Sunday, April 25, 2010

Enameling the Future

Day two at Sue's was all about copper and glass. A friend of hers had found an enamel kiln on craigslist and told her to buy it. Sue thought that maybe she could use it to make buttons and other embellishments for her fiber pieces, so she called the guy and bought it. The kiln came with all of the tools needed, boxes of enamels and bunches of copper shapes to work with. She got a few other tools at Harbor Freight and was good to go. If you happen to be interested in doing enamel work on your own I highly recommend The Art of Enameling: Techniques, Projects, Inspiration by Linda Darty, it tells you everything you need to know to get started and has some great pictures for inspiration as well. 
Once in the basement we settled in to work; turned on the kiln, sorted the enamels, selected our metal pieces and were ready to start. The kiln, however, was not ready. The kiln was hardly even warm. Sue switched it from low to high and we refined our rudimentary preparations. I sorted the enamels even further and put all of the little copper bits in piles according to shape and size. Sue busied herself with cutting circles and doming them. Eventually the kiln was ready to go. 
Evidently it needs to be turned on high about 45 minutes or an hour before you are ready to work. I chose a crescent shape from the pre-cut pile and put holes in both points and one at the center of the wide side of the curve. Sue cut 2 small circles, drilled 4 holes in each and domed them. I coated the back of mine with Indian Blue (seen above) which turns out to be a bright turquoise color. On the front I put a clear coat and after firing that I used enamel from a bottle labeled "Mixture". There are about 6 of these bottles each with a different color to it. This one looked blue-ish but turned out to be a lovely mottled pale green (below.) I think that the uneven dark edges mean that we over fired but I like the roughness of them.
The large bead is lava, the red ones are garnet and I think the other 2 are soapstone. Now all I need is to find a good clasp to attach to the leather laces and it's finished! 
Next time we get together I'll take more pics of the process and of Sue's work, she does very nice work.

Fun with Arts and Crafts

My friend Sue, from Fiber Lingo, and I have begun getting together now and then to learn new techniques that we can both incorporate into our own work. A couple of weeks ago I went over to her house and we made felted miliflori beads drawing from her vast collection of beautifully colored fleece. We started by rolling up individual colors then grouping those together and covering the whole bunch of them with even more wool. At the end of this step our logs looked like this: (mine is the bluer one)
Next we wet them with warm soapy water and began to roll the bejeebers out of them. When we decided that they were compacted tightly enough we put them on the floor and continued to roll them, this time using our feet! If this wasn't enough the next step was to beat them into complete submission:

All of this abuse was well worth the effort when we cut off the ends of our rolls and saw what was inside:
Our final step was to cut a 1/2 inch slice that would become a bead once it, and its sisters, had been carefully soaked in acrylic floor finish to keep them in one piece:
I may end up having to shave my beads as I did not use merino on my outer wrap or, maybe, the acrylic will hold the hairs in - we'll see - it's an adventure!
Thanks to Interweave Felt Magazine and their article by Carol Cypher for the directions for this project.

And speaking of adventures, next time I'll tell you all about our learning to use Sue's enamel kiln! For red-hot glass and metal it is soo cool!!