Tuesday, March 20, 2007

samples, and notes on working process

The samples for class this weekend are finished. Here are their pictures, the actual enamels are 1 1/2"x 7/8" If there is time, I will make settings for them. I'm happy with how they came out, different reasons for each:
This design was a challenge for me to engrave. It demonstrates the use of engraving as an overall background design, with imagery added in opaque "overlay" cloisonné. Even though wiggle-cut is simple, to get nicely curved lines while hand turning the background on a sandbag was difficult. On the other hand, the enameling was very straightforward, and the wire-bending was dirt simple. I think I will use this piece as part of my teaching "talisman"; not only do I find the image suitably resonant, but when I was talking to my sister-in-law this weekend, she mentioned that my dear brother also uses the metaphor of ripples on the water to describe teaching (did I mention that my brother and his wife are both middle school teachers)
This design was intended to demonstrate the use of engraving to add an additional layer of detail. The engraving was much easier to accomplish than the circular ripples. The enameling and finish work on this one were another story however… while aligning the wires with the design wasn't too hard, the enamels that I chose for this design were not so cooperative. I decided to experiment with the new opaque bright turquoise Schauer enamel that I got from Rio for the background. The pale taupe enamel that I chose for the oak branch fired out not completely transparent, but with a ticked texture, kind of like an Abyssinian cats fur. To "push" the taupe towards more transparency I raised the kiln heat. This worked fairly well, but surprisingly the turquoise enamel also became transparent. In adding the layers to complete the piece, it was a balancing act to get the oak branch to come out well while not having the background look too weird. I actually like the way it turned out, and it will be useful to show students the importance of doing trial pieces if specific results are needed.
Today will entail regular workaday tasks, and hopefully getting some of the tools made up for the class kits, and making colcannon for tonight's potluck

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