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.
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 …
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.
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 …
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 …