Serendipity #1

I’ve been struggling for a week or so to come up with a larger, eye catching piece for the middle of my stand at the BCTF in a couple of weeks. I’ve thrown a lot of ideas around the workshop but the right one has been eluding me … I knew that I wanted to work at a slightly larger scale (and maybe use some stones) but nothing I tried was working.

Then Marcia Lanyon came to town:

A London based stone dealer Marcia and her team make a trip up to the Quarter a few times a year to sell to students in the university (where I first encountered her) and, more recently, to the general public in Cookson‘s foyer. The nicest thing about her visits is that you get time and space to fully inspect the stock, sorting through the jumble of lovely things that she and her team bring with her.

I was idling through the selection when I came by this:

A kind of fossilised coral. Isn’t it beautiful?

Each piece is different, with faint coral textures and an abstract shape all it’s own. It’s going to be just perfect for a big, new press formed piece!

I planned it all out and made the dies today so tomorrow I’ll set to work on it …

Pressform Practice #7: Finished Work

So, here they are – the first images of final, finished press fomed pieces!

I’ve learned so much making these, it’s given me lots of ideas for where to take the work next, with etchings and finshes and new shapes – it’s very exciting.

So, back to the workshop …

Press Form Practice #7:

I got the acid out today and etched some little studs to test the textures.

I matted them afterwards for nice, washed-up-on-the-coast feel and had a play with finishes:

These are patinated black and left matte:

I like it on the earrings but I think it might be a bit too much when you get up to the brooch scale …

The form in these pieces is really important and in a way I think that having such a strong etch might have taken away from that.

I’ll take some pictures over the weekend of the plain frosted ones and the etched ones together and see how they compare …

Texture and the frosting wheel …

Obviously I do a lot of etching but, sometimes, I think simple forms look great just with simple textures. I really love a good higgh polished finish but, now that I’m working with Britannia silver I worry that the hard, high polish won’t last when the piece is worn and anyway, there’s nothing like shiny silver for showing fingerprints.

So, in an experimental mood, I popped out of the workshop to Walshes and bought one of these babies:

A frosting wheel.

Honestly, it looks utterly terrifying mounted on my pendant motor – the spines are very fine steel wire and when they’re spinning they look pretty vicious – but I’m assured that it’s fine so long as you’re careful.

I got one of my spare copper samples out and set to it, initially it looks like you’re ruining the surface that you just spent ages sanding but, once you build up the texture, it’s quite lovely:

It grows into a nice, soft sheen that has a soft sparkle and is ever so slightly rough to touch.

Now, hand me a silver one to test it on …

Press Form Practice #4

So, where was I with my press forming?

Ah, yes – earrings:

I’ve played around with the balance and hang of the larger piece a little more and I think I’m finally settled. I much prefer slightly asymmetric shapes to the precise structure of symmetrical ones – these look a little more like the fish/boats and sea of the coast that inspired them. I’ve got some new etching patterns in mind to decorate them too.

So far the range is shaping up like this:

though there’s at least another large brooch form already cut and waiting to be sampled on my bench …

Earrings today #2 …

I soldered up that test earring press form today and I’m really encouraged by how nicely it turned out.

Fitting the ring to the top was a little fiddly (luckily I have a lot of fragments of firebrick lying around) but I got it balanced in the end:

here it is, all sanded down and in my ear (just to give you an idea of scale)

I think the form works well, but I’m a little concerned that the asymmetry of the shape is causing it to hang ever so slightly off centre. I’m going to make up a couple more and adjust the positioning of the ring – just to see if that helps it to hang more evenly.

Of course, I might be the only one who notices it …

Earrings today …

Earrings are some of my favourite things to wear (… and buy) but lately I’ve been rather addicted to making studs and haven’t really got very involved in the world of the drop earring.

So, I have a plan to remedy that:

and a press form:

… and some more when I’m back in the studio on Wednesday …