Saturday 3 September 2011

Repousse in metal clay with Holly Gage

From Prague to Edinburgh.....
4 wonderful days with Holly Gage and our hostess Emma Baird from the Little Bead Shop in Scotland.
After an incredibly stressful train journey we finally arrived in Edinburgh having travelled to Manchester Piccadilly and found our onward train (and all later trains) had been cancelled due to a strike. Which had we had to discover from the information point. So a different train to York...the scenic route (!) to Edinburgh via Huddersfield, Leeds and more, then change again.....we spent hours on trains and finally crawled into Edinburgh around 8 hours after we left home. Our hostess at the B&B had thankfully stayed up (in her jammies) to let us in! I could have slept for a week. Fortunately the prosect of Holly's class was enough to make me spring out of bed (well, almost, I'm not a natural morning person anyway!) grab my kit and walk my way over to Bruntsfield where the workshop was taking place at the home of Art Clay Scotland, the Little Bead Shop, a gem run by Gil and Emma Baird.
Repousse in Metal Clay
Being primarily trained as a metalsmith I appreciate the intricacies of repousse/ chasing in silver. And quite frankly I can't be bothered to mess around with pitch and hammers. So I was very intrigued as to how Holly's process for making such intricate detail worked. She had brought a large collection of stunning pieces to gawp and drool over showing everything from a place she did a workshop in France to some Koi in a small pond. Every piece had a charming history behind it....even the squash flowers which were going to be dinner, but also turned out to be the intended feast of a wee little beastie (who also featured in the finished piece!). The high level of craftsmanship and the integrated nature of the fixtures and fittings were also noteworthy. A considered bail does much for a piece.
A prerequisite of the class was to bring drawings, sketches or photos from which to work a design. This part of the class and Holly's encouragement of individual design consideration meant that the work became uniquely our own and not a Holly " replica " which was fantastic. One of the other workshop participants was an artist and had brought her own amazing drawings of a robin and a horse. Others had brought diverse inspirations from dragons to Art Noveau. If you felt uninspired by your own handiwork then Dover copy right free books were an excellent choice.
I had been working on a sketchbook of Poppies anyway from some youth workshops I had been doing with the idea of translating them into felt (see previous post). So it felt natural to expand on that idea while I was on a roll and I had done some more original sketches and some manipulation of photos in Photoshop too and added them in. (It also kept me busy on the long train journey!).

 There were some interesting shapes and patterns in there I was looking forward to translating into clay. First though some consideration of scale and which parts of the image to use....and lucky us, Emma became our go fer and ran down to the post office to photocopy and rescale our imagery! Some tracing later I was ready to go with my poppy design, an abstracted close-up of the central pod and stamens.
Next that design was to be translated onto polymer clay to make a mold to start the repousse image from. Other than that I am not going to give away any of Holly's secrets of this part of the process- you'll just have to take one of her fabulous classes!!!! With our mold then used to impress the metal clay we had a firm starting point for our masterpieces. 

Though there was some discussion of work having an "ugly" stage to get through (personally I loved what everyone had acheived). Well onto day two we worked on refining and finessing our work Holly is really big on the tiny details, and it does pay off in the work and the intent of the piece. I am suffering tool envy and my first purchase has got to be some micro carving tools made by Dockyard, they and a set of mini needle files (yes they make smaller needle files!) proved invaluable. And conical clay shapers are the way to there were a few homemade tools thrown in the mix too. By now we are onto texturing and adding minute details to the artworks. Everyone's pieces look amazing...there is a robin, a seagull, dragon, art noveau lady in the moon, a tree on a windswept moor (very Heathcliff) art noveau twirls and flowers and a Monetesque statue in a pond. They are all so different and very lovely.
To see more Art Clay Scotland's facebook page- photos from the workshop.The curve of mine part slumped during firing so I have to figure a way to get it back again before I take pictures (it always goes wrong at the last minute when there is no time to fix doesn't it!). I highly recommend Holly's class though, she is very talented and enthusiastic and in no way is it a paint by numbers experience, it is all tailored to indviduals needs and levels. Will post the finished piece shortly, meanwhile check out Holly Gage's

1 comment:

  1. Hi Emma
    I am very jealous! I tried to get onto the repousse effects class but I was too late!
    Thought you'd be interested that Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery sell the Dockyard carving tools