Saturday, September 22, 2012

"Herbarium" openwork pendant workshop

I have really wonderful news to share :). Next year I'll teach a class on my openwork "Herbarium" pendants in Lynne Glazzard's workshop in beautiful Yorkshire, UK. The class will take place on 11th and 12th May 2013. You can find all the information here, on Metal Clay North website.
So, if you like my work, would like to learn something from me, but Poland is too far, maybe UK is an option to check out :).
This is an offcial description of the workshop:

"In this class you will learn to make an openwork, romantic pendant, adorned with a bezel set stone and precise, tiny ornaments. You will use silver clay to create lacy, yet strong and secure constructions, which you’ll decorate with extremely detailed tiny leaves, flowers, forest fruits or other ornaments of your choice. You will also learn to make a box like, elevated base for a stone and set it in a bezel setting. All these skills can be easily adapted to your own style, merged with your favourite techniques and used with different metal clays.
 Openwork designs are wonderful response to increasing silver prices, allowing you to save on material, but not on the quality of your works. Some previous silver clay experience is necessary."

And here are a few bigger projects I made using this technique:
"Herbarium - Misty Morning" - silver, green quartz, topaze
"Herbarium - spring rainbow" - ACS silver and labradorite

"Herbarium - blackberry" - ACS silver and amethyst
"Herbarium - summer scent" - silver, 22 K gold, labradorites

"Herbarium - forest flame" - fine silver and labradorite
"Herbarium - forest fruits" - silver, amethyst and garnet

"Herbarium - raspberry" - bronze ring with garnet
"Herbarium - gold vines" - bronze and olivine
I hope it's tempting ;). I'm very excited about teaching in Lynne Glazzard's studio. And, if UK is still too far, you can always check my tutorials in my Etsy shop :).
P.S. I'll also teach this class in Poland soon. More news coming.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sol omnia regit

Yesterday was a really WONDERFUL day :). I found out that I'm Metal Clay Artist Magazine cover girl!! My "Sol omnia regit" pendant is on the cover of the magazine's newest issue. It's really hard to believe. I'm unbelievably honoured and thankful to the whole MCAM crew, especially to wonderful Jeannette Froese LeBlanc and Julia Rai. I knew that there would be my "Artist Profile" in this issue, but to the last moment I had no idea what was going to be on the cover. This was the best surprise ever :).

I was also surprised by this "Architect of Poland's Metal Clay Movement" cover tag line :D. I'm definitely not any architect of anything, but of course I feel very flattered :). Thank you! It's totally true though, that there are a lot of extremely talented metal clay artists here in Poland. Check Anna Fidecka, Ksenia Ścieszka, Marta Grzywna, Waldo Iłowiecki and many others (links on the right column). Really worth seeing.

And here is the pendant "without" the cover. It's made of fine silver (ACS), sterling silver and two golden labradorites. Labradorites are my favourite stones - I use them very frequently in my jewellery and have quite a big collection of rough specimens :). I just love how they play with light.

 And here is a short story of this pendant :). Firstly I built general shape of the pendant. Then I added place for a stone. It was hold in place by four "sticks" which became bases I built trees on. I started to take photos exactly that moment, so I don't have any pics showing previous stages :(.

Each tree was built step by step, by adding and shaping thin coils of clay. I wanted the branches and roots of each tree to be connected with those of other trees.
You can see in this photo that at this stage I thought up the name for this pendant :) - "Sol omnia regit" which is "The Sun rules over everything" in Latin. I knew from the beginning that this pendant would be solar themed piece (it has a form of stylized solar cross after all), but I couldn't find the right name.

When the trees were ready I filed trunks a bit to give them more solid look. I also created a bark texture and strengthened up the whole construction with thick paste.

I made sure that all branches were well attached and back of the pendant covered everything that might catch on cloth (while being worn). I added bark texture to the trunks and slighlty smoothened the whole back with abrasive pad. I love the finish abrasive pads leave on greenware metal clay. I use them a lot.

Then I made a few dozen of tiny leaves and attached them to the trees. I generally love making tiny ornaments. Tiny leaves, tiny flowers, tiny berries, tiny-everything :). The pendant was ready for firing.

After firing I prepared bezels for two stones I wanted to use.

I soldered the bigger bezel to the center of the pendant and smaller one to a little circle I cut out of sterling silver sheet. Then I soldered  a few jump rings to the smaller bezel cup and soldered the whole thing to the pendant.

Then I cleaned the pendant with flux residue remover, oxidized it, set both stones, polished it and the pendant was ready :).
As I mentioned above this pendant is a stylized solar cross - very old symbol used in many, many cultures. Four trees symbolize Nature ruled by the Sun - golden labradorite - which gives them energy to live and grow. Solar cross has four arms (in my version four trees) as there are two equinoxes and two solstices which form the whole solar year :).
Well... That's all I think :).
Did I mention that I'm SOOOO happy? :D
That's really all now ;). 
P.S. I haven't seen the content of this newest Metal Clay Artist Magazine issue yet, but I've already heard it's SUPER hot :). I cannot wait to see it! :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hinges, lockets etc.

Yesterday I finished my first hinged locket made not only out of metal clay, but also out of sterling silver sheet and tubing. I know this isn't impressive for experienced silversmiths, but for me it was a real challenge :).
The lid of the locket is made entirely out of hand formed fine silver (Art Clay Silver) (these sylvan ornaments are one of my favourites), but the rest of the locket is made out of traditional sterling silver. There was a lot of soldering, swearing, growling and even a few tears ;), but finally I finished it, and I'm SO happy :).
Before I began working on this pendant I had found a few wonderful online tutorials which turned out to be very useful. If you know nothing about soldered hinges, like I did (and probably still do :) ), check them out:
- Tutorial on Etsy Metal Blog
- Mokume gane locket on
- Modern lockets on

This is how the locket looks like when it's closed. What was the most difficult thing? Definitely soldering these tiny pieces of tubing to both parts of the locket. At first I did of course what I was warned about - I soldered all "knuckles" to one side ;). During soldering process all tubing pieces are put on one stainless steel wire so it's really easy to let the solder flow too fast... This was SO frustrating. At some point I also managed to solder steel wire to the inner surface of the silver hinge... I had no idea this was even possible ;D. Next time I totally want to try riveting the wire which is put inside the hinge, but firstly I have to buy a jewellers anvil. This time I simply made at the one end a tiny ball with my gas torch, and then soldered another tiny ball to opposite end.

And this is the locket on my hand :). It's rather small. The stones are chrome diopside and two yellow sapphires. To be honest I feel so encouraged that I'm thinking about making one for myself. This may be surprising, but I don't have any jewellery made by me. Maybe such a locket could be the first piece I would wear :).

And a bit of history ;D. This is a locket I made back in 2008 - this was the year I tried metal clay for the first time. I still have this pendant, but I don't wear it (believe me, it is SO askew and it keeps opening by itself when it's being worn... Here are some more photos ;) ). It's just a souvenir from my metal clay beginnings :). Actually the design of this locket you see above is based on this old one. Many things happened since then and I really learned a lot :).

P.S. Make sure you check the newest post on Etsy Metal Clay Team blog :). Our super talented team members present their latest creations.