Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 3 Idyllwild Arts Program, Metals Week

I have lost track of which picture belongs to which day and from the very first day, Harold O'Connor demonstrated his skillful use of his breath controlled torch. So here's a good picture of Harold and his torch. He told us this is a European technique and we could tell he is highly skilled at using it.
Harold O'Connor and His Breath Controlled Torch

Copper Laminated to Silver and Carved

After we tried making a 3-dimensional form and then reticulating silver, we were introduced to making our own bi-metal from copper and silver. Here is an example of copper soldered to silver, run through the rolling mill several times and then carved to show the silver design underneath. The color is a torch patina on the copper.

The natural progression in making bi-metal was 18K gold on silver. The gold is a very thin gauge which is then fused to 12 gauge silver. First the silver is annealed three times to build up a layer of fine silver. Fine silver fuses easier than sterling.

Gold sheet fused to Sterling Silver

The bubbles that are visible may disappear in the rolling mill process. If not, then the artist works with them to create a design.

18K Gold Laminated on Sterling Silver

The result can be stunning-- especially if Harold O'Connor is the artist demonstrating the technique. In between these demonstrations we were cutting, filing, annealing, pickling, and working with the metal to create pieces with carved bi-metal designs. The result was quite satisfying and I will be showing you some of my work tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

First Days of Surface Embellishment Class

Our first day of Metals Week at Idyllwild Arts Center began with coffee and lots of breakfast. Breakfasts are especially welcome here and give new meaning to the word "break-fast".  After breakfast, Metals Week officially began with orientation in front of the library and an introduction of the instructors.

 Charity Hall, Sandra Noble-Goss, Pauline Warg, Joanna Gollberg,  Fred Zweig, and Harold O'Connor

Reticulated Silver

 On the first day Harold O'Connor demonstrated creating design on reticulated silver with a torch.
The picture above is one of Harold O'Connor's demonstration pieces. He made it look very easy. Some of the examples he created were especially awesome. For some reason, when I tried it on the 26 gauge reticulated silver it didn't work as well for me. I don't have the torch control to determine the resulting design. But I am here to learn.

Harold O'Connor's Three Dimensional Formed Silver

This piece is amazing and I have spent three days trying to produce anything remotely similar.
If I finish my piece, I'll post it here and then celebrate. Harold makes it look so easy.

I have more pictures. Many stories and lots to tell you but tonight, I'm going to sleep so I can work on finishing my Three Dimensional Form tomorrow.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

On The Road To Idyllwild

Thursday was the big day. The day I gathered my stuff and packed it in the car for the adventurous trip to Idyllwild, CA. I am familiar with Interstate 5 in California and I know the speed limit often gets pushed a bit on this road. Somehow, motorists get in the way if they are really going the speed limit. The crowning glory was the 20 miles of construction between Bakersfield and Los Angeles. The only thing more boring than Interstate 5 is slowing down to 3 miles an hour for construction, not once but twice--maybe three times. I should have taken pictures of the crazy drivers, the crazy signs but I didn't. So I found this one. I wonder what we would do if we were asked to go 50 miles an hour on this highway now?

 Highway Sign Along Interstate #5 Shows the 50 Mile an Hour Limit Imposed by Officials in That State as Well as Oregon before a Federal Order Asked Motorists Throughout the Nation to Slow Down 11/1973

I spent the night in a town I remember as Valencia, California but is mostly Santa Clarita, CA now.
This morning I drove up the Interstate 210 and found it to be much more user friendly than the 5. In places it was even attractive. After another freeway change I got to Banning, CA where I turned onto the road to Idyllwild. This road is special. It goes through beautiful country and in 25 miles it climbs about 6,000 feet then drops down to 5,000 at Idyllwild. It does this with many, many hairpin turns.

                                                             The Flier For Metals Week

Idyllwild did not disappoint me. It is charming and very secluded. My cell phone doesn't work and I have no TV or radio. However, I do have Wi-Fi. Perfect. I checked in, got my room assignment and settled in.

                                                   The Piano Bench at Bowman Hall!

So, goodnight from Idyllwild. I am going to bed in order to be awake tomorrow for the walking, the
talking, and the learning. Also for picture taking!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Eight Days 'Til Idyllwild

The time is passing quickly and there is a lot to do in preparation for Metals Week. If past performance is an indicator, I will be very busy on the last day. This week I have been filling orders for my Etsy shop, gathering tools, labeling tools and making happy plans! One thing I accomplished is fabrication of this new ring.
I made this by first creating two plain silver bands of the same size. Then I melted some fine silver scrap into little balls and hammered the balls flat. The next step was to make a ring shaped solder block out of an old solder block. I did this by scraping the shape with a box knife. This held the two rings and allowed me to place the flattened silver balls between them, add solder, add fire and join the pieces together. It worked!

The stone is one of the agate druzies I brought back from New Mexico in April. Since it isn't flat on the bottom, I placed a silver wire seat in the bezel and rested the stone on that. The bezel was a little large for the stone but lots of pushing and burnishing finally secured it. The stone is 3/4" long and 5/8" wide with lots of sparkle from added Titanium. I love the combination of rugged silver setting with the druzy and Titanium sparkle.

I love it! What do you think?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Twelve Days 'Til Idyllwild

It's twelve days until I leave for Idyllwild in the San Jacinto Mountains above Palm Springs in Southern California. Some people plan ahead for a summer vacation with visions of sunny beaches, tall drinks and tan bodies. I am busy assembling tools, materials and nonflammable clothing for participating in Metals Week at Idyllwild Arts Center . This is my kind of vacation. . the kind I've always wanted. A whole week to work with and learn from one of the world's most talented goldsmiths, Harold O'Connor.

When I first found this workshop, I was convinced that I would be in "over my head" if I signed up for "Surface Embellishments" with this fine instructor. I'm over it. Now I realize this is exactly what I need at this point in time--to be challenged and completely immersed in metalsmithing for a week. The excitement is building daily!

Metals Week at Idyllwild includes contact with five other instructors including Joanna Gollberg and Fred Zweig. I look forward to learning as much from each of them as time and energy allow.