Monday, October 4, 2010

Vermont Workshop with Celie Fago

Written by guest blogger, Marly Penner from Studio 28

A wonderful side benefit of being in the metal clay world is meeting talented jewelry artisans who then also become friends. Ruth has become such a good friend and mentor to us after we met her at the 2008 PMC Conference at Purdue University. When we went to the 2009 ArtClay conference in Chicago, we had the good fortune of meeting Barb Fernald from Little Cranberry Island, Maine and Holly Kellogg who is a high school art teacher in Connecticut.

We were so excited when both of them told us they had signed up for Celie's class, too. An extra bonus was that Barb's friends, Donna and Henry Isaacs had a house just minutes from Celie's where we could all stay. Wendy McManus, who is the creator behind Metal Clay Magic also joined us at the house. We took turns making suppers which turned out to be absolutely wonderful on the days when some of us stayed behind to work at Celie's studio. Barb hosted the first supper by bringing nine live lobsters, express delivery from her husband's lobster boat!
What a treat! We not only had an amazing first meal but we were the envy of the rest of the workshop participants when we all brought lobster sandwiches for lunch on the first day of the workshop!!!

O.K.....on to the actual workshop experience. I always feel a bit like I did on the first day of school when I start a new workshop. Excitement and anxiety! Anxious to learn something new but also feeling the pressure of producing something in a group situation.
Celie is such a wonderful teacher, though, and her relaxed, patient, and knowledgeable approach to all of our first attempts and questions about the process, along with the beautiful Vermont surroundings helped to make the experience of learning the best it could be. This is the view from my work station. I must admit it was hard to concentrate on my work when I had a view like that!

In the first part of the workshop, we made tear-away texture sheets, a process that involves burnishing an image on polymer clay, and then ripping it off so that polymer clay sticks to the inked areas, creating a low-relief texture plate for metal clay or for polymer clay.

Step two in the process was using our tear-aways to texture polymer clay sheets. And then to add acrylic paints and colored pencil detail to create an inlay for a silver bezel.

Step Three involved constructed a silver metal clay bezel and back piece. Here is how they looked in their pre-fired stage.

We arrived at Celie's the morning of the final day, anxious to see how are fired creations turned out. Here's a picture of Celie taking a look at our fired pieces!

The final day was busy finishing the bezels and setting in our selected pieces of polymer clay. In the end we didn't have time to finish our pendants there, so Angie and I have spent time working on finishing the pieces in our studio. We decided to spend more time working on our polymer texture plates by adding more acrylic paint with a brayer.

We both realize how labour intensive these pieces turned out to be! One of the major challenges seemed to be getting the painted polymer plates into the bezel without losing some of the original detail and colour in the process. We are anxious, though, to continue playing and experimenting with the processes we learned from Celie. Below is my finished piece. Lots of learning in this one!

Angie is still working on some of the finishing touches to hang her pendant. Here is the front and back of her piece in progress.

Time to get on with new projects! We'll keep you posted on our new creations using some of the techniques we learned from Celie. We enjoyed spending time with Celie again, reconnecting with old friends, and making new ones; Erin from Dragonfly Beads, and Jackie Haines of Blue Leaf Designs among them! Hope you are all doing well! Thanks again for a great four days together!

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