Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Little Bit of Her-story...

The Shift: Discovering Metal Clay...

I have worked with metal for as long as I can remember.  I took my first sculpture and welding class in college, which happened to be in the morning.  This meant there were many days I showed up to my afternoon lecture class covered in soot and looking a disaster.  Metal was big and it was strong and it was something to wrestle with.  I began combing the etching practices I was using in printmaking to create intricate details on the surface of my copper sculptures.

Years later, when an opportunity to teach sculpture arose, I was asked if I could also teach a small metals class in jewelry.  I thought "sure, it's just very small sculpture".  Needless to say, there was a bit of a learning curve when it came to scaling back with the torch.  There were many jewelry casualties that first year as I learned that very small metal melts very quickly!  Overall, my students found much success, one from that first year even going on to get her BFA in Jewelry and Metalsmithing.  Little did I realize it almost a decade ago, but opening up my practice to jewelry design would shift my perspective on sculptural forms.

Another major shift for me occurred last year when I took a metal clay workshop with Master Teacher Lis-el Crowley.  The Fine Silver piece I created (pictured above) sparked my interest with the endless possibilities of this contemporary material.  For those new to metal clay, you can find it in both fine and base metals.  Finely ground metal is mixed with organic binders in order to work with it in a clay-like state, it is then fired in a kiln to burn off the binder leaving only the metal.  I was so enamored with the possibilities of this material for my students (and myself), that I went on to earn my Level One Instructor Certification in Art Clay Silver and haven't put it down since.

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