Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Nursing duties and more copper clay working

Just coming to make a new post and seeing my last one about 'maybe that was summer', it looks like that might have been the case. It's funny that we were walking outside on that especially lovely day in shirt sleeves and finding spots in the shade for a rest and cooling drink, yet we went out for a walk on Sunday and donned thermal gloves, scarves and hats and were still jittering in the bitter cold wind.

I realise that the earlier unscheduled warmth and sunshine was the day out of place, but recent much colder weather has somewhat thrown both into sharp relief.

Please click on any of the photographs for a larger view.

Hand sculpted pendant made in copper clay with leaves and buds.

I don't have much exciting to report or interesting to show you at present, my husband underwent long-overdue incisional hernia repair surgery (major, life-saving surgery a few years ago hadn't healed well and needed fixing) a couple of weeks ago, so we'd planned for a period of inactivity, had stocked up with food any any other supplies we anticipated needing and settled down for a short period of daytime TV and hunkering under the duvet on the settee recuperating. Well, he did, I was destined for passing things out of reach, the helping on with socks and taking over any household duties involving lifting, stretching or bending - and those will continue for a little while yet.

Copper clay earrings with twisted oval dangles imprinted with a raised flower design and hanging from matching feature oval earwires.

He's recovered amazingly well; it would appear that general anaesthetics have developed somewhat since last time either of us had surgery and he was up awake, looking forward to his lunch and texting me as much less than an hour after he came out of surgery. It's also true to say that he wasn't quite so chipper once all the painkilling injections they had given him had worn off. But still, he was significantly better than ether of us had anticipated and has in fact already returned to work - supposedly on light, desk-bound duties - a week earlier than we expected and planned for. I'm not sure I'm thrilled about that, but he doesn't seem to be taking any harm from it.

Antiqued copper necklace wrapped with molten buds and copper clay disc flowers.

So, aside from my nursing duties, I haven't done anything very exciting lately, my productivity was somewhat reduced by having him at home. If only because I actually had someone to talk to and have a brew with. But I did at least remember to stop and eat lunch every day, which I don't always do; sometimes until it's almost too late to be worth bothering.

Earrings cold forged from a heavy gauge of copper wire, hammered and drilled and wrapped with a copper clay disc flower and molten bud. They will co-ordinate with the necklace above.

I've been working on photographing and listing recent creations and finishing some of the projects I had started. I occasionally have to force myself to do such tasks before I make something new - I reward myself with 'making time' when I reach key targets in my listing process - which when my head is overflowing with ideas or I'm dying to get on with something in particular, is quite a good motivator.

Antiqued copper clay earrings featuring a twisted flower button bead.

I've done some more work with the copper clay, as you can see from the photographs included in the post. I had a conversation with the technical support people who import the clay, as there were some aspects of my results that I either wasn't happy with or didn't understand why things were happening. One major consideration was seemingly drying time - the packet instruction was to file and fire it when dry, without any indication of how long that might take. Their web site wasn't much more specific, but I'm delighted that as a result of our conversation, they very quickly made their instructions more appropriate, which I'm sure will help others like me just starting working with the material.

Entirely hand crafted earrings featuring polymer clay faux pebbles and copper clay flower dangles.

On small and especially thin pieces, they actually feel and appear dry within a few hours - later the day you've worked on them - especially if you keep them somewhere warm and turn them often, as I do. Although things look and handle as dry quite quickly, I'd always left them at least overnight to ensure that they were properly dry throughout.

Copper clay and hand made glass bead spotty earrings. I only had this single pair of matching beads amongst an assortment I bought and I've got them out several times looking for ideas with them and as soon as I saw how well the spots could be highlighted from this spotty texture sheet used on the clay, I knew the right partnership had just been waiting to find each other.

But it transpires this simply isn't enough - they need a couple of days at least, any tiny molecules of unseen moisture remaining can evaporate and explode out of the clay as you first heat the piece - giving rise to cracks and in one case, quite an impressive pop which removed a section of the surface. In that case, it had dried for at least 36 hours, so I clearly need to leave them a decent time before being tempted to fire them. Although I've since fired pieces I initially made a couple of weeks ago and the same problems still occur so it's not the only factor, maybe it's just the nature of the medium, that some surface disturbance is inevitable when torch firing? It sounded like I was otherwise doing everything right - although my enjoyment of twisting the clay into more interesting shapes might be partially to blame.

This is the piece that popped alarmingly when fired, thankfully mostly on the back, but I'm not sure how I feel about the finished item anyway, so it may well remain in my personal collection.

The rest of their advice seemed to boil down to taking a course and learning to do it properly! Nah, where's the fun in that!


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