*comes in and looks at empty blog. Winces realizing the last time I posted. Waves a little bit awkwardly and taps on the microphone a few times*
Testing, one two three. Check check.
Hello out there in the great interwebs. It’s been quite a time. Though I’ve been busy as a beaver pack in a log cabin museum, I have neglected this forum. I figured I’d toss a post up on just what I’ve been doing. Particularly, the obsession I’ve been working on for the last 14 months.
Precious Metal Clay.
Imagine a soft clay, somewhere between terra cotta and sculpey. Easily to make impressions, a bit difficult and messy to sculpt, but quite workable and enjoyable. Then imagine you put the clay piece in a kiln, cooked it at upwards of 1500 degrees, and what was left behind was not fired ceramics, but fired bronze, copper, and fine silver.
Don’t imagine, that’s exactly what I’ve been bloody doing.
When I say I work in clay, but my pieces are .999 fine silver, I mean exactly that. A Japanese corporation was trying to reclaim silver particles from old x-rays. What they developed was expensive, unique, and just a bit odd. So they marketed it for crazy artists. For my geeky friends who actually read the Charlaine Harris books, that is the exact same back-story as the creation of True Blood, except with artists instead of vampires.
This stuff is a miracle. It contains little particles of metal in an ‘organic binder’ which is a fancy way of saying non-toxic clay. The clay holds the particles in place while the fire of the kiln burns away the clay, fuses the particles, and leaves you with a solid piece of jewelry or statuary. It’s a bit of modern alchemy in my book, and as long as you fire right, what’s left behind is 90 % as strong as if you had melted the bronze and poured it directly into a cast. With out having to have the facilities to deal with molten metal.
That’s part of the attraction of course. I live in the French Quarter in New Orleans, where space is a premium and I have a very nice, but very small, apartment, just a touch more than a studio with a full kitchen and bath. Just enough room for a little jewelry kiln, and a material that I can work with my fingers like a kid and silly putty.
Of course, I’m still learning. I’ve had many failures, and many pieces that broke in the fire or after. Pieces I thought that were successful but broke with wear, or in shipping. That’s part of the process with any skill, and since even the broken pieces are metal, all the clay binder removed in the fires, I just save it all as scrap for other projects later on. While I work on my skills of blacksmithing, soldering, and braising.
Every commission I take forces me to learn more. Every new project I come up with has new challenges. I started making simple stamped necklaces like this.
And now have a small army of costumed minions.
I get to indulge my spiritual side with totems and amulets.
Or my geeky side with Kodama and Eyes of Agamatto.
My only limits are my imagination, the skill of my fingers, and having the money for my clay packs.