Wednesday, January 03, 2007

adventures with art clay

Looking back on my childhood, there was a distinct trend of me jumping from one crafty pursuit to the next to the next. Mum found this a great source of amusement and birthday/christmas present ideas. One minute it'd be china painting, the next candle making, then flower pressing then fimo modelling then bead looming then soft toy making and so on.

The one thing that I did manage to stick with for a considerable amount of time was ceramics. I think i did it for about 6 years. Too small and weak to handle the wheel I just did freeform modelling - mainly dragons and wizards and castles - all that stuff I was mad about at the time.

Anyway, it's become really obvious to me (and maybe to you too) that this trend has continued into my adult life, well in the last year at least. Drawing, painting, gocco printing, jewellery design, pattern design, bookbinding ... and now I've found a new one - silver clay modelling!

Has anyone else tried Art Clay Silver before? It is awesome. It's a type of modelling clay made up of silver particles that you mould into any shape and then fire on a gas stovetop. The result is 99.9% silver. Madness. I bought myself a starter kit from The Bead Co the other week and here's the development of my first piece:


The piece still in clay form. It was quite fiddly to model and I found that I had to keep wetting the clay so it wouldn't dry out when working with it - basically it was just like working with normal clay -similar consistency and drying behaviour.


Firing the piece on the gas burner (it's covered with a mesh cage in case it explodes)


The final piece, polished up (kinda). I can't take full credit for the shape though - it's partially based on a piece of jewellery I saw somewhere that's got stuck in my head. (edit: ahh, now I know where! it was Kyo Hashimoto's work!).

It'd be awesome to be able to keep dabbling in a range of crafts as my job. I think that's why I'm so reluctant to join a studio and be boxed into one role - web designer OR graphic designer OR textile designer OR OR OR. I can't imagine a studio job that would let me do all the things I love. And I don't see myself as being particularly good at one thing over all the others. Hence I'm still working from home on my own. Lonely business but very rewarding. I imagine that there are a lot of crafters out there who face this same problem. How have you tackled it?

15 comments:

flossy-p said...

You are fast becomming an excellent resource for me. Yesterday I followed your link to ImageScience and was thrilled to finally find a printer in Aust who does giclee prints for under $30 (This made me VERY excited).

TODAY you've just answered all the questions that popped into my head, after discovering there was such a thing as silver clay just last week! (it looks so great)

And I just quit my studio job recently to try and become a home body. Yes it is a bit lonely, but gives me bonus time to find people like you. :D

Kathleen said...

Wow--silver clay--how awesome. I had never heard of it, but what a really cool medium.

I feel the same way you do. I really like being able to dabble in different areas, and then I always do some freelance design to pay the bills. I just can't imagine going back to working in a design firm doing the same thing day in and day out--because when I did do that all day I would be too tired when I got home to dabble in anything else.

Yes, working on your own can be solitary--but I'm on the phone, I'm emailing...I can set my own schedule, so working in lunch or a trip to the fabric store with a friend is easy to do. I think its a pretty good gig.

annalaura said...

My sister got a kit to make this, she said it was hard as it dried so quickly. It sounds so interesting, to go from a clay consistency to 99.9% silver.

I know what you mean about changing mediums. I do that quite often and only recently have starting thinking how I would like to make some jewellry.

Julia said...

I came and visit you here via a link and I love the things you make ! Beautiful!!

leslie said...

oh my god, i'm exactly the same with the jumping around with media (sewing, jewellery, ceramics, resin, knitting, book binding, card making, i could go on and on). and now you've just given me another bloody one i want to try! hmmm, art clay...

the full-time job does give me a bit less energy to create during the week but leaves me with plenty of creativity leftover as the design work i do here is VERY mainstream and not at all my style (which i'm fine with as the company is great and pay is sweet).

red_swirl said...

Yep, I'm another jumping bean ;) I reckon the important thing is that you return to the crafts you love ... eventually. Or at least the themes you love, translated into many different mediums.

That silver clay does look awesome, I'll have to see if it's in my local craft shop!

cruststation said...

It's so nice to be able to do all the various crafts, so much fun and every piece looks fab. You are so talented, continue working on everything! Your jewellery piece is amazing.

hmc said...

My god. It's like reading about my life.. it's getting freakier by the day! I can totally relate to the immense amount of hobbies & interests. I used to say, "if I get bored, I start another business" as a joke to the amount of things I do. I agree about being boxed in - it would be very limiting indeed.

Silver Clay - heard of it, never tried it. Might try it one day... *one* day ;o)

Very nice piece too.

sue said...

artistic ADHD hummm been battling it for years....its all about the journey ...thats what comforts me

Jules Knoblock said...

Wow this looks fantastic! I LOVE this post.. you know I would've ran out and bought this kit straight away if I wasn't trying to curb my desire to try every new craft under the sun! (The temptation is great.. if I find myself in a shop with the kit in front of me I might not be so resilient) :)

Happy new year to you :)

Anna said...

wow, where do you get that clay from?- it looks like fun- I have have tried enrolling in a goldsmithing course but haven't heard back - will have to hassle. I think jewellery design is so interesting- I am looking for a way to combine it with fashion, such as creating your own trims.
but back to embroidery! (current fixtation of moment)

Keep up the good work!

Stereoette said...

this is rapidly becoming one of my favorite blogs ;o) you are such a master at all the crafty areas i find i am lacking in!

on the topic of silver clay, did you find that it generated fumes when firing it on your stove? I'm interested in trying it out but im afraid to fume up my (very small) apartment...

Lara said...

thanks for allll the lovely comments! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who bounces from craft to craft!

anna - yeah same I'd love to do a gold/silver smithing course, but figure that i'd really have to be ready to commit to it. Art clay is a good substitute. I got mine at a bead shop here in melb, but you might be able to find suppliers online:

http://www.silverlab.com.au/

stereoette - awww thanks :) yeah don't worry too much about fumes, I have a small apartment also and had no trouble. Apparently as it fires all that is emitted is steam and oxygen (or something like that). It did smoke a tiny bit at the start because the piece sits on a piece of mesh which hadn't been used before. But that stopped after a couple of seconds :)

Anna said...

Thanks for the tip- I might try hunting around crafty shops around here...

tiel s-k said...

would you stop throwing new ideas at me...i'll be adding this to my growing list of things to try.

I think I wil be 70 and still discovering what media I enjoy the most.