Thursday, May 9, 2013

New experiences coming ;)

Long time since I last wrote here - it's not because I forgot about my blog ;) - I'm simply super busy. And productive. I had to add this, because being busy doesn't always mean that something constructive is happening.
This post will be very short, because in a few hours I have to catch a plane to United Kingdom, Leeds. A few months ago I wrote here about a class I would teach at Lynne Glazzard's studio. Well, it's happening :) and the class will take place this weekend. This is very exciting and a bit stressful for me (aaaa!! the first class ever I'll conduct in English. Luckily I can also draw or use sign language ;) ), but I really can't wait to meet all these wonderful metal clay artists that will attend the class. I'll finally meet those people whose works I admired for such a long time online.
I had been preparing for this class to the last moment, and this morning I finished a few new class samples (all but one from the photo above sold, so I needed to prepare something new to show). Here they are.  The photo isn't good, because my more "professional" camera is already packed in my luggage, but still, I'm quite happy with them :). I hope we all will have great time together, and some beautiful pieces will be created :). When I'm back, I promise, I'll write a long post :)))), this time about quite cool thing I tested recently - flash drive enclosure kit. Really neat tool, that helps to build nice pen drive enclosures, using metal clay.
So, wish me luck and "see" you soon :).

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Missed deadline and jewellery recycling ;)

What good can come from missed deadline and jewellery recycling? Well... This pendant was a result of these two things :). Once upon a time, there was this "Tales of the heart" PMC contest (again huge congratulations to the wonderful winners! :) ). I'm always very eager to take part in all contests I hear about. Of course I immediately have SO brillant ideas ;), and of course I usually don't meet contests' deadlines... (I guess that a good shrink would make me think about subconscious self-doubting and self-sabotaging ;) or maybe just about laziness and lack of organization ;D ). In this case I had an idea of Art Nouveau stylized pendant with a discreet heart motif intervined with some subtle, organic lines. Long story short - I had a lot of work with Valentine's Day custom orders, started making this pendant a day before the deadline, and (not a surprise), didn't finish it on time.

Feeling free from the deadline and this heart theme, I changed a bit the original design and finished the pendant a few weeks later. But if you look closely, you can still notice one small heart there :).
Below you can find a few photos I took while making this piece. Ah, and of course this "recycling" thing explained ;).

Everything began with a stone - lovely, slender lapis lazuli cabochon. I just drew a general sketch around it. I used it later as an actual reference, so I made sure it was accurately sized and symmetrical.

And here is the piece ready for firing. I stuck some ceramic fiber in a few places, to support the pendant and prevent distortion in firing. This time I used PMC3. I really like it.

After firing I soldered a stone setting and two small jump rings (Actually I had to do this two times... During first soldering I overheated my bezel wire and it became totally brittle, so I had to "undo" all the soldering, clean the piece, prepare new bezel and solder it again - this time more carefully...).
I also gilded all tiny balls and flower centers using Art Clay 22K gold paste. I decided that yellow gold would look nice combined with the colour of my lapis lazuli cabochon and gold pyrite flecks on its surface. In this photo the piece is oxidized, but still mat and dirty, waiting for finishing touches.

 And what about all that recycling?;)

For almost a week I couldn't decide what to do with these four flat, empty spaces. Originally I thought - more gold! But then I decided that something lapis lazuli coloured would be better. It was too late for glass enamel (the cab was already set and all soldering done), so I tried UV resin. I had primary colours dyes so I thought I would be able to create lapis lazuli shade, but it turned out to be more difficult than I expected.
Then I recalled a pair of earrings with lapis lazuli intarsia I bought many years ago at a mineral fair. I lost one of these earrings, and what can you do with just one earring? I pulled it to pieces, took all the stones out and made my own lapis lazuli inlay. Lapis lazuli is quite a soft stone (5-5.5 in Mohs scale), so I was able to slowely shape it with my rotary tool and some files. This way I got four thin, tiny pieces of lapis lazuli that fitted well into those four empty spaces :). I secured them in place with special resin.

And that's the whole story ;).

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Riveting - after workshops in Warsaw :)

 The workshops in Wytwórnia Antidotum jewellery making school were really great :). Quite surprisingly, the most interesting thing I learned there was riveting. Well, I generally knew how does it work, but I've never tried it before and it's always about details, not "general knowledge" ;). Here is what I did - pure work of art, isn't it? ;)))))))))). Thanks to this utterly ugly piece I practiced two types of rivets - "normal" ones and stilt rivets.

I also saw a lot of scary, huge machines ;). I mean professional jewellery making equipment :). I was really startled by the fact that these things are usually so specialized... I saw special tool for cutting pieces of tubing (!!!), special tool for making dome shaped pieces of metal sheet, special tool for cutting circles (seriously? :))))... If I wanted to have fully equipped, traditional workshop I would need another apartment to put all these things there. Yes. I know. It usually works exactly this way. I'm simply quite an anti-tool person. I usually have as few things as possible. Generally my hands are my best tool. I guess it only shows how unprofessional I am ;).

But of course I'm really happy I was there, learned a lot of new things and met great people (huge thanks to the teacher of our group - Remigiusz Grodzicki). It was a wonderful experience and I wanted to try my newly acquired skills as soon as I came back to Cracow. And here is what came out of it. It's a ring with hidden rivets.

This enamelled "bowl" part with sculpted flowers is made of silver clay, and band plus stone setting is made of regular silver sheet.
Below you can see how I made it.

First of all I made this element out of Art Clay Silver. This was also the first time I worked with "the new formula" which recently hit the market. I got a package from my wonderful supplier - Planetart. Honestly I'm a bit dissapointed. Yes - this new formula is softer, has great workability, longer working time, is a bit more like polymer clay or a bubble gum ;) etc. etc., but for me Art Clay Silver became second PMC. And I don't like this. I really liked to be able to choose. Art Clay was better for filing, but worse for carving and PMC quite the opposite. Now there are two brands of silver clay that are great for carving, but non of them is good for filing. The silver lining is that I recently really like to work with PMC3 (which isn't available in Poland) and now I won't have to buy it abroad. Art Clay will do just fine. But enough about the clay.

As you can see, the piece in the photo is already fired. I made two holes for future rivets before firing and used wet packing technique to put white enamel on its surface.

And here is the piece after firing enamel and oxidizing. I also tried another new thing here. I found on Vickie Hallmark's blog an information that it is possible to use a pencil to create sketches on enamelled surface. It really works and I love it! It was the first time I tried it, so it isn't exactly what I intended, but I will definitely practice this technique.

Then I made an irregular band out of silver sheet and drilled two matching holes in it. Why two and not just one? I wasn't so sure about my riveting skills, and I was afraid my ring would spin. So I decided to make two rivets instead of one, to constrain potential movement.
Then, also using silver sheet, I made a bezel cup with corresponding holes in its base...

...and riveted the hole thing :). Fortunately it turned out nothing was moving and my rivets were very tight.

Finally I set a stone (it's a citrine - with faceted front and flat back), made some finishing and the ring was ready :).
I'm totally in love with white enamel. There is something so pure and magical about it. It is simply inviting to "spoil" it ;). With a sketch, with a drop of colour... Just like a blank piece o paper :).

Ok, enough for today. Ah, and one more thing. If you want to read some more of my blabbing ;) check the latest newsletter of Metal Clay Academy. I was honoured to be chosen as a Featured Artist there. I'm really happy about this :).

Friday, January 25, 2013

Something nice, something interesting, something weird ;)

First of all our jewellery auctions for The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity were very successful :). We collected almost 19 000 PLN (which is over 6000 USD). And The Orchestra, during The Grand Finale, collected in the whole country almost 40 millions PLN (which is about 13 millions USD :) ). It was great to be a part of this. So this is "something nice" :).

The "something interesting" is my article in the latest issue of Metal Clay Artist Magazine (well, I hope it is interesting ;) ). Some time ago I made this dragon pendant with a moonstone as a custom order and took a lot of photos of the whole making process. I decided it would be nice to write something about this. Originally I showed it only to the girls from Etsy Metal Clay Team, but Joy Funnell told me it would be a good material for an article. Thanks Joy! :) So here it is :). If you haven't read this MCAM issue yet, check it out. There is a lot of interesting things in there. My personal favourites are Michael Sturlin's article on time management, Wanaree Tanner's "how to" on sterling silver clay ring and an interview with Evelyn Pelati Dombkowski.

And as for "something weird" - this is a longer story ;). A few weeks ago I was invited to a free metalsmithing jewellery workshops organized by Wytwórnia Antidotum (jewellery making school based in Warsaw). I chose a class on casting and it will take place this weekend (can't wait!), but the fun began sooner ;). The official invitation I got by mail was everything but ordinary.
As you can see in the photo, it was a lovely wooden box, with a few weird things inside: a piece of aluminium mesh, a circle made of plexiglass, a cinnamon stick, playing card and a glass cabochon. There was also an instruction saying that I should choose at least two of these things, add anything I want and make this way a wearable piece of jewellery :). Just for fun!

I immediately had a few ideas, but finally I drew this and decided to use the cinnamon stick and aluminium mesh. The cinnamon stick because I liked it the most from the very beginning and the mesh, because it was so ugly I just felt I needed to do something to make it easier on eyes ;D. This project was totally not "me", but I just wanted to have some fun, so why not? :)

I chose to work with Goldie Bronze ™, simply because it's relatively cheap (so I wouldn't feel remorse that I'm wasting materials just to play) and I needed something warm-coloured for that project.
I constructed  a few cuboids, that I planned to put together in three segments that would form three parts of the pendant. I wanted them to be rather rough and slightly irregular.
Later I removed excessive clay with a file, added some texture and granulation. I also chipped them a bit...

After firing and some finishing they looked like this. I decided I would try something new for finishing touches and finally test Vintaj Patinas I bought some time ago. I used three colours - moss, cinnabar and rust. I used them for the first time, so I didn't do it really "professionally", but I guess I can say something about this product. Generally I like these patinas, but to be honest I wouldn't call them patinas. These are just cool semi-opaque paints for metal, that stick really well to its surface, are water resistant and generally durable. They look really nice and I already can see that it is possible to create very interesting effects with them, but this never will be a real patina look. They don't react with metal, they just cover it, so the look always will be different. But I still like them very much! I just wouldn't call them Vintaj Patinas, but Vintaj Metal Paints :).

Then I began assembling the whole thing. I cut the cinnamon stick into two pieces (I used a piercing saw for this) and put them in the right places (yes, I used epoxy glue for this, and yes, I'm very ashamed of this ;) ).

I needed two more cuboids I planned to make of aluminium mesh, but finally I decided I would also use the playing card from the wooden box. As you can see I just folded it and scotch taped it from the inside. Later I made the same shape from the alumium mesh.

And here you can see the finished pendant. I used Vintaj Patinas again on paper and mesh cuboids.  I painted the inner surface of the mesh with "rust" and the outer with "moss". It looks quite interesting when you can see orange colour peeking out from behind the green. I applied the same colours on the surface of the playing card cuboid. I just irregularly layered them one on top of another. When patinas dried I covered them additionally with glossy decoupage lacquer to make the cardboard cuboid more durable and harder.

So here it is :). I would never make something like this normally, but I have to say I had a lot of fun, I learned a lot and I got inspired! I will definitely make something else with cinnamon sticks (this time something more consistent with my aestethics ;) ). This is a wonderful material. Its texture and colour is so beautiful and the smell is heavenly :).

Friday, January 11, 2013

Jewellery makers for The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity

I'm generally very proud to be Polish. I love Polish culture, beautiful Polish language, Polish literature, Polish mountains, forests, cuisine (pierogi  *__* )... I could name forever ;). But this time of year I'm even more proud to be from Poland! It's because of The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity.

Zapraszamy na aukcje Bizuteryjek dla WOŚP The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity (GOCC, in Polish: Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy) is one of the biggest, non-governmental, non-profit, charity organizations in Poland. Its main objective is protecting health and saving children's lives by providing medical equipment to public hospitals. Every year (since 1993) milions of Poles donate to the GOCC volunteers from all around Poland, who are collecting money on the streets of almost every Polish city. Each year GOCC specialists choose different health issue, ask hospitals what they really need to deal with it, make analysis and then, after the money collection, they buy needed medical equipment. Simple and effective. Almost everyone in Poland knows someone who was treated in a hospital unit equipped fully or partially by The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity. Such a beneficiary was for example my very own little niece :).

Collecting money on the streets is not the only way GOCC raises funds. Everyone helps in whatever way they can. Many companies help by giving their products and services, media offer free airtime, cities organize concerts, celebrities and ordinary people donate items to be auctioned off... The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity triggers a lot of positive energy and extreme generosity.

A group of Polish jewellery makers also decided to help GOCC, by making a few extraordinary, collaborative projects. By "a group" I mean over 200 people! I'm seriously proud to be a part of such a creative, generous community. So take a look at these projects:

1. Charm bracelets.

A simple heart is a symbol of The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity. That's why we made 23 unique charm bracelets to be auctioned off for GOCC. Each bracelet consists of beautiful, little heart-shaped charms, each one carefully crafted by a different person. All these wonderful hearts (almost 200!) were made with love! They are full of positive emotions and creative energy. As you can see in these photos, the hearts were made using many different techniques - soutache embroidery, traditional soldering, wire wrapping, metal clay technique and many others. These are just three of my personal favourites. To see other charms bracelets just check our auctions.

2. The second project was "The Wanderer".

It's a necklace that wandered from one wonderfully gifted woman to another, and in each studio it was embellished with amazing, handmade elements. This way The Wanderer covered a distance of 2700 km and thanks to 10 generous women it became hauntingly beautiful, silver necklace, adorned with lots of lovely natural gems. Look at this illustration of its journey. Amazing, isn't it? :)

Exactly two months before the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity's Grand Finale a little silver heart started its journey across Poland. The idea was simple - The Wanderer was to be passed from person to person and each one of them was meant to add new silver elements.
And below you can see the whole necklace. And one more photo - my personal favourite - taken by Agnieszka Rzymek. The model is her daughter. As a newborn she was in neonatal intensive care unit in one of Cracow's hospitals - fully equipped by The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity! :).

3. The third collaborative project is an unbelievably beautiful necklace - "The Rainbow" :).

This necklace was made by over 50 ladies (!!!) who use soutache embroidery technique. Each one of them made a single element and then all these elements were put together to form this hypnotizing, hand embroidered work of art. You can bid this necklace here.  And here you can find more info about it (in English).
As you can see in the photo, The Rainbow was made not only by many people, but also of various materials. The basic material are soutache cords, but they were adorned with lots of natural stones, pearls, zriconias, corals, beautiful glass, Swarovski crystals etc. All the highest quality.

The photo was taken by talented Arek Rząd and the model is Emilia Sierzputowska.

4. The fourth project was "The Copper".

"The Copper" is a lovely copper necklace made by four wonderful jewellery makers, brought together by the common goal of helping others. The necklace is adorned with natural rubies and pink corundum. Here you can read its whole story :).

You can bid all these wonderful pieces here. The bidding site has English version. All these auctions end 13th January, so there is still time. If, by any chance, you would like to bid, and have any language problems, just contact me. I'll help you gladly! :)

And here is my little input to this great initiative. Each one of these tiny hearts is now a part of a different charm bracelet. Did I mention I'm proud to be a part of such a wonderful community? Well, I really am :).
Thank you girls for this wonderful experience!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Saul Bell Design Award Competition and flowerology ;)

 I wanted to wait with this till the photos of finalist pieces are published, but the names were announced a while ago and the photos still aren't there... And my wonderful news is definitely not fresh anymore ;)... So...

I'm SO proud and happy to announce that my "Flower Storm" bangle is one of the five finalists in Saul Bell Design Award Competition (metal clay category). This is a huge thing for me :). I'm also very thrilled and honoured to be a finalist among wonderfully talented people I like, admire and respect - Wanaree TannerLiz Hall (both from Etsy Metal Clay Team! :) ), Cindy Silas and Christi Anderson. Seriously girls, I feel like an ugly duckling :). Whatever the final result is - I'm already happy!

This piece is a part of my latest "Twigs" collection. I came up with it when I was working for the first time with Goldie Bronze. It also features flowery ornamentation - very dear to me. I love and make a lot of different types of ornaments, but flowers were the first :). I know it's quite typical, but I can't help it - I think that majority of jewellery makers have a little romance with flowers at some point. Let me show you a short (well, not so short ;D ) photo story of my flowery romance ;). It begins with this very first flowery medallion I've ever made :).