Working in the Greenware Stage of Metal Clay

Dust, dust, dust, and more dust . . that is the biggest observation I make every time I refine my clay pieces after they are completely dry.  It is always best to spend a good amount of your work time on this stage as it is easier to correct minor flaws and to make the piece more refined and polished BEFORE it becomes hardened metal.  Trust me, after it fires, it becomes quite a different matter to change anything other than hammer it and bending it.

It is also an important way to salvage the metal dust and keep it for future paste that you may need.  As I designed this week I noticed that I am really going for a more sculptural look with my pieces.  I’ve always loved the 3D effect of combining pieces but now I’m really playing around with themes and such.  This picture shows you my latest copper piece that I made into a bib style necklace with florals . . . (dried stage)


The branch underneath it will have some leaves that I cut out and will “paste” them onto the branch for a bracelet–I just finished sanding and refining all my copper pieces for this week and yeah, the dust will be embedded in my nails and cuticles for a few showers . . .


But, I will say this again, all the dust, dirt, work, and refinement at this stage will truly pay off.  I would also be sure that you are quite familiar with your kiln and how your copper and bronze pieces will fire.  Many metal clay “gurus” talk about doing test strips and I agree.  You don’t want all the work you just spend on molding, forming, designing, refining, etc to simply burn away. However, it is not a perfect world we live in and you will certainly run into over firing, over loading, or simply didn’t make the piece right and you end up with blistering, powder or melted away pieces.  I have a special jar for these and some of them I’m thinking of hacking off the cracks and such and make a mosaic piece . . .  maybe next week.  This week I did several bronze pieces, and they came out of the kiln wonderfully and are now tumbling themselves to sleep tonight while my floral garden and other pieces are firing up all night tonight.  I hope that tomorrow when I open the kiln and dig into the carbon that the sculpted pieces survived.  You’ll see pictures, because that’s how excited I’ll be.

Finally, I have some silver pieces waiting to go next.  Prepping for a fine art show in Gainesville, GA the weekend of the 9/21st and I like to have some WOW pieces for the judges!  I’m afraid that the copper floral garden will be priced for the higher end customer due to the amount used.

Till next time and thanks and shout out to those of you following my blog.  My goal is to share what I do so that you can learn and maybe feel inspired!


Why I love doing Shows

I haven’t been on my blog lately as I’ve been busy preparing for all my Fall shows.  Not only that, but because of some medical issues, I have to have bed rest for at least half a day.  So, I’ve picked up my crochet needle and now I’ve made about 50 hats, 4 scarfs, 10 fingerless gloves and so on.  My new line is called “ThreadHeads” and I’ll premier these items on October 5 at a local show.  Just love keeping busy!

But I digress . . .why do I love shows so much?  I have taught many new artists about the show circuit and what it requires to run your business on the circuit.  Many artists do not do shows because of all the hard work, weather issues, or just not having enough help.  I have found that instead of galleries, retails stores and such, my work sells best at the show–and that is because I am actually interacting with clients and since my work is unique (no reproductions), I am able to see the person I made the piece for.  It is a joyful and wonderful moment when a piece of jewelry created and designed by my hand speaks to someone I have never met and it is perfect for them.  This happens all the time.  Not only does make shows fun for me, but I also love being around people.  When you work on your own and by yourself, sometimes that become hard to process and feel like your are creating pieces that will really make statements.  But, when I open up for a show, I am validated by all the happy comments and the “wows” and the “ahhs” and the general consensus that my work truly stands out.  That means I’ve made my mark in this industry.

And yet another reason, is that I get to meet some wonderful people on the circuit–mostly the artists who are my neighbors.  I am always praying that connections are made not only through my jewelry sales but also with the people I work with.  Some neighbors are just not happy people and complain about so much.  Yet most of the folks I know are so down-to-earth and truly creative in their own right with beautiful art.  I love when I can trade for pieces (especially for pottery) and I love bringing more of the handmade art into my home.  Not only do we support each other in our work, but we grow our local economy.  I only buy gifts from artists.  I only trade with artists.  Even on days when the sales are slow and the show seems to be a break-even or even just a marketing show, I still love what I do.  My desire to reach out and share my joy motivates me to keep on trucking through my chronic pain issues and my physical weaknesses.  And, when I do hit a low spot in my thinking and concern, God certainly validates to me that He is in control and that my work is important.  Jewelry is a personal expression.  It is something that allows us to tell the world who we are and what makes us happy just by wearing it.  And when it gets noticed, then we are able to not only smile but to also reach out to others.  It is the ripple in the pond effect.  And that is powerful enough for me to keep on liking my shows.

One day, I hope to become a promoter and run a show that artists will find viable and fun.  In our current economy we have much to watch out for, especially for promoters who don’t follow up and through on their promises and only wish to sell the “real estate” of the booth space.  Hopefully, the more shows you do and the more you talk to other artists, you’ll find the right shows for your product.  It is a learning experience even for veterans like me.  I still hit the shows that don’t work for me, but I meet lots of great people.  And again, in the economy, every show is now a gamble because we can no longer rely on the consistency of the buying public–especially for the arts, which is basically not a need for most people.

I hope to give shout-outs to artists I meet along the way and I’d like to start with this one–Roger Clark–a man who is a retired pastor and now preaches behind his potter’s wheel–impressive and exciting to hear what he does and to see his beautiful work . . .

Here’s my piece from Roger’s collection this last weekend: