Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

Recently Kim Paige invited me to participate in Around the World Blog Hop. The point of the whole thing is to write a little bit about yourself and your creative friends, share some links, eye candy, and whatever you consider to be worth sharing ;-).
I met Kim last year, during a wonderful retreat in United Kingdom. We spent some great time together and hopefully we will meet again, this time in USA - during Metal Clay Mojo Conference. Kim will have there a talk on social network marketing and I'll be teaching.
Here you can see an example of work by Kim. Jewellery she makes is nature-influenced with subtle textures and simple, elegant designs.

Ok, so lets answer some questions :-)

1. What am I working on?
At this particular moment I have a very special piece in my kiln. It's special, because I started it... almost two years ago :-)))))))))))). It's not an insanely elaborate work of art or something ;-), it's just that I started it before leaving for North Yorkshire, to teach my first workshop abroad ever (it was May 2013), and I lost my way with it. For some reason I decided to make a sea themed piece, and I don't even like water that much. Unless it's a hot shower ;-). But I already made a base, I chose stones, added a few elements, and I felt I went too far to simply scrap the whole thing. Do you know sunk cost trap? It was exactly the case ;-).
I kept this piece on my desk that whole time, just in case I felt sudden urge to work on it ;-). Finally a few days ago, I decided, that I REALLY want to finish it before the end of this year. So, I'll see. Maybe it will be ready, before I finish writing this post. If so - I'll add some final photos :-).

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is a really difficult question, because there are many people out there whose work convey similar qualities as mine does.
A lot of jewellery makers love heavily detailed pieces. A lot of them create sculptural jewellery. Thousands of people feel inspired by mythologies, folklore and Nature. But I think that maybe this is not the most important thing - the point is to put all these things together and create with what you do, some kind of a narrative coherence.
What I mean is that I hope that the story I tell through my jewellery is unique and differs me from others. It's mine and it feels true, so I am really comfortable with it.

3. Why do I create what I do?

This one is easy. I am definitely a hedonist, so I rather do things that I like than those that I don't ;-). It is as simple as that. I probably should say something like "through my jewellery I am on a quest to change the world" or "it's this weird inner calling, that forces me to create", or PlaceHereAnythingCoolEnough, but the thing is that for me it's simply about doing what I feel like doing.

Changing the world is just a side effect ;-D.

4. How does my creative process work?

First of all sometimes I feel like it is happening ALL THE TIME -  it's even a little bit tiring. It feels as if I had thousands of moving gears inside my head.
I just keep sketching, writing, memorizing ideas, collecting them for later, because I am doing something else at a moment. The most difficult thing is to choose what to do next, especially that for me the most satysfying part of the process is just producing an idea. I could stop there. The ideas are so perfect, and in hard matter always something is not exactly as I wanted it to be.
Many times I start actually making something and my mind already is elsewhere, focused on another idea, which at the moment feels more attractive. I really have to work hard to keep my mind in one place. Another difficulty is to recall that feeling of excitement that was connected to each idea. I have to feel excitement to work. So- when I produce an idea, later choose to work with it and recall that feeling of excitement, I make a proper sketch which I use as a reference.
Then there is some hard work ;-), and I usually end up hating what I made. But I know myself already a little bit, so I leave the piece hidden somewhere at least for a day. When I look at it again later, it looks better than the day before ;-D. I am sure, that these are faeries or something ;-).
Being more serious - it's just about getting some distance from what I made. Sometimes I decide that it's finished and sometimes I alter or correct something. When a piece is done, I feel something like a relieve - it's a very nice feeling. Addictive.

Who is next in the blog hop?

The next person in Around the World Blog Hop will be Lynne Glazzard. I love her work for its contemporary vibe and elegance. I especially adore her enamelled pieces.

I also have a very special place in my heart for Lynne ;-). She was the very first person who invited me to teach in her studio. Since then I taught in many lovely places, met wonderful people and did a lot of super exciting sightseeing.
Make sure you'll check Lynne's work! :-).

Aaaaaand.... Here it is finished :-). Before the end of this year! I called it "Reef Princess". Now, I am off to have some New Year fun  :-).

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Simple pendant with a special touch, AKA, why metal clay is so freakin' awesome ;-)

Of course there is a million reasons why metal clay is so wonderful (and another million why it's not - just like with any other medium :-) ), but what I mean in this case is, that the smallest addition of metal clay can turn boring and very generic piece into something visually exciting. Less than 1 gram of hand sculpted metal clay can raise value of a piece twice, trice or even more.
So, is metal clay such an "expensive" technique (yes, I also hear this all the time)? I guess it simply depends on what you do with it. Of course you can make an "organic" (my favourite word :-P) silver ball, out of 50 grams of clay... It's just about using the medium for what it is the best.

And - by the way - is really "expensive" that important when we are talking about one-of-a-kind, where price of the final piece doesn't really have a lot to do with the price of metal (I am talking about silver or base metals)? Some people say that using a kiln is so pricey - I wonder if they ever made any calculations. I did and what can I say - this just doesn't bother my mind anymore.
Anyway - I guess that what I really wanted to say is, that we, metal clay people, are not a bunch of naive idiots who just can't learn anything else, so we stick to that ridiculously expensive plasticine ;-). It's usually a deliberate choice, which many times leads to very successful businesses.

Well, actually, a few minutes ago, when I started writing this post I had something totally different in mind, but...things happen ;-).

Ok, so just to show a few pictures :-). First I made this tiny element with flowers using silver metal clay and fired it with a few other pieces (because, guess what, metal clay kilns can fire a lot of pieces at once ;-), so the firing becomes even less expensive). Meanwhile I prepared a bezel for the stone and soldered it onto a piece of sterling sheet. I cut out some sheet from the inside of the bezel cup (to save on silver, show beautiful back of the stone, and because I wanted to use that piece of silver later).

I sweat soldered my sculpted piece onto that piece of silver that I cut out from the center of my bezel cup. I soldered a jump ring to the bezel cup, and joined two parts of my pendant.

Wait, soldering, sterling sheet, what? I remember, when I was discussing terms of teaching my Herbarium class in one of the countries I taught in this year, someone said "Why do you want to solder those bezels? The whole point of metal clay is not to solder.". Well, I don't agree with that. The point is to create jewellery using techniques that are the best for what I want to achieve.
This sounds almost smart and serious ;-).
That's why I think that the second most important thing is to keep your mind open and learn new things - whoever you are. The first one is to have fun with what you're doing :-).

Ok, and here you can see the back of the piece before setting the stone, and how both parts are connected. I just cut a strip of silver sheet and formed a bail that also caught the jump ring soldered to the bezel cup. I soldered the bail to the back of the upper part of my pendant, and that was it. Then just oxidizing, some finishing and setting the stone.
From technical point of view this is a super simple piece (and the traditional part took me a half of the day, because I still totally suck at it :-D - practice, practice, practice), but I really learned a lot by making it.

As for other things ;-)- I set up a Pinterest account recently. I am still not sure what's the point of the whole site, but, if you're into Pinterest, here you can find a board with some of my jewellery.