Friday, September 28, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

It's All About Physics

Posted by Lora Hart
Artistic Advisor

On August 1st I started a grand, new adventure. I left my hometown of Los Angeles, California to move to Richmond, Virginia. The thought of moving had been kicking around in my thoughts since the turn of the millennium. It had become more concrete in the past couple of years as I talked it over with my East-coast cousins. My Father was born and raised in Richmond, so re-locating there made sense.

The move was two years in the planning. At first it was just the fantasizing part, then I flew out this past February to teach a weekend class and look at apartments and actually found a beautiful space that would be available in August. I filled out an application, sent in my deposit, and it was a fait acompli.

I stopped teaching at the end of June. Started packing at the beginning of July. Movers came, car transport took away my Matrix, and I got on a plane with the angel known as Donna Penoyer on July 31. Donna was kind (or crazy) enough to help with the final packing details in LA and took custody of one of my two cats so they could travel as carry on luggage in the body of the plane. Only one pet to a passenger. Then she stayed in Richmond for another week to help me settle in.

After Donna left and the movers made their cross country trek, Cindy Silas drove down from the DC area to help with the unpacking. Then Vickie Hallmark flew in from Austin to oversee the decorating and bookshelf building.

All in all, there was non-stop excitement and company for about two months. I'm so lucky to have had them. I'm pretty sure I couldn't have made the move without Donna, and the touchdown in Richmond would have been much more difficult without Cindy and Vickie. Thanks Ladies. I'm so grateful for your help and friendship. But I have to admit, I was kinda relieved when y'all left. For about four days.
Then the ennui set in. There had been so much planning and moving and nesting and activity for so long, that when it settled down - I lost all energy. And once I started to rest and relax, it was hard to get motivated to start back in my regular routine.

There's a saying in physics, actually it's Newton's first law of inertia. "An object at rest will stay at rest, forever, as long as nothing pushes or pulls on it. I think there's actually a TV commercial running right now that references this phenomenon.

So, there I was, stuck on the couch. While I had set up the apartment so well that it was looking pretty good, the studio boxes were unpacked but still unorganized, and I had no interest in putting the table together that would allow me to actually work. Until I had a conversation with Holly Gage, who suggested that we have  Skype-y play date! That was just the push/pull I needed. Now the table has been put together, drawers have been built, tools and supplies organized, and my hometown public radio station's app downloaded to my iPad (I've been missing KPPC terribly and the studio seems a perfect place to listen). Yesterday I actually woke up wanting to go to the studio.

We all need a little help from our friends from time to time. But there are also those occasions when we have to figure out our own motivating force. Sometimes it can be as simple as sitting in the chair and handling tools. Or making little components like bails and earwires to have on hand. Sometimes we might benefit from a trip to the museum or a walk in the rain. Other times the force might be more quiet, necessitating a cease of all technological distractions. And sometimes the action needed to jump-start our momentum is more massive. Sometimes we may need to implement another advertiser's catch phrase - 'Just Do It'.

There are novelists who keep regular hours. They sit down at their typewriter at 8:00 am and don't leave until 5:00 pm. Even if all they're typing is "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" 400 times. They're practicing the 'Just Do It" method of creative physics. Once an artist picks up a tool to do something, anything, the muse will spark, one thought will lead to another, and the missing motivation will return. Eventually. We just have to be patient and proactive.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Finding Center

by Janet Alexander
Technical Advisor

From time to time, we construct jewelry using round discs or square objects and must find the center of these objects. This can be critical if accurate placement affects how something will hang or how pieces fit together. But, it can be easier said than done.  Fortunately, there is a device called a center finder that is very easy to use. Center finders range from expensive versions to inexpensive plastic devices. But, they all work in the same way.
Steel Center Finder

Plastic Center Finder
 The Steps

Place the circle or square into the back-side of the tool so that it rests on the tool's ledge.

Turn the tool over with the circle or square against the back side of the tool. Make sure it is sitting snug in the "V" of the tool.

Draw a line along the center straight edge on the item.

Rotate the item 45 degrees placing it back in the tool as before.
Draw a second line along the straight edge on the center of the item.

The center of the item is the junction of the two drawn lines.

This is an example of finding the center of a square object. Note that the center edge of the center finder lies along the square's diagonal lines.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Planning and Preparation

Posted by Lora Hart
Artistic Advisor

Jewelry making should be more than just tearing into expensive materials and starting a new project. The more time you take planning the design in advance, the more likely you are to have what you consider a successful outcome.

If there's an unusual object that you'd like to set, place it on a piece of paper and draw a few different possible examples of the metal backing around it. Wanting to try a new chain design? Make a maquette out of paper first. Trying to figure out how to put together a complicated construction? Use polymer or paper clay to work out each step in the process before you get out the silver.

One of my favorite tricks is to draw a design I have in mind, then repeat the process altering a few details. Repeat the whole thing 5 times, using each previous drawing as a jumping off point for the next iteration. By the time you have 6 drawings of the same theme, you'll have worked out the design in your mind and can choose the best version to get started on your piece.

What kinds of techniques do you use to imagine a new design? We'd love to know! If you'd like to share, please put a picture of your process up on our Flickr set (you'll need to have your own free Flickr account), comment on this post and include a link back to your photo.

Friday, September 14, 2012

New Brilliant Bronze

Exciting news from Hadar - the new Brilliant Bronze is on the way.

Which one is gold and which one is Brilliant Bronze?

We'll have our first shipment next week and can't wait to hear how you like it!

See what Hadar has been up to and find out which ring is gold here.

Monday, September 10, 2012


by Linda Kline
Director of Education

Editor's Note: Because we discuss teaching strategies on this blog, we occasionally address issues of personality. As much as teachers love to revel in the joys of teaching, it comes with its occasional challenges.One of those challenges can be the behavior of the students themselves. Anyone who has taught or taken a class will relate. As a student, you don’t want your day ruined because you had to sit next to someone who couldn't get it together. As a teacher, you don’t want the less-than-stellar behavior of one person getting in the way of other students’ ability to learn.

So what do you do? Sometimes anticipating and preventing disruptive behavior gets the job done. Other times, you may have no choice but to deal with a problem as it arises. Linda’s strategies are below.

The ONE. . .

It seems like there’s at least one in every class - one student whose needs or expectations don’t quite jive with the rest of the crowd. You know the one I mean.

“The ONE,” comes in all shapes, sizes, and different forms of off-balancing quirks. The energy or neediness of that one person can upset the equilibrium of an entire class.

Here are a few eccentricities to watch out for and some strategies for coping,

The Negative One. . . just can’t stop griping.

Everything is the pits! The weather stinks; the lighting is crappy; the room is too hot. She is so accustomed to being miserable, she isn’t aware that she has nothing positive to say -- and we all know the old adage about misery loving company. Negative people do a lot of recruiting to draw others into their way of thinking. Try as you may to assuage them, they are having no part of your sunny disposition.

Best advice for dealing with dealing with Negative Types:
If you are a student, RUN…..Save yourself! Pick up your stuff and move across the room.

If you are the teacher, first be sure that the student doesn’t have a legitimate beef, then accept that you probably won’t be able to make her grey skies sunny. The best strategy for getting everyone successfully through the class? Interrupt and distract. Insert yourself in the conversation and change the subject. Get everyone back on topic and focused on something tangible, a specific skill, the next stage of the project, etc.

The Know It All

This one knows everything. One must wonder why they would enroll for a class because they clearly know more than the instructor. A-Know-It-All’s two favorite words are, “I heard ______________, or “I read ___________, (fill in the blank).” These types try so hard to take charge of the class that they usually miss everything the teacher has been attempting to teach…..and so does everyone who is seated anywhere near them.

Coping with the Know It All:
If you are a student, tell her/him you’d love to hear more, perhaps at lunch or after class. But tell them it’s hard to concentrate on what the teacher is saying while they are talking. If you do meet up with them later, be sure to fact-check what they say. Know It All's are well-intentioned, but quite often they have the details wrong.

If you are the teacher, gain control of your group by kindly asking this person to hold his/her thoughts until you are finished with your presentation and you can address them with the entire group.

Why, Why, Why

This one is most enthusiastic and eager to learn. This type is naturally inquisitive and wants to know more! He just can’t help blurting out questions right in the middle of a demo or presentation which may throw the teacher off topic and upset the flow of the class and presentation.

Coping with the Why, Why, Why Type:
Let’s not quell their inquisitive nature, but rather embrace it. Ask them to make note of the questions and hold them until you’ve finished your presentation. Most likely, you will answer all of their questions in the course of your demo and lecture. And if you don’t, they may provide you with some great follow up points.

Handouts can often be helpful with this type. If they can see where you are headed, they will often hold questions until at least that portion of the presentation.

[Editor’s addition:

The Compulsive Documentarian a/k/a the Person Whose iPad is Always Between You and the Action.. . .

Technology solves many problems, but creates its own set of bad behaviors. One of my personal pet peeves is students filming everything. And I mean everything. There are three problems with this phenomenon. First, many do it without asking the teacher. At the very least, this is seriously rude. Class fees do not necessarily include filming rights. Second, the person behind you can’t see through your iPad. So if you hold it up to film, you should really be at the back of the pack. Finally, I have to wonder how much someone intent on filming is really experiencing and absorbing. Sometimes giving your full attention the first time is the best course.

Dealing with the iPad Crew:
If you are a student and it is causing a problem, politely mentioning it to the offender or the teacher usually gets good results. Teachers, this is one of those things you can address at the outset with an announcement or a request that people be aware of others in the room and/or honor your policies about filming.]

When you think about it, we’ve all been the ONE at one time or another. I’m sure I’ve driven many of my teachers to the brink of the great abyss with my overzealous desire to learn and all of my questions. To those patient souls, I offer a humble apology. It’s true…….What comes around, goes around.

Keep the peace and keep smiling.
Creative Blessings,

Friday, September 7, 2012

Making Tubing with an Extruder

by Janet Alexander
Technical Advisor

An extruder allows you to make different shapes of even thicknesses in clay very quickly. It's also great for makign clay tubing. Use the tubing for hollow bails, hinges, stone settings, or anything else you can imagine.

This is an aluminum extruder that is anodized with green paint. It is not advised to keep the fine silver metal clay in the extruder for very long, as this can cause a reaction with the clay. A very short amount of time however, does not cause a reaction.

Note: These extruders also come in a stainless steel version.

 The tubing attachments include a circle disc and a strange looking disc with a protruding nose (here, the Makin's ClayCore Adapter.)

Choose the a disc with the circle large enough to allow space for the clay to extrude around the tube disc's nose.

Here is the order in which the parts fit into the extruder. The cap, rubber ring, circle disc, tubing disc, clay, and the extruder body. 
Note that the tubing disc's nose points through the circle disc.

The Steps:

Twist the extruder's handle counter clockwise making the plunger slide into the body of the extruder. 

Roll your metal clay by hand into a ball so it fits inside the extruder. 

Place the tube disc into the extruder.

Place the rubber ring into the cap.

Place the circle disc in the cap. 

Attach the cap to the body. 

Extrude the clay into a tube by holding it perpendicular to the table and evenly twisting the handle clockwise. If you start and stop while twisting, the tube will not be even or uniformly shaped.