Friday, October 31, 2014

Winter Holidays themed challenge

Long time without any posts... I'll try to be a better "writer" this year (well, not so much of this year left ;-) ).
You probably noticed that during last month a lot of metal clay folks posted pictures of Christmas related pieces. Quite a lot of people across Europe got some free fine silver clay (I don't know about other countries, but in Poland it was 20 g) to make Winter Holidays related piece, post pictures of it, write about it, and of course, this way, make some good publicity in social medias for Art Clay ;-). I felt for a moment like a fashion blogger who got some free clothes  (which I wouldn't mind at all );-D BUT - free silver is free silver - you can't say "no" to a material that is simply good :-).

Being me, I wanted to make something related to Winter Holiday, Winter Solstice rather that actually Christmas. But at the same time I wanted to create something that would be easily associated with this time of a year by everyone. Recently I'm really into carving faces of all kinds, so I immediately thought about (a little bit speculative, but beautiful) archetype of the Holly King and his neverending "battle" with the Oak King - winter versus summer. I also chose a stone - seraphinite - it has this particular shade of cold green and distinctive feather-like pattern that to me looks like a frost on evergreen plants. Having all that in mind I started sketching. Yup - my sketches are almost always that awful ;-D.

As you can see at the end I switched for a different seraphinite cabochon, and was still thinking red&green - the most "christmassy" set of colours - but as soon as I carved the face, I noticed that the red is not right shade of red and actually he (the creature) already got his own personality :-). I decided that I would simply see where he takes me with his story. It is so true what Carol Douglas says about all the creatures having their own stories. They simply do. Period.

So I started forming some horns (so once again I reached for a Keeper of the Forest atributes), some flowy ornaments.. Honestly, when I look at the photos right now I wish I stopped here :-)))))))). I just love the shapes around his face... But I kept going - one day I'll learn how to edit myself.

When I was ready he looked like this. He already changed into something different. I switched carnelians and red zirconias for white pearls and white cz - I liked that freezing pallete of colours much more. I also decided that all kinds of evergreen plants would be too much - I just felt drawn to a particular one - mistletoe. So the Holly King turned into a Mistletoe Spirit. This suited him much better, and was definitely related to Winter Holidays with all that symbolism surrounding mistletoe.

When he was ready for firing I realised that I definitely hadn't used all 20 grams of clay, so I decided to make a quick, and rather simple winter-related piece with snowflakes, just to use the rest. And then it turned out that 20 grams is really a huge amount of clay :-))))), because I had to make a third piece - well, this time not related to anything ;-). Usually I don't really control how much clay I use, and I was quite surprised by how clay efficient these pieces were. I weighed them before firing, just out of curiosity. The Mistletoe Spirit weighed 12.4 grams, the one with snowflakes - 4.2 grams, and the one with flowers 2.7 grams.

After firing I did some more traditional work on all three pieces. Whenever I see in my design spots that need extra strenght constructionwise (well, I'm not sure if this word does extist, but I just assumed that if you can say "timewise", than you can say all sorts of Xwise things ;-) And it sounds smart ;-D ), I use regular sterling, soldering etc. The same with very simple elements. In case of this seraphinite cabochon, I just wanted to set it in a very simple setting, and I wanted the sculptural part to move freely under the stone, so there was no point in using metal clay for that. I just made it out of silver sheet. So here you can see the piece after some soldering and before pickling.

And here they are - after all the soldering, pickling, and I already set the stones in smaller ones. Plus some heavy LOS patina of course :-).
Please, don't judge me too hard on my traditional work - I'm just learning :-).

And here are the final pieces: