The Practice: Discovery Green Flea By Night

The very first posts of this blog were philosophical in nature.  More recently the entries have focused on nuts and bolts of the day-to-day practice of being a metal artist in the 21st Century.  First of all, there is a subculture of individuals who think process shots are fun. They like looking at videos of art being made as well as gigantic anchor chains being forged in a factory.   It satisfies a certain curiosity.

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Discovery Green by Day.  

I have packed my van and I'm all ready to go to Houston for the July 17, 2017 Discovery Green Flea By Night, with a few minutes to spare.  I want to pause for a moment to meditate on a civilizational shift in  consciousness that happened about 500 years ago.  It did not happen at once.   It did not occur for all people at the same time.  It was a shift from a priori reasoning to empirical reasoning.  I'm not going to belabor this point at the moment, but the blog and my work are a reflection of that shift.

The Fab 40 returns to Discovery Green to perform The Beatles’ recording of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50 years after its earthshaking premiere launched the Summer of Love. Compucycle will be onsite from 11am-3pm. The first 100 people who bring electronics to recycle with be given access to a VIP seating area. Limit one wristband per person. 

Oops! Here I am philosophizing and its time to leave.

 

Learning to Use New Tools

I got a set of Aquafresca Chasing and Repousee tools. Now I'm practicing. Here is a progress report  

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This is the Repousee or 'repositioned' piece. It was hammered from the back.  

 

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This is after the first 'course' of chasing   My question now, is whether to flip it over and push the stem up deeper into the flower. It is possible. 

JURY IMAGES

There are a lot of Studio Jewelers with a lot of training, experience and good ideas.  I get excited when I see other people's work and enjoy sharing their pictures.  This month i have been working on creating pictures for the jurying process of a National Show held in Houston.  Show applications can never be taken for granted.

2017 Jefferson Woodruff Display

This shot took 18 hours, over two days.  I had to set it all up and take it all down twice.  It had to happen on days with nice weather which I was not at a show and the weather was nice,  Then I had to wait for the right light.

Bronze Scallop, Handmade Bronze Curb Chain

The scallop was produced by first using different sized punches to raise the outline and contour.  Then the piece was flipped over and the details chased in using various chisels and a hammer.  I took a 36 hour wire weaving class at the Southwest School for Art in SanAntonio.  Now I have work which is enhanced by the hand-made chain.

Copper Rosette Earrings

The rosettes were forms through the use of chisels and hammer, with Swarovski crystal as a focal point.

Moon Lander, 18"x16" with pleaded crystal countervailing weights.  Bronze and copper cross beams are forged using an assortment of different hammers to achieve the shape

What I'm Working On

The big project all this month is to create a lot of the images that will be used to jury into fall shows.  

First, this little lady, Nora Bea came to visit. My granddaughter.  

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I put everything down when she visits from California. 

 

Now she has gone and I am pulling together a few pieces  

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I worked on this bowl for about 3 months. I think  it's done.  

This us a vessel I started last week. I had a way to go before it's ready for the jury.  

This us a vessel I started last week. I had a way to go before it's ready for the jury.  

A mobile -- these are hard to capture  because they move around.  

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 Working on a new earring design  

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Based on a cool mobile design  

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My customer' s chain is still waiting for a clasp, something that takes all of 2 minutes to makes   

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As a quick update- the above chain is complete and shipped.

A Vessel

I decided I needed another shallow bowl or dish. This is a 30/70 alloy of silver called Nickle Silver because of its 70% Nickle.  

 

Part of the exercise is to discover the properrties of deeply nickle alloid silvers.  

 

This is where it starts  

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After first firing, is usually measured after each course of hammering. It must be heated up to unpack the molecules so that they may be moved around with a hammer.  

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The reverse,  after the first course.  

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After the second firing, we have begun to develop the edges  

Curb Chain - 2

A shallow bronze bowl contains one ounce of 4.5cm diameter 16 gauge bronze jump rings. The objective is to create in bronze whatbis pictured in the copper with the torch pendant 

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The chain at the top was made earlier this week using 7cm 16 gauge bronze jump rings.  

The Curb Chain

Some years back I took a class in wire weaving at the Southwest school for art in San Antonio. For nine weeks I'd roll back-and-forth taking 36 for classroom hours of a hands-on training in the art of woven wire. 

 

I have rarely used these skills. lately my design journey has taken me to a place where there is a call for handmade, unique expressions in woven wire combined with the metal and stone pieces for which I have become known. 

 

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Wrecker Yard

I like driving through the country and finding a wrecker yard filled with old car hulks. This is a pile of table top sculptures. 

 

 

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Old School Soldering Method

600 years ago the old masters would bind up pieces of silver or gold, place pallets of solder at stategic locations, then put the entire piece into a hot kiln. 

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Here we have 3 strands of 10 gauge copper wire bound up with steel wire.  

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Numerous soft silver pallions are placed in the stream between the wires. Copper solder would be easier, but its brittle and will crack under forging. Also, very little solder is needed.  The intention however is to create a visible silver channel between the wires. 

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A beautiful red flame patina us achieved. The color of the flame patina is affected by atmospheric conditions. Tonight is a low pressure front coming in. It produces a deep red. I am not sure if we will be able to maintain this color throughout successive firings as we forge the bracelet  

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Let's mill it down a bit to flatten the wire.  

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One pass gives the piece some authority.  

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Also use the mill to put a dip and a taper at the ends. The milling has extended the metal out to 6 1/2 inches, the desired length. 

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I filed the ends then begin forming it around this cool bracelet mandrel. I'll work it up to the smallest wrung the back it up at least one size 

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And this is what I come up with. Now it needs to be signed, dated and sealed.  

Roomful of Rainbiws

I'm selling rainbows. I'm in my studio to rebuild the inventory after a sell out at Bayou City Arts Festival 

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This is the thing  

Whole bunch of them. 

Whole bunch of them. 

Tonight's challenge is to be ready for the Midtown Art Fair in downtown Houston in 2 days.  

The Zen of Bayou City Arts Festival

I have a line of mobiles that create rainbows when placed in a sunny window. They comprise about 50% of my sales. While over   50,000 of them are currently hanging in Windows around the world, mainly, only I can sell them. We don't sell many over the Internet. There is a wonderful store in Austin called Crystal Works that carries some of my classic designs. For some reason I can sell them hand over fist. Happily. 

I enjoy making them as well. Here are a few shots of a workspace that has proven very efficient for my purposes. 

 

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This mat is stained from using a brass brush to polish fire stain off of various metals in the production of jewelry and small scalp metal sculpture  

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The stump is a work in progress. Every so often I will spend 30 minutes or so sanding the surface. Same with the anvil. About every 6 weeks I will polish the face with successive grits of sand paper on a palm sander. These two surfaces are used in the forging of the cross beams of my mobiles.  

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Pile of tools, steel wool, scotch bright, paper shop towels, silver polishing cloths  

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A production list with the total value of the finished pieces. This is necessary not only to keep me focused on what to do-- the show is 18 days off  it also gives me a sense of the value of the inventory. I have a penchant for numbers 

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Design journal and wooden forms for making small vessels and bracelets  

Wire brush is an awesome tool

Wire brush is an awesome tool

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2 or 3 different hammers used in the production of the mobiles  

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This is Wednesday night. By Sunday night this area will be full of mobiles.  

then it will be special sculpture time. 

SETTING UP FOR MY 60TH (OR SO) FSAM

Several times a year I document how long it takes to set up my display. This gets buried in Moleskin notebooks and my handy One-note app.  I thought I would make a public documentation of setting of for the First Saturday Ats Market so as to set up a benchmark, that I can easily locate, for future reference. 

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This is where it stood at opening time. Immediately after taking this image a lady walked up and bought a mobile that's going to the Public Botanical Garden in Toledo Ohio.  Awesome! 

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Pictured above is the first image taken 99 minutes in to the set up.

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Add another 30 minutes to set up 27 mobiles, or approximately 60 seconds per mobile. In this picture I noticed how dreadful the crushed cloth is.  I'll get this pressed for the next show, you can bet on that.

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The table top display, designed with the help of Celeste Landrum, takes another 30 minutes to set up.

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 I love doing this. The interactions with people are wonderful.  It's about midway through the show...It has started to rain. It's all good. Customers from 30 years ago are returning to the market to find gifts at my table. 

When i got home and studied the figures the next day, I disscovered that it was a record March First Saturday Show.

New Metal

Nickel Silver. I've always looked down my nose at it. Inexpensive, you know. Is used as a substitute for silver and associated with cheap jewelry. It's inexpensive. 

But what if we explored its properties for what it is. It's a soft metal that can be easily formed. it's known to tarnish. Tonight I chased out some lines freehand. It forms well. I annealed with a propane torch to discover a wonderful dark flame patina. When I ran over it with a wire brush I discovered a wonderful shine. To keep the shine I realized that I could buff a few coats of wax. 

 

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Post-Apocalyptic Primitive?

Before Houston made its transition to a magic place, it was an industrial city.   On the world of cities, it is a new city, founded in 1837. When I grew up there was a a century and a half of junk laying around. This for some reason inspires me. I find it beautiful. Someone called the collection "Post-Apocalyptic Primitive."  The name stuck.  

 

Now the idea of an Apocalypse has a little too much caught on. This piece fell in from the 7 planets 40 light years away... 

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Sterling silver, heat patina, wax sealed and polished. The image does not quite do justice to the matt sheen  

 

$98 with Silver chain.  

6 Roses

6 Roses

This is the process of creating Russian Roses in preparation for the Bayou City Arts Fair at Mamorial Park

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Progress On Spring 2017

I'm doing a series of torches using the techniques of chasing and repousee

 

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The first one is the Torch of Liberty  

 

 

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Next to it is the Torch of Truth after first having the general form repoused out 

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Shown after the first course of chasing down the details along with a set of copper discs that are punched out in preparation to becoming roses  

 

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After the second course of hammering on the Torch the details are coming out. Roses appear on thevearrings after their first course.  

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Shaping up, ready for the third course.  

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What it looks like today.  

Cichlids in Waller Creek?

I take frequent walks along a Central Texas cree and document the flora and fauna extensively.  The natural state of these creeks is crystalline clear.  In their natural state they are populated with a variety of brightly colored sun fish.  Apparently the sun fish do not survive in turbidity.  I am interested in any fish that can survive in the environment metamorphed from the crystalline state.

Texas Cichlid (Herichthys Cyanoguttatus)?  This species abounds and I have not been able to identify it.

I decided the study the specimen,  I do this in metal because it forces to to contemplate the entire ecology of the subject.    

Fish in Red California Pitch

I Photoshopped the image to get a better understanding of the bone and muscle structure

Picture shows fins swept back

Like the mosquito fish, an invasive species in the area, this baby uses its side fins to stabilize against the flow, allowing it to stay in pools and eddies when the water rises. 

 

The fins had to be redirected

Shown from the point of view of the fish, with indistinct entities walking around, unobserved in another realm of existence on the creek bank.

These fish pick a spot and clean the water around it.  As they grow the spot expands until the entire basin is clear,  Note the muscular side fin. It holds the fish steady against the current. I would like to identify the species.

after 8-10 hours' study I may put this aside and begin study #2 which will delve into the matter of the eyes and the lips.