Thursday, 31 March 2011

EU conference day three....part two

While Roswitha is firing our wonderful creations (did I mention how excited I am about those stones!!!!) I pop next door to have a peek at Carol Douglas's workshop Copper Dreams. I wish I could be in two places and take both classes. Carol's pieces are wonderful creatures from the world of faerie and I love them! Her patina's are wonderful too. Fortunately she teaches here in sunny old England, so I will be sure to be tracking her down for a class!

See more of her work (and better still book her for a class) at

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

EU conference day three....

The final day (with an hour less sleep due to the clock change!!!) dawns bright and sunny again.  Its time for the Swarovski crystal workshop with Roswitha Schwarz. Roswitha has some beautiful samples of her new techniques developed in collaboration with Swarovski (would had never heard of metal clay! tsk,imagine that!!!). Apparently they cut "real" gemstones too (and believe me the quality and depth of colour is fab) and have some jewel set chain (again, I have seen this with base metals and synthetics, but never sterling and semi precious) and pre set stones. I am so excited as the results look stunning. I am also thrilled by Roswitha's designs - her style is very clean and contemporary yet beautiful and shows the stones to maximum benefit.

My photos don't do them justice. Suffice to say the stones are easy to work with. The tiny stones in the preset bezels give a wonderful delicate finish and the jewel chain gives a completely new look. We used photopolymer moulds to create the design. I have used the yellow photopolymer plates before but they are quite thin, these were Imagepacs and about 2.5mm thick red ones supplied as a gel sachet. Needless to say I will have to buy some to experiment with!
I am so excited about these stones and can't wait to buy some! hopefully we will hear more about them here:

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

EU conference day two....part three

The afternoon (after a coffee break- I can't even look at the pastries, sandwiches and ice cream!)
sees Jana Vesela teaching Antique Enamelling applications.
Another lovely lady (I forgot to ask what her PhD was in!) she had thoughtfully provided not only three colours of enamels but tiny little pots for mixing. Here are a couple of her wonderful works:

We made basic pieces and then learnt how to apply the enamels and torch fire them which was fun.

Here are my two pieces.

EU conference day two....part two

The beginning of the afternoon (after a seemingly un-ending buffet lunch- several mini desserts are lower calorie than one big one right?) sees Pam East's presentation on enamelling copper clay. The work is beautiful and the enamel colours very bright. It is interesting to hear how the different brands of copper clays need different handling. Pam is both enthusiastic and highly dedicated to her areas of expertise and the amount of research she has done is quite astounding (and makes life so much easier for the rest of us!)
If you ever get a chance I would take a class with this lady, I guarantee you wouldn't be disappointed. She also has a great book on enamelling on metal clay and some coloured coded metal clay slats (I have had some for ages and love them!) See more at

Sunday, 27 March 2011

EU conference day two....

I am tired already ...bed time was late due to slooooowwww service in restaurant!
My first class in sgraffito on glass with the lovely Astari Swatantri from Finland. She provided us with black glass cabochons and then proceeded to make bezels/pendants from the metal clay which we then dried and refined. Then came the fun part of applying some overlay paste in a even layer for which Astari had created a clever method. It soon dried and we were free to scratch in patterns using some special tools from Japan.
Astari has written a book too, and won awards from the Japanese art clay competition

Friday, 25 March 2011

EU conference day one masterclass part 2

First a few more pictures from this afternoon.
dragonfly with mother of pearl wings

filigree syringe pendant

filigree ring

This evening, a brief opening speech by Herwig Schwarz, and then Mr. Kawai (head of Aida's overseas division). He brought a tear to our eyes and his own as he thanked the world for helping in Japan (119 different countries offered aid) and said that knowing they were not alone was a great comfort. There were hints of what they are working on (mokume gane was mentioned) and the unfortunate news that a substantial price rise is coming to metal clay (please don't buy up all the stock before I get home!!!). Apparently they could sell the silver they reclaim for more profit than they make from metal clay!
And finally (with champagne) a presentation from Swarovski. We learned about the history of the company (started in Czechslovakia not Austria!) and their current developments. They cut semi-precious gems as well as crystal and zirconia and have been working on combining their products. They have developed new cuts- I love the fan cut.
We also had some sneak previews of trend forecasts for 2012 (only now being revealed in Basel, and not offially launched for awhile.) Here are this years forecasts: (This post will get rather long if I go into next years, but if you want to know, email me, or check back at their sie soon- you get pictures that way!).

EU conference day one masterclass

So day one arrives and I am half asleep it feels like 6am at 7am due to time differences and I spent half last night climbing a very big hill as the funicular wasn't working. The sumptous breakfasts (everything you can think of) and copious amounts of coffee later its time for the masterclass in filigree with Ryoto (last minute change of teacher due to events in Japan). It wonderful to put some more names to faces (and to discover I am not the only one still asleep and making silly mistakes). Every person I meet has some incredible work of art masquerading as jewellery on them...
As usual the samples are wonderful and Ryoto makes it look easy and Mai translating makes it sound easy....we are making snakes of clay using slow tarnish clay to go round a provided mould. I can do that, so far, so good.....then some base pieces of clay for support, check...and then it gets tougher....yes (drum roll) out come the syringes, built layer on layer (some swearing under the breath is heard in various languages). We are making vine patterns, smoothing and shaping. You will have to excuse the photos of my work...I am sure it could be much better!
The pendant bail is an Art Clay exclusive one, a nice design. I am picking up lots of tips on using overlay piece to get better joins between metal and the clay/syringe. So base done its on to flower petals. We are using pre-twisted filigree wires to speed things up and we manipulate it with pliers and make joins and finish with both overlay paste (OSP) and ST syringe. (shown below)

Having managed the first syringe part it gets more difficult...we have to make leaves just using syringe strokes, directly on the piece (not much you can do if you make mistakes!). It is nowhere as easy as Ryoto makes it look. This is his piece (I am not showing you mine no matter how much you beg!!!)
Then it is time to add the petals in two separate layers and some small balls of clay for stamen. (gratifyingly this hides the two bottom leaves!).

Again not my one ;-) As you see there is also now some syringe around the interior and exterior frames to give a twisted effect. Action shot coming up.....

So now they are ready to fire.....
and we are shown alot of other pieces using the technique. They are incredible (we are not worthy is murmered....)

More to come but for now its back to the fray for opening speeches and swarovski presentation (oh and some dinner though after the lunch and tea much food... they will have to roll me onto the plane home!)

Thursday, 24 March 2011

A taste of prague

I've arrived for the art clay conference in Prague! Today was spent wondering around in the sunshine enjoying the sights including the wonderful astrological clock above! Tomorrow the metal clays starts... I have already met the charming Pam East and her husband and run into Angela....the metal clay celebs are gathering!