Thursday, February 17, 2011

Enamel Vacation!

November was a little crazy for me - I did something I've not done in probably 10 years. I went on vacation. Yes, a real vacation - not a vacation where I am traveling for work and go visit my family. A vacation where I did NOT even bring my work laptop with me! It. Was. FANTASTIC.

I traveled to Pam East's GA studio and took one of the most fantastic silver clay classes ever. Champleve Enameling on Silver Clay. The most important thing I learned was do not worry and take your time - there is a lot to be said about the actual finishing of a project. Pam taught 4 of us the ins and outs of silver clay in this two day class helping us open up to having no fear and creating beautiful pieces. We created pieces specifically for Champleve Enameling process. And the second day we enameled. What a blast - completely relaxing, you get into a zone and the pieces seemed to flow. I learned to build the enamel layer by layer creating the shading as you go. And then the finishing - how much I learned about this. When we were done you could run your finger across the top of our Champleve pieces and it felt like they had a layer of smooth, glossy varnish over it - but it was just the finely ground, smooth, beautifully finished silver and enamel. No edges, just smooth. I learned so much!

The second piece we did was at our request - she had a beautiful piece that had what we came to call a "river" of enamel flowing thru it. The silver piece was textured but the "river" was smooth and stood out from the texture. She showed us how and we had a couple of rivers and one heart from this project. I love my little heart on the rounded triangle shaped pendant. (So much that I bought a template of the rounded triangular shape to use at home.) On this piece we didn't carefully grind the enamel down because of the texture but what we did do was add patina using real liver of sulfur - something I had never used before. I have only used the gel form. I was / am very pleased with the colors I got that evening.

Those were two incredible days! Well... that wasn't the end of my vacation - ohhh no! I had found out that after our class Pam was headed to the John C Campbell Folk School in North Carolina - just over the border. So when I found out it was only a 2 hour drive from North Atlanta I signed up. I took Thursday off and relaxed and then checked out of the Hilton and headed north on Friday. The John C Campbell Folk School is an experience in itself. It's a little mini community a campus of buildings comprised of studios and living space. It was fantastic. You share a house (and sometimes a room - I did) with people you probably have never met before. You walk to the main building(s) for meals and gatherings, you walk to the studios for class and let me tell you - the classroom we had was fantastic.

Pam taught Enamel Bead class to 6 of us. Crafty ladies with differing levels of skill but none of us having had real hands-on large head torch experience before so it was great we all learned. I made over 60 beads in 2 days and was crazy happy with the techniques we learned. It wasn't a "making a finished piece of jewelery" class it was a "learning techniques" class. At the end of the weekend Pam gave us the opportunity to purchase our torch heads and other equipment. I came home from that week with the best new tools, techniques and FRIENDS!

OH speaking of new friends - you need to check out these gourd pieces... I met Judy Zeigler of Art of Critter Ridge at JCC in Pam's class. She was there to learn to make the beads to add to her beautiful gourds. I was so impressed I purchased this turquoise colored gourd and it sits proudly in my studio. She hand coils, paints and the inside is lined with hand-crafted papers. Check her out on FB!!

I finally returned home at 9pm on Sunday night to turn around and fly to San Francisco for Dreamforce conference (work) the next morning but let me tell you - that was THE BEST VACATION I have had in many, many, MANY years. Thank you Pam and all the wonderful gals I met!!

Until next time... I leave you with this thought - Please take time to visit my friends using the links posted above. These gals make all their product by hand - in their work shops, rooms, studios. They are true artisans and I am so proud to present their work in my pieces.

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