Blogs » Finally back again...on Grains and in front of the kiln...

Finally back again...on Grains and in front of the kiln...

  • Happy Monday Everyone...


    Last night we here in Minnesota got a good, old fashioned snow storm!  Complete with 8-13", complete with windblown drifting across the entire metro.  At our house, we figure at least a foot but it was hard to tell because of the drifting caused by the winds.  Weather Channel showed a big pink band, indicating ice, on the heels of the storm front but that, thankfully, did not make it as far north as Minneapolis.  We got lucky and, even with all this snow, I feel thankful.  This morning, hubby and I went out and cleared the driveway - he manned the snow-thrower and I worked the shovel...ugh!  Snow was soft and sort of fluffy, but still on the heavier side of being light.  Anyway - driveway cleared, I was able to get out and get to work.  Happy Monday indeed! LOL!


    The picture above is compliments of my sweet hubby, who sent me an email thanking me for making him a nice warm egg, cheese and bacony sandwich for breakfast while he was throwing all that snow.  Hey!  He got up early, dressed in nice warm layers, and got out on the snowy tundra that is our driveway, and braved the cold and snow so I could get my car up and out of the driveway.   I figured the man deserved more than a bowl of cereal to look forward to and the LEAST I could do was make him something tasty, warm, healthy and hearty for breakfast...and warm up his fingers a little bit and give him a happy smile to carry him through the rest of the job.  I just love my him to pieces!  


    This weekend I think I experienced a bit of brain overload which led to my not getting a whole heaping lot done.  Last weekend I worked on a few new pieces that I had previously bent wires for - set them, colored them, and this weekend I ground and final fired three of them.  This is good...not where the problem happened...I also took the time to unpack every single 'half finished' piece and put them aside.  I unpacked and took my glass brush and cleaned all the pieces that need to be final fired, set them aside on top of the kiln to dry.  I took out all the pieces that only required grinding and then final firing and finished the job. Cleaned them with my glass brush and put them with the others on top of the kiln to dry.  Then, lastly, I took out and organized all of the wire sets that I diligently bent for pieces that I wanted to do but tucked aside "for later".  I pulled out all of the ones that I wanted to complete 'next'.  So I felt organized, if nothing else.  My initial goal was clearing my proverbial decks before getting started on what I consider will be my next, 'first' really big project. I've chosen to do a series larger pieces - 4x6 inches in size each, taken images from paintings from my favorite artist, and these will eventually be mounted and framed and hung in our home.  I am chomping at the bit to start, and the wires have been bent and folded carefully in between paper and kept safe, but first I need to clean house and finish what needs to be finished and get to work on some of the pieces I'll be taking to Cozumel with me to put in my friend Greg's gallery.  There is still a lot to do but I feel like I've made progress to my ultimate goal of having a clean plate before I start the biggie.  I will post pictures as I go.  I am very excited to start...the first is a polar bear with an angel...while the colors are simple, the task will be to shade it properly and make it actually LOOK like first piece is a challenge in gradients and shading.  The next one I have in mind is an angel with a lion...more shading but will be using much bolder colors...colors that can easily go shmutz in the kiln.  I might end up using copper and foils for that one since my experience in the past is that my oranges go muddy...but I might be able to solve that by underfiring a bit until the final firing...I will practice SMALL before I undertake panel #2. Trial and error...trial and error...trial and error.


    But, I digress...back to brain I was sitting at the bench and trying to figure out what I should work on first, my brain just suddenly kicked into overdrive while I was soldering a few bezels for a pair of earrings.  Basically, it was the beginning of the end of getting anything done at all.  Like a bunch of wild horses, I could NOT get the thoughts organized and in line.  Crazy!  But it happens every so often...don't ask me why!  When I sit and try to think of things, sometimes it's a total thoughts, no ideas, like my muse has taken a looooooong coffee break...again! haha!  I couldn't settle on a project, couldn't concentrate, couldn't commit to memory as fast as my brain was churning up and spitting out ideas.  It was like all of the old ideas I thought about 'before' that actually got imprinted in memory, were being resurrected from the dusty corners where they've been stashed, but this time with new twists and details I hadn't thought to think about before.  Pictures of gemstones of purchases past, that have been stashed in my gem box, that stumped me as to HOW to use them in a piece of jewelry once I got them home were now front and center stage, flashing through the brain - some ideas in completed state, some just pointing me in a direction of where they might want to go.  Ai yai productive yet so unproductive all at once!! Has that ever happened to any of you??? If so, how do you overcome and still finish what you have in front of you AND get everything committed to memory or sketchbook?  I literally had to walk away from my torch...after obliterating one bezel and managing to overheat but still salvage another, it was clear that WORK and COMPLETION were being hijacked that afternoon. So, instead I flipped the kiln on thinking that I could just enamel my way back into productivity...nope.  I flipped a breaker switch that didn't flip all the way over so it looked, at first glance, that everything was still "ON"...and with all the electrical work my hubby is doing with the kitchen remodel, I didn't want to touch the breaker box so I just had to wait until he got home to fix it.  Not a productive day.


    I've also been trolling Ebay and Etsy for overglaze china paints.  I've been gleaning all the enamel websites and guild pages, as well as chapters in all the enameling books that I have for 'how-to' articles on enamel painting.  My previous encounters with painting whiskers on my cats with black enamel have been mixed successes...sometimes it works and looks great, most of the time NOT...the enamel sinks into the glass and it does not give me the effect I desire in my think I figured out what the problem is...the black enamel I have might be an underglaze, which behaves differently than an overglaze...I have at least learned this much, if nothing else!


    I wish that there were more place to take classes here in MN - I have limited vacation time and what time I have accumulated at work is already tagged for our personal vacations and visiting my family members in other parts of the country...not a lot of time for personal fun travel to learn something least for a few more years.  So everything that I'm learning, I am self-teaching with books and manuals, and a lot of reading and hands on trial and error.   My list of 'must learn' techniques for this year - starting with trying them first are as follows:

    1) painting with overglaze enamel

    2) anticlastic and synclastic raising (this is metalsmithing, not enamel)

    3) sand casting (mainly so I don't have to stink up the house with wax burnout and flask prep - this doesn't work so well in the wintertime indoors - I usually do my casting when I can move the kiln outside when the weather is nice - which doesn't help much come winter)


    Well, I'm looking outside and it's still snowing and blowing out there.  It's going to be a slippery ride home tonight. 


    Signing off and hoping everyone has a good evening!