Thursday, 23 October 2014

Enamelling: Collaborative Assignment Stage 4

We are up to the final stage where my original piece gets returned.....

I was so excited to get it back to see what changes had been made to it.

One side, the front with a green background and white pull through spots had remained untouched the entire time.

Sam has removed all the enamel on the reverse side and she had covered with a transparent lime green enamel. There were also bits of wire and copper attached using the original holes of the piece. Unfortunately I was too focused on making the final changes that I totally forgot to take a photo. Sam's additions reminded me a little of bark, and I contemplated incorporating some wood to the final piece. But I wasn't too sure that the transparent lime green worked with the deeper blue green of the other side.

So I undertook some more enamel experiments, looking to replicate lichen on the other side. I removed all the transparent line green and used stump grey as the base coat, and a light coat of oriental red over the top. The result was an amazing pull through that also highlighted the textured metal underneath.

Reverse side detail

I wasn't too sure how to finish the piece. Originally I was going to turn it into a brooch, but I felt that it restricted the viewer as to which side they observed (I really liked both sides in equal measures)

Reverse side

So I crocheted a form using the holes in the metal as a starting point. I really liked the void, so I left it a little open, and then crocheted some chain.

Front side detail of crochet

I made a point of making the chain long enough so that it was ambiguous as to how it could be worn.

Front side 

For example, it could be a necklace, wrapped around the wrist, or even inverted and worn on the head.... 

It was an exciting breakthrough for me and I am going to continue to explore this method of working.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Enamelling: Collaborative Assignment Stage 3

This week we selected a piece of paper which had a number written on it. Then working backwards, from the highest number to the lowest, each person in the class had the opportunity to select an enamelled piece to work on.

I drew number one, which meant that I was lucky last. This worked well for me, because I truly don't know which object I would've selected had I the choice. And I ended up with Tamika's piece, that had recently been worked on by Candy.

Candy's rational for her enamelled colours was that the shape reminded her of flames, so she re-enamelled it from yellow through to red.

Funnily enough, this piece caused me many sleepless nights, as I pondered on how I was going to create some changes acknowledging the work done by Candy, but also make it sympathetic to Tamika and her personality and design aesthetic.

I found that the strong almost primary colours were too much for the delicate nature of the piece. In addition the enamel was starting to chip off some of the smaller areas.

So I removed all the enamel using a sand blaster. I had forgotten that there was texture on the original piece (Tamika had enamelled it using transparent colours which allowed the texture to come through)

Tamika's artwork back to copper

Because of the fragile nature of one of the joins, I decided to cut it up into three pieces. I turned two pieces into an asymmetrical pair of earrings. 

The shape and patterning of Tamika's original design always made me think of water, so I wanted to use enamels that had those qualities. I combined transparent turquoise with copper green to get depth in colour, and used the pull though technique with opaque white. 

Detail of the opaque white pull through
Tiny bits of torn sterling silver foil was also added to give extra depth and reflective qualities.

Another detail of the earrings. 

The third piece I turned into a necklace.

Detail of necklace

When we had to present our changes to the class, I was really nervous. I didn't want to offend Candy.
But thankfully she was ok with my changes. Phew!

I have found this project to be incredibly enlightening. It has taught me that I am more concerned about working on another person's artwork, than I am on my own pieces. This is an outcome I find fascinating, since the concept of the project was to let go of ownership of your artwork and creativity.

Next week we get our original designs back for the original creator to finish. I wonder what mine will look like....

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Enamelling: Collaborative Assignment Stage 2

This week we drew numbers which corresponded with everyone's enamelled pieces. I got number 5, which happened to be JiHoo Lee's ring. Hoo is from South Korea and on exchange here in Canada for 6 months.

Hoo's ring
I love the design, its a very simple, yet clever and effective ring. It is made from one piece of copper which has been manipulated and threaded through itself to create the form.

One of the reasons why I think it is so clever is because the solder used to form shapes in jewellery often will melt in the enamelling kiln, so designs with enamelware need to take this into consideration.

Hoo modelling her ring, top view

Hoo modelling her ring, side view
Our assignment for this week as to manipulate up to 40% of the surface area.... I wanted to add to it, without compromising the design.

So I decided to use a stencil technique.

Stencil resist using a pressed flower

I have been collecting and pressing flowers recently. I am particularly drawn to the flower that grows wild called Queen Anne's Lace

Using a pressed Queen Anne's Lace flower, cobalt blue enamel and a 200 mesh sifter I gently sifted the enamel onto the ring.

And this is the result.

Hoo's ring with Queen Anne's Lace flower stencil - in progress.
Image by Thomas Miko

Hoo's ring with Queen Anne's Lace stencil
Image by Thomas Miko

Ill see if I can find an image of the changes to my piece that Hoo made (strangely enough we got each others piece!)

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Enamelling: Collaborative Assignment Stage 1

Our current class assignment for Enamelling is an exercise to expand the creative process by working collaboratively, where multiple creative minds work together often the partnership leads to greater objectivity in decision making whilst learning to become detached, or at least, less precious about the artwork.

The object of the assignment is to explore enamelling techniques in relation to form, whilst working within a collaborative process.

Stage 1: Each student must make a form which is then enamelled using the techniques being taught in class.

Hollowware formed metal object approximately 8cm in diameter 
This is my shape prior to the enamelling process. We are not allowed to disclose to the class what the intention of the form is, allowing for unrestricted creativity for the other students.

One side enamelled using pull through techniques

I then enamelled the shape, using a result I achieved (read: stumbled across by accident) whilst doing tests. 

Detail of pull through technique

The other side was undertaken in a similar fashion using the same enamels, but a slightly different application, to allow for the texture in the metal to show through.

Other side of copper form.

Detail of hammered metal surface under the transparent flux and enamels.
Stage 2: The object is them passed onto one of the other students. They then can transform 40% of the total enamel surface. It will be interesting to see what changes the object undergoes through being worked on by different people with different aesthetics.

Stage 3: The form is then selected by another student who has free artistic licence to decide how to best 'edit' the piece and make the necessary changes. All decisions must be justified.

Stage 4: The final stage of the assignment is when the piece is then returned to the originator, who then has the opportunity to finish off the piece, or to create a new piece based on the information gathered during the collaborative process.

Watch this space as the project progresses!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Hyperbolic Crochet

Some of you may have heard of Hyperbolic crochet before. 

I became aware of it in 2008 when an exhibition of crocheted shapes made to resemble a coral reef were exhibited at the Haywood Gallery, London UK, where I was living at the time. The project, organised by the Los Angeles-based Institute for Figuring was a direct response to the plight of coral reef from pollution and global warming.

Hyperbolic plane where the repeat is increasing into every 5th stitch

Hyperbolic crochet is a pattern where one simply increases stitches at a regular rate in every row. The more often you increase, the more quickly the model will ruffle up. It is a pattern that replicates the geometry found in nature, such as the anatomical frills sea slugs and kelp. 

Double hyperbolic plane where the increase is one in every two stitches

 In 1997 Cornell University mathematician Daina Taimina finally worked out how to make a physical model of hyperbolic space that allows us to feel, and to tactilely explore, the properties of this unique geometry. The method she used was crochet.

Seed-pod model 

Recently it has been proposed that the shape of our universe is hyperbolic as well. 

Pseudosphere. Crochet in the round at the increase of one in every three stitches

As many of you know, my recent investigations and concepts in art focus on the Pioneer or Settler. And my interest in lichen was piqued when I undertook a residency at Hill End in 2013 and observed many different varieties growing around the area. I photographed them extensively and recorded a few here

My current thinking about this is that lichen can be seen as a metaphor for early settlers and pioneers. Indeed, it is even considered a pioneer plant itself.

So I am currently exploring ways of recreating lichen using various techniques. The hyperbolic plane crochet technique lends itself well to the idea, and I have undertaken some experiments using wool. My next step is to see what happens when they are immersed in a ceramic slip, or recreated using wire instead of wool.

If you would like to try making your own hyperbolic crochet forms, the pattern can be downloaded here.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Enamelling Techniques

One of the courses I am undertaking to build my skills is Enamelling taught by Lillian Yuen. Lillian is a fabulous teacher and jeweller and she makes the most beautifully delicate enamelled pieces.

Over the past couple of weeks we have learnt how to work with opaque and transparent enamels, and achieve different effects using sifting techniques, and solid enamels.

Below is a pictorial account of my discovery of enamels. Its been such an exciting adventure!

The first week we learnt how to prepare samples for opaque enamels. Below shows the test strips which have 4 layers of enamel.

Opaque enamel tests

  1. Base coat (top)
  2. Second layer (second from top)
  3. Third layer (orange peal effect which means it isn't heated as long so that some of the grain texture remains)
  4. Fourth layer (sugar fired, heated less than orange peal effect)

Pull Through tests

Next we experimented with pull through techniques, which is putting one colour over another, and the bottom colour 'pulls through' the top.

Top left: Soft flux base covered by Peacock Blue 1645 opaque
Top right: Chestnut 2190 transparent covered by Calamine Blue 1520 opaque
Bottom left: Candy 1211 opaque covered by Mandarin 2840 transparent
Bottom right: Black 1995 opaque covered by Ivory 1238 opaque

Sifting techniques

The following week we learnt different sifting and decorating techniques (above)
Top left: graphite pencil on Antique White 1045
Top right: using a stencil of a dried flower I sifted Peackock Blue 1465 over a base coat of Antique White 1045
Middle left: Sgraffito techniques white on blue. Image scraped using a tooth pick
Middle right: Sgraffito techniques blue on white. Image scraped using a tooth pick
Bottom left: Sift and dump. White base. Image then painted using Klyr Fire, blue enamel sifted which sticks to the Klyr Fire. Remaining enamel is tipped off
Bottom right: White base stamped using regular ink pad and stamp. Same technique as the sift and dump where blue enamel was sifted onto the wet ink and the remaining blue enamel is tipped off.

Wet packing enamels before firing
 Next we learn how to work with transparent enamels using a wet packing method which requires washing the enamel powder to get rid of any contaminants and placing the wet enamel on the copper. This example uses a piece of copper which also had a piece of silver embedded in the medium flux before the wet enamels were placed on top. The enamels used in this examples use precious metals to create the colours (mainly gold)
wet packed enamels after firing
And the above is the result.

Top left: Opalescent 2061
Top right: Orange Red Ruby 2110
Bottom left: Pink 2820
Bottom right: Wax 2110

This week we have been experimenting using solid enamels (chunks of glass and beads) to make patterns, along with swirling which is where you move a titanium tipped rod to move the molten enamel.








After. A metal pick is used to move the molten enamel surface

Before: pieces of Venetian glass on medium flux

After: Venetian enamel pull through with cobalt blue on top

Another after version of Venetian enamel. This one was grinded down so that all the lumps of glass were the same height (rather than lumpy)

Can you tell Ive been having fun?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Cuttle Fish Bone Casting

Summer is coming to an end and Im back at school. I have just started my Masters in Fine Art at NSCAD (Nova Scotia College for Art and Design). I am undertaking an interdisciplinary approach and will be working across ceramics, textiles and jewellery. 

As well as undertaking MFA courses, I am also polishing up on my jewellery skills. Recently I have been learning how to cast shapes in silver using cuttlefish bone as the mould. Cuttlefish bone is reasonably soft and it can be easily carved, or have objects pressed into it. 

Cuttlefish bone with a fork shape pressed into it.

I experimented with a few different shapes: fork, a piece of lego fence, and a twig. I discovered simple shapes work the best (because they highlight the striations of the cuttlefish bone that occurs naturally), and so I discarded the fence and twig idea and perfected the fork shape.

Cast silver fork shapes from the cuttlefish cast

 Generally the mould has only one pour (the heat of the metal burns away the cuttlefish bone and gives off a smell similar to burnt hair). The above image shows the first pour into the mould - notice I only achieved 2 of the 4 prongs (left).  On the right shows what happens if you use the same mould again. Much of the detail has been lost. Although this time I did get the four prongs.

Lego fence cast in silver and a twig

The above lego fence and twig were earlier shapes that I experimented with. Although the fence shape was relatively successful, I found that it the lovely cuttlefish bone striations were lost and so I discarded this idea.

My finished piece, another fork, was handed in last week for marking. It was finished with Black Jax to highlight the cuttlefish ridge striations. I totally forgot to take a picture but will post one as soon as I get it back.


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