Monday, March 21, 2011

Metalworking soundtrack

Once again, it is Aspiring Metalsmith blogroll time! Each month, we agree on a theme and each of us shows our own perspective on it. This month, we talk about what we listen to while working on the bench.

Like most, what I listen to depends on my mood and what type of work I am doing. Sometimes, it is relaxing and soothing. At others, it is driven and rythmic. And occasionally, it is just plain silly.

I am a lover of classical music, from Early Music to Contemporary Works (skipping the Romantic period, to the bafflement of my friends).

Sometimes, the music helps me to burn off excess energy and helps me set a pace. Gorecki is a good alternative:

And, since I am a metalsmith who loves to forge, Verdi's Anvil Choir is not only fun to listen and work to, but it is thematic as well!

My final confession, I love to sing. Opera, show tunes and good old pop - anything goes. Two singing favourites:

I admit my music selection is unusual, but I love it! I hope you enjoyed it some as well.

Check out the other blog entries for this month!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Japan Relief

There is a huge movement on Etsy to raise funds for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan: artists in all media are donating items or part of the value of an item to the cause. Search Etsy for "Japan Relief" all sorts of gorgeous items that will help out as well.

This treasury is a great place to start:

I am donating 25% of the sales values of these items, but if you drop me a line saying you are buying for Japan, I will extend this to any item you get.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St Patrick's Day

In honour of St Patrick's Day, here is my attempt at a blessing for metalsmiths everywhere:

    May your solder always flow
    May your silver never scale
    May the stones you stumble upon
    Be shiny and pretty

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Yeah, don't do that

My tip of the day: if you are a night owl with insomnia, don't head over to the bench at 7 in the morning because you can't sleep.

If you do decide to ignore that, make sure that the small piece of silver you are using for that fiddly, fancy form, tiny bezel is really silver, and not a small piece of sheet solder you rolled a long time ago and forgot about. That will not solder well and it will mess up the bezel.

I also recommend not forgetting that silver absorbs heat like crazy and that wire that was next to the destroyed bezel will be very, very hot even though it wasn't directly under the torch. Don't pick it up straight away with your bare fingers because it will burn.

At this point, I decided to leave the bench before I burned the house down or had to go to emergency room. I suppose I should find a picture to go with this post, but it wouldn't be pretty at all.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The one that got away

I think most metalsmiths share this same dilemma. We love working with metal, designing and creating pieces, choosing the right design for a stone (or the right stone for a design), we labour over them, holding them close to our hearts. And then... either we have an ever growing collection and an ever dwindling bank account, labelling ourselves as hobbyists, or we try to make some money out of this, perhaps even a living. Which means letting go of our creations.

Sometimes, selling or giving away a piece feels right, as though it is going to its rightful owners. Stock pieces are always easier, since we have made that same design several times and we know we can always make it again someday. At other times, not so much. Perhaps it is that special stone that sings to us or a piece that is significant. However, it is the nature of our trade.

There are, however, pieces that I regret selling or giving away (although I would never say it to the person who got it!). For me, it was the very first ring I ever made and the first time I worked with metal. Yes, I was foolish enough to sell that one, at the very first show I did. It was an interesting forged ring, but, even more, it was when I found out just how much I loved working with metal and experimenting with shapes and hammers. I just hope it is loved, where ever it is now.

I also recently put a pretty emotional piece up for sale. You can read the story here. I confess I am glad it hasn't sold yet. But I hope that it will, someday, and it will be worn and loved. As an artist, I have to let go of my work. I also must recognize that the most emotional pieces are also the ones with the most expression.