Friday, August 26, 2011

I am an Artist and very proud of all my "cakes" !

I have seen a lot of discussions lately about what "Metal Clay" is for some metalsmithing people and I am surprised to see how much misinformation they have about this innovative material.
I understand their lack of knowledge, and those who tried it and said it was a mess, and it does not work. Well, I have some news for you; you did not work with the clay the right way.

I respect everybody's opinion but I think there is a point where we need to be careful in how we talk about people who have chosen to work with metal clay, we can express our thinking without being rude and without insulting.
I have been called lots of names because of my ethnicity but I never thought I will be called "names" because of the medium or material I choose to create some of my work.

One of the latest names I saw was "Cake Decorator", people who work with metal clay are consider to be that by some.
I am okay with the name, I LOVE CAKES !!!
Other people feel we are "pretending to BE" metalsmiths.
We are not pretending to be "Anything", we are just people who have chosen to work with Metal Clay and create art. We are not "cake decorators", "metalsmiths", etc. We are just Artists that are open to experiment with new materials and we are always willing to learn new techniques.

I always encourage my students to learn how to solder and fabricate pieces because it will benefit their own metal clay work.

I started my journey in the art by learning metalsmithing, it was my wonderful and talented teacher -Claire Holliday- who introduced me to this novel material, metal clay, that Claire used to create some of her work. 
One of Claire's metal clay pieces was featured in the front cover of the Metalsmith magazine, a publication of the Society of North American Goldsmiths.
Sea Seed No. 1 (Brooch)
©2005 Claire Holliday
Fine Silver
Photo: Dean Powell

In 2010 I had a wonderful opportunity to show my work (not exclusively metal clay) to other talented and renowned metalsmith artists, among them, Thomas Mann. Thomas was so intrigued and interested that traded one of his pieces for one of mine.I was honored to do a trade with him !
Thomas visiting my table and looking at my work.

Another fascinating and mind opening experience that helped me expand my creativity and techniques, was when I had the pleasure to participate in a workshop and lecture by Robert Ebendorf at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, Texas.
What I learned from Bob gave me a new dimension to create, incorporating traditional metalsmith  fabrication techniques with the distinctive style promoted by Bob's work but keeping my own creative voice and designs.
In case you don't know, Bob was one of the founding members of the Society of North American Goldsmiths and an inductee of the National Metalsmiths Hall of Fame.

During the workshop, when Bob saw one of my hand sculpted copper clay trees of life, he suggested to me to create a piece using what I learned from him and using the tree of life as the center component.

This piece was later featured in the front cover of the Metal Clay Artist Magazine, and many other publications.

I really want to give thanks to a lot of my metalsmiths friends and colleagues that are open to see beyond the material. I have learn a lot from all of you. 

Keep learning, keep experimenting, keep creating !

Lorena Angulo

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Splash of Colour

I love adding colour to my work and sometimes it does not need a lot to make your work really stand out from the crowd and if you are lucky catch the eye of a potential customer.

I made these earrings above recently and they all have a little enamel, but just a bit of resin would work equally as well. There are lots of different ways to add colour including Keum Boo, prismacolor pencils and patinas so get thinking! 

Even one simple colour in the middle of a piece can make all the difference like the enamelled ones below.

So why not give it a go and add a bit of colour to your life ;-)

Have fun....

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Yoga for Metal Clay Artists

Sometimes when I’m working at my bench, I concentrate so hard it occurs to me that I almost forget to breathe! Not a good thing, because I like to breathe and plan to keep doing it as long as I can.

Another thing I do is tense up my muscles all around my neck and shoulders. And I don’t blink my eyes often enough… You get the picture.

I’ve been practicing yoga for many years, and I have realized that I should apply some of my yoga practice when I’m working. I discussed the idea with Rosie, my yoga teacher, and she had several suggestions. I thought I would share a few ideas with those of you who also think you might benefit from this.

All of these movements should be done very slowly, gently and deliberately. Never do anything that hurts. These are gentle stretches intended to release your body from the tension that builds when we concentrate so hard. This is not intended to be a workout!

Start with the breath. These are called 4-7-8 breaths. Sitting up straight, inhale slowly and mindfully to a count of 4. Hold your breath to a count of 7. Then, exhale slowly to a count of 8. Slowly repeat a few times, taking care not to make yourself dizzy.

Now the eyes– periodically it’s a good habit to give your eyes a little break. Try these movements; look up to your forehead, then straight down to your chin. Stretch your eyes to look as far to the periphery as you can. Look up, then down, several times. Then do the same thing, but look left and right– from ear to ear. Afterward, rub the palms of your hands together vigorously to generate some heat. Then, cup your hands over your eyes, resting the heals of your hands on your cheekbones and your fingertips at your forehead. Close your eyes and let the warmth and darkness relax the eye muscles.

Next, the neck. Sitting up straight, with your shoulders evenly across, slowly lift the neck as if to stretch the spine. Very slowly and gently lower your chin to your chest. Then, slowly tip your head to the right and roll your head around—right, back, left, and front. Roll very gently and don’t strain your neck. Keep your chin pointed to the center and pivot around it. Next, repeat in the opposite direction. After that– stretch upright again, lifting the neck. Keeping your shoulders down, slowly and gently turn your head to look over your right shoulder. Then, move across to look over your left shoulder. Relax.

Now, the shoulders. Again, sit up straight, shoulders straight across. Then, lower your shoulders down. Roll your shoulders around to the back, then raise them up to your ears, then forward. Roll your shoulders several times, gently. Relax. Repeat in the opposite direction.

Last, something for your forearms, wrists and hands. Sitting up straight, hold your arms against your sides. Raise your forearms at a 90 degree angle out in front of you, hands straight out with the palms down, fingertips pointing forward. Holding your forearms in this position without moving them, bend your wrists so your hands are facing straight up– palms out, fingers pointing to the ceiling. Now slowly bend your wrists so your hands are facing down, backs of the hands out, fingers pointing to the floor. Keep your forearms in the same position without moving them. The wrists and hands will do all the moving. Repeat up and down, several times. Then, bend the wrists so your fingertips point right, backs of the hands out, palms toward you (as much as possible), forearms still not moving. Repeat by bending your wrists to the left. Left, right, several times, slowly. Then, still keeping the forearms straight, stretch your hands out fully, palms out, fingertips pointing up to the ceiling. Then squeeze the hands into in a fist. Stretch and squeeze, several times.

I hope you find these exercises calming, but at the same time getting the blood flowing! There are many more ways yoga can be practiced at your bench. Give it a try. Namaste!

~ Evelyn

Monday, August 1, 2011

Metal Clay World Conference

After much anticipation, the MCWC finally arrived!  I packed and loaded my car and headed off to the airport.  But it seemed that between the heat and road blocks in my area, and the freak thunderstorms in the Chicago area, I was not to make it there.  But eventually, I did and boy was it worth it!

Yup!  That's right-- 37 degrees! (That's 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit!) Who says Canada is always cold?

 Don't they know I'm trying to get to the airport to catch a plane and go to the Metal Clay conference????

Chicago--as close as I got to it at least!
This year’s conference was the best MCWC to date!  Great work Jackie, Tom, Katie and staff at Art Clay World, USA.  The accommodations, workshops, lectures and presentations were top notch!  I attended as many conference presentations as I could--if only there were more days to the conference.  I had a very hard time choosing which lecture to attend.
I was so busy at the conference, I forgot to take many photos!    This photo is from the presentation by Deb Wajnarawski.  She is demonstrating soldering, and the live video is up on the screen.
The shopping was also most enjoyable! Talking with the vendors, many of whom are advertisers in our magazine is always interesting.  Some vendors save new products to unveil at the conference--so it is always cool to be in on something brand new! My credit card was squeaking by the time the vendor room closed…so I headed over to the polymer clay retreat room and did some damage in there finding great beads, pendants and rings for sale by the artists who made them.
This beautiful polymer clay ring is by Ponsawan Sila.

I enjoyed attending a pre-conference workshop with Ronna Sarvas Weltman. Along with learning some tricks for polymer clay, making new friends was serendipitous!  Meeting the people who have written for the magazine, or that I’ve chatted with online or on Facebook is the best part about attending a conference!! 
Pictured is Joy Funnell and a larger than life version of the cover which showcased her piece on the cover.  The second cover (bottom) is a piece by Hattie Sanderson.
Me, Pam East, Lorrene Baum-Davis, Hattie Sanderson and Mary Ellin D'Agostino.

Many people wore jewellery that they made, so walking anywhere at the conference was like attending a live art show!  After losing most of my pieces to a thief in airport security last year, I had to grovel and beg to borrow pieces from my friends.  Lucky for me, I have talented friends! (In the photo above I'm wearing a necklace by Kathleen Nowak Tucci.  Besides the necklace, also in this picture is Judi Weers, me, Ann Davis, Lorrene Baum-Davis, and Sherry Chaples.)

I also had fun celebrating the magazine's second birthday with birthday cake of course!

 During the conference, I presented a lecture on “How-To Write a How To”.  I know that it is rather surprising for me to talk about writing articles for a magazine!  Part way through my presentation, I asked everyone to “change hats” from a magazine reader and to put on their “writer's hats”.  What good sports everyone was! Thank you!

If you were not at the conference and you’d like copies of my handouts, please e-mail me: I'd be happy to send them to you. I gave out two handouts—one was a "fill in the blank" form. When all sections are filled in, the article you are writing is almost complete!  How easy is that?  The other handout is a completed sample. 

Everyone has a story, a technique or a unique way of doing something.  I look forward to having articles printed in the magazine from new artists, and from artists we all know and love!  Each issue of our magazine has been filled to the brim with outstanding articles and awesome projects, all written by metal clay artists! Come on--pitch your ideas!

~Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

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