In the words of Donald Trump, “you’re FIRED!”….but it took a long process to get there.
I shall explain. Some FB friends that I really have never met but enjoy the art of metal clay have started this ad-hoc club called, “RAW”…an acronym for a Ring A Week. So of course I had to jump on the band wagon in give into the challenge. First mistake.
As a newbie, I seem to approach every project like it’s my enemy. I laugh as I write this because it just makes no sense at all. I talk to the clay if it’s not co-operating. I get aggravated with greenware when I see the ring is not round and no amount of sanding will help. And don’t get me started on the texture stamps that stretch out my clay strips. I have since found out the right way to do this.
Look, I just wanted to make a ring. I’ve made them before, the best ones with the help of a friend. Now that it’s just me and the clay, we have to work it out. I get so wound up sometimes. So I walk around the studio (OK, wiggle around it) cleaning this surface and checking out where I can organize it more which I never get to, until I say, “SIT DOWN and just START..”
This time I went into overkill. I measure the ring sizes of 5 people I know and worked with a moulding clay as I figured out what the shrinkage was. I am writing all of this down because, seriously, until ONE ring got fired, I jumped through so many hoops (pardon the pun) I was ready to take up knitting again.
I searched for sites that did all kinds of conversions. I couldn’t find one that could magically convert me into a better craftsman, however I found a number of pages that showed shrinkage, diameters, circumferences in all kinds of clay in all kinds of measurements. This was turning out to be a math experiment. No, a math nightmare. I was back in school trying to learn long division. On this note, I emailed a couple of people or posted on FB, “How long do you have to make a strip of silver clay for a ring such and such a size and fire it to its proper proportions?”
Well, most of my friends said, just add 7% or take it up a size or 3. I was not happy. I really was in angst about this and ready to go back to the torch.
My husband, for example has a 15″ ring size. Apparently I had to take it up towards 17″ ring size. OK, there is no mandrel or thingamabob in the world, according to Google, to accommodate this size. So I took my working moulding clay and went about the house looking for circumferences. This can’t be professional, I mumbled to myself.
Finally, feeling dejected by my new craft, I approached my husband and flat out said, “It can’t be done.” Period. He looked at me and replied, “Melody, just look around the house and use something that fits. Do your stir sticks have to be ordered from New Mexico also? Use your imagination.” Ooh, that stung. However I could see him watching me get caught up in this conundrum and the whole point of working with metal clay is to have FUN, create and challenge yourself a little. Nonetheless, I tore off more than I could roll. There was NO WAY I could make a RING A WEEK. Acceptance is a good thing. Takes the edge off.
Finally, I opted to make a ring for another friend, a smaller size and I worked like a doggie on it. I got it into the kiln and it came out two full sizes smaller than what I calculated and kind of “roundish” , and I am being polite here.
As it happened, with polishing and sanding and tapping on the mandrel (my husband did that tapping thing) the ring transformed into the proper size!
“See,” my husband said, “your measurements were correct. Don’t forget them.” As I searched for that paper where I scribbled my notes, I realized the next phase was to put a patina on it. Sung to the tune of “Mambo #5”, I listed what to do. “A little bit of sulpher on my ring, a little bit of salt, be sure it’s clean….” Yes, that was all that was needed. I asked where that Liver of Sulpher was…apparently in the basement. YAY! I can get this done. Alas, the rocks had crumbled like a mountain into the sea and I cannot find ANY of this stuff in Montreal.
Honey, we have to order it. And while we’re at it, I need embeddables and ring things for shrinkage and maybe those moulds that make perfect rings and, and, and….
My thanks to the friends who lovingly didn’t lose their patience with me and really have helped.
Exhausted…lol Wish I entered the Heart contest..xox