Friday, 31 December 2010

Secret santa - take two

We're doing a secret santa on folksy as well and I've been itching to post this make for ages, but I didn't want to risk my victim finding out it was me - so I decided to wait a little while until we did the reveal.

Swapping is all well and good, but I have a shop full of plastic cupcakes and as much as I enjoy kawaii crafts, I wouldn't actually wear any of it myself as it simply doesn't suit me. I'm always quite mindful of this when swapping as I worry my swap partners wouldn't wear it either as it's quite a niche craft, so I tend to try and go for something a little different if it's a suprise gift.

My secret santa partner from folksy this year is the super-mega talented Tanya from Bluebutton and Bluebuttonbride; who makes, amongst other things the most gorgeous button bouquets. Her work is quite simply stunning and appeals to my love of bright colours, simple shapes and non-fluffy things. I've decided therefore to go for something unfussy and simple and actually make some jewellery for a change. Earrings are out, as I don't know if she has her ears pierced, so it looks like a necklace will be the way forward.

I'm not going to pretend that this is the first attempt I've had with metal clay and I should probably admit I have done a silversmithing course in the past too before I start.

This is 1 mm thick half-hard sterling silver wire, which I've cut into several short lengths. I like half-hard wire as it behaves itself when you are trying to bend it, but isn't too soft to get bent randomly.

This is PMC slip, a suspension of PMC in water. It's like a thick paste and I find it quite nice for painting on things like flowers as you can burn away the core to leave the fine silver metal shape. I rather like it as a medium because of the way that it flows. Most of the time, you'd use it to repair cracks and stick things together, but I find it useful as a material in its own right.

I'm just dipping the ends of my bits of wire into the slip so I get a blob on the end, then allowing it to drip down to form a more organic shape. I want it to look a little like unopened flower buds or snowdrops, so I'm rotating it a little as it dries off so it form almost petal-like ripples. Once the first layer has dried off a little bit, I can repeat the process to build up a bit more slip, then leave it to dry again.

I like to leave it to dry off a little bit before I fire it anyway, so I've just stuck the ends in blu-tack to support it and left it overnight.

I find this stuff actually fires fine on the gas ring of the cooker. Please remember to protect your hands if you want to do this.

Curling the end around a cocktail stick and putting a soft curve into the wires provides me with four little irregular silver buds.

After firing, I can use a polishing wheel and an engraving tool to burr out any remaining bits of crispy matrix and lift off the firing marks. In this case, I've chosen a course polishing wheel and have continued up the wires to texture both the petals and the stems. This serves to smooth out the join between the metal slip and the wire and make the whole piece look a little more continuous. The coarse polishing wheels leave a more intresting textured finish as well rather than a high shine, which I quite like. Working the wheels round the buds allows me to open up some of the waves in the fired slip so the whole thing looks a bit more organic. Fired PMC behaves like the metal of a similar thickness would, so it's quite mallable and amenable to being poked around. I strung the buds onto a slightly oxidised silver snake chain for a bit of contrast.

And finished :) I apologise for the naff lighting again, it's really late!

I packed this up in a black cardboard box, then packed the whole thing into a larger box stuffed with organza and some buttons insted of packing material as I know the recipent would be able to find a use for them (and it would making pre-Christmas guessing hard!).

1 comment:

Blue Button said...

Im using the buttons in bouquets now! There were some truely gorgeous ones. Thankyou for the gift, it was lovely