Monday, February 20, 2012

Share and Tell

Posted by Lora Hart
Artistic Advisor

I've taken lots of classes. Most of the time I never actually complete the proposed project, but I absorb skills and techniques from each teacher I meet. I also 'take classes' during my day to day activities by practicing what I call 'Mindful Observation'. While looking through books, surfing the web, and handling work in galleries, I look at construction details and try to see if I could recreate a setting, clasp, or other working element. I don't think that appropriating the mechanics of a design is the same as copying or usurping another artist's voice.

Joanna Gollberg, 'Reds to Yellow' Brooch.
I recently made four brooches for an online personal challenge by adapting a prong design that I first admired in Joanna Gollberg's work. I tried to replicate her technique in a ring I made last year for Ring A Day. But it felt too similar to what she is known for, so I decided not to make it again. I've since seen other artist's use the same design - there's nothing new in the world - but I'm still not comfortable using it in exactly the same way that Joanna does.

My attempt at Joanna's setting technique
This year I decided to adapt the design to marry a metal clay element to a hand made porcelain shard for my first entry to the Four-a-Month challenge. To make each setting, I first bent 20 gauge wire into a loop that would support the porcelain shard. Then I soldered prongs to capture and hold the shard in place - some horizontally, and some upright. I was able to solder them together using a butane torch, but I have to say - as simple as it looked to me at first, completing so many joins at once is not an easy task. I'd get three finished and move the flame to the fourth - only to have the first lose the connection! These settings were a study in patience for sure. But I really liked doing them and was much better by the fourth brooch. I'll definitely use this technique again.

Brooch skeletons
After I made the backings I soldered a metal clay piece to each setting, a 'scatter' pin to two, a fine silver tube to the others, patinated them, and set the porcelain bits. Then I inserted steel wire into the two tube sections to make double pin stems. I'm really thrilled with this design and can't wait to expand on it. I'd love to make a multi piece neck collar, earrings and perhaps even a bracelet to fill out the series.

I'm really excited to be teaching the texturing technique I used on the metal clay elements for Craftcast on March 12! Hope to see some of you online in 'Learn to Stencil Using Metal Clay'.


carol gregory said...

Very interesting post Lora, was intrigued by the settings when I saw them on FAM, so tricky having lots of small solder joints, so well done - you've inspired me I will do that soldering today! Also like you its good to see how other people add the "nuts and bolts" of a piece and I think its OK to use these too, not the same as using the design.

Vickie Hallmark said...

This is the perfect illustration of taking a learned technique and making it your own, Lora! I see the connection, but the results are absolutely you!