Chasing and repousse´bowl to take new German red pitch for sterling silver ‘Lawrence cuff’

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Wato wato all

How the jolly well are you, I trust all is tickety boo with you and yours. If not, look on the bright side; this time next year you wont remember least alone care eh :/

It has been a while since I have tried to make something, back to regular work now, night shifts are such a bore. My own fault, should be better at this by now. The good news is that I now have some cash coming in to purchase things like the German red pitch you see here. Not a huge amount, I got it from Amazon U/K as postage from abroad to import it was shocking. I also wanted to see if it was any good before committing to buying larger quantities.

The cost of a new pitch bowl, combined with the postal charges – they are heavy cast iron after all – was, again prohibitive. The solution was to turn to my trusty supply of copper hot water tanks, sink a spherical bowl and use that. At approx 0.6mm thick, the copper was way too light on its own. Also the amount of pitch I ordered would not fill the 10cm bowl I made to accommodate it. A solution to kill two birds, as it were, was to 3\4 fill the bowl with some scrap lead I had given to me. The pictures show the block in mole grips, held over the bowl. Using a propane torch I dripped the molten lead into the bowl.

The bowl is now heavy enough to prevent it skidding about as I use it. I know the lead is not a great idea, health and safety and all that, so I decided to contain it with a disc of copper. To secure the disc I chose to use body filler as it will not get hot enough in use to cause an issue. The low melting point of the lead makes it, to my mind anyway, impossible to solder, so this was a solution. The beauty of the body filler is that it will fill the gaps, making a permanent barrier against the contamination of the pitch with lead.

As you see, Lawrence does want a silver version of the copper cuff of a previous post. I have ‘puffed out’ the ‘runes’ as far as I can on the plaster scene at this time. Next job is to fill the new bowl with the German red pitch and see how it goes.

Thank you again for joining me on the never ending journey. Until next time, don’t let the bounders grind you down.

All my very best wishes

Stu Art 🙂

 

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Silversmithing one off pieces, how do we make our work sellable when pitched against mass market goods?

 

Wato wato happy new year.

I have been compelled to re print a section from my final dissertation regarding some of the challenges of selling completed work. The following is a bit of a heavy read, I do hope you take the time to plough through it, let me know if it chimes with you. Better still, have you anything to say, add or repudiate? It would be fantastic to hear from you.

It is my hope that we can start a discussion to help to square the circle that is getting a craftspersons work ‘out there’ as it were.

Challenging perceptions of value Some considerations and experiences for selling

At this time of plenty, people in this country have abundant choice, vast quantities of consumable goods in many and varied marketplaces both real and virtual exist. The relative low cost of buying very complicated, beautiful machines and objects presents challenges for the aspiring small scale producer. The public perception of higher cost, time consuming, low volume, or one off pieces gives incentives to obtain greater understandings. These will help to better understand potential mind sets, working towards formulating more effective sales approaches. The following quote gives an insight into what is a commercial reality for many well connected businesses. A new maker will not enjoy the same economies of scale, nor can they afford to be so dismissive of their customers, dealing as they will, to start at the very least, on a face to face standing.

http://www.newstalk.ie/2012/programmes/all-programmes/down-to-business/on-

this-weeks-show-33/ (2) Gerald Ratner, businessperson famous for his quotes about Ratner Jewellery “People say, ‘How can you sell this for such a low price?’ I say, because it’s total crap.”

This famous quote makes it fair to suppose that the great majority of the buying public are not very aware, nor particularly concerned as to the Providence, or quality of the jewellery they buy from his shops. As Mr Ratner was,and still is, with his new company, a very successful jewellery retailer. Without going into the whys and wherefores of Mr Ratners fall and rise, it is presented here as illustrative of a point regarding cost and value.

Reference was given previously to a blog written for the on line retailer

http://www.tworedtrees. In this blog one question was asked; Who would you most like to wear your jewellery? The following was the authors response;

A thoughtful person who considers my work and appreciates the time taken to make it. I was drawn to make jewellery for individuals, I have no desire to make jewellery for everyone. I feel that many people just wear some items because they were gifts or they were bargains, the wearer having little or no connection to the piece. A little like the feeling of having to have, say a diamond solitaire, because ‘thats what you do’, the wearer having no idea, interest or appreciation of the design, workmanship and trouble taken to realise it, seeing it only as a generic object to be ticked off of a wish list rather than an individuals potential masterpiece that they are the custodian of.

I want people to really desire one of my pieces and cherish it, continually exploring the service both visually and physically, someone who stands out from the crowd and ploughs their own path seeing the hidden beauty that is all around for everyone to see if they take the time to look. Someone who knows the

difference between cost and value as they will need to if they desire to own one of my larger pieces.

This would not be on Mr. Rattners mind, merely maximizing of profits, much else being of little consideration. To many a re seller with no connection, or intreats in obtaining a connection to the things sold in their outlets, economies of scale make this a commercially sound practice.

A maker, living in a very different reality, will have a huge amount of themselves invested in the work they produce. It may become very easy to loose confidence when faced with selling work in a marketplace that is predominately highly cost conscious.

This nation has been evolved from much suffering, enduring great hardship and exploitation to get to this moment. As the workshop of the world, the hub of the industrial revolution, we have progressed to the relatively privileged positions most here enjoy. We are all enjoying the fruits of our ancestors toil, the sacrifices they made, the continuing struggle with the owners of capital for the realisation of a life for living, rather than a working life for little living. All have benefited from the security of a childhood free from exploitation from unscrupulous business interests and all benefited by state provided schools and healthcare systems.

If a company were to set up in this country and employ children and people the way they are recruited in developing countries, as conditions were once here. Justifiable public outrage would result, these business owners would be likely be jailed, held up as an example to all of unacceptable, greedy and unscrupulous persons. These are the realities many people are not aware of, like the air breathed, cheap goods just happen. Would buying attitudes change if consumers were more aware?

As a nation we blindly buy ʻcrapʼ like Mr Ratner provided, safe in our ignorance of the sacrifices made by unseen people who have to suffer so we can have cheap goods. This is justified by the business community in the name of giving them the opportunity to grow as we did. How many of us would watch blindly as a person suffered a debilitating fall that we may have made, smug in the knowledge that they have to learn and experience it for themselves rather than speak up and guide them around the avoidable obstacle.

By thoughtful It was meant to imply a person who is aware and cares about their fellow citizen, having an awareness of the truth behind many businesses. Many consumers may not care, value always being associated with cost in their paradigm, possibly nothing could, or would change that. Others may take a different, more considered stance if presented with the realities highlighted previously. Many people may not be aware, some perhaps may change their perception as this perspective is better understood. A maker may find it productive, appealing to potential customers, perhaps, higher reasoning. The points raised are to give food for thought, this is to enable a reasoned debate with people, less a defense of ʻhigherʼ prices having to be realised to thrive rather than merely survive.

Goods perhaps have become a right if you will. Little thought as to need, rather want driven by avarice or entitlement rather than a true desire or appreciation of an item. The mass production of things that were once the domain of the craftsperson has distorted the equation of cost verses value. As a maker it is very important to make your offerings something other than a thoughtless product. Far more rewarding to elevate your work, making it special, helping to add value, perhaps even exclusivity to your brand. Be mindful that no one can produce high volume repousse work, that is special, customers may have to be better informed of this for enable improved sales success.

From the authors firsthand experience of selling a high ticket price piece to a woman accompanied by her husband, a new understanding that some peoples perception of value is altered when a fuller understanding was appreciated when discovered. The woman in question, at first, dismissed the bracelet saying she would buy the item if it were half the ticket price. After the woman and her husband came to understand the design process, experimentation, prototype model leading to the finished article, they were both genuinely astonished. So much so that they bought the item for the full asking price, both shaking their heads, saying that they would not put in so much effort for so little financial reward. The spouse congratulated the maker and now called it a piece of art, quite a turn around, the piece was the same, only the perception in the buyers mind had changed. It is mentioned in the context of a challenge highlighting this issue, one a maker is often presented with when handmade U/K work is compared with mass produced overseas offerings. In this instance the

ʻexpensiveʼ item the people were viewing was completely turned around after a full understanding of the process was realised.

Just as the point make about the diamond solitaire being little more than a tick box item for many people, perhaps an equal but opposite way of looking at the perception of value could be that a relatively low cost diamond can be viewed as highly desirable as it ʻlooksʼ expensive. Is this what many consumers may want, to look expensive whilst spending as little as is possible? In many instances it would appear so. It would be perhaps be less realistic attempting to appeal to sell such a person a piece such as this, it would not necessary look as though it required as much of an investment when casually looked at.

The ʻexpensiveʼ item was now viewed as cheap as the people framed the cost against the time taken to create it in their own point of reference. As working people in this country they, as we all do, face financial challenges that mean, metaphorically speaking, people in this country canʼt live on a bowl of rice a day, or less than a dollar as others have to enabling them basic survival in less fortunate countries.

Thankfully they connected, realised that the piece was unique, special and a one off that may be re made, but will still be unique as no two will be the same. This presented them with another reason for desiring this piece.

I could be suggested that, due to their being able to discuss the process with the maker, they will always view this item as special and it will likely be something to be cherished for years to come, one of the authors goals.

On a slight tangent, mentioned here in the context of giving hope to the new maker, wishing for a better informed, more understanding consumer. At this time an awakening in the conciseness of a great swathe of the public is taking place. The realisation, for example, that prices paid to farmers verses the profits made by supermarkets is unacceptable. Large faceless corporations are increasingly sourcing our produce from abroad where welfare for animals is largely ignored for the sake of higher profitability, this is being made more aware to the public. Large companies and super farms have been pushing out the smaller farmers by unfair subsides or tactical business strategies. Many have been farming for generations leading to less home grown choice in the high street due to cost being the overriding factor in production rather than the multifaceted value that diversity the smaller concerns present. Many consumers are starting to voice concerns, some no longer blindly buying food without first looking for assurances. Businesses are starting to cater, increasingly for a growing minority of more conscientious, discerning people.

As a maker, it is hoped to hitch a ride on this new awareness. As was written previously no plans exist to make jewellery for everyone. A hope is fostered that a way can be found to better communicate value against the overwhelming weight of hidden cost low price products carry.

These costs, when made apparent to some people, may make a difference to how homegrown handmade work is perceived, perhaps leading to more appreciative customers who now, hopefully make positive connections towards work offered.

Watching the internet grow from its start, seeing how it has transformed peoples attitudes to shopping some observations are worth being mindful of if the maker wishes to peruse this avenue. Engaging with, or overhearing conversations with consumers, when talking of an internet purchase they inevitably insert a phrase something like; and it was cheeper. This is a challenge for unbranded higher ticket items on two fronts. First the choice that this presents to the potential purchaser of products is truly mind numbing. It is very hard to make a piece stand out when many sites have price filters and people will inevitably compare a higher price ʻpictureʼ with a cheap one. This leaves the maker at a distinct disadvantage, a person, ideally, has to wear the item, the full effect being hard to imagine from an image on screen. If a makers reputation is good then this will not present as much of a challenge, providing the potential purchaser is familiar with the makers wares. An extreme example could be perhaps a Rolex watch, the same bought on the internet form Penzance or Paris. Not being in this instantly

recognisable category puts the new maker at a disadvantage that leads onto the challenge of finding the person who will invest in an unknown makers offerings in this environment.

An advantage of the internet not to be overlooked is the ability to use it as a means to show, or promote work. This can be useful as a kind of on line catalogue of the artists achievements, giving pictorial examples of the kind of work produced. Working towards perhaps engaging a persons interest enough for them to contact the maker to purchase or make enquiries for a personal commission.

Social media is also an effective means of promoting work, unpredictable it can also aid creativity by the visiting of others sites and gaining new perspectives. Other people can engage with the maker, perhaps not buying work, but leading the maker to discover many more things than would unlikely on a solitary journey looking to find information. Used as a new type of business card it is also great to be able to send your on line address to perspective outlets or clients, letting them browse at their leisure. The creation of a website is now becoming ever easier, cost effective and normal to expect from outlets that the newcomer may approach to represent them by displaying work produced.

Good representation is perhaps the most productive and the main approach that is invaluable to the new maker of low volume work looking to establish themselves in this diverse marketplace. One of the places to seek this is a gallery of some description. Consumers who visit such establishments are already

primed to expect prices that reflect the exclusivity of bespoke or low volume produced work. Upon entering a gallery many are more accepting of higher asking prices for often unique works. This being perhaps a reason for them to visit to be able to find one off special pieces, rather than a cheeper items available most anywhere from a branded high street retailer. Careful selection of the gallery is important as the makers work must be able to be seen in a like context with competing makers. Not much good selecting a gallery that are specialists in unrelated disciplines, or very much lower price point work that may make yours look expensive by association.

Going back briefly to the woman mentioned previously who bought a costly bracelet after speaking to the author. That piece was in a shop that predominately sells low priced items. This set the context for the person before they started as the pieces leading up to this piece were many times cheeper. One can only imagine the shock when the price is realised after browsing the items next to it. Perhaps this set the mindset that led to the comment by her ʻhalf price.ʼ

This would have been, in the shop owners opinion, most unlikely to have been the result had the maker not been there. The customer, perhaps, would not have been able to re think their first opinion that it was one hundred percent too expensive. In the context of that shop, perhaps she was right, It was very fortunate for the author to be able to connect with their values face to face on that day. This is presented to illustrate that even surrounded by less expensive work,

some people will understand and still buy. However it would not be wise to rely upon these chance occurrences for future success in selling work. Actively seeking out outlets that will support and promote you as a maker is invaluable. With this in mind Galleries were looked at to discover what they had to offer.

It pays to be very mindful of the effect that a strong personality can have upon the buying decisions of a potential purchaser. It is a fine line between informing and bulling that is a real skill few posses. Watching with fascination as a woman at a gallery selling various types of work engaged with potential purchasers. Her whole persona was professional yet warm, friendly and approachable. A middle aged woman of immaculate dress and a warm smile she was able to seamlessly guide conversation from the mundane polite chit chat towards finding out a little about people who entered the gallery. Asking questions that were never probing, although giving her an insight into the taste of the strangers before her. Her ability to engage eye contact and gently lead people to specific works was inspiring. The way she talked about the artists she represented was warm and very informed leaving the person in no doubt that this person could answer any question they may have about an individual artist, or would be untroubled to find out if she did not. The reason this is mention here is the obvious effect this has upon potential customers. A person representing a particular artists work of this caliber and dedication is priceless, they attempt to convey their enthusiasm for that persons work every bit as well as the creators of the pieces themselves.

 

 

I hope you managed to stay awake to read this, as always please do share your thoughts.

Very best wishes.

Stu Art 🙂

Repousse´ and chased flame patinated copper sunk leaf bowl

Wato wato all,

Hope you’re all looking forward to the festive season.

I have mentioned before, Reen is the membership secretary for the Cornwall association of wood turners. I have relented to her request to join, but not for turning, one turner is enough for any household I think. I have had a go at carving quite some time ago and so I enrolled on the woodcarving beginners class to see how I would get on. As you are aware silver requires quite a hefty investment before you can start something larger, as a result I go back to my trusty copper.

I have struggled since leaving College to establish myself so I am soon to be back on the hamster wheel of regular employment, helping to fund my further attempts at making objects that people may wish to purchase. I think this also pushed me to try the carving, a welcome distraction from my failures, perhaps it would give me a different view, some inspiration as to a new, hopefully more commercial aesthetic that other people may better relate to.

The leaf you see here is a direct copy of the template given to us by Johnny, our tutor. It was great to be involved in another craft, meeting up with others with a passion for what they do, comparable to mine in my craft. For what its worth, I would recommend that this is an approach that may help others, as it has helped me, it is very easy to become insular, seeing things from a singular perspective. Great if you are bang on target with the market you wish to attract, pretty poor if, like me, you are so far short that a shot of outside inspiration can be like a refreshing cold shower.

Once a month the woodturning club has a social evening, inviting a guest speaker to present to the group. Reen put me forward to give a talk! What do you talk about to people who work in wood? How do I engage an audience that is wedded to colour and grain patterns? Make a leaf to compliment the carving thought I, so this is the result. The main body was first repousse´ then filled with pitch to chase before finally sinking the rest away from the veins. The copper lent itself to being more colourful and random, a little like grain or blotchy colours in wood. All good eh, well almost but not quite!

I am terrible at remembering dates and times, Reen told me the date, no worries thinks I. The Wednesday morning before the Friday talk Reen asks me how things are coming along. No worries I will have it completed by next Friday no problem, picture the scene, cheesy grin and self satisfied, smug expression. Now imaging the ensuing unraveling of this confident exterior as she informed me, this Friday you wally. Oh sh-1-2, why me :

I hope this goes some way to explain, though not excuse of course, the damage you see on the completed piece. I finished this leaf at approximately 3:30pm on the Friday of the talk, I had to be there to set up at 06:00pm.

The good news is that the nice bunch at the club enjoyed the talk and even offered excuses for my poor finishing, and ham fisted ness by saying it gave the piece character. Nice to have a sympathetic audience eh.

The pictures are not a complete time line, fair to say you will all have an idea of how this sort of project progresses along. As always, please do ask any questions if I have not been clear.

Reen is also a member of a quilting group, though I will not be attempting that anytime soon, the patterns and geometry employed have my very much more engaged. Who knows what I may come up with. Now I’m off to read this months edition of Magic Patch for quilters 😉

I hope you will be encouraged by my experience to give other crafts a look to see if you can become better inspired.

Happy Christmas to you all, just in case this is the last post this year, a very happy and creative 2014.

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art

Repousse chased copper model of a custom cuff bracelet from conception to completion in pictures

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The drawing given to me with the rune alphabet and the caption as wanted. My interpretations at the bottom with the copper blank ready for lining

 

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Without annealing, turn the lined piece over and use a rounded punch. Follow the outline, as made by the liner in previous stage, working towards the middle.

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Turned over, on the plaster scene from previous stage, you can see the ‘runes’ taking shape. The surrounding material needs to be straightened out now.

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You can see this was an allen key, most of my tools start as allen keys, great cheep tool steel. The face, as most all of my chasing and repousse tools are, is mirror polished to prevent scarring of the material whilst working. The background is gently pushed down, again use the largest planishing punch as you can to minimise the overlapping tool marks that can lead to an unwanted planished effect. You are just ‘placing’ the material back, not forming it, just be gentle as you will need to repeat this again later.

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First annealing stage, pickled ready for more working.

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Because the material was work hardened in the previous stage this would likely not have been successful before this annealing. This takes the last stage to its conclusion, making the ‘runes’ return to the same level as the surrounding material. This allows you to separate the elements better later and allows you to see how high you have come, more importantly how much further you need to go.

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The underside after outlining the individual runes from the front, notice the clean edged as they have been encouraged back to the steel plate.

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A more focussed push tool is used for the second puffing out round. Same again, start from the outline and work towards the middle of each separate element.

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Compair this with the previous annealing, I need to start to think about making the runes look like separate elements rather than the balloon like appearance they have now.

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I will repeat this later. You will no way get this amount of height this early on working in any type of silver. You need to think about that as you may end up becoming despondent not being able when you try. Ask how I know 🙂

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Ready for undercutting now to make the runes look separate from the surrounding sheet.

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This is the sort of angle to use to give some material for undercutting when the piece is the right way up.

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Two sizes of planishing punch, smallest one for the tighter gaps between the elements.

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Annealed and pickled, round three.

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Lined onto the metal plate again. Please be careful, too heavy hammering on this repeated process thins the material and a real risk of breaking through exists if you are a little exuberant at this stage. Guess how I found out : \

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Straighter sides ready for undercutting, helping to further shape the illusion of separate pieces.

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This type of tool with a rounded blunt profile is used at this kind of angle.

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The shiny parts show where the tool has contacted. A little imagination is needed to envisage how you wish the elements to look from the front. This will dictate the profile, as well as the angle you choose to employ

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Much more defined and starting to look more like separate elements. Its over to the pitch now as the final shaping requires more support than the plaster scene can provide.

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A Victoria Lansford tip here, cooking oil applied to the side you are adhering to the pitch will aid its removal when completed.

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Sorry to say, imagination will have to guide you better than my words here. Study the two tool profiles, the blunt one is driven into the side to undercut each element. The other tool I made up from previous attempts to ‘lift’ elements. I made this type of tool for ‘wear your heart on your sleeve’ cuff when I was having trouble making the veins stand proud of the surrounding material. I find it effective, good luck if you wish to try your own. Better still, do you have any profiles you may wish to share?

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Another view of the two tools. The ‘lift’ tool shows the ‘belly’ I shape into it. Picture the effect this has when struck. The belly forces the tool to follow the rocker profile, the scoop profile then shapes and tucks in the element as it is described around each one.

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Just like the plaster scene stage, this is for making crisper definition that the more supportive pitch allows.

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Playing with the runes theme, elements and the like, I thought water flowing around would give a greater visual impact. Back in the pitch, face down, this blunt rounded tool is used to create raised ripple like effects as seen from the front.

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Off the pitch, from the front on a steel plate.

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Chasing the flowing patterns, this is one of the curved liners I used, more in following pictures.

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All the ‘flowing’ chased detail applied, shown are all the liners I used to attain this pattern.

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A blunt tool was used to mark out the rune letters that were requested. This is an example of spoiling the effect trying to rush. If you do this, remember to fill each element with pitch BEFORE you attach the whole piece. As you see some of the runes are sunken. This is due to be omitting this stage and having to contend with air pockets that do not support, leading to a collapse, shown here.

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Cleaned up and fresh from the barrel polishing machine.

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For illustrating options I chose to present this model half patinated to allow the chap to express a choice. I use a cotton bud as I find the solution wrecks brushes. The fine steel wool is used to take the black off the higher elements.

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One half patinated, the rest shiny, decisions decisions.

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Close up of shiny, clearly showing the ‘reward’ for lack of patience, the rune squashed, what a twit eh.

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Patinated and high spots removed with the wire wool.

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In 0.6mm copper, not very durable, nonetheless a good example of what could be if the chap decides he wishes it made in silver. This is a great example of my approach to ‘sketching’. I could not draw this, no problem making it though, it is a communication tool that allows me to have a dialogue with a person as they finger the surface and are able to better communicate what they want through seeing a representative model first.

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I have added this image of a packet of Plasticine. If you go to an art shop and ask for the generic equivalent , you get much more for your money.
As a thought for the people who wish to dip their toe in the repousse and chasing water, without going to the expense of purchasing pitch and the associated equipment needed to use it, I have had a thought. If you push the plasticise firmly into the depression you wish to add detail to, perhaps experiment by putting it in the fridge of freezer, this will stiffen up the plasticine, obviously you will have to work out how much support this will give, making allowances and decisions when to return the piece to the cold as it warms.
The pitch is very much more supportive, better to use for limited amounts of puffing that traditional low relief chasing and repousse require. The higher relief style I like, I find the plasticine saves time by yielding more, giving me more bang for the annealing buck as it were. Also the pitch will give a pretty accurate indentation for the tool used. Imagine poking your finger up inside a stretched piece of fabric. Your finger will make an impression of a tent as the material around is also pushed up. Depending on the pitch mix/hardness this effect can be, to a greater or lesser degree, avoided, making for crisper definitions of elements. The plasticine will drag material from further around the initial tool impression making ‘hills’ if you like.
If anyone does experiment with cold plasticine, I would be very interested to hear how you get on.

Wato wato

I thought this example of a commission I have received will help to better understand the chasing and repousse methods I use. Better still I sincerely hope it will encourage you to have a go, please do ask me for any further clarification should you need it. I would also be thrilled to see anyone else’s work if they would care to share it.

Lawerence is a fantastic chap who is into shamanism, ooooookkkayyyy I hear you say. I know I know, perhaps a little eccentric, better that than the abundance of dullness I say. A thoroughly decent and nice chap to boot as well and someone who I am very glad to say I now call friend.

Lawrence saw Clairs bangle, you know the pebble one, look back or go to my Facebook page if you need reminding. He came up with the idea of having his name in runes, the drawing in the first photograph will give you the gist.

I will let the pictures do the talking, well they do have some explanations attached, as I say, please do ask if I have not been clear.

As for the silver final piece, well I will have to wait as I have you to show this to him for his opinion. Rest assured if he does decide I will post a picture when I have completed it. As I state in the pictures this model was made in very thin, ex copper water tank, 0.6mm. Sterling silver will be the material of choice for the ‘real’ one. It will take, if I’m lucky twice as many annealings as it took to realise the model working as I do in 0.9mm stirling silver sheet. Please bear this in mind if you jump right in with your own projects, it takes very much longer and is much harder to move than the copper shown here.

As many of you already know I’m no artist and find drawing skills frustratingly illusive at this time, though I am still working on it. To my mind this approach is not much more time consuming than a fine rendering in different aspects that a silversmith or jeweller may need to satisfy a client. As a bonus my ‘handicap’ means I am continually learning in my chosen medium by practicing in it most of the time through necessity. Thin gauge models work for me, go on try it, you may like it.

I hope you enjoyed the photographic journey to the end and it encourages you to have a go for yourself.

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art

Cornwall Crafts association – accepted good oh :)

Wato wato,

Fantastic news for me, I have been accepted by the Cornwall Crafts Association to have my work represented by them. The following is a link to ‘my’ page.

http://www.cornwallcrafts.co.uk/view-craftsmaker/221

Here in the U/K we have The National trust that looks after large parts of the countryside, including much of the coast path, and beautiful historic buildings and gardens. I have two of the silliest dogs in all of Christendom. Reen and I like to take them out to the beach or countryside to inflict them upon the innocent from time to time. Trelissick gardens, National Trust, is one such place overlooking the water with great walks and a garden to explore, is one such place we enjoy very much.

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/trelissick-garden/

Cornwall Crafts Association has a gallery there, my work is now offered for sale alongside a diverse range of makers from ceramics, fine woodworking, woodturning, fabrics and paintings to name a small section, all handmade in Cornwall. Have a look, I feel sure you will gain much inspiration from the different makers, not only silversmiths and jewellery makers, presented as it is, in this exciting and vey attractive building in a sublime setting.

Fingers crossed that this will be the progression I need to take my craft to the next level, being as it is very important to sell so as to fund other ideas. As I feel sure you realise, materials are an expense that cannot be ignored. Without the outlets, sales are very difficult to realise.

When I started this blog I wanted to share my journey towards becoming a practicing, read productive and self funding, art metal practitioner. I am bound to say this is still somewhat of an ambition, rather than a reality at this time of writing. I found, indeed I still do find information and direction still very elusive, regarding how best to square the circle of finding outlets that best suit ones way of working. This is the start of a challenge that leads onto how best to present your wares to said outlets, making you stand out above the many other people wanting the same as you, to be represented and given the opportunity to support yourself in a chosen creative field.

To date not many have come forward with suggestions, or pointers, that can be shared with everyone as to how best to maximise your chances, I hope that will change. I wish to, eventually, be able to pass on, through experience, better still a combination input from readers and other craftspeople I meet up with along the way, better strategies. Helping to avoid the soul destroying hours of wasted time that are a result of, effectively, groping in the dark, looking for answers to questions that are only partly understood to start with.

I say this to the point of being repetitive and boring to the people who are unfortunate enough to know me personally. Practice does not make perfect, whatever people tell you this is not true. Think about it, if you do the wrong thing over and over, you will just get better at doing the wrong thing. You will perhaps become adept with a way that works for you. You may even be able to wear you ‘achievement’ like a badge, ‘thats the way I do it’.

I feel like I have become good at the wrong way, no need I feel. The trick is, like all learnable skills, finding the right place to gain the knowledge you need. I reiterate, I wanted to receive feedback that would enable be to ‘practice’ more productively , be it through the metalworking skills, or indeed the ability to ‘put yourself out there’ as it were.

I feel the professional images I had taken of my work really made the difference. I am pretty sure that had the photographs not been up to scratch, then I would not have been invited to submit a sample of my work for consideration.

Once I was invited I gave a broad range of my offerings to the panel. Bit of a panic as I was overjoyed to be invited, I was at a low point at the time and did not expect it. The application was borne out of desperation after a rather salty setback regarding my future as a maker. A lesson to all that beastliness by individuals should not be endorsed by capitulation. SOMEONE WILL LIKE WHAT YOU DO, if your approach is a little left field, you too may be unfortunate enough to suffer humiliation. Please think of it at their problem, not yours. To destroy takes little thought, why would you dwell on thoughtless people, stick to your goal and forge ahead I say.

I had some forged wire bangles that I have not photographed yet. They were not hallmarked at the time. I sent them anyway with a note explaining that I had just made them. I sent these to show that I could work in a different style to ensure that, should I be rejected, I could have asked for feedback as to how better to attract the panel. If I had not sent them and been rejected, then an opportunity to learn would have been missed. I still don’t know if it was perhaps the forged style that swayed them, perhaps they were more drawn to them rather than my repousse´ and chasing work, I will let you know!

So after all my ‘fishing’ I put in an application just days before they closed consideration for new makers for the remainder of the year. I did not try too hard, just sent off the form with the minimum of writing (no really!), the result was a fantastic achievement for me and one I hope you don’t mind me sharing. I have every bit as many hang ups about the desirability and validity of my work as the next person. In a sea of 360 degree landless horizons, if you stay floating long enough the sea will eventually lead you to land. A bit new age I know, however I feel it is a relevant thing to say in my situation up to this point. To embellish it a little more, the people who are in ships who throw things at you, trying to make you go under are cursing in that sea. Rest content in the assumption that they are lost also, but will not get off their boat.

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art 😉

Victoria Lansford picture of the month July Repousse´ cuff

 

Pebbles

Pebbles

I am fortunate enough to get another mention from Victoria Lansford, picture of the month of July to go with June 2013, good oh.

Again this is a chased and repousse´ cuff that was first soldered round, then worked with punches made specially for this piece. Two recognisable models exist, other experiments to refine tools and technique are long since in the re cycling.

After the New Designers show I am fast appreciating, with advice from industry people and other outlets, that I’m basically kicking a dead horse sticking to this sort of work if I wish to support myself.

I intend to still make new ones from time to time, however it would appear that more demand exists for working in larger forms, such as sculptural pieces and vessels. Advice leads me to give jewelley less of a priority for the future, concentrating more on larger scale work.

As ever I will share the journey. Till next time, all my very best wishes.

Stu Art

http://www.victorialansford.com/Pic-of-the-Month.html

Opinion please for finish on chased and repousse pendant

Number 1 matt, polished craters

Number 1 matt, polished craters

Number 2 all over polish

Number 2 all over polish

Number 3 Oxidised, polished craters

Number 3 Oxidised, polished craters

Number 1 matt, polished craters

Number 1 matt, polished craters

Number 3 Oxidised, polished craters

Number 3 Oxidised, polished craters

Number 2 all over polish

Number 2 all over polish

Wato wato

Another quickie, please could you look at the pictures of the same chased and repousse silver pendant and kindly let me know which finish you prefer. I would be very grateful as I can’t decide which one I like best.

Silver repousse cuff bracelet ready at last!

Wato wato

At last this cuff is finished! After completely messing up the first one and having more than a few challenges with this version I am happy to see it go to its new owner. I call this piece ‘wear your heart on your sleeve’. If you are in the area it is on show at the White Out exhibition in Truro until Friday.

It now belongs to Paul Pennington. You may recall his wife runs the Jewellery Workshop in Porthleven. He wanted this design to compliment the pebbles bangle I made for Clair that is shown in a previous posting. For those interested in the name it came about as a result of a College brief.

I thought that hearts abound in fashion, design and jewellery, as a child I was always fascinated by the very small. Typically beastly boy always muddy, grubbing about in the soil and ponds looking at amphibians and insects. When I discovered microscopic images I was blown away by the complexity and beauty of the hidden world right in front of us that we are not able to see with the naked eye. As an adult I was fortunate enough to be given a microscope for a birthday present, I wish I had more time to look at it, ah well the time constraints and pressures eh!

I went on-line and looked up microscopic images of heart muscle. At relatively low magnifications the heart muscle is like interconnected worms, well thats how it looks to me anyway. I took this set of images and interconnected them to make it more visually interesting and came up with the design you see here. As a bit of fun and a total fluke, the theme allows me to use the old saying of wearing your heart on your sleeve, I find I’m as chuffed about that as anything else about it. I love the fact that whoever wears it will be able to play guess the theme with whoever is looking at it.

Being a very highly raised design it stands out very well, not one for shrinking violets 😉 Being a chap I had given no thought to the gross factor that some of my lady peers expressed at the thought of wearing a representation of heart muscle, is it me?

The good news is that most people who view it for the first time associate it with interconnected vines or tree roots, good oh eh, far less embarrassing for me and another fantastic fluke.

Going on like this, I hope to give you some idea that beautiful accidents do happen. Think design opportunities, not mistakes. Again this is another creation of mine that has not universally won all popularity contests.The way I see it is that if you try to please everyone, not only is this not realistic, it is also timid.

When I bump up against a creative wall as it were, my long suffering supporter, best friend and brutally honest wife Reen has taken to telling me; ‘Just @*ing hit it” This has served me well on more than one occasion.

I respectively pass on her words of ‘encouragement’ to you as I am easily paralysed by indecision, as I’m sure many of you are. Know this however if you make a mess, at least you made something and a lesson was learned by you empirically in a world seemingly paralysed by academia, theory and the fear of getting it wrong. In a world of armchair experts it’s your opportunity to plough your own furrow and enter a wonderful, thrilling and ultimately sometimes scary world of the unknown that holds the promise of great adventures yet to be discovered. Until next time, JUST *@ING HIT IT 🙂 All my very best wishes. Stu Art.

Truro exhibition of students work. My completed bowl influenced by David Huang

Wato wato.

I’m almost at the end of my third and final year of my degree course. Truro College runs a yearly show to exhibit all students work in the arts. My copper paternated chased and repousse bowl is finally finished. I would like to take the opportunity to, both, introduce you to a very dear friend and awesome metal artist, publicly thanking her for all her help in the final finishing of this bowl.

http://www.thelanegallery.co.uk/nicola-bottono/

Nicola Bottono works in the above gallery, alas at this time she does not have a website, please look her up. We were on the same Silversmithing and Jewellery course, Nicola graduated last year and is continuing to develop her range at this time. I commented that I liked the patternated finish she achieved with a College project and she, very kindly, offered to apply the finish to this bowl. I thought it would be great to patternate the outside, Nicola thought inside would be better. I think she was right, I’m over the moon with it and hope you all like it also. Its great to have people around you who will guide you towards better decisions rather than allowing you to, potentially, make an error that you will see in hindsight that will be too late to rectify. Very many thanks Nicola 😉

This bowl is not without errors, this is the first time I have tried to chase a design on a hollow form. I feel bound to say however that I am chuffed to bits with the end result of what has been a rocky journey to get to the end. If you would like to see the pictures showing the bowl from flat sheet to as you see it here, please let me know. I hope you forgive my enthusiasm for this piece as I see it as a very great start on the road to making more beautiful forms in the future.

Much of this blog was made to help others avoid the pitfalls and inevitable mistakes that I have made to get to this point. All who are close to me will tell you that I struggle with the design aspect of making, this may not be the most ground breaking thing you have seen. From a personal perspective I must say that it represents a major achievement and milestone for me that many times I thought would not happen.

It is all too easy to become despondent and think your work amounts to nothing at all, my tutor for example thinks this is awful. I would be fibbing if I said this didn’t sting somewhat, however I am reminded of the fact that very few individuals would know where to start, let alone finish such a massively time consuming piece. The lessons I have learnt along the way are worth more than gold to me. The tools I have made and customised to complete are a permanent addition to my ‘alphabet’ of tools enabling me to better communicate with less and less effort in the future.

The mistakes and blemishes are the rights of passage for anyone wanting to undertake a large project. All too often I see and hear others wanting to create masterpieces and afraid to fail or look silly. There were many wrong turns, leading to this, to me and others who have seen it, wonderful and fruitful destination. If I allowed myself to be swayed by people who could not care less, this bowl would not have happened. Please please don’t let that happen to you.

Next time I will start to show you the peened disc of Britannia silver that I have used to create a silver bowl. Peening is used to thicken the edge as it is raised. Remember the previous post on making shallow forms with a bench block and a ball peen? The technique is very similar.

Until next time, all my very best wishes.

Stuie

Repousse and Chased cuff bracelet, a journey from copper to silver

Wato one and all

The year is going at a gallop as my course is up in June so time to get my finger out and settle upon a design I will be using for my final projects and the precious metal bursary that I was fortunate enough to receive from Goldsmiths Hall London. I have, to this point, just keep things pretty much technical in this blog, I find this relatively easy but will stretch myself in future to share some of the roller coaster  journey that this course has presented to me. As you can imaging this will be largely subjective and in no way verifiable or necessarily relevant. Perhaps even unrecognisable to others who have walked a similar path. One of the attractions of this blog, for me, was the opportunity for others to be candid and open with differing views that will inevitably lead to other perspectives; perspectives that I may not relate to. However all comments will bury themselves somewhere in the unconscious. This will only serve to make me more aware and rounded as an individual, difficult as I appreciate it sometimes is to be open face to face, the relative anonymity of this vehicle allows me to be open. I hope you will find it similarly conducive to getting your candid opinion accross safe in the knowledge that we will likely never share the same physical space. I very much look forward to being pushed and challenged, after all nothing can be forged without heat, come on, turn up the burner 🙂

This cuff bracelet was made for very dear friends as a birthday present for Clair. In another post I will introduce the extraordinary force of nature that is Paul and Clair Pennington of the Jewellery Workshop in Porthleven Cornwall.

http://porthlevenjewelleryworkshop.co.uk/

It would take too long to tell the story, suffice to say that in less than a year has seen them become such a successful team that it can be called nothing less than an inspirational tale of guts and determination.

Paul is enrolled on the same course as me and was taken by my, wear your heart on your sleeve, bracelet design. He commented that the inside looked like pebbles on a beach and the forming process left a pleasing sand like look on the inside. As Clair is a lover of such subjects Paul asked me to look at ‘just doing a reverse heart on your sleeve’!!!

The exclamation marks are to warn the unwary of being complacent, on the face of it nothing could be simpler, right? I show the original copper model of this piece to show you what Paul saw in the original design, I will now explain the journey.

The copper model was one of many, actually this is one of two rounded models, the other being a lesson :/ (hideous). Along with this were many flat copper experiments to test punched that I made to try to replicate the effects. I have mentioned this before but it pays to repeat. Working in thin gage copper, approximately 0.6-0.7mm thick is very different and far easier than the 0.9mm Stirling Silver sheet used here. The silver is very much harder to move and requires more annealing stages to obtain similar results, don’t go too far too soon, give yourself more time than you would in copper.

Not shown her is the initial lining as I wanted the stones to look placed on the surface the lines on the outside would spoil the effect. I lined the outlines when the silver was flat on a bench block before bending it to shape with a bracelet mandrel and soldering it together.

Here lies another challenge with a closed form, if you recall it is best to keep the chasing and repousse punches near vertical for them to work at their best. Now you will have to work from either opening of the bracelet. Shown here on my plaster scene, I try to use this as much as possible as the pitch stage is time consuming to set up and messy to clean up.

I chose to anneal often and not go too fast as the unequal stretching that working from either side made overstitching and miss shaping a real danger, so slow and steady. The challenge with this is to keep concentrating on the future as each annealing stage can be a little soul destroying when completed as it appears you have not achieved that much as the rounds count up.

Now as the shapes are coming along nicely the problem presents how best to separate the pebbles from the background. Working from the inside using push tools and planishers define the surroundings of individual elements.

After you have gone as far as you can from the inside consideration turns to the front. I did not want to mark the pebbles as I wanted to keep the finish more subtle, now comes the fiddly part that you have to work out as you go. Using bits of wood and plastic or delron nylon extruded bar shaped with saws and filed to fit a the recesses, carefully knock back the background. As you see from the pictures this still will not define the shapes as separate, for this you will need to undercut each stone from the surrounding.

As one of the last stages it is also a very nerve wracking process. As you can imagine as all these elements were raised from the surrounding sheet. As a result they have streatched and thinned, any careless blows will likely be met with a break through, tearing the silver and necessitating a time consuming repair, worse a piece of scrap, nasty lesson learned.

You see the ‘moats’ or ‘troughs’ surrounding the pebbles. With the undercutting punches I used surrounding material and pushed it towards each element. My reasoning was that as it was moved from untreated areas it would pool up against the edges. This was to ensure that sufficient material was present at the edges of each stone, reinforcing it if you will and making the undercutting process less hazardous, less likely to result in breakthrough. Good luck or practice, I know not what, I had no issues and all went well.

The cutting and finishing of the wavy pattern was done with a jewellers fret saw, files and sanded to acceptable standards before returning to the pitch for final texturing. After putting on the pitch it was left to cool so as to create a hard stake like effect that would support the shape, preventing distortion whilst the texture was applied with liners and planishing punches.

The deliberate break in the pattern was made to ensure that I had enough material to be able to make the piece smaller as I was concerned that with the extreme shaping would result in a possible modification. I feel bound to say that when Clair found it was indeed too big I was glad I did. Fair to say the sawing of it in half and removing a section before soldering back together was another lesson learned. If you find yourself in a similar situation may I suggest that you anneal the piece before you saw it in half. All the forces that had built up whilst final forming and texturing made it distort when I cut through it. I kid you not it took an age to straighten it up and re join it, this would not have happened if I had annealed it first as it would have equalised the forces and made it far easier to modify.

I hope you like it, better, I hope it inspires you to try something for yourself. The next time I will start to show examples of hand raising and making bowls, until then.

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art