How to Make a Wooden Box

I’ve done a lot of crafts in my time but one I had never tried was woodworking.  I love wood.  The look of wood, the smell of wood, the feel of wood.  But for some reason I’ve never worked with wood.  So when I saw that Site 3 CoLaboratory was offering a Basic Woodworking class I was eager to check it out.

Site 3 is a workspace which provides members with access to tools and equipment for working on projects.  It’s a pretty impressive list of equipment including a laser printer, welding equipment, a 3D printer, woodworking equipment and much more.  As well as memberships they also have open nights on Thursdays where anyone can stop in to use the shop.  And they have a variety of classes to choose from.

The project for the woodworking class I took was making a wooden box.  The instructor is Marc Reeve-Newson.  He is a very knowledgeable and affable teacher, and very brave to trust a bunch of newbies around large power tools, lol.  We used  a planer to take a piece of rough lumber and turn it into a usable board.  To do this we put a board through the planer and it skimmed off the rough surface.   We used the table saw to cut the pieces into desired sizes and the chop saw to cut the lengths. We used a router to cut the grooves where the lid would slide in.  And then we clamped the boxes together and used the brad nailer to put it together.  Lots of work and lots of measuring!

The end result is very cool, a box with a sliding lid.  I didn’t quite finish mine because I had a prior commitment and had to leave, but the others in the class stayed and did their final sanding, staining and even had a beautiful Celtic design put on the lid by a Site 3 member.  Gorgeous!  I’d definitely recommend the class.  Just make sure you get there on time and give yourself some time after the class (Marc lets you stay until you are finished the box) because there are a lot of steps involved!

Besides making a beautiful box you also get a great intro to using the various woodworking tools.  I plan on using this for some of my future projects.

Marc is offering the class again in July.  Here’s the link:

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/basic-woodworking-with-marc-reeve-newson-tickets-11819890611?ref=ebapi

woodworking woodworking1 woodworking2 woodworking3 a woodworking4

 

Enamelling at the Yonge St. Mission

Last week I had a great Friday teaching some people to enamel at the Evergreen Centre for Street Youth, which is part of the Yonge St. Mission.  The centre offers a safe place where homeless and street-involved youth can rest, eat, obtain health care and counselling and get help with finding a job or a place to stay or pursuing education.

I taught the enamelling class as part of a program that was started this year by some friends of mine, Michele Witt and Ivanne Binetruy of Connect Studio.  They and other volunteers teach a different jewellery making technique each week in a two hour class at the Evergreen Centre.  There is no charge to the youth and they can drop in at any time during the class.  Techniques including how to make a copper bracelet, wax carving for casting, enamelling and more have already been taught and there’s more on the agenda!

Teaching the class was great, there’s always something new to try with enamelling and each person had a different idea of what they wanted to create.  One person wanted initials of her family to give as gifts, another was finishing up a ring they made the week before and did some fantastic designs with hearts and dots, another did a great collection of earth tones to wear together.  One young man did some very impressive designs that included a lot of glass beads, which were melted into the enamel.  He showed me some of his other pieces that he’d done in previous classes and told me he wants to start making and selling jewellery on a regular basis.  I hope he does, it can be a very rewarding career.  And that’s one of the great things about this program, not only is it a fun way for street youth to spend the afternoon but it also shows them some possibilities for the future they may not have thought of or had access to.

 

The Evolution of a Bowl

I thought it might be interesting to show some of the steps in making one of my little bowls.  There’s a lot of steps between beginning and end.  I won’t show all of them but here’s the basics.

I start with a flat copper circle.

copper circle

Then heat and form the piece until I have a shallow form with gently fluted edges.

halfway

 

I further shape the copper until I have a deeper inner bowl and strongly fluted edges – it now has a flower-like shape.

final copper form

I start firing layers of enamel – this is after about 6 firings.

bowl

The finished pieces – several more layers and firings of enamel have produced beautiful shading, colour variations and bubbling.

blue flower

purple flower

 

 

 

1000 Beads

It’s so funny, this is one of the most exciting things to happen for me business wise this year and I forgot to post about it!  I found out on October 31st that one of my big enamel focal beads was chosen to be in Lark Crafts new book “1000 Beads”!

The Lark Crafts books are absolutely gorgeous.  Each page is a full shot of some stunning work, whether rings, glass, enamel, ceramics, etc.  They have quite an extensive series.  I’ve always admired them so when I saw their call for entry I thought I would give it a shot.

The piece that was chosen is called “Lava Flow”.  It’s a very large focal bead I made using plumber’s pipe and a LOT of layers of enamel.  I think this bead went through about 50 firings before I was happy with it.  Because I fire each layer flat it’s hard to realize that each of those firings was an additional layer of enamel, with a  total of about 10 or 12 colours (maybe more, I lost count!).  It also takes a careful burn firing to make the colours blend this way.  And because there is so much enamel I had to keep flipping it each time I fired so the enamel wouldn’t all slump to one end.  So a lot of work for one bead ;)

I’m really looking forward to April when the book comes out and I can see my piece and all the other  wonderful creations by artists from around the world!

Here is my lovely Lava Flow :)

larkfinal lavaflow

Ripley’s Aquarium

I finally made it to the new Ripley’s Aquarium in downtown Toronto this week!  I love aquariums, from the small home version with guppies to the huge Osaka aquarium with it’s whale shark (yes, I was lucky enough to visit that one a long time ago).

The aquarium has very strict guidelines for animal care and is involved in a lot of research and conservation projects, including the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.  They have many educational programs for those visiting and for teachers to share with their classes.

I like the fact that the Toronto aquarium has native species as well as the more exotic and colourful varieties of fish. The tanks are large and beautifully presented.  The Pacific Kelp Exhibit even has a wave maker to simulate the surge conditions of the British Columbia shoreline – it’s mesmerizing to watch the kelp and the fish swaying back and forth!

It’s really hard to pick my favourite part of the aquarium.  It’s amazing watching all the different species of rays in Ray Bay.  There’s such a hypnotic effect to seeing them gliding gracefully past.  But of course Dangerous Lagoon is so amazing too, I swear those sharks are watching me as they swim by!  And the jellyfish!  Oh the jellyfish!  I could stand there all day watching them undulate and change colours with the light.  I think I took about a hundred pictures of them!

Needless to say I enjoyed my visit.  Apparently they have sleepovers in the aquarium too.  I can just imagine going to sleep while watching sharks swim over my head!  Magical :)

If you’re interested in visiting or more information here is their website – http://www.ripleysaquariumofcanada.com/

And here is a little slideshow of some of the pictures I took.  I have some amazing videos too but they’re a bit large to put on line.

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The Pipes Are Calling

I’ve been busy making new things again!  Here is my guest post on the Freedom Clothing Collective blog that tells you all about it!

http://freedomclothingcollective.blogspot.ca/2013/10/made-in-canada-series-pipes-are-calling.html

enamel and concrete vase

New class – copper metal clay!

Copper clay is particles of copper held together with a binder so that it has a clay-like consistency. This allows you to mold it, shape it and make impressions in it to create your designs. Then the binder is fired away with a torch or kiln and the piece becomes solid copper metal. Magic!

In this class you will learn to work with copper clay, and how to fire it with both a torch. You will also learn to make your own mold so that you can reproduce an existing object or make multiples. The techniques used are very similar to those used to fire silver clay (PMC) so this class is a great option for those who have wanted to work with silver clay but were hesitant because of the prohibitive cost of PMC. Copper clay can also be used in enamelling, if you decide to take enamelling in the future you are welcome to bring your clay pieces to work on.

In class you will have a small chunk of clay to work with. You will make a minimum of two pieces – or more if you prefer to make very small items. You will also make a mold that you can take home with you.

See the Classes page for dates.  11am to 2pm. $75.00 all inclusive.
A $20 deposit is required to register. Please contact me at torchedstudio@hotmail.com to register.

copper clay

Galaxy

Of all the things I make I must admit my enamel bowls are my favourite.  So I’m very, very excited to be making a special collection of art bowls for my very first solo exhibition.  It will be held at Freedom Clothing Collective from June 7th to July 3rd.

My work has always had a certain elemental quality in the swirl of  multiple layers of enamel and in these pieces I’ve taken it to the extreme in a “big bang” of colour.   I love the random beauty of nature and these bowls are my romanticized view of the far flung objects in the night sky.  Each piece represents a celestial body but on a much smaller and more imaginative scale.

The opening reception is Friday June 7th at Freedom Clothing Collective, 939 Bloor Street West, Toronto from 6pm to 8pm.

Here’s a sneak peek of just a few of the pieces that will be in the exhibition.

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Fire and Fusion

There are a tonne of events happening in Toronto in May for TIJF – the Toronto International Jewellery Festival – and for the big SNAG – Society of North American Goldsmiths – conference.  But the one I’m most excited about is Fire and Fusion: a TIJF Enamelling Exhibition!

I’m super excited because my Tide Pool enamel bowl has been accepted for the exhibition, whoo hoo!  And I’m also excited because I will get to see the work of 30 other enamel artists from across Canada.  Enamelling isn’t an incredibly common skill, so sometimes it feels a little lonely in front of that kiln, and it will be wonderful to see what other people create with enamel.  The best thing for me about enamel is that it is so versatile, you can do a different technique every day and never run out of ideas.  So I’m sure there will be a lot of variety in the art that is presented.

The exhibition will be on from May 1st to 30th at the Rainbow Gallery, 80 Front St. East in Toronto.  The opening reception is May 1st from 12:30 to 2pm.

Here is a video of the artists involved.  If you know anything about enamelling you will realize the crazy amount of work that went into some of these pieces!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5EOrRmvAZE

Here is the Facebook link for the Fire and Fusion exhibition –  https://www.facebook.com/FireAndFusion?fref=ts

And the website – http://fireandfusion.wordpress.com/

And the TIJF website – http://tijf.info/

And the SNAG website – http://www.snagmetalsmith.org/events/conferences/

And of course, here is my bowl :)  I hope you make it to the exhibition to see it in person!!!

Tide Pool Bowl

Classes

Oh, I am soooo bad at keeping up to date on blog posts! Anyhow, here is a very quick one for your viewing enjoyment :)

The women who own Freedom Clothing Collective, one of the stores that carry my work,  love my jewellery and were fascinated to know just how the enamelling process works.  So they decided to take one of my classes. They had lots of fun, made some super funky pieces and wrote a little blog post about it. So here’s THEIR blog post (I know, I’m cheating, lol) about their experience in the beginner enamelling class.

http://freedomclothingcollective.blogspot.ca/2013/04/workshop-torched-studio.html

And here’s a couple of closer pics of their awesome pieces!

Freedom Clothing Collective

Freedom