Saturday, May 11, 2013

From a distance

The piece I made in Wanaree's class on making bezels with the Silhouette cutting machine and metal clay sheet is finally done.  From a distance it looks pretty good.  Just don't look too closely.  (I have to remember that it is a learning experience and with time and practice I will get better.)

The class was fun and for the most part didn't really stress me out too much.  (Except when the polymer stand-in, wrapped in contact paper kept popping out!)  When I wrapped my sheet metal bezel around my stone I thought it was a smidgen too long so I trimmed it.  (Bad idea........... now it was too short.)  So, I had a gap that messed up the rhythm of the design.  That had to be dealt with and I tried to fill it in with paste which wasn't the prettiest spot on the piece. But that could be dealt with after firing.

The pieces were laid on some kiln shelves with the bail laying on the lower level and cocked to one side.  This would keep the bail from binding with the loop on the piece and would help keep that same loop from curving. (There's a reason why I mention the position of the bail.)  My piece and several others were near the door of the kiln (which can be cooler) so they did not shrink enough to fit our stones.)

My friend Carol, offered to re-fire my piece so it would shrink more.  We fired at 1650 degrees for one hour.  (I forgot to mention how to position the bail during firing.)  It did indeed shrink quite a bit.  The bail also bound a bit with the loop but that came apart easily.  And..... the loop curved.  (Which didn't really hurt anything.)  But, during the second firing one of the little triangles on the bezel completely disappeared.  (It had a slight tear in it to begin with .)  Now, not only did I have to deal with smoothing the pasted gap area but I had to do something about the newly created gap.  (This was just getting to be more and more work........ but what else is new?)

I used my silhouette machine to cut out some small pieces that I had planned on using between some of the designs (particularly the two bad spots.)  I created my design, set up the machine and cut the design out.  But when I went to peel the contact paper off the design, I realized that I hadn't reduced the tackiness of the contact paper.  Wanaree did that by laying the contact paper on her arm then peeling it off.  That is just enough to reduce the stickiness.  So, back to doing it again.

With my extra designs cut out, I went about the task of adding them applique fashion to my existing bezel.  Wanaree adds them by picking the piece up with her brush.  (That just wasn't working for me...... something else I have to work on.)  I had to use tweezers, but I got it done.  Luckily for me, the extra smidgen that I cut off in the beginning seemed like it would fit into the newly created gap.  Used a little paste, held my mouth just right and it fit right in.  I got all the newly cut applique pieces pasted onto the already fired bezel and fired it for the third time.  (Of course holding my breath the entire two hours.)

Looked in the kiln and it looked perfect..... until I took it out.  Either I missed a spot or once again one of my pieces decided to take a vacation.  So..... I removed a few of the applique pieces in strategic places to make them look like it was planned.

I decided it was time to put in the stone and hammer the bezel around it.  After that was done, I did not like the way the applique pieces looked at all.  Plus, I had forgotten to add a little epoxy to the inside of the bezel because of the tiny pieces that could catch.   I couldn't take it anymore so I decided to "Step away from the clay" until today.

Today when I went to the studio, I got out my wire cutters and cut (or pried) off the applique pieces.  It finally looked better to me.  It's not as smooth as it could be because of the paste from the applique pieces but those tend to look like a design.

The last hurdle came when it was time to polish the piece.  Because of the tiny pieces on the bezel, I was trying to be very, very careful (which wasn't getting me anywhere fast.)  But the bezel piece is surprisingly sturdy and I really gave it a work over.   I used both hand sanding and my flex shaft to get the piece to shine.  There were sharp edges where I removed the applique, but the sanding process eliminated all of that and the piece is now smooth on the edges.

Despite all my mistakes (excuse me..... learning experiences) the piece did turn out okay.  As my learning piece it will be something I keep for myself.

Tomorrow, I'll post the back of this piece.  (The back is important too you know!)

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