Friday, April 25, 2014

Inside the Studio with Mary Harding

Inside the Studio with Mary Harding

Welcome to Inside the Studio!

Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments! As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner.

Congratulations Lecia Woessner !! You have won a $25.00 gift certificate from   Please send Heather an email with your information so you can redeem your gift certificate.

Today we visit the studio of
Signs of Spring in Northern New York

I have been enjoying the change in light and since my last Inside the Studio post.  I love Daylight Savings time because it makes my studio day longer. Thanks to our cats, I am up earlier every day and because afternoons are so nice and long, we have put our dinner hour 1 1/2 hours later.  All that extra time is just great for making art beads.  I am totally enjoying all the transformations to the earth that Spring brings like melted snow, green leaves and warmer weather.

I thought this visit I would share some transformations in my work and  show you some pieces I have been making in copper clay and sheet metal recently.  Sometimes I think I like the process of making as much as the product.  It is such a thrill to see the changes materials go through on the way to the finished bead, bracelet bar or toggle clasp.  Take these toggle bars for example.  They start off as wire on a roll

Then the wire is cut into pieces

Then they get annealed and formed into the toggle bar

And then they are patinaed with Liver of Sulfur

And  rubbed with steel wool  and tumbled and polished

And finally get paired up with a toggle clasp which also was transformed by patina.

Copper Clay also goes through many changes before the final art bead goes into the shop or into a piece of jewelry.  I find each of these stages exciting and an important part of the creative process that continues to drive me back to the studio with enthusiasm and a sense of adventure. Copper clay starts off as a lump of copper brown clay like material.  After it is conditioned and formed into a shape it needs to be dried at which point it is a light reddish brown.

When copper clay is in this stage, it is very flexible and can be cut into a more desirable shape with scissors or an exacto knife. The edges can be smoothed with a wet sponge.  Once it re-dries it is fired in a brick lined ceramic kiln (for best results) in a stainless steel container buried in a bed of coconut carbon.  During the firing process the binder that is mixed in with the copper burns off and the pure copper metal remains.

 These pieces are just out of the kiln and some of the  carbon they are fired in is still sticking to them.  Notice their dull surface.  It takes a good spin in the tumbler to get that off.

Tumbled copper clay pendants  Mary Harding

Tumbling can be the final step or a further transformation occurs when a liver of sulfur patina or a flame patina is used.  I think this is my favorite transformation.  But sadly, it is not always possible to get a good flame patina.  Below, as my last example of transformations for this post,  I have included a few pendants that were flamed with my torch with varying results.

Lilac Bloom Pendant  Flame Patina  Mary Harding

Rosemary Donut  Flame Patina  Mary Harding

Cedar Bough Donut   Flame Patina  Mary Harding

Carrots Liver of Sulfur Patina Mary Harding

Thank you for visiting with me in my studio today.  I have enjoyed showing you some of the transformations that occur in my work space.  Now comes  my question for you:

  What is one of the most rewarding/exciting transformations you find in the creating you do?  

Tell us by leaving  a comment below and you will be entered in a random draw to win one of my copper clay nature pendants from my Etsy store

The winner will be picked next week.   Have a great one!!


Unknown said...

Hi Mary, It's lovely to hear ( and see) your creative process. I really enjoy seeing the transformation of raw metal or clay into your beautiful finished products. I'm putting my comment here even though I recently won from you but I can never have too many pieces of your art so please include me in the draw for your giveaway!

Divya N said...

Thank you so much for talking baout your process. Watching my ideas come to life helps me see myself in a very positive light and does wonders for my self esteem and thats what is most transformative about my work

Becky Pancake said...

Marty your copper clay components are some of the very best I have seen. I really enjoyed seeing your process. I mostly use seed beads so the most rewarding part for me is watching a small bead turn into an amazing structured piece.

Shai Williams said...

I love hearing about your creative process. I don't however make my own findings or beads so the transformation that I enjoy is taking a pile of beads and ending up with a piece of wearable jewelry.

Berina RGA said...

it is lovely to see how you create them!! I enjoy seeing the plain beads come into life, when they are stringed into a jewelry!! I especially enjoy it wen they come to what I had in mind before starting the proces!!
Moxie Craftie

Unknown said...

Such beautiful work. The whole process of making the thing is my favorite. With beadweaving it's looking at the pile/hank/tube of beads and then seeing the end product and comparing the two. That sense of satisfaction is one of the best feelings for me.

Erin S said...

Probably patina is the quickest, easiest transformation--both simple liver of sulfur to darken metal, and verdigris patina, mainly for copper. A piece will look completely different once it's been patina'd.

LOVE the copper clay pendants!

Ann Schroeder said...

Your work is beautiful. I love those carrots!! It's always fun to see something from my imagination come to life as a real piece of jewelry. I loved reading this post because I am just starting to learn to do things like makes clasps, and all the processes can feel overwhelming. To think of each step as part of a transformation puts a lovely light on it.

Anonymous said...

Mary I really enjoyed reading about your process, thank you. One transformation that always amazes me are lustres, going into the kiln as brown and smelly and coming out bright, shiny, colourful and sometimes metallic.

baymoondesign said...

I love the gorgeous detail in your beads. I envy your ability to transform clay into them. I love to apply ink to metal and then sand some of the patina off. It is always interesting to see what the metal piece will look like.

Kristen said...

That is an easy question for me! I absolute love kiln enameling. Taking a piece of copper out of the kiln with a covering of glowing, shiny, and colorful glass is just magical to me! I look forward to every day when I can turn on my kiln. I worked some with PMC and your post has inspired me to get it out again again. Your pendants are beautiful!

lakeavemom said...

Mary, What is it about process? No matter how cranky I may be, sitting down at my workbench is my favorite part. Something comes over me. I burst into smile. I just love the creative process. So for me, the most exciting transformation comes from within. The task doesn't matter. It's the time I spend creating that transforms me!

KayzKreationz said...

I have just started learning how to enamel and flame patina. I love it. I'm hoping to experiment more with it and get better at it. What great pieces you've created.

Deb Fortin said...

Love your copper components. I have worked with metal clays and it's not as easy as one thinks. there is so much prep work before the firing.
I work with wire the most and love how I can turn a length of wire into a finished clasp , connector, ring, pendant etc.
It always turns out best when I listen to what the wire is saying, as it has a mind of it's own.

Anonymous said...

Love what you create with the copper clay! The finish with the flame is certainly my favorite.
My current transformation fascination has to be etching copper with ferric chloride. Love watching
(not too closely!) the process of stamping a design on copper, seeing the etchant do its work, and using LOS to give the copper a rich patina that brings out the beauty of the design.
I may have to try out the flame on an etching to see what that does!

Stories They Tell said...

Those are so fabulous, Mary! I just used one of these clasps that you gave me in a necklace and it really classed up the whole piece. It just made it really special! I love the transformation that takes place in my polymer pieces after I apply antiquing paint to them and they look all dark and grungy and then voila! you start sanding and the magic happens. So much fun! I hope to start doing some metal clay soon, inspired by your great success with the medium.

Empty nester at last said...

Love those toggles....I can see using them as focal pieces. Those of you who do this stuff awe me! I couldn't do it...and with such great artist, I'll just buy from you.

The best transformation when I create is watching what the beads have to say! Sometimes they know more about what should be created than I do! But to take the "raw" materials and create is just fantabulous!

Anonymous said...

Your copper clay pendants with the flame patina are breathtaking!! I am a glass beadmaker, so I get to see every bead transform from solid glass to a hot, melty, droopy molten blob, and then ultimately into something (hopefully!) beautiful the next morning when I take them out of the kiln. It's always exciting!
-- Julie Wong Sontag

Lucy Kalstrom said...

Loving those copper clay pendants Mary! The toggles are darling too. My favorite part of the transformation is getting that buzz out of being satisfied with the final result of a finished piece :-)

Cheryl K Roe said...

I think the most amazing is getting reactions with silver glass in a bead. Your copper clay designs are wonderful.

Connie said...

love all of the fine details you achieved ! terrific results!

Connie said...

love all of the fine details you achieved ! terrific results!

Unknown said...

Mary I am a huge fan of your work and so love those copper pieces! I enjoy watching the transformation of makingmy polymer clay canes. After rereducing the cane and making that first cut is very rewarding to me. Thank you for the chance to enter this great giveaway ! You ROCK !!

Maneki said...

Beautiful copper pendants! (Just makes me wish I had the things needed to play with copper clay.)

One of the reasons I like to work with materials like embroidery thread, wire and seed beads are just what you wrote about here, about how you can take something simple and create new shapes and motifs. They are like seeds and in one's hands they grow into plants. Sometimes a simple straw of grass, sometimes a sweet flower, sometimes a meandering vine, sometimes a huge tree. But you never know until you cultivate it, you can see the potential using your imagination but it's the work that takes the material from a seed to something in full bloom. Your imagination and working it let it blossom, transform, in a unique way. I mean, I love my shaped beads (flowers, leaves) and all I can do with them, even if it's just stringing them, but there's something special about working with clay, seeds and other materials that don't have a finished shape or motif already when buying it. That's why I'd just love to get into working with clay and casting metal (especially the latter).

Personally, I also like alternating between techniques and while I sometimes work in a controlled manner, I also love techniques with unexpected results, when you can't be sure what the finished piece will be like as it's just experiments or there's an element of chance involved so you can't control the outcome (at least not fully). You make something, but are as suprised as anyone else when the results reveil themselves.

Rising Designs said...

Dear Mary, Thanks so much for the informative post about creating with copper clay. It may be just what I need to begin to use PMC.
As far as the most enjoyable transformation for me: it is when the components I choose to use in a piece of jewelry finally come together. I guess it's the sense of satisfaction I feel when I have created something that I like.

somethingunique said...

Wow!!! That flame patina is gorgeous. ..I've really enjoyed the process of how you create them...I've had a package of pmc 3 forever but still haven't tried it...I'd have to say my most rewarding transformation in creating is PWF. ..torch fired enamelling.. it's almost instant gratification. ..and the results are always a surprise many variables involved in the results so you can use the same color 2 different times and it can end a different result. way of creating jewelry is always rewarding too...i usually never have a plan. ..i kinda like just creating by picking one main focal and looking thru my stash adding this and that...ending up with a serendipitous design...

lakesuperiorwaves said...

I have yet to use the metal clay as I don't have a kiln but these are so beautiful I might have to! I love taking a piece of copper sheet and after sawing, stamping, torching, patina with los or ammonia and salt arrive at a finished piece that looks nothing like it started!

lakesuperiorwaves said...

I was just wondering who ended up winning the random drawing for one of your copper clay nature pendants. I have not been able to find out. Congrats to whomever did!

Terry said...

I always love to see your pieces. They radiate warmth and happiness. And I will honestly say your soldered and stamped toggles are the best I have ever seen (definitely better than mine). You have inspired me to improve my techniques. And attending one or more of your classes is now on my bucket list.