Love Craft: is that an Elder slug?

I like to make things, but I do not make as many things as I’d like to because I often do not have a use for the things I would make. I give things as gifts, but usually only things I’ve made specifically for people. That is one of the reasons I like to cook: because the end product is sure to be used.

I have my hands in a number of different crafts which rotate around depending on my interest or need. Most recently the list has been sewing, painting miniatures, and knitting. I’ve been interested in learning how to paint with oils, learn basic carpentry, and attempt more esoteric mixed media collages. But honestly, I’d try just about anything creative, and nothing is too daunting. I love the process of figuring out how to do something cool I saw or thought about. I could use a technique once and never use it again, but the knowledge that I have it in my arsenal for future projects coupled with the satisfaction of learning something fairly difficult keeps me happy and hungry for more.

I’ve been itching for some new ideas, and since I had some fines to pay at the library, I decided to wander. Frankly, I was going for an illustrated guide to horse tack, and something that explained movement and conformation, but I never made it over there. Instead I got caught up in the knitting section, after I pulled a few random books from the beading section on titles alone. I’m notorious for leaving the library with more books than I can carry, so it took me a while to whittle down the pile of knitting books. I made some tough calls and decided on four. It would have been three, but in one of the books there were directions for a knitted screen door (!!!!!) that was so cool I just have to try it. Okay, so it also has directions for a dressmaker’s dummy that has been decoupaged with yarn labels. I now have to get my hands on one and also to figure out how to get the 300+ labels without having to buy that much yarn!

Despite my freakish interest in that awesome door and $3000 worth of labels, when I turned to the rest of the books I had randomly picked up, I was in for quite a shock. One of the books was for a purely practical skill (how to bead with cabochons), but the other two I had picked up were very cool. One was a primer on how to recreate the lush jewelry in old paintings and museum displays. As an on-again off-again historical costumer, this was right up my alley. I wish I had seen this book ten years ago. I might make a few test pieces and put a few probes out for buyers.

The other book I picked up just blew me away. It’s an introduction to something called metal clay. I’d never heard of it. I’ve handled the finished project, but I had never realized that it was not smithed or wrought or poured metal. I’ve been interested in taking the metalcraft classes at school, and I still may (no skill unworthy) but for some reason I haven’t been able to get any initiative for it. The metal clay, however, excites me beyond belief. For the first time I can put existing skills to use to get a product that I thought I’d have to work years at developing the skills for. I’ve been working in miniature with clay (and other clayey substances) since I was about ten, when I had an apprenticeship with a local artist through the TAG program at my school. I’ve since made realistic food for doll displays, shaped small figurines, and most recently, used plumbing putty and paper clips (of all things) to join, shape, and alter two-inch-tall pewter figurines before painting. Working small and delicate is a fun challenge for me. Stained-glass-like fairy wings out of easter basket wrapping paper? Yeah, I loves me some intricate work.

In any event, I am having trouble conveying the inner gleeing. Let me just post pictures instead.

Metal Clay Slug

Metal Clay Slug

This thing is very cool, and is a pretty good starting point for the sorts of jewelry and art I wanted to achieve with silversmithing and whatnot.

Building the frame

Building the frame

The eventually hollow piece is built upon a cork clay base that burns away in the kiln. The applications, oh, the applications…

Syringe Clay! Who knew!

Syringe Clay! Who knew!

Mostly, I am just very, very excited, and this book will be coming home from Amazon.

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2 responses to “Love Craft: is that an Elder slug?

  1. Awesome! I couldn’t handicraft my way out of a paper bag (I can build anything, though) but I love intricate little trinkets. At good friend in California recently started taking some glass working classes, which i think is really cool. He sent us this little creature the other day:

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3008/2606146537_1ccacdf1d7.jpg?v=0

  2. homespunheretic

    How neat!

    I did some research into prices, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much less expensive the silver clay is. HOWEVER, I about died when I saw that the tiny kilns are about 750 dollars. Dear god, it’ll be a while before I get there.

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