Tuesday, June 23, 2009

last couple days

I am so glad I am done with that necklace. I finished it Saturday night. These things always take so long. There's always stupid unexpected things that make it take longer, like I had all this tape residue stuck on the front of the piece from when I put masking tape on the front to protect the finish while I was working on the back. I have no idea why masking tape left residue, I thought it wasn't supposed to? Aside from having to deal with the tape residue I still spent several hours finishing it. I'm not even sure what I was doing that took so long. I remember my teapot was the same way, the final finish took hours. I should clarify, I don't mean I am going from rough filed to final finish, I am talking about I already pretty much have the finish on it, it just has some little scuffs and things from the other work I am doing on it and I just need to reapply the finish and make sure it looks good. Still that takes hours. With this necklace I scrubbed the front with a toothbrush with soap and pumice powder, then I sanded in one direction with a "fine" grit 3M sanding sponge. The back of the piece I finished Friday night, it's sand blasted and the balled ends of the wires are polished with a flex shaft and rubber wheel.

Below: Scrubbing the piece with pumice powder. Lighter fluid (top left) was what I was using to get the tape residue off. I started using the blue painter's tape (covering the gold scales on the ends) after I realized the normal masking tape was leaving residue.

Sunday I took some more photos and did some retouching to them. The back ground I shot on was this 32" x 43" sheet with a gradient on it. It's kind of a heavy plasticy paper, but the gradient is printed on it and it's really delicate. So even though I don't use it very often, and I try to take care of it, it still has a lot of scuffs and marks on it. Which means I always have to do a lot of work in Photoshop with the healing brush taking out all the scuffs. I don't want to buy a new one cause the thing wasn't cheap and it doesn't hold up to having things set directly on it.

Below: Photo set up for most of the non-model shots.

Today I am just taking it easy and cleaning up my studio. The place always gets so messed up when I have am trying to meet a deadline. Tomorrow I have to start on all the jobs I was putting off while I was finishing my necklace. I told a lot of people I could start on their work after the 22nd. Other than my commission work, I think the green enameled bracelet will be the next thing I will make.

Below: Some random photo from when I was almost finished.

Monday, June 22, 2009

finished at last

1665 pieces, cast and hand finished.
Approximately 250 hours labor.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

taking photos

My friend and his wife came over today for the photos of the scale necklace. It went ok, I think I got some good photos. I wasn't sure how it would go since I have never photographed a piece on a model before. One problem seemed to be using a fast enough shutter speed since even slight movement with a slow shutter speed will cause blur. I ended up shooting most of the photos at 1600 ISO, and then reduced some of the noise with Nik Software Dfine in Photoshop.

This was another situation where I realize how much I love digital photography. I can shoot as many photos as I want and immediately see how they are turning out. Today I ended up having to reshoot some after looking at them on the computer. If I was using film I would have to pay to have the film developed and then wait at least an hour before finding out the pics were unusable. The seam in my backdrop is visible in some of the photos, but it's not a problem. I can take it out in Photoshop with the healing brush. With film there's nothing I would be able to do about it. One has to be a better photographer to take good photos with film.

None of this is new to me, I have been shooting digital since 2005. But I was just thinking of how much more work it would be if I was using film, and I am so glad I don't have to use film. Film does have advantages, I believe 35mm can be printed bigger than photos from my 12 megapixel camera, medium format and large format can definitely be printed bigger. But I have never had a need for large prints.

I'll post the photos once I have taken the other photos of the piece.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

still working on the necklace

I am taking a break from working on my necklace right now. I guess I am mostly done. Wednesday my friend's wife will come over to model the piece for some photos. I don't think the back of the piece will be finished for those photos, but that doesn't matter cause you won't be able to see it. By Friday I will finish up the back of the piece and take some more photos of it not being worn. I haven't been giving too much thought to finishing the back, it might be a more time consuming job that I am thinking. There's nothing I can do about that now, so I will worry about that when I get to it.
Time to go back to work.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

more enameling

I enameled my other little cup last week. I put on 3 or 4 coats of enamel.

This is what the enamel looks like before firing:

I used a Smith air/acetylene torch with a #3 tip. I think a #4 tip would have been better because it was taking some time to get all the enamel to melt, but I didn't have one at the time. I got one later in the week when I ordered some things from Rio.

Finished pieces:

These are some bracelet parts I started on last week while I was waiting to cast more scales for my necklace. This piece, along with everything else I have been working on, has been put on hold till I finish my necklace.

Monday, June 1, 2009

more enamel tests

Friday I got a couple more enamels and some enamel adhesive. The adhesive is for getting the powdered enamel to stay on curved or vertical surfaces before it's fired.

I did some more enamel tests last night. The piece below is a little copper cup I keep my punches and repousse tools in. It started out as something quick I made in 2005 to practice raising. Later I gold leafed it to practice applying gold leaf. I never liked the gold leaf on it very much, so last night I decided to sand it off and practice enameling it.

It's torch fired. I built up 3 layers of enamel, firing it after each layer. I fired the last layer twice because I didn't think it was fused well enough. I am mostly satisfied with the way it turned out. I heated it from the inside, except at the very end I passed the torch over the outside directly on the enamel. That darkened the enamel slightly, making it look kind of dirty. I shouldn't have done that, but that's the purpose of doing a practice piece, now I know not to do that on light colored enamels.

This went pretty smoothly. My previous experience with enamels wasn't very good. I remember having trouble with the enamel cracking off. That was part of the reason I never did any enameled work. I was really interested in enameling in the early 2000's, but I didn't know anything about it, and I thought you needed to use a kiln, which I didn't have. By the time I got to try enameling in 2005 I was no longer interested in it. I did my required sample pieces for a class, which didn't go very well, and decided enameling was not something I wanted to do. I am interested in enameling now because I am getting a little sick of anodized aluminum, but I still want to use colors, and I like the textures.

I'll probably practice enameling more on another raised cup I keep small tools in later this week. Practice pieces are more fun when its something you will keep and use.