Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What I've Been Doing Lately...

I'm not the type of person who makes New Year's Resolutions, but something prodded me this year.  I decided I wanted to learn at least three new jewelry techniques.  I settled on beadweaving, glass fusing and precious metal clay work.

All I can say is that I've completed all of my resolutions, with resounding success.  Thanks to my friendly neighborhood Local Bead Store (LBS).  Well, actually not so friendly - some of the staff are, shall we say, not quite Nordstrom-ready if you know what I mean.  Beads n' Stitches, in Hickville is a really incredible place - not for the beads (although the selection is pretty nice), but for the classes.  Since January, I've taken a class just about every other week, starting with Peyote Stitch bezel (which is what induced me to start doing this), diagonal peyote (not my favorite), and toggles and bails with a Russian Spiral, which was nothing that I couldn't have taught myself. 

So, just as I've gotten pretty addicited to the little seed and cylinder beads, I signed up for the basic fused glass class. taught by Jane Cummins.  That one was loads of fun, and I made some really pretty stuff.  I was thinking about signing up for the classes at the Long Island Art League in Huntington, but glass isn't where my heart it.  It's with the metal.

Two weeks after the glass class, I got my first taste of PMC in the first of a series of classes with the amazing Linda Twohill. 

Oh boy, am I hooked!  Well, I wasn't really hooked from the first class, which was ring making.  The skills we learned were pretty advanced for first-time PMC users, and I was not 100% sold on the material when we got done, but it has really, really grown on me.

In this first class, we had the choice of making two out of three ring styles.  Everyone did a PMC on sterling band (mine came out pretty junky, and I wasn't to heartbroken when I broke it), and then there was the choice of making a wrapped wire and PMC slip ring (cool but not me), or a slab/wrap ring.  I think I was really attracted to this style because of the design possibilities.  And what do you think happened?  I got too ambitous, and killed my clay (overworked it and it dried out too much).  I needed to buy a second package (not a big deal, I was able to resurrect the other clay for the next session), and I was thrilled with how the finished product came out.  I wear this ring two or three days a week.  It's not flawless by any stretch - I was a little uneven in the pressure when stamping the pattern, and the ruffles don't quite line up.  It's also a bit big for the ring finger, and a big snug for the middle one on a warm day, but it works for me.  I'm actually still "refining" it - the edges are a bit rough (someone hogged the greenware files in class, and so didn't smooth them before firing).  It also had a strange encounter with some eggs, and a large part of the band turned black.  I've buffed it up, but it should be repatinated. 

Two weeks later, Val and I took the "focal bead" class - and that was a ball.  I had most of a 16 gm packet of PMC from the rings class two weeks earlier, so I made two pendants.  The first one, with the ruffled edges is good, but not perfect, but the second piece is pretty close to excellent. 

Before the end of that day, I signed up for the Intermediate Techniques class, and PMC studio session - no new techniques, just PMC and all of Linda's tools and toys to play with.  (I also enrolled in her metalworking class, more about that in a later post).

The Intermediate Techniques was fantastic - we learned box making and stone setting, how to use stencils, PMC syringe and PMC paper, and lots of other really neat stuff.  I still had some PMC left over from the Focal Bead session (and Val gave me her leftovers), so I was able to create two really substantial pendants.

The zodiac piece is my favorite, and I wear it all the time - but it's pretty wonky.  The top ring is really uneven and the backside is a bit twisted - but the effect is cool, and I love how it feels around my neck.

I also like the flat box piece - it's two pendants in one.  The nautilus on one side, and the Victorian flourish on the other.  It also "sings" a bit - the chain makes a slight noise against the silver walls.

Next Saturday is the PMC Studio Time session, and I've been dreaming of the piece I want to make.  I don't know if I've got the skills to execute my vision, but I am going to try.  It's a set of braclet links.  The large center piece has a Celtic dragon embossed on the top, with a frame around the dragon, the back embossed with a swirl pattern.  I also want a subtle pattern on the frame, too.  The corners will have triangular holes, and I want to set a few orange opal cabachons.  The side pieces will feature the same frame and embossed pattern, but I'll add dragonflies from PMC paper instead of full-sized dragons.  I haven't worked out the clasp yet.  I may just bring in a Saki clasp as a template.  It's very, very ambitious. 

1 comment:

BeadyNoid said...

Lita, it's lovely to read about your PMC enthusiasm! I'm really looking forward to seeing these silvery creations of yours -- sounds just wonderful! So many wonderful avenues to explore ... so little time!-- Carol-Anne