I often find many of my organic pieces in the spring when they are fresh and new. It is best to work the clay into a paste that matches or is supported by the actual item you want to make. This process takes time, patience and practice! It is almost intuitive when you have to decide just how many layers a piece will take. Dogwoods are one of my favorite flowers to work with. This year, instead of picking just one or two larger ones, I went earlier and picked about 9 really strong “baby” ones. I find that using distilled water and glycerin will thin down the paste really well–but you have to keep it mixed thoroughly. Also, in these slow economic times, I save all my silver “sawdust” and make paste out it. This last batch made up about 6 oz which saved me over $180 in supply! But, it took time and patience to get the consistency right and the paste smooth. Also, be sure to have the right brushes to really apply the paste in all the nooks and crannies of an organic piece.
This shows you the current collection of dogwoods I am working on. I paste one to two layers each time I’m in the studio. You can speed up the drying process by putting on a cup warmer and then paste again. How many layers? Well, until you feel that it will be strong enough during firing! That’s the art part, not the scientific answer.
Here are my lenten roses from our new yard that I thought I would try. Much larger and the first couple of layers of paste didn’t take well–but I pressed on and kept working it and after you get about 4-5 layers of dried paste, it becomes easier to bulk it up.
I’m still working on these pieces but here is one of the roses that I finished for the last show . . .
I hand torch the organic pieces to control the amount of time and burn and also do some flattening in the process to make sure the finished piece doesn’t have sharp curves or edges–also filing after firing helps in this area. I don’t drill a hole until it is tumbled after firing to harden the actual metal. With this rose, I oxidized with coffee and liver of sulfate! Awesome midnight colors came to surface with a light polish and paired with a black steel hammered chain.
If the organic makes it to the show looking like this . . . well . . springtime beauty is well worth the wait in my opinion!