Archive for the Category 'Work in Progress'

Enchanted Metalworks!

Tuesday, April 01st, 2014

I don’t know about you, but my last week was dedicated almost entirely to making sterling silver jewelry and doll accessories for orders. And by making, I mean ‘finishing’ it. And by finishing, I mean clipping, cutting, grinding and polishing raw silver castings to the point where they actually look silver. They start out looking nothing like the precious little things they become. Check it out.

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Ultrasonic clean: Metals are dirty after casting and need a very good cleaning. After a short walk home from the local artisan foundry with my heavy bag of dirty silver, I throw a batch of it into my ultrasonic machine before the work can begin.

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Clipping and cutting off injection sprues: Once the parts are dirt-free, I begin using a combination of cutters and high speed disks to de-sprue all my pieces. Every little bit of silver sprues is saved for future castings. Silver is pretty expensive.

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Keeping an orderly work surface: For some reason artists are portrayed and perceived as messy individuals. It never made sense to me, because creative pursuits requires a good deal of strategic planning, prioritizing and execution. I maintain order as I work, so as not to become overwhelmed and discouraged by the accumulation of production debris.

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Grinding: Ok, now it’s time to get my hands really dirty. I use safety equipment such as solid particle extraction to protect myself from respiratory damage; an eye/body barrier to keep high velocity metal shards away from me,  and finger armor to safeguard my hands from friction burns and savage skin gouging by spinning burs and abrasive wheels. Brrrrr…..they are sharp, fast and nasty.

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Acid bath: Now my freshly de-sprued and ground pieces go for a little dip in some relatively mild acid, which still burns human skin on contact. I use precautionary measures, but accidents still happen. Usually, this is when I discover all the little cuts on my hands from hours of grinding because they sting double when acid gets splashed on them.

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Post-acid dip: This particular type of acid, turns silver black. I love black patina because it increases contrast between recessed and raised areas by making intricate details stand out more against the background. Sometimes, instead of dipping pieces, I apply acid with a tiny brush to selected areas. Almost all of my metal works feature black patina. It brings out the depth of each piece.

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Tumbling: Now that my parts are black as pitch, it’s time to burnish them to a satin shine inside a tumbler full of stainless steel shot. While a variety of finishes can be achieved, I prefer satin finish on my jewelry, which is shiny, but not brilliantly so. During the course of several hours, the tumbler shot removes black patina from raised surfaces, while leaving it inside finer details, thus making it stand out against the smooth, bright areas.

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Ready for assembly: When my parts are shiny, I sort them, dry them and bag them in order of priority. Gradually, shoes get laces and buckles attached, pendants get bails and chains, while doll’s ‘clothes’, such as that Crow Helmet for example, get put together from multiple parts and embellished with additional accents.

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And that’s the gist of my metalworks. I hope that it was both entertaining and informative to you. I think I’ll go stick my hands in some ice now.

The Ode to Mould-Making

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Mould making is like building three dimensional puzzle pieces. I hhhhhhate making moulds. I hhhhhate it with all my heart! Oh mould-making, how I hate thee, let me count the ways:

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You are dirty. You are messy. You’re repetitive. You’re mind bogglingly tedious. You’re physically strenuous. You’re mentally exhausting. You’re logistically challenging. You’re harmful to the the human respiratory system. You make my studio into a white, sticky, gooey, clingy mess of dry and wet plaster crumbs for days on end. You leave a white trail of yourself where ever I go. You make me clean up after you ever 5 minutes to contain the mess you make, aaaaaand you make me use a bucket of cold, dirty water to do that because you will clog up my plumbing if I flush you.

You hurt my neck and back. You make my hands feel like two dry, scaly reptiles from being coated in plaster and clay from dawn to dusk for two weeks straight, and from washing them hundreds of times each day. You splash on all my clothes and my face and make me involuntarily swallow and inhale you. You feel gross on my skin. You hurt my fingers to the point of bruising and you scratch and cut my dehydrated skin until it bleeds.

I hate you because I really hate messes, and you mould-making, are the biggest mess-making process I can think of! You are so inconvenient! And yet, without you I can’t make dolls. You are a necessary evil. Your complexity annoys me, but it also challenges my technical abilities, stimulates my curiosity and improves my problem-solving skills. You are a problem, and I choose to solve you, over and over and over again, because you are a gateway to my creative freedom and happiness.

You are the opposite of fun and I count down every second to the finish line, but you give me a strange sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. And glee! You make me sweat and cry and bleed right into plaster. You make me laugh maniacally when I succeed and thrust each finished puzzle piece up above me like the Lion King cub. You make me cuddle each completed mold in my arms proudly and coo at it like it’s a precious newborn baby. You make me feel so exhausted at the end of each day, that I can barely stand, but you also make me exhilarated and joyous in anticipation of all the dolls I will make from you.

I really hate you, mould-making, but I also love you. You facilitate beauty. You are the start of many wonderful journeys. You are the beginning of dolls. You are so inconvenient, mold-making, and I can’t live without you!

 

Just when I think it stopped raining…

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

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…It starts right back up again.

What, another mystery doll?

Sunday, March 09th, 2014

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This lady is from the Byzantine Empire. Her, I’m going to show you the moment she is finished! My completion target date is end of March. Stay tuned.

Watching the Snow

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Just another day at work.
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There are five new and ongoing metal accessory projects visible in this picture, some completed and some nearly there. You will see them very soon. And I think you will like them. Very much.

My new home studio and kiln room!

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

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So, on top of making new dolls for the Vogue photo shoot next week, I’m also right smack in the middle of moving to a new place. My new work studio is pretty awesome, but it’s been kind of ridiculous with everything happening at once. Timing is not ideal, but that’s the only way we could meet the deadline. For the last two weeks I’ve going back and forth between the two places since my new studio is not set up yet, and I won’t even get a chance to do it until after I get home from the shoot, because our last moving day also happens to be the day we have to catch our flight to New York. We’ll just throw all our stuff in the new apartment and leave for the airport. Sort it out later. Sleep later too.

I’m pretty excited about the kiln room too. Having been a spacially-challenged city-dweller my whole life, I’m thrilled to finally have a room just for my kilns. Feels so decadent. Can’t wait to try it, but in the meantime I’ve got some wigs to finish. I’m coordinating their colours to the product being advertized. Can’t tell you what it is yet, but it’s gonna be awesome!

 

The grinding chamber!

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

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No, that’s not a title of a campy horror flick, though blood does get spilled in there from time to time.

I finish my metal works in that invaluable little glass ‘room’, which contains the heavy dust and metal shavings until they get sucked up into the extractor. Before I got this baby, I would loathe the thought of doing metal finishing, as my desk and my whole studio would get very dirty and dusty, but since I got this chamber for my debris extractor, the cleanup is minimal and working conditions are safe. I love safety.

I bought the main plastic shell online, and then extensively customized it to fit my needs better, adding side walls and leather flaps. The problem is that it’s plexy glass and it’s starting to get really scratched up by all the high velocity debris flying around in there, and once it gets too cloudy to see through it, I’m going to have get a new one and customize it all over again.

Luckily my little grinding chamber still has lots of hours on it, which reminds me that I’ve gotta go back ‘in there’ and set some stones into the cone for the upcoming show doll in Berlin. Stay tuned for the pictures in a few days!

The Snow White candle photo shoot…

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

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…was a little bit scary. It took us a whole day to get it right, and I was on edge the whole time, afraid that we were just one toppled candle away from a photo shoot of Snow White’s funeral pyre. Like Daenerys Targaryen, the doll would survive the flames, but her dress would not. All went well though, and sometime after it was over and the candles were out, Chad was finally able to pry the fire extinguisher out of my white-knuckled hands.

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Resin Doll In Lace

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

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Just playing with some lace for fun. My favorite resin doll Luchia is wearing it. I was inspired by these awesome headdresses in a photo from an inflight magazine. Not sure what culture they are from. Maybe Norwegian…? Does any one know?

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Help me name this resin doll

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

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I’m running a bit late with the photo shoot of the first resin dolls, but it should wrap up tomorrow.

In the meantime, help me name this pretty doll. I’d love to hear your suggestions on what she should be called.