It’s been ages since I spent time in the workshop with my hands on anything other than jewelry-until a few weeks ago, that is. Lately I’ve been spending lots of time playing with my lathe at home and studying with Bernhard Voss at Craft Alliance and these are some of the little turnings that have been occupying my time (and my mind). Keep an eye out for a post about summer shows in the next week or two. I suspect a few of my little wooden vessels just might make an appearance at a few of them…
I love copper. This blog and the body of work it represents have belabored this point nearly ceaselessly. BUT! I also love silver. I don’t document as much of my silver work, but trust that I do it. And I love it. Also, thanks to an absurdly inflated commodities market (thanks, middle-american-zombie-apocalypse-jerk-off-fantasies! And Ron-Paul-jerk-off-fantasies!), I just do a lot less work in silver than I used to do.
In any case, the good and clever folks of ancient Japan also loved both copper and silver. So much so, in fact, that they had the damned good sense to invent an alloy called shibuichi, which is traditionally an alloy of 3-parts copper to 1-part silver, though there’s a whole bunch of variation in that. It takes fantastically interesting patinas and by all means, take a moment and Wikipedia that shit.
Whew, hang in there…I’m gonna be coming right around to a point in short order here.
Alas, I haven’t been making shibuichi. Nor have I convinced the metallurgical geniuses over at Hauser to start refining it for me. (yet.) BUT! I did finally get around to experimenting with an idea that’s been nagging in my brain for a little bit, and I’m pretty goddamn tickled with the results. I just torch-fused a slurry of fine silver PMC over sheet copper, letting the silver reticulate over the course of three firing-pickling cycles. As the silver fuses and reticulates, it incorporates the copper unevenly, making for a yummy, organic and slightly unpredictable finish -my very favorite kind!
I remain, as ever, passionately in love with my gingkos. No other form seems to evoke such an intense personal connection as that archetypal frond.
I love the smoothly predictable ridges of the leaves and the subtle variation in their forms.
I love the way their texture exaggerates as they dry.
I love the meditative process of preparing them each, one by one, for the alchemical process of electroforming.
I love, especially, the magic moment when I cut the current and pull them from the primordial electrolyte and feel the rigid metal which has captured in perfect fidelity the delicate form of the leaf, still safely sheathed within.
So, remember last Sunday’s exciting ring project? Yeah, I busted the stone being careless. Ooooops. But! Behind every misfortune is an opportunity!
I’ve been saying forever that I want to make some wooden cabochons and see how they look in the big chunky bezels I like so much to make.
Behold! I’ll get this thing all finished and set at Monday’s Ert Night with the amazing folks over at Camp Jessop. Stay tuned!
I love rainy Sundays, and when I got a little bench time today I finally felt ready to play with some of the gorgeous jasper that I got in Oregon last month. I built a sterling and copper bezel and tomorrow night I’ll finish shaping and filing the bezel back, patina the whole setting and burnish the stone into place. looking forward to seeing it finished!
Anyone who’s done much yoga will happily tell you that when you take life’s struggles to the mat with you, solutions have a way of presenting themselves within the course of your practice. The discipline of the mind that comes from tying the breath to your movement has a way of making the baffling obvious, which is what, in part, keeps most of us coming back.
However, in the 12 years that I’ve been practicing yoga, tonight was the first time that I’ve ever experienced the reverse of that. See, I have a real fear about parsva bakasana, or side crow pose. I’m afraid of re-injuring my wrist. Afraid of falling. Afraid that I can’t hold the pose. Afraid to topple over and look stupid. Just. Afraid.
I know, this is a jewelry blog, and I’m getting there, I promise! If you’re familiar with my work much at all you know that I’m not much of a stone setter and I tend to shy away from working with minerals/gems. Certainly not because I don’t like them. Quite the contrary, in fact, I love all of the chalcedony stones, particularly jasper, agate and lapis. Problematically, though, I love those stones so much that I’ve always been really terrified of breaking them in my clumsy attempts to set them.
So part of the challenge I’ve set for myself this year is to do more stone setting. To that end, several weeks ago I bought some beautifully polished agate slices with some vague notions about simple, cold-worked settings. I’ve spent weeks now staring at these things on my bench, unwrapping the delicate protective tissue paper they’re nestled in and, almost immediately wrapping them back up for fear that if I look at them too long they’ll simply shatter. Tonight the mood was right and I finally decided to work one of the agates in a very simple, nearly foolproof setting just to get the ball rolling in the right direction. Predictably, the simple cold fabrication went smoothly and quickly and I’m really tickled with the results. But much the way that the physical discipline of yoga steadies the mind and makes it behave in a useful, productive way, so too with the physical discipline of metalsmithing. Again and again while I sawed and textured, patina’d and buffed and formed and set the rivet, my mind drifted to the side crow, and as I was delicately hammering the copper rod to form the rivet, I had a breakthrough and was finally able to visualize myself moving through my fear and falling, ever-so-lightly, into a full, steady, and graceful expression of parsva bakasana.
Have been revisiting some of the fold forming I’d been messing around with a couple years ago. Having lots of fun and even produced a couple cuffs I’m happy with. come on out to Venice Cafe this Friday night for our last Happy Hourtesania trunk show (before the world ends) and get the last of your handmade holiday shopping done!