Thursday, 20 March 2014

Basket Rings

In the ring course I learnt how to make a basic ring shape through annealing, bending and soldering the metal. 

Excitedly I put my new skills to the test and made a variety of rings using sterling silver, copper sheeting and thick copper wire. 

Basket ring (in progress). Sterling silver band, woven copper, brass and silver wire.
Image: Christina Arsenault 
I wanted to experiment with small woven wire structures that were attached to the band - relating to basketry and referring to my ongoing interest with pioneers and the native foods they would have to gather and eat in their new countries.

Basket Ring. Copper sheeting with woven copper wire.
Image: Christina Arsenault 
The delicate nature of the woven wire baskets reminds me a little of the flower that was abundant across Nova Scotia in summer last year, Queen Anne's Lace. After a little research I also discovered that Queens Anne's Lace is also known as 'wild carrot' and the root can be eaten, like a carrot. No doubt these plants would've been eaten by the pioneer settlers of Nova Scotia.

Queen Anne's Lace flower.

Basket Ring (in progress). Copper wire band, woven brass and silver wire.
Image: Christina Arsenault  
These rings are the beginning of a entire new series of work which I am incredibly excited about.

Im thinking I will display them with my ceramic works that look like slabs of rock cut from the earths surface. 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Kochira the Cat Kelly Animated

Ive been teaching myself the basics of some of the Adobe Creative Suite animation software programs such as Flash and After Effects.

Based on some footage I took whilst driving on the highway between Sydney and Canberra I have included the iconic Ned Kelly imagery by Sidney Nolan. However, Ned Kelly has been slightly adapted to be Kochira the Cat Kelly using Photoshop.

Heres a little snippet of what I am currently working on.


The snippet comes from a larger piece that I am working on. I couldn't wait for the entire piece to be finished (its over 5 minutes long which is an eternity of work in animation terms), so I thought I would share just a little bit with you.

It is a work in progress and not entirely polished yet.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Hollowware: Learning to fabricate

Our second project in Hollowware was to learn to solder joints, and make a 5 sided cube.

5 sided brass cube being held together with wire before soldering
 Although it looks relatively straight forward, the project is incredibly tricky, trying to get all angles at 90 degrees is more difficult than it looks!

And then there are the hours (literally) of sanding and polishing and elbow grease to get it to look like this....


After learning how to make cubes we were given a project to design something that would hold an egg.

Starting with the basic concept of a cone, I explored many variations before coming up with this one.

Copper finished with green patina, and highly polished tentacles

The green patina then turned the most amazing purple from a couple of hours soaking in ammonia fumes.

Fun stuff and the purple was the most wonderful iridescent colour... and not even a colour our teacher had seen before either!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Iceberg Ring

In my quest to develop my jewellery skills I signed up for a ring course earlier this year. We were introduced to a variety of basic techniques including wax forming and simple stone settings.

Idea taking shape for Iceberg ring in wax.
I liked all the edges so it was designed to be worn in all three ways.
It was a fascinating process to see how a wax form is translated into metal. First the wax shape is placed in a plaster mould. The wax is then melted, leaving a hollow for the metal to fill.

Melting the silver to go into the wax cast 
The plaster cast is placed into a centrifuge and the metal, in my case silver, is melted. 

Iceberg ring as it looks freshly cast
To enhance the ring I decided to add a small black gem. Using a variety of tools I carved a hole into the ring to create the setting.

Learning to do a simple 'gypsy' stone setting 
And this is the final result! 

The finished Iceberg Ring

Thursday, 20 February 2014

In the studio: slip casting and a change of direction

I have spent the past couple of weeks experimenting with different ways of making, and decorating  slip cast bowls.

Bowl mould circa 35cm dia.
Various methods of decoration included painting coloured underglaze directly onto the plaster bowl mould (above) or onto a flat slab, which was then transferred to the bowl mould (below). A layer of cheese cloth was embedded in the slip which provided strength whilst transferring the clay slip from the flat slab to the bowl mould. The cheesecloth then burns away during the firing process.

I also explored different methods of colouring the slip and ways of layering the colours into the moulds.

Unfortunately the results always ended up like this:

Breaking whilst drying in the mould, breaking during the bisque firing, and the one that made it through to the glaze fire also shattered.

I decided that the universe way trying to tell me to work in a different way, so I have changed my direction completely, and have started to make bowls in a much more solid form.

Geology slab bowls roughly measure 20 x 20 x 30 cm

The idea is that they look like they have been roughly hewn from the ground, with a bowl hollow carved into the 'rock'.

This then led to the idea of creating strata layers within the rock-like slabs. I added red iron, raw sienna, and yellow ochre to the clay.

The result is a much more substantial bowl, and Im excited in the direction my work is taking.  

Fingers crossed it survives the firing. Next, to experiment with glazes that replicate rust!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Hollowware: First project

Something I have always wanted to do is learn the basics of metal smithing, and my lack of skills and desire to know more became apparent last year when I was playing in the jewellery studio at the NSCCD residency in Halifax.

So I decided to enrol in a hollowware class.

Our first project was to learn some of the basic forging techniques, and below are my first samples. They are tres dodgy!

After learning the basics of stretching the metal in various ways, we then had to design either a spoon or butter knife using our new skills. 

I wanted to make a butter knife based on the idea of a shooting star. By this stage I was starting to understand the techniques involved to manipulate the metal (a lot of hammering and a sore arm!). And I ended up with this.

Shooting Star butter knife.  Brass 17.5cm long x 1.6cm wide
Not bad for my first attempt!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Marbling on fabric using shaving cream

Last year I achieved some interesting effects when the images I painted in cobalt ran on the majolica glaze during my NSCCD residency.

Cast Adrift in a Foreign Land 2013. Earthenware and majolica glaze
Image by Art Atelier

I really like the ambiguity of the distorted watery image, and have started experimenting using this approach to distort imagery onto fabric.

After doing some research I discovered a fun way to create marbled effects on fabric using shaving cream and marbling ink. Click here to see a great tutorial on Youtube

Image painted onto shaving cream using fabric inks

Image transferred onto calico 

Image distorts after fabric has been removed from shaving cream

One of the great benefits of this technique is that you are not restricted by the size of the marbling trough (if marbling using the traditional method of a tray of water to suspend the inks in), which enables large areas of fabric to be marbled using the shaving cream method. 

And an interesting discovery was that the image distorted a little with each 'print' onto the fabric. I am very excited by the possibilities this has, and will be trying it next on a very sheer silk fabric. 


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