I had to design, develop and make 2 pieces in relation to the brief ‘The Street’. With ‘The Streets’ brief I found I was bored rather quickly and unfortunately very uninspired. There was certainly a lot of opportunity with this brief, I could have gone down the Wabi Sabi route or even taken a trip down memory lane (which actually would have probably been the best route for me) as it was such an open brief but I think I rushed into the beginnings with it and got stuck using a concept I wasn’t interested in (silly me!). I took ‘inpiration’ from the city I’ve grown up in, Edinburgh as it’s where I know best and was the best option to obtain primary sourced research. I looked at the old town; the texture on these buildings which inspired the sampling of reticulation of silver on top of copper, the shapes within the stone and the cobbled streets. I found the streets dull and of course, old (probably why I lacked inspiration here – no colour), with moss greens, burgundy and brown stones. I took interest in the colour yellow in my final brief of last year but chose a different colour in the end to match my piece, so I wanted to really work with yellow this year. Despite purple and blue/greens being my favourite colours, I certainly wasn’t finding them in Edinburgh in the old town, yellow however, was used to mark the roads and in road signs which made it easier to go with. This formed the foundations which led to the outcome below.
Piece One – Brooch
I made the square clusters in two separate parts using 0.7mm silver sheet adding one, random, geometric shape. I used a square stencil to get the shapes accurate and pierced them out. I had finalised this design using a copper sample so knew what steps to take. I used a ruler and scribe to mark where I would score and fold and then used a triangular needle file to create the space to fold. Before folding the pieces into place, I used needle files and emery paper to clean up the shapes after piercing them out. Once I cleaned up the silver and marked the areas to score and fold I used my mini pin wheel which I attached to my hand motor and brushed this over the silver, creating a lovely texture and satin finish. A favourite of mine.
I then scored the pieces and soldered the two separate sheets together using Hard solder paste. I used 1.5mm square, silver wire to create the brooch pin. I filed down the end half to narrow it and create a point that can piece through a jacket/jumper e.t.c and created a score and fold at the top so that the piece would sit nicely against the pin then soldered together using an Easy solder paste. I filed an angle into the bend of the pin just for extra detail as I didn’t want it rounded but instead more angled to suit the overall design. I also gave the pin a scratch effect using a needle file and emery paper. I didn’t want it smooth and flawless looking.
Once pickled, I used the brass brush to clean off excess pickle. I had to get inside the closed over centre so gently peeled open a couple of the squares. I couldn’t get this as clean as I’d have liked as I didn’t want to pry them open too far that they weaken and snap off. I could have oxidised the inside, however, this wasn’t something I wanted to do so cleaned it up as best as I could get and gently pushed the shapes back over into place.
I then positioned the pin on a flat surface at the correct angle using blu-tac so that the one, geometric shape was facing up. I mixed up a small amount of resin and added a tiny amount of yellow pigment mixing thoroughly. I carefully, bit by bit added drops of the coloured resin to the shape until satisfied with the coverage and let it cure for 24 hours before the piece was finally complete. I purchased a sterling silver brooch pin protector for the end of the pin.
I am a little disappointed in the finish of this one. The main issue was cleaning the inside (as mentioned above), it was quite difficult to clean properly. I also noticed after the whole cleanup process some tiny lumps of solder that mustn’t have melted completely between the two sheets. These are pretty minute and I attempted to clean these up using tiny hand motor tools but to not much success. I should have heated the piece up again to re-disperse the solder, however, by the time I’d noticed it was too late. Other than these little hiccups, I do like the design and am pleased with the piece.
Piece Two – Ring
I continued with the square cluster theme here but added two, geometric shapes in this piece. The base of this ‘box’ I’ve created is a large, angled shape with another, smaller one on top (seen in the top left photo) with the rest being squares as well as the angled base being folded squares. I pierced my geometric and square shape out of 0.7mm copper sheet and cleaned it up using needle files and emery paper. I repeated this process for the square base except using 0.7mm silver sheet. With the silver base I marked in the areas to score and fold using a ruler and scribe and then used the pin wheel on the hand motor to give it the texture I wanted before continuing to fold the scored areas and then soldering to add some extra support to the structure.
I cut up little pieces of silver sheet and placed them on top of the copper shape. I heated this until the silver melted and created this frosted look and then pickled the piece. I scored and folded the copper piece into its open box form adding a little Hard solder paste to the inside to hold the form in place, again pickling the piece after. I then used Hard solder paste to solder the box form to the silver base.
I used the same 1.5mm square, silver wire as I did for the brooch pin in piece one, again giving it the same filed finish. I scored and folded it into the angles I wanted and used Hard solder paste to hold its form. I filed the ends to the right angles to make it flush with the silver base, then used Hard solder paste for this. I filed the bends on the ring shank like I did with the brooch pin, taking away the curve and adding angles in its place.
I pickled the piece and peeled the box form open slightly to clean the inside thoroughly prepping it for the dreaded enamel step. I closed over the form back into place. I applied gum solution to the inside of the box using a tiny paint brush so that when I sprinkled on the Ochre Yellow enamel powder it would stick to all the correct places and I would just wipe the excess off the unwanted areas before placing in the kiln for approx. 30 seconds. But alas, as expected, the enamel had burned away at the edges and looked messy. I cleaned up the entire piece and decided that wet enamel would probably work best as I could apply a thicker coat. I used Lemon yellow applying with a paint brush over the areas I wanted (or not) enamelled and let the enamel dry (thanks for the tip Chelsea-anne!) before placing in the kiln for approx. 30 seconds. I pickled the piece and cleaned it up removing extra pickle with mop heads on the hand motor. Again, I didn’t want a high shine on this piece.
Well, this piece was a disaster! Enamel has never been my friend and that’s ok as now I never have to work with it again. I feel the piece would have worked miles better if I had used resin in place of the enamel, however, unfortunately the rules were that to pass the outcome, at least one of the final pieces needed to incorporate enamel. I possibly left the piece in the kiln slightly too long making the enamel deteriorate from the edges. I feel the soldering between the silver base and the copper box form would have been better also if I had been able to use a medium or easy solder. Instead I had to solder the entire piece using hard solder so that it wouldn’t fall apart in the kiln but this affected how I soldered the pieces together. I had to be really careful and didn’t push it as I was worried the lot would fall apart. That said, the piece is securely held together but it could have finished much neater if I hadn’t been so cautious of this. I like the overall design and it’s comfy to wear despite the angled shank but unfortunately I’m disappointed with the finish.
The pieces certainly could have been finished to a much higher standard and I am a little disappointed in myself as they are not as good as they should be but I have really tried to push my boundaries. Since I began the NC I always ended up making something rather complicated for a final piece. I don’t want simple pieces with a perfect finish as I feel I will learn nothing this way. I don’t want to play ‘safe’ in my work when it comes to the briefs given, I want to learn and improve and feel the only way to do this is to push my work to its limits and then grow from there. So although there are negatives; the finish isn’t as good as it could and should be and the enamel didn’t work for me. There are also positives; the pieces have depth and structure, it’s not something I could have produced in the NC, therefore my abilities are expanding. I will probably aim to make something more simple for my next brief and aim for a better, overall finish. Time will tell.