Friday, November 4, 2011

Alchemy


Sometimes when I work with metal clay I feel a little like an alchemist. I do love this process of taking a lump of moist clay, shaping it, then putting it into the magical black box and coming out with a solid metal.

I've been making a lot of drawings lately. I haven't turned all of them into molds yet. Some of them aren't really ready and some of them just aren't go to make the cut. But, there is just something so satisfying about taking a drawing and turning it into metal.

Those little bronze snowflakes are a new design. I had a snowflake pattern in the past but I was never satisfied with it. That particular pair of snowflakes is going some place special next week.


This stage before I fire the pieces is one of favorites in the process. Not in this picture, but in person you can see tiny bright specks of metal. It's so fragile that it's hard to believe that it will become solid and substantial.


Then there is that moment of truth stage after the pieces have been fired. I packed this last load a little differently and wasn't sure if the pieces would survive. Bronze can be a bit finicky when it comes to firing. But I think I've got it down for most pieces now. It's pretty ugly fresh out of it's charcoal bed. All kind of crusty and rough.


But the tumbler takes care of the ugly part. It's like another black box. I put those pieces in there and let them go for an hour, sometimes more. If something is going to break it's probably going to be in that stage of the process. It's always exciting to dump those pieces out and dig for the shiny treasure among the steel shot.


Then there is the next ugly stage. These bright shiny pieces get bathed in chemicals and made all sort of black and nasty looking. This is actually my least favorite part of the process. It's kind of smelly. It makes a mess on my work bench. If I don't wear gloves then my hand turn orange. And I don't like wearing the gloves. Don't know why. Just don't like it.


Alchemy! Transformation complete. Now if I could only figure out how to transform bronze into gold. Heck, I'd be happy with silver given today's market prices.

Have a great weekend, all!

19 comments:

Barbara Lewis said...

These are beautiful, LeAnn. I really enjoy the fact that you start with your own drawings ... it really makes it unique.

Lorelei Eurto said...

Do I See a BIRD!??

Courtney said...

I really love those snowflakes!!!!

somethingunique said...

Hi LeeAnn, there is a batch in my cart as we speak...just came for a quick hope b4 i check out...love the winter themes...enjoy your tgif Lana :)

Melissa Meman said...

I love these - especially the ones with the little stones embedded! It is cool to see the process from ugly to gorgeous :)

TesoriTrovati said...

Oh my! Fabulous! I love hearing about the process. It makes me appreciate each piece even more. Thank you for sharing these lovely new pieces. My wish list is growing!
Enjoy the day.
Erin

Wendy said...

Wow, those are beautiful! I love how crisp your designs are. :) Thank you for sharing!

Babs said...

They are lovely! I've been dying to try metal clay and now I want to more than ever. I really like your designs :)

mairedodd said...

beautiful - all of them... i love your snowflakes - and the fact that they are your drawings... yes, there are all kinds of ugly stages along the way... but they make for special work...

Judy said...

I love learning about the process. The snowflakes are perfect! I don't like wearing gloves either...my hands look like I'm 110!

windrock studio said...

Hey LeAnn, these are beautiful jewels,
each and every one ~ happy to hear about the steps you go thru, alot of wonderful work involved!

taralinda said...

How Wonderful these are!! And though I'm not ready for holidaze or snow yet, they make me feel warm & fuzzy anyway. ;) Thank you for the near tutorial- one day I will brave the elements to try.
t

stregata said...

I think all stages are wonderful - and your new designs are also! You are an alchemist, of course - in a long, long line of alchemists. Remember, porcelain was the product of alchemist experiments.

sharon said...

Gorgeous pieces...I love the size too, just perfect! You are amazing!

Beads2Die4 said...

Love these

Laura Twiford said...

Love the new snowflakes, that's where they can stay too, in your pendants, don't care to see any in real life just yet! :) Isn't the process itself so very satisfying?

Cindy said...

So beautiful, LeAnn...from start to finish. I enjoyed learning about all of the stages along the way (so many steps too)...and that is such a great shot - the handful of your finished pieces!

My Life Under the Bus said...

That was so cool I love to see the steps!!!! All those goodies it's like openeing a treasure chest!

Pretty Things said...

OMG those rock! And I just got my package and LOVE the beads!!!