Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Art and Silver

The other weekend I bought two works of art, one by my very good friend Jenny Giles, a woman I've adored for decades, and one by someone she knows. They're both part of a group that work in textiles, and exhibited their work in the Herts Open Studios recently. (Actually, I have to hope Jenny's husband doesn't read this blog, as he could easily get entirely the wrong idea!)

Jenny borrowed my copy of Anatomy for the Artist by Sarah Simblet, and created the nude you see here. Several of her friends did their own versions, but I liked this one best.

I love the other work for its wild, woolly nature, but it is a complete nightmare. First, the sticks all have buds on, so the least bit of vibration and they slowly ratchet their way out of the fabric. Having taken delivery last night, I have already found one stick on the front drive! I have a cunning plan to stitch them in place, but it will be a slow process. This is also spider heaven, you can imagine, and we have a host of pet Pholcus infesting the house. They are going to just love this! So we've hung it over the stairs, where it's going to be impossible to reach with the vacuum cleaner!

At the weekend, we went over to Hereford to do some silversmithing. I've posted about this before, but the summary is that we've been silversmithing for over 20 years, for much of that time going twice a year for a weekend course. Most unreasonably, the tutor retired, and for the last 5 or so years we've been casting around looking for someone that does our sort of weekend course. This year we found Ian and Sue Buckley at Bringsty Arts Studios, and this was our second visit.

Jenny had this beautiful stone, in which the layers are clearly visible, and where it's obviously fractured at some time in the past, though it's solid stone now. Those vertical lines are tiny faults, just like the huge ones you see in rocks by the coast or in road cuttings, just on a minute scale. Despite the blurriness of the photo, if you line up the pattern of horizontal paler and darker stripes, you can see that of the four vertical bits the stone is divided up into, the third from the left has obviously slipped towards us by a couple of millimetres.

We've had that stone hanging around the workshop for a good 10 years, and never known how to set square stones. That was the first objective of this particular weekend, and we had several goes, although there are still other techniques we could learn for doing the same thing. This one has a pleasant, informal feel, I think.

I made a ring with a square lapis lazuli set on it. I couldn't get it to balance sensibly for me to take the photo, so stuck my finger in, to hold it.

I also did the lapis pendant, which took much of the rest of the weekend. Sadly, the tube at the top is soldered on crooked but it's not too obvious when it's being worn.

In fact, the piece hides a multitude of errors, but fortunately most of them are not too blatant!

The other thing I did was to sand cast a copy of the babyrusa skull belt buckle I was talking about the other week. This also didn't work too well, though I think I know why. I now understand the process of sand casting, and could probably do it myself at home if I bought the necessary sand, which I might just do.

The problem was that even though the sand showed the detail of the skull beautifully, the casting didn't, and I think that was because Ian used a very wide cone to form the channel into which we poured the silver. This meant there was a rather violent rush of silver into the cavity, and I surmise this swept away much of the detail. A narrower channel for the silver would have slowed the flow, preventing it from doing such damage. Of course, the risk then would be that the cold mould would chill the metal before it had flowed all around the mould, so I might have to have several goes.

Anyhow, Ian pointed out that the old, corroded version still actually looks rather good, so I might just resurrect that instead.


orchidea said...

Rob, I love your silver work, and the colours and composition of that nude are stunning.

orchidea xxx

Jane.Dudman said...

What I was thinking, Rob, when I saw your photo of Jenny's piece on this blog, is that the piece itself may be hanging in the wrong place.

What you get from this picture is the full effect of the contours, so beautifully done. In situ, funnily enough, you can't quite step back far enough to have the full impact of that. What do you think? They are both beautiful pieces, though.