Monday, November 14, 2016

Little promotion in my Etsy shop



Just a quick information :-).
A little surprise for November :-).  With "NOVEMBER2016" coupon code you will get 10% discount for all jewellery in my Etsy shop:
https://www.etsy.com/shop/drakonaria
When you type NOVEMBER2016 at a checkout, the price will be automatically reduced by 10%. The code works till 1st of December. Buying in November you don't have to worry about pre-holiday postal delays :-).
If you want to place your order through my website, www.drakonaria.com , just remind me about the promotion in your email.


Have a great Autumn everyone! :-)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

New versions of older designs and fun of learning :-)



Recently I am playing a little bit more with wonderful possibilities of hand creating prototypes of jewellery in metal clay and then translating them into pieces made with lost wax technique. I am pretty happy with the results and I definitely think this is a fantastic way of using properties of metal clay. I already posted here a few of my flowery designs, but recently I also made a few symbols, which I always loved. All the pieces in this post are made of traditional sterling silver.




This is only the beginning of a whole collection of symbols, but I wanted to start with motif of trees, Sun ("Solar mandala") and tiny, crescent Moon. All these designs were totally hand formed and carved (no ready moulds etc.), then made into sterling silver, and adorned with natural stones. I really enjoy the whole process.

On example of my first metal clay designs meant for lost wax casting technique I learned really a lot about dos and don'ts of the whole process. Avoiding undercuts, paying attention to thickness of all elements, thinking about how wax will flow when filling the mould etc.
And, yeah - this was a hard lesson - I also learned that if I don't say a loud STOP to myself, I can work on a design FOREVER. It's never good enough. But the funny thing is that it seems these imperfections are what make my pieces natural, and interesting to the eye. At least this is what I keep hearing from my clients. My inner perfectionst is crying ;-).



I am also super happy that I designed my own bails - they work nicely and correspond really well with the designs they are meant for (at least I think so ;-) ). They will probably be suitable for some other pieces I want to make and some of my one of a kind work. So, definitely no more generic, ready bought bails in my jewellery and I have some more ideas for this type of articulated bails coming.







As for other interesting things - I finally visited Wytwórnia Antidotum - jewellery making school based in Warsaw, to "collect" my prize for a contest I won last year with my pendant "Natura abhorret a vacuo". The prize were private classes in the school and I used it all to learn a little bit more about traditional techniques of stone setting. We focused on faceted stones. Here you can see some of my trials with different types of settings (yeah... A drunken hedgehog would probably do it better then I did, and I definitely need to practice, practice and maybe practice a little bit more ;-) , but hey - learning on your own mistakes also works :-) ). I generally knew how all these settings work, but it's a completely different story, to actually try it yourself under a guidance of someone experienced (big thanks to Remigiusz Grodzicki :-) ). I also did a few tube settings, but they are not in the photo. I had a lot of fun, but my hands really hurt :-))). After all - I am a delicate metal clay girl ;->.




Just one more nice photo for the end of this post ;-). One of my sterling silver "Twig rings", which also started their life as metal clay pieces, photographed in a pretty surroundings :-).


Monday, March 7, 2016

...

This will be a very personal post, so if you don't feel comfortable with this kind of things, you can stop reading right now.
My dad died on 17th February, after three wonderful (yes!) years of fighting with cancer. The most kind, wise, patient and loving man I've ever known. The best dad I could ever imagine. During his life he fought so many life-threatening health conditions  and still lived a full, beautiful and meaningful life to the very end. I will be always thankful for him to all forces of the Universe.
He was also my greatest fan - always curious about new things I made, new tools I bought, starting his day from checking my website and Facebook page. Of course I know, that at the beginning, when I decided to start my own business he was worried about me. Still, he always was my greatest supporter. This is one of my favourite photos of him. I took it during one of our "sunrise" trips we had last year. Me, my dad (on the right) and my brother.





One of the last pieces I made that my dad saw, was that teddy bear with a heart I designed for the new one day class. He showed it immediately to my mom, and because she loved it too, he asked me to make similar one as a gift from him to her, for Valentine's day. I managed to finish it, just 2 days before he died. I will always remember him, so weak, in a hospital bed, giving it to my mom, with all his love. Now she wears it every day. This tiny, silver bear probably will remain the most important piece I've made in all my life.






The same day I also managed to show him the cover of the newest issue of Handmade Business with me on it, wearing one of my pieces. I was so happy I could make him proud once again. He was only able to smile, but it meant the world to me - I will always treasure this moment. He collected all the publications with my pieces, showing them to his friends. I miss him so much. So much. And I am so thankful for all these years. For all the books he read to me when I was a child (and recorded some of them! So I can still listen to them...), for all the conversations about science and philosophy, for unconditional love and all his wisdom. Also for showing, not only to me, but to everyone around, that being terminally ill doesn't mean dying. It means LIVING and appreciating every single day.

Thank you dad. I will always love you.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Three new workshops for 2016

Hello in 2016! 2015 was a really great year, full of smaller and bigger successes, lots of changes, travelling and meeting new people. One thing remains the same though - I am still  really great at writing regular posts on my blog ;-). Maybe this year, maybe this year... :-)
Today I want to tell you a little bit about my new classes for 2016. I will still teach my old ones ("Herbarium pendants" and "Twig rings") in a few places, but I felt need of something fresh and new. So here they are :-).

"Mushroom dreams"
I am particularly excited about this one.  It's a 3 days workshop packed with lots of different techniques, featuring a branch (empty inside, so it's perfect for a bead-strung necklace), various, 3 dimensional mushrooms, and a small, bezel set stone. Wonderful textures, interesting shapes, lots of tricks for creating secure openwork constructions in metal clay - this is what this workshop is about.




















"Heart Deco"
It's a 2 days workshop featuring really cool "pillow" effects, interesting filing techniques for creating lovely ornamentation, various ways of working with coils, clean setting of fireable stones, articulated bail or a little "dangle" and much more.  Pieces created during this class can look in many different ways - not necessarily like stylized hearts. As usually in case of my classes - using the same set of techniques everyone can create something different.





















"Miniature Teddy Bear"

This one is a one day class for those who love tiny, cute creatures. Creating a tiny teddy bear, which is mainly empty inside (to save on clay) is not as difficult as it might seem. It's just about following certain steps and using your imagination. Your teddy bear can hold a tiny heart or have a miniature tie or maybe a necklace... This class is about playing with miniature shapes and having a lot of fun! You will learn working in a small scale, building tiny, hollow elements and creating details in both wet and dry clay.






















I already arranged classes in a few countries for 2016 - in some places everything is set, in some places we are still talking about some details.
Sooo...
In the first half of the year I'll be teaching in United Kingdom, then Belgium, and finally Austria.

-> In UK you can meet me in Metal Clay Ltd. (Wareham, Dorset). I'll be teaching two classes. First "Heart Deco" - 30th April- 1st May
"Twig rings" - 2nd May

-> In Belgium I will teach yet again in Inge Verbruggen's studio. Two classes.
"Mushroom dreams" - 14th -16th May
"Miniature teddy bear" - 17th May

-> In Austria, I will teach in Vienna, at Sulie Girardi's studio.
The plan is...
"Mushroom dreams" - 27th - 29 th May
"Miniature teddy bear" - 4th June
"Twig rings" - 5th June

Later you'll be able to take my classes in several places in USA, we are still working on some details though.

For sure you'll meet me in

-> Pennsylvania, Philadelphia area (10th-12th September) ( I will teach there "Heart Deco" class and "Twig rings" - contact Lara Ginzburg and Christy Anne Miller for more info)

-> Florida, Sarasota (I'll be there 15th-20th September). The hostess of my classes is Silvie Waals. I'll be teaching two classes there - "Herbarium pendant" and "Twig rings".

-> Texas, in July, 18-22. "Herbarium pendant", "Heart Deco" and "Twig rings". The hostess is Judy Padgett Darrow ( Art On The Veranda dba Three Frog Alley ).

I also have already some plans for 2017, but it's far too soon to talk about this :-).
That's all for now :-).

Ah, and in case you forgot what are "Herbarium" and "Twig rings" classes, here are the photos :-).

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Visit in Aida Chemical Industries

This time I will start my post by saying "Hello from USA" :-), specifically from New York. I got here yesterday, after the most fantastic metal clay conference - Metal Clay Mojo Retreat, which took place in Chester CT (photo by courtesy of Paddy Marcotte). I was teaching there two classes and making a few presentations (I will write about the whole conference experience later). But to make things even more interesting ;-) today I want to "come back" to my recent trip to Japan and write a little bit about my visit in Aida Chemical Industries - the producer of Art Clay Silver, Gold and Copper.




I went to Japan mostly for vacation, but at the end of our stay in this beautiful country I had an amazing opportunity to actually visit Art Clay Studio in Fuchū, Tokyo. I was invited to show my jewellery and talk about my work during a meeting with Japanese artists and instructors (you can find a blogpost in Japanese on Art Clay blog here - lots of nice photos :-) ). I also did a little demo showing my technique of working with coils.





I was so greateful for such a warm, wonderful welcome, interesting conversations, smiles and good energy. It was also very exciting to meet all the artists whose pieces I saw so many times, published in various publications, to learn about cultural differences and  how they influence our designs. I wanted to say THANK YOU once again also for all these fantastic, unexpected gifts. They will be a beautiful reminder of that day.


After "Meet the artist" part of the day I went to see Aida Chemical Industries' refinery. Such an interesting place! I learnt about the process of reclaiming silver and gold from x-ray images, electronic circuit boards and dental gold&silver scrap.

I also played a little bit with 20 kg silver ingot (which basically I couldn't lift in any way, so my great guides found a smaller one for me to pose with ;-) ). In the photo you can see yet another ingot - gold one (oh, that shine! :-) ). Then, if you are able to take your eyes away from the shiny stuff, you might notice that in this photo there are also two people ;-). Me and fantastic Daisuke Minagawa.

I would like to thank him once more for taking care of me during my visit in Aida and Art Clay studio, organising everything, and being such a warm, welcoming person. I also want to say thank you to Mark Atkinson for all his help during our stay in Japan!



And this is one of my favourite photos I took during our trip to Japan. Hopefully, when I come back to Poland, to my own little studio, I will have time to work on some new pieces inspired by our trip. We saw so many different, amazing things. I already know that I want to come back there one day. Those 2-3 weeks was definitely not enough time to see and appreciate everything...

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Some exciting news :-)


This post will be quite hectic, but I start travelling again tomorrow, and still have a lot of things to do before leaving. It was just too long without writing :-).

First of all
- that piece from the previous post - "Natura abhorret a vacuo" - actually won that competition it was made for. I am really happy, especially that I got the most wonderful prize - some free classes in Wytwórnia Antidotum jewellery making school! I will "collect" my prize this Autumn - I am super excited. I am sure this will be very beneficial for me.










Second of all
(or maybe I should have made it "first of all", because I am just over the Moon about it ;-) ) my piece "Startled" was published on the cover of "Handmade Business", issue August 2015. You can even find a  post about its making here, on my blog :-). It was such a great surprise. Inside there is also a wonderful article about metal clays, written by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc.








Third of all (I wonder if this expression goes beyond this number ;-) ) I started  an exciting journey with preparing pieces for my permanent collection, using lost wax casting method. Finally! I was thinking about it for a year or more. I found a very reasonable caster, made a few models using metal clay and they made the molds. For that first time I prepared a flowery pendant, three of my twig rings, and some tiny items meant mostly for stud earrings. I was quite impressed with the result. Of course there were some issues, but the caster is willing to work on the molds a little bit more, to make sure they work perfectly.It actually seemed that they had a little bit of fun too, because they hadn't worked with this type of design before.


It's a long story, and I will surely write a separate post about it. For now I am just showing you photos of two of my casted pieces. In the pendant above  I left the place for the stone without a setting, so it can vary in size, type etc. and I can make each piece unique in a way :-). And the earrings are actually super tiny :-). I learned so much through this experience, and this is another thing I will continue this Autumn, when I come back. I have a lot of doubts and various thoughts about the whole idea. I am also preparing a presentation about the whole process for Metal Clay Mojo retreat in Chester CT - I will show some interesting things on example of a tiny owl, which started as a metal clay prototype






Conferences, classes and stuff ;-).
Another exciting thing are all the journeys which start tomorrow. First I go to Japan - mostly for vacation, but I will also visit Aida Chemical Industries' studio in Tokio. I will have there a little presentation of my work. So - if you just happen to be in Tokio on August the 10th - let me know, I will give you some details :-). Of course I am very stressed :-) - my whole jewellery making life I have somewhere in my head, this little voice,  whispering "when they (whoever they are at a moment) see my work in person, they all will think - 'yeah... we thought it was better'" :-). Having this meeting in mind I made a few new pieces with Art Clay Silver - this tree among them. It's a good example of one of the techniques I use. Of course I am freaking out about the finish, "askewness" etc. but I try to think that all my jewellery is Nature inspired, and you know what? There is no such thing as "perfection" in Nature. At least if we define perfection in our weird, human way.


Classes
- Yes. When I come back from Japan, I will have four days to prepare for my trip to USA. In one of the previous posts I wrote about my schedule of classes there. I will visit three states - Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Illinois. I am hoping to see some familiar faces and meet new people :-). I will teach my "Herbarium pendant" class in all the studios I visit. When I come back, I will fly to UK, to teach in Metal Clay Ltd. And then I'll be back for good :-). I also prepared quite a lot of things made of PMC Sterling and other materials, to be able to show some new work, wherever I go.


Ok, so I guess that's all. I am just leaving a few more pictures of  my recent work, and come back to packing!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Natura abhorret a vacuo




This piece, called "Nature abhors vacuum", was made for a competition organized by one of Polish jewellery making schools. The theme was vacuum/emptiness (Polish word "pustka" actually can be interpreted in a lot of ways). It felt really inspiring and it made me think about the idea that vacuum is like the priciest jewel - so rare, with a life so short - immediately "destroyed" by Nature. I wanted to catch this feeling of temporariness, constant movement, that hostility and greediness of Nature. Beautiful, but blind, thus scary. And this little jewel of emptiness, in the very centre, just for a blink of an eye. When I look at it, it also makes me think that sometimes emptiness is even more precious, because it's a reminder of something that was there. And filling this empty space, which is inevitable, is like loosing something again. So why not to freeze that moment - even if only like this.





This piece feels quite sad  actually, on some level it's simply about death, or maybe I am just in a little bit dark place right now. Anyway, funny feeling - I think it's the very first piece in my life I am truly in peace with. I am deliberately not saying "happy with". It's a different feeling. I just wouldn't change anything.










Enough of serious talking ;-). Let me show you a few photos I took while making this pendant. First, as usually, I made a sketch which later led me through the whole process. My sketches are not super detailed. I just want to catch a feeling, general idea etc. I just need to know what I meant.










I wanted the pendant to have a lot of volume, to create really sculptural look, but obviously, because I decided to work with silver (PMC Sterling in this case) I didn't want to use too much of the material. That's why main elements are openwork or empty inside. By the way - I took this photo also because I liked the way how I accidentally positioned these three "worms" - it made me think about an idea for another piece.



I attached my three, empty "worms" to the backgroud and started working on building the whole composition, details etc. It's not so clearly visible in this photo, because there is only a slight difference in colour, but sometimes, when I want to see how something will look like, I make it from polymer clay first, and place it where I want it to go (these three fangs), just to test the idea. Sometimes it's convenient to put an element made of wet clay in the right place quite quickly, while it's still elastic. That's why it's nice to know beforehand what I really want to do with it ;-).






First textures and some new elements... And of course my very favourite tool - scalpel blade. No, the flowers are for something different ;-).








Some carving, slip painting, drilling, filing, forming wet clay... I just use whatever technique I need to use, to get the look I want.






More and more details. I wanted to create totally different textures on each element, to get this feeling of abundance in Nature. But I didn't want to end up with any kind of a sweet-cute-Nature-flowers&peace look, rather something more primordial, predacious, but still with this kind of a flow which makes you think of an inward movement.






Then I moved to the center of the composition. I thought about colonisation, uncontrolled growth, Nature filling every possible space. And the thing is that I even don't mean Nature only in terms of biology and the Earth. Do you know how difficult it is to find perfect vacuum? Well, it's actually impossible. This is how rare this "gem" is.








And here is the pendant ready for firing. Because it was made of  PMC Sterling, and I still have some problems with distortion in case of rings, I was afraid that something so complex might change its shape really badly in firing. I took a piece of ceramic paper and cut out an opening inside it, so when I placed the pendant on it, the bail fitted into the opening (and to the carbon beneath paper) and the pendant lied perfectly flat. I also stuck little bits of ceramic fiber inside empty elements and supported some raised parts that could droop. Stainless steel mesh cage went on top, to prevent pieces of activated carbon from getting in between parts of my pendant. Then of course more activated carbon, and the whole thing went into the kiln. It sounds more complicated than it was ;-).









Honestly I was even a little bit surprised how well it fired. There was no distortion at all. At least I didn't see anything aparent - the "flow" was still there. I was super happy when I saw it. Then some oxidation and finishing, and it was done. This time it was pure metal clay technique piece. Nothing else.








So, here are a few more photos :-). The results of the competition weren't announced yet, but honestly, this was just an excuse to make this piece. I guess this is what all competitions are about ;-).