Monday, July 18, 2011

How To Make Finishing Wax For Patinas

I plan to post a regular  piece about a "tip" I've learned for working with metal. This is the first in a series and today, I want to share directions for making finishing wax for any oxidized or patinated metal. I have always used Renaissance Wax which I purchase in small, expensive amounts from a woodworking shop. It isn't readily available in some parts of the USA. So today's tip will show you how to make finishing wax from materials that are easily available.

The first ingredient is beeswax. I found some two ounce cakes of it at our local hardware store.
Cut the beeswax into small chunks (or shred it) and fill a baby food jar with beeswax. This 2 oz. cake will probably fill the jar.

The second ingredient is Turpentine. Just regular old turpentine, again--from the hardware store.

Pour the turpentine over the beeswax to the top of the jar , put the lid on and set it aside.

After a few days, the wax and turpentine will emulsify and you will have a great finishing wax. The jar in this picture holds 4 ounces of beeswax because, obviously, I used what I had and it wasn't a baby food jar! Use a soft cloth to wax the copper bracelet and use another soft cloth to polish it. This recipe was given to us by two instructors at Metals Week so I am confident it will serve you well!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Back To Reality

After the car was unpacked, clothes washed, Etsy orders filled, civic arts classes attended, part time job schedule resolved, I began to ruminate on the experiences of Metals Week.

The Canopied Amphitheater
This picture of the amphitheater outside our classroom reminds me of the unusually peaceful and magical setting of Idyllwild.Yes, I did like to take pictures of the canopies.

Fred Zweig, Harold O'Connor and Teaching Assistant Jamie Kunkle With Yellow Pad. Thank you, Jamie!

The participants were serious about learning and they brought high levels of skill and talent with them. Many of them were "lifers" at Idyllwild and most were experienced metalsmiths. With no more than twelve participants in each class, some of the best artists/instructors, and Teaching Assistants available in each classroom, our learning was maximized.

Three Dimensional Piece and Reticulated Silver
 OK, I promised over a week ago that I would show you some of my work, so here goes. These are absolutely learning exercises for me. The three dimensional piece in upper-left corner was the most difficult and also provided a great learning experience for me. Yes, I know I needed to clean the solder off better but I learned to carve and fold the silver, solder it to a backing, and frame it. I know what I need to do differently and have already begun another.  The other pieces above are reticulated silver, oxidized with Liver of Sulfur. I'm still working on this also.

That's all the self-disclosure I can handle in this post, so I'll show you more--next time!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Culminating Event At Metals Week

No week-long session would be complete without a closing celebration and Idyllwild Metals Week had much to celebrate. Although many participants left to get a jump on the July 4th traffic, the final display of accomplishments for each of the classes was a huge success. Each class displayed samples of student work on tent boards for all to see. I think each of us wished that we could have also participated in other classes and we have ideas for next year. The following pictures show some of the sample student work from this last week. Others are available at

Student Work From Fred Zweig's Hinges Class

Student Work From Joanna Gollberg's Rings Class

Student Work From Sandra Noble-Goss's Married Metals and Etching Class

Student Work From Pauline Warg's Setting Small Gems Class

Student Work From Harold O'Connor's Surface Embellishment Class
These samples of work are indicators of the fine work that was accomplished in each of the classes. My apologies to Charity Hall whose students created awesome pins and pendants with sugar enameling. I wasn't able to get close enough to her display table to take pictures as it was very popular.

Do check out the shutterfly pictures of each Metals Week class and also the other art classes that were in session ( Seldom do so many talented people gather to spend a week with outstanding artist/teachers where they can breathe, talk and submerge themselves in an artistic environment. It was an inspiring week and I am excited about applying what I learned at Idyllwild Metals Week.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Social Time At Idyllwild Metals Week

Wednesday, June 30th was the "peak" of the week and an auction/potluck dinner was scheduled. It came at a point where a little social time was needed after working intensely for four days. Participants and instructors donated tools, class gift certificates and creations for a silent auction which gave us access to some useful and unique items not usually available.  Fred Zweig donated one of his special forging hammers. Harold O'Connor donated his Instructional DVD set, and there were many others. Proceeds from the auction went to Idyllwild Metals Week to support the program. 

Students living in the residence halls purchased items for the potluck as there were no cooking facilities. Teaching Assistants participated also as well as Staff. Some food was ordered delivered, some was prepared by those living in cabins and liquid refreshment was available. Surprisingly, it came together nicely and the food was tasty. Can there ever be too many dips?

We gathered under one of the airy, apparently nylon canopies on campus. It was the first time I had sat under one of them and looked up. When I did, I found a wonderful hypnotizing pattern of lines around a round hole in the top.

The CanopyAt Idyllwild

Harold O'Connor Must Have Liked It Too!
It was a relaxed time to interact with classmates and instructors.
Marjorie and Jill-- Extraordinary Metalsmiths

Metalsmiths Leslie, Marcia and Lola

It was a successful evening of talk, laughter, food and drink!