Tag Archives: torched studio

New year, new blog post!

I am not cut out to be a blogger.  I am so bad at putting up new posts.  I did a lot of travelling in 2015, most notably a two month trip through France, Spain, Morocco and Portugal.  I promise to (someday) do a proper post but for now here’s some photos from my recent trip.  This is Essaouira, which is on the coast of Morocco.  It was one of my favourite places, I stayed in a hotel right on the beach but only a 3 minute walk from the Medina.  It had a working port with lots of fishing boats (and fish!), a fortress, an amazing Medina with so many shops, a great town square and of course that beach!  Oh, and apparently it is also one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones.

europe 2015 1395 europe 2015 1372 europe 2015 1426 europe 2015 1428 europe 2015 1380 europe 2015 1410 europe 2015 1412

 

 

Advertisements

Inspiration – Red Rock Canyon and the Grand Canyon

One of my biggest inspirations in my work is the amazing colours found in nature. Sometimes they seem surreal because it’s hard to believe anything could actually look so beautiful.  I certainly found that was the case in two of the places I visited over the holidays this year – Red Rock Canyon and the Grand Canyon.

Red Rock Canyon is in Nevada, just outside of Las Vegas.  It’s hard to understand why people would choose to sit in a gloomy, stuffy casino instead of seeing this marvel of nature.  The drive there is through desert scrub, which is beautiful in it’s own way with Joshua Trees, yucca plants and cacti.  The mountains look stunning even from a distance but as I got closer I could see the most amazing colours in them!  White, black, brown, oranges and reds!  Each was unique and amazing and every time the light changed they looked entirely different.  And the closer I got the more beautiful they got as I could see the curve of the hills, the roughness of the rock and even more variation in the colours.  This particularly colourful area is called the Calico Hills.  A very apt description.  It was wonderful to be able to get out and walk on the hills for a bit and admire the textures and up close minutiae of pattern and colour.  It was hard to leave and I would love to return and be able to explore the area further.

My other destination this season was the Grand Canyon.  And grand it is!  It’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world.  The weather was very cold and the trails were snow and ice covered so I could only see it from the top observation areas, which gave a stunning panorama of the South Rim.  It’s otherworldly, like being on some unknown planet.  There are so many layers of reds and oranges and browns, and the rock formations themselves are fascinating.  I could have stared at it for hours and everywhere I looked I saw something new.  Unfortunately I was only there for a short time.  For anyone planning to visit I would recommend going when it’s warm enough to hike and staying for a few days.  It is truly, truly breathtaking!

Needless to say, both of these journeys will be inspiring some new work, both in my jewellery and in my enamel art panels.  Stay tuned to see the results!

Here’s a couple of pictures to  give you a taste of what I saw.

Red Rock Canyon, The Calico Hills

a

 

 

The Grand Canyon

 

b

 

How I make stuff.

Many people don’t realize quite how many steps are involved in making my enamel pieces.

First I take plain copper and heat it in my kiln.  This cleans all the grease off it.

Here’s the before shot.

z

 

Here’s the copper in the kiln.

z2

 

Here’s the copper after heating.  It’s a bit dirty looking, that’s oxidation and needs to be cleaned off.  When I clean metal I use salt and vinegar rather than chemicals.

z1

If I’m making domed pieces this is the time to form them.  The heat of the kiln makes the metal softer and easier to bend.  I used a dapping block, dapping punches and rawhide hammer to shape them into curved domes.  After doming they need to be cleaned again.

z5

 

Then I fire a layer of enamel onto the bottom/back of the copper.  These will be bezel set so the backs are plain.  If I’m doing regular pieces I always make sure both sides are attractive.

z4

 

My kiln is nice and hot.  This shows the temperature at 1433 Fahrenheit but I often fire at higher temperatures than that.

z6

 

After firing the backs I sift enamel, which is very finely ground glass,  onto the top/front.

z7

 

This is after one firing.

z8

 

This is after several firings.  You can see how much smoother and brighter the colours are.  These are ready to be set, they just need a bit of filing at the edges where the enamel stuck to the trivets (the metal stands I use for firing).

z9

 

The little domes are now earrings!

 

a

 

And the big domes are necklaces!  Pretty!

a

 

 

 

 

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

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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