Making progress on my new jewelry displays. This…
This is an experiment with making beads and cabochons out of raku-fired pottery for use in my wire jewelry. I’m pleased with results, so I’ll definitely be doing more.
Some of these are bases for my earring stands and some for pendants. The volcano shapes will be getting swirly copper inserts (see prototype in recent post). The rocks with slits are pendant and necklace stands and will have sheets of intentionally aged copper (not too shiny!). More on the copper-aging experiments in a coming post. Fun experimenting with patination techniques and copper-abuse.
By the way, the solid copper were done in smaller containers proportional to the size of the piece (soup can sized). The colorful ones were in larger containers (coffee cans and small cookie tins). Same glaze on all, just differences in the amount of oxygen available to burn. Cool, huh?
I like both the colorful and the solid copper. Since they’re for my jewelry counter, some colored ones will be eye-catching, but too many would be distracting. But they all go together. Btw, my counters are green, so all copper and color shimmers should look awesome on them.
This last raku firing was a good learning experience. Learned the control thing mentioned above. Learned that the small jewelry cabochons we had on a clay shovel and just dropped the whole thing in a container worked great. The little volcanoes on the shovel though…bad. It acted as a heat-sink and the glazes didn’t mature. Small amount of those will have to be refired. No big deal.
Also learned how to deal with lots of small pieces. Just dumping several smaller pieces in one container won’t work. Tried that the week before. Not good. Too hard to control. If they touch, the glaze sticks to each other and damages both. Have to refire.
Prepping and pulling lots of individual pieces is tricky with logistics of numbers of containers, opening the kiln a lot (losing heat) and dealing with minimizing smoke.
Normally the process is pull a piece, drop/cover, rush it away from area so we can breathe (tons of smoke boiling out). Come back. Rinse and repeat. No biggie with a few larger vases and bowls, but a lot of little things (30+) it’s much more complicated.
So combining a couple of ideas, we tried this below:
Soup cans nested in wet sand. To the left, tray of slightly larger and taller cans to act as lids. Instead of wet newspaper to seal the lid (tricky up in a can), just plopped the larger can over, made sure edge was buried and the water in the wet sand acted as the seal. Worked great.
Helper (my teacher) pulls the glowing hot piece from the kiln with long tongs, drops it in the can, the combustibles explode into flames, then I quickly slide the slightly larger can over the flaming smaller can (heavy leather gloves up past my elbows!) and push it all down into the wet sand. The sand starts boiling and steaming like crazy. Some smoke, but not so bad it has to be moved outside the kiln area. Great! Open the kiln again, repeat. Once the cans in the tray are filled, then move it all away to cool. Wait a few minutes for the kiln to heat again, and start pulling the next set of stuff.
I’m just tickled about my new displays I’m working on. I’ve been wanting to upgrade my jewelry displays for awhile now, but had some very specific needs for the replacements. (See a couple of blog posts ago.) I’ve been taking pottery classes for awhile and it hit me recently that clay would perfectly solve the problem. I’ve been playing with raku firing, love the coppery look…well, you can see where this is going.
The coppery tones will look beautiful with my exisiting displays, have an earthiness that goes with my current aesthetic, and meet the specific requirements I needed. Best of all, made them myself. Love blending several skills in one project (clay, wire, metalwork). I have the last couple of steps to finish them off this weekend, then I’ll do a blog post at some point with the final products.
Also have been making some other displays:
These are some rose leaves I got from the bridal section at the craft store, pair them together and wrap with floral tape, bend, then hang them from a manzanita tree on my counter. Earrings go in them and it looks like leaves and jeweled flowers/fruit hanging from the tree. Very pretty.
Also for earrings, I need hang cards. I don’t like the commercial shiny black plastic ones for display out at the renfair, so I found these neat little stick-on backs that I can use to convert anything to a hang card. I have some nice paper cardstock with a slight shimmer that I use elsewhere. Looks nice and ties everything together.
I’ve got a wooden display with bars and one of those normal spinner-type displays. I like the tree better, but it takes more space or if I’m low on earrings, I use these instead. Plus if someone buys earrings for a gift, it’s a way to present them and I can write the name of the stone on the back.
A lot of big changes around here. I’m completely reworking the website to a cleaner look, reorganized, with more content and PICTURES. I had a lot of “coming soon” on the old website and not very many images. The old software I was using had a big learning curve, proving an impediment to regular updates. I discovered WordPress, which is much easier, and very customizable. Once I get the basics built (in progress right now), I’m switching out my old one for this site and moving my blog over here as well. I think it’s going to be awesome!
Other changes, I just totally revamped my business cards. Love the way the new ones look and much more representative of me. I put a graphic of a close-in view of one of my personal favorite custom pieces, added background color (mine have been white for 20 years), and found a nice clean but artistic looking font that’s actually very similar to my handwriting. Very cool.
The renfair is coming up rapidly. This is my last free weekend for the next couple of months. Not like there’s much free-time involved this time of year, mind you. In full swing trying to wrap up a to-do list a mile long and finish up my stock goals before the fair starts. I never get everything done, but I think I’ll be able to get the critical stuff done.
It’s a little stressful getting ready, but I really enjoy it once it’s here. Seeing friends I haven’t seen in a year, both fellow merchants and patrons…it’s weird. Once I see them, it feels like I just saw them last week and the year hasn’t existed. Very nice. Great to see everyone and it’s like slipping on a really comfortable pair of old shoes. Like going home. Nice. This season will be my 21st year out there. Hard to believe. Time has flown.