For the love of silver…for the love of life!!

Posts tagged ‘shells’

Life’s a Beach….

I have just returned from the most relaxing holiday I have ever had…and have found my own little piece of paradise on earth!  The best bit is that it is only 90 minutes drive from my front door which makes it possible to visit for day trips….

I’m already making plans!!

There were miles of sandy beaches to take my early morning walks upon, and rockpools and shallow waters to enjoy peering into and paddling in – not to mention shells and seaglass to collect…who could ask for more!!  There was hardly ever a soul around in the early morning and even by 10 o’clock there was only the odd dog walker ambling across the sands or an intrepid lone fisherman  rowing his little boat into the rippling waves.

Just what my weary soul needed…..

And I have often dreamed of being somewhere where the sky is so big and the sea so wide – where the sun can dip behind the horizon and paint a glorious blaze of colour all around me…

I never thought that I could be treated to night after night of such amazing beauty…

Is it any wonder that I have fallen in love with this place??

Oooops!! (Thing-a-Day Day10)

OK – so today has not been one of my better ones! …well pretty much a disaster to be honest…but such is life!

I had got myself all excited about trying to enamel my silver shells and then things didn’t quite go to plan.

From what I had read on the internet – I was led to believe that clear flux enamel powder fired to a peachy pink colour on silver – so that was what I planned to work with for starters – since the lady that wants these earrings wanted to have pink shells. The only other vaguely pinky colour that I have is deep mauve. I have never had success with red shades of enamel and so I have never really bought any.

Initially, I was going to enamel the entire shell – these were made as experimental prototypes anyway – so I was prepared for disasters. But for some reason I thought that I would try just the areas around the openings into the shells first to see how things went. That is the beauty of vitreous enamels…you can keep building up layer upon layer of enamels – so long as you don’t make the layers too thick – so you can patch up holes and modify colours as things go on.
But when my shells came out after the first firing of clear flux – the results were anything but clear, or peachy pink…in fact – it was sort of sandy yellow! Not what I was hoping for at all.

So there was no point in continuing with the clear flux so I thought I would just see what colour the deep mauve might turn out to be….and hey!…guess what!! It’s deep mauve!!! So I didn’t want to continue enamelling any further with colours that were just not going to be right. It isn’t a total tragedy as the mauve just looks like the deep shadow within the crevices of the shells…but it’s certainly not what I had in my mind’s eye!

I will have to see if I can do anything else to make these prototypes a bit more attractive later on. I suppose I could consider using coloured transparent resin, but it is not a product I enjoy using….so I will have to have a ponder about it for a while!

I may have a play with enamel again tomorrow – but it will not be with the shells. I’ll have a go with the filigree shapes I made a few days ago and see if I can experiment with the plique-a-jour method of enamelling…

See you tomorrow!!

More Silver Shells

Thing-a-Day   Day 9

Today I decided to make a second shell of each type out of Precious Metal Clay..after all, if they turned out fine I would then have 2 pairs of silver shells suitable for earrings…and if they didn’t really match at the end of the day, I will have a collection of silver shell charms to hang on some of my charm bracelets or make summer themed cluster pendants from, with the addition of a few well chosen beads and pearls. I also cleaned up all the shells a little more and drilled tiny holes into the ends of them and embedded handmade jumprings on pegs into them, using PMC slip.

When all was dry I fired up the kiln and popped them in.

When I was making the shells I put a small ball of combustible material into the centre of each piece as I was casting them in the mould. This meant that when the pieces were in the kiln the combustible material would burn off leaving a hollow centre to the shells. This makes the shells look more authentic when they are fired because you can see into them rather than them being a solid lump.

This is a photo of the shells after they have been fired and given a quick brush with a brass brush. They need to be given a good polish up before I start to try and enamel them…but I don’t have time for that today.

I am very pleased with the way they have turned out…and, bearing in mind that this photo of them is HUGE in comparison to their actual size the little pock marks that you can see are hardly noticeable with the naked eye. That said – nothing in nature is perfectly flawless – so I can live with a few little marks!!

Hopefully tomorrow I will get some enamelling done!

Day 8 – Making Moulds for Precious Metal Clay casts.

I think I might have found a quick way for transferring my posts for Thing-a-Day from Posterous to here…I hope this works!!…

Day 8 – Making moulds for Precious Metal Clay casts.
Last week I received a commission to make a pair of silver earrings for a lady who wanted to have a pair of earrings featuring shells. She wasn’t 100% sure what she wanted – except that she didn’t want them to be very long and she wanted shells…preferably pink shells.

Well, I scoured the internet trying to find somewhere that I could get tiny pink shells that might work well for this particular commission – but to no avail. So I phoned the lady back and asked if she would be willing to let me experiment a bit with a few ideas before coming up with a final design. I also asked if she would consider having silver shells instead of real seashells. She seemed to be very happy to let me play! And so this commission is now officially part of ‘Thing-a-Day’.

It isn’t the first time that I have taken moulds from shells and cast precious metal clay silver shells from them – and they always work out pretty well – so I was quite confident to make the 2 piece moulds. I use a product called Siligum, manufactured by Gedeo to create the mould and as it dries to a flexible material there is no problem with having undercuts in the shape to be cast. It is really simple to do and the moulding material sets within 5 minutes.

I have cast 2 different shell types (so she can have a choice) and both of them are really quite small – measuring about 1.8cm (about 3/4″), but when the PMC silver has been fired in the kiln it will shrink by about 10% so making the shells a little smaller still. So I think these will ultimately be a good size for a pair of earrings.

I have cast one shell of each type today and after drying them have fettled down the inevitable seam line where the 2 halves of the mould joined but otherwise have left them unfinished.

Tomorrow, I will tidy them up a bit further and, if it is not too cold to work in my ‘Studio’ shed, I will fire them and possibly start experimenting with enamelling them to see if I can get a pink hue. I have a lot of blue and green enamels as these are my favourite colours and they are fairly consistent at producing good results…I tend to steer clear of red colours though, as they never work very well for me. So – although I don’t actually have a pink enamel, I believe that flux enamel has a bit of a peachy pink cast to it when fired onto fine I will give that a go!

I’m really quite excited! Roll on tomorrow!!

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