Sunday, May 31, 2009

Metal clay tips and tricks

I dry my larger domed pieces on a wooden ball, but I leave smaller pieces flat until after they're fired. I find it easier to dome them (or "dap" them) once they are metal. Instead of using a dapping block (a wooden or metal block with domed recesses) I've found that a wooden dapping tool and a rubber block get the job done with no marks on the piece and the embossed image on the front unharmed. I put the piece face down on the rubber block, and tap at it with a hammer and my dapping tool until it's domed. Fine silver right out of the kiln is very soft, so it's very easy. I did buy the cheap steel dapping set at Harbor Freight because I always wanted one, but I rarely use it. Maybe once I get back into some traditional fabricating, but for now I love my wood and rubber tools!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Blast from the past

I'm trying to organize my mess a bit today, and I found this, one of the things I was looking for, the text book from my first metalsmithing class. It's "The Complete Metalsmith" by Tim McCreight, which is one of the best books written on the subject, in my opinion. Tim has been a pioneer in PMC too. I would LOVE to take a class with him, unfortunately he's on the east coast. The price tag has a date on it, so I must have taken that first class with Peter Broome at the Santa Rosa Junior College in either summer or fall of 1991. Yikes! How time flies. Peter was an amazing teacher - he often came across as a grumpy old man, but once you could see past that veneer you found a very sensitive, gifted artist and a great teacher. Peter passed away a number of years ago, but his teaching continues to influence me to this day.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Summer is here

Ike in the Brussels Sprout grotto

Lulu Bug in her pool

We had a blast of summer here in Santa Rosa this past weekend - close to 100 degrees! The pets found ways to keep cool, and thankfully the fog is back this morning so we're back to our usual weather. That's the beauty of this area, we get coastal fog so it's rarely hot for more than a few days. The fog always returns.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Put another Fava on the barbie

Though this certainly wasn't the first barbeque worthy evening we've had this year, I finally dusted the gas grill off and grilled some corn and fava beans. Fava beans are great prepared this way - just toss them in a little oil and salt and throw on the grill till they start getting nice and charred. Then you open the pods and eat the beans like edamame. Yum! I'm the only vegetarian in the house, but since I bought the grill it's veggies only. And the occasional peach. Pretty much any vegetable tastes better grilled, so does a lot of fruit. You should try it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Metal clay tips and tricks

While I was working last night, I realized that I've come up with lots of little tricks for working with PMC. I'm always thinking I should do some tutorials, but that's probably not going to happen any time soon so I thought I'd share some of my little tricks from time to time and hopefully they will help someone else.

I have a lot of designs that use domed circles, and no matter what I do, there is always some distortion in going from the Teflon square I work on to the doming ball (wooden spheres with a flat bottom I get at Beverly Crafts). And as anyone who works with metal clay knows, a little distortion in the pre-fired stage turns into a lot of distortion post firing. Argh! So I finally figured that once my distorted domes are dry, I can use a circle template and draw a circle on them, which shows me where I need to sand. No more distorted circles!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Meet Winston

Here's a custom piece I just did of Winston, who is a Westie and is a gift for his mom for Mother's Day.