Monday, October 14, 2013

Working Smarter

While working on a sample in my studio this weekend, I started to think I was making things more difficult than they had to be. I usually think about a new design in my head for long enough that I can almost figure out how to create it in real life. In this case, I wanted to use a variety of components to build multi-sided reliquary niches. As I was fabricating them from individual strips of dry clay and they broke at the seams (multiple times), I began to wonder if all those structures were really necessary to complete the final concept. I decided to put the clay aside for a while and use graph paper to help imagine the final outcome and how I could build my project in a more straight forward way.

I like to make, store, and use components to think on my feet, to help me realize what goes where and how to put things together. I keep a small plastic container filled with dry granulation balls, bails, short tube beads (which can be used for all kinds of things), coil jump rings, and shards of broken projects that I can pull out whenever I need a particular shape. That's how I make the tops of most of my Hollow Rings - by playing with shapes, moving them here and there, and finally settling on a pleasing design.

I used two broken rings, a cracked tube bead, and a small
half lentil from a class demo to make these rings.
By mocking-up the design with a graph card acting as the metal clay 'skin', I was able to see an easier way to get the job done. And I was able to save some of the components I made for another project. Many artists create models from non precious or less time consuming materials to help them imagine the final project. Bronze sculptors may make a papier mache model before starting a ceramic sculpture, which is then molded to make the bronze. Goldsmiths would work out the kinks in an elaborate design in a less expensive metal before committing to gold. Many artists have boxes and containers and table tops overflowing with all sorts of items that they fit together like puzzle pieces until they land on a design they want to develop.

It was a simple task, but one that really helped me realize the
final design and how to go about making it.
Taking a moment to leave the clay, and 'play' with pencil and paper also helped relieve some tension I was feeling. When I got back to work, I was able to move forward with energy and assurance.

Posted by Lora Hart
Artistic Advisor

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