Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bronze & Mookaite...
A Learning Experience 1


I've found another aspect of jewelry to become addicted to - cabochons. What kind? Ohh any kind! Pretty... some w/ pits, some w/ "thingies' on them... but mostly any kind. :o) My goal is to work the cabs into my metal clay pieces - to build around them and incorporate them into my designs. Now that I've made this admission ... on to my project.

Mookaite.. as in Mookaite Jasper
    is an Australian jasper containing shades of pink, red and yellow. It is anurturing stone that supports and sustains during times of stress bringing peace and a feeling of wholeness.Mookaite Jasper encourages versatility and helps you to accept change. It helps you to discover all possibilities in a situation and to choose the right one. Mookaite also grounds and stabilizes the whole body and provides a protective energy that helps to block unwanted outside influences. Mookaite is a very protective stone, and is particularly good as an emotional protector. In the physical realm it stabilizes health and fortifies the immune system. Meditating with this stone takes you into a calm center to wait out any storm, and can assist in contacting souls on other planes. It is an aid for communicating with animals. This flexible and pragmatic stone points out all possibilities and assists in choosing the right one. Mookaite is associated with the lower chakras.
I found the wonderful triangular cab above from Cooper Rocks on Facebook and fell in love - it wasn't just the shape or the color but what really caught my attention were the "specks".. in the photo they looked like the tops of blowing wheat stalks. I had to have the cab! (What this funny little cab didn't know was the minute I saw it I started a design (thank goodness I won it! LOL!))

Initially it was going to be silver and then the more I looked at it the more it was whispering Bronze... Bronze... so I put it on two pieces of fired metal - one fine silver an done bronze and the bronze won hands down - it was simply perfect.

My thought was - syringe. I have never mastered metal clay syringe and this would be a good piece to play with. Only problem is... I can't fire the stone in place so that means making sure it is measured and created w/ the thought of adding the stone after firing. Quite the challenge.

Back plate, bezel, decorative cutting, decorative syringe and hmmm how will it hang? All questions I thought about, doodled on paper, dreamed about in my sleep. Original thought was a full bezel all the way around but once I had it in my hand it felt like it needed breathing room. So I decided on a partial bezel around the bottom. The "wheat fronds" would assist in holding it in place.

Now, I can't fire the stone with the metal so I need a "place holder" I started by making a mold of the stone and then I used some polymer clay to check the size... a tad to large height wise. NOTE I can NOT use a polymer clay "place holder" and fire the piece - BAD BAD BAD!! DO NOT DO! ... my next step was to mix up some "investment" material and create a fake stone that would be able to fire with the piece.

I chose a texture for the "front" of the back plate that simulated the black specs on the Mookaite. I carved out a design so that part of the stone could show thru from behind and created a partial bezel. I textured it with the same texture plate and fired it flat. Once fired I was able to bed the bezel into shape (shown fired and bent in the picture). Now I"m looking at two firings. 1) the bezel and 2) the whole piece.

Syringe... syringe and I have a love-hate relationship. It loves to hate me. I use it like "caulk" to fix things - cracks, spaces, etc. But it can be so much more - design element, a working part of the piece. I was determined. Then my uncertainty took over. IF I use an investment "place holder" for the stone and the bronze is wet when laid on top of it and dries and is fired... will it crack the bronze? I didn't know the answer. SO I opted to create the "fronds" and fire them separate - like the bezel and then add them onto the piece at the same time as the bezel.

I hand cut the "wheat fronds" from rolled out Bronze clay. Then I added the syringe on the top for height. The thought was - fire flat, bend, secure onto the back plate over the investment "place holder" and then fire. I used syringe directly onto the back of the piece to add grasses and more "wheat fronds" to ad a cohesive design aspect - should the piece flip around while being worn.

The bail I was thinking would be an oval that is "folded" over but rounded not hard fold. It would form a "horse-shoe" like shape. I planned a "nub" on the front that would actually sit inside a hole at the top of the triangle back plate and act almost like a pinch bail. The "wheat fronds" fired fine, I added them and the bezel to the back plate. created the hole in the top of the triangle and fired the pendant and the bail (bail flat and separate).

I had problem with the investment on the bronze... it seemed definitely warped - domed - I wasn't sure it was properly fired (the color wasn't right). So I refired it without the investment. While that was firing I bent the bail over one of my tools and it formed a perfect bail.

I used my dapping tools and pounded out the domed area. It flattened nicely. And was ready for cleaning.
I used my dremel and POOF hit one of the fronds and it was fast and the piece too thin and it snapped off and went flying. ::sigh::

Other issues - the bezel lifted a bit when it domed. The bezel was prob 1mm to high up on the back piece so the stone interferes with the bail (or the bail interferes with the stone).

All in all - it was an unsuccessful project but a WONDERFUL learning experience and I will be working on this project again - the Mookaite Cab looks fabulous in this setting and I want it to have a setting. :o) Watch for Learning Experience 2. :o)