silver metal clay to make earrings, pendants or charms in just 2 hours. If you are interested, check out the SCMAH’s website.
We arrived home just in time to go to the Clay and Glass Show in Palo Alto. It’s always a great show with tons of wonderful ceramics, glass and a little metal clay. I bought a ring from my friend, Susan Shahinian. She makes the tops from glass and embeds a nut that screws on to a stainless steal ring. How cool is that?
Can’t believe that August is almost here. This summer has been so hectic with all the travel. The conference was wonderful, really energizing, but we left for vacation so soon after I got home that I didn’t get to funnel that energy into anything creative. Of course, we saw lots of wonderful art in Europe but I was exhausted when we got home. I have finally gotten some work done. I’m doing a beginning metal clay workshop for the Santa Cruz Museum on the 18th so I have been working on some samples and also some new textures for the participants to use. I’ll post pictures when I have something done.