Fruits ripen, seeds drip, the hours of day and night are balanced. Mabon Sabbat and Lore
This is a time of year that I both love and find a little sad too. That point where the unmistakable signs appear that summer is drawing to a close and autumn is chasing its heels. It’s sad because you know the long evenings are rapidly vanishing and there will now be more night than day and yet it’s still a beautiful time of year.
Each period of the year has its own merits and I do so love to observe that cyclical rhythm of nature doing its thing. As summer wanes, plants put forth their seeds and berries and animals and insects use the opportunity to feed up for the forthcoming winter. Consequently, the hedgerows are full of those fabulous later summer structures full of summer energy ready to fuel a new generation. This colourful display is full of warmth and vibrancy and stunning natural structures, just as beautiful as the flowers that precede them.
It’s not the done thing to take photographs into the sun, but I do like doing so – in this case, it highlights all the insects in flight.
Rosehips, a very typical sign of the end of summer.
Delicate little seedpods, with their curled back edges, after distributing their contents.
Ripe blackberries with still more to come.
Seed heads from cowslip flowers, also known as Queen Anne’s Lace for the delicate lace like appearance of the tiny flowers.
Ivy flowers about to emerge, what fabulous natural architecture.
The ripe rosehips are the most fabulous rich colours.
These nettle flowers are exquisitely delicate and complicated.
Recent work in a new material:
I recently discovered a new brand of base metal clays from Australia – the appropriately named Aussie Metal Clay, only recently put on the market in the UK, which I have thoroughly enjoyed working with. I intend to do a more detailed blog on working with the product, as there is little information out there yet, but I have one or two issues to resolve for myself first.
When I look at new materials or techniques, I often do a lot of research and reading to formulate a good idea of the features of the product to see if it will be suitable for my needs – this is very often blog articles from fellow users who kindly share their experiences. Consequently, as this product doesn’t feature very much yet, I want to write some more about it and my own findings from making several pieces with it, to make my own contribution for fellow artisans.
In the meantime, in the gallery below are a few of the new pieces I have made with a couple of the medium fire base metal clays from Aussie Metal Clay to give you an idea of its capability, but I intend to write much more specifics in a future post. [Article now written and the links above take you to it.]
Metal clay gallery:
Twig necklace in pink bronze featuring riveted silver blossoms and a peridot green cubic zirconia gemstone.
Pink bronze 3 part pendant, featuring a geometric design cut in raw clay using the Silhouette cutter.
Teardrop earrings in pink bronze with poinsettia style flowers cut out and finished with tony rolled balls.
Earrings featuring little dragonflies, the wings cut from dry clay and the body formed from tiny hand rolled graduating balls.
Mixed metal earrings featuring a base of pink bronze, with white bronze flowers riveted with copper rivets.
Naturally contoured ivy leaf with a hidden bail on the back.
Twig pendant, featuring hand crafted leaves, seed pods, tendrils and a tiny ladybird. Set with a cubic zirconia gemstone.
Finished pink bronze necklace adorned with lots of tiny naturalistic features, hand sculpted in metal clay.
A house with daffodils in it is a house lit up, whether or no the sun be shining outside. A.A. Milne
My husband had a couple of days holiday to use up before the end of the holiday year, so we sneaked a couple of days off and hoped to get some time outside in the spring sunshine. We did manage that and jolly lovely it was too, but for an assortment of reasons – apathy largely – I didn’t get any worthwhile photos to share with you. I had it in mind to post some cute little spring lambs, but the areas we visited were only just starting to lamb and the ones I did spot weren’t in a place where we could stop for photos. So they will have to wait until another day.
As you can see above, the little Tête-á-tête daffodils in my garden are now in full bloom and are an absolute delight – so cheering to see out of the window. I love any daffodils, but am especially fond of these compact little ones, perfect little miniature specimens.
I also have tulips starting to emerge too. Whilst I love the blooms, I also enjoy the buds before they open – they’re often spherical and bulbous and amongst the leaves make lovely abstract shapes, especially if you can catch a few raindrops sitting on the leaves.
Because I have a tiny garden, when my bulbs are done, I pull them up and dry them ready to re-plant in autumn and then put my summer bedding in the same pots. Consequently, my bulbs end up totally mixed up from one year to the next, so I’m never quite sure what any one individual bloom will be like, or any pot arrangement, adding a tiny frisson of excitement as they open. Maybe I’m just easily excited.
My work this week:
I’ve posted previously about the wild roses that I’ve made in paper, designing and cutting the components using the Silhouette Studio software and my Portrait cutter. Whilst assembling one to stick onto a gift, I wondered if I could use the same basic structure with copper clay to make the same sort of flowers in metal.
I know that a lot of metal clay workers use the Silhouettes to actually cut thinly rolled clay for complex features like bezels and that was certainly one of the reasons I wanted the machine for myself. But to date, I’m still having fun using the software and machine to make my own textures and design elements and I haven’t even tried cutting clay with it directly yet.
I wanted the roses to be fairly substantial in size, which would necessitate a decent thickness of sheet clay to work with, almost certainly beyond the cutting capacity of the Silhouette and I also wanted to shape the petals as I worked too – best done with wet clay.
A lot of the charm of actual wild roses is the curl and random shapes of the petals themselves and in this instance, I didn’t feel they should be too uniform in shape. So instead, I used the cutter to create a template which I could cut around manually, allowing me to form each petal the same basic shape and size, but individually contoured, to give them the same natural variation you’d experience in real flowers.
The metal clay as a medium also allows a slightly different approach to details too – so the centre of the flower is more anatomically realistic, where the paper version is more of an impression of a real flower. I did actually make the flower in pretty much the same way as the paper versions, in that I made each petal and allowed them to dry, then refined and assembled them onto a small circular base, adding the centre details last.
The large pendant has a simple loop on the back to hang from the chain, I didn’t want to bail, in this instance, to detract from the details of the flower.
Having made the large pendant, which is around 42mm (1.65″) in diameter, I wondered if I could work a smaller rose, to use on earrings etc. I approached this slightly differently due to the size, creating my own cutter for the basic shape of the petals. Other than that and simplifying the centre a little, the process was much the same.
With this pendant, I’ve applied the smaller wild rose to a basic textured circle frame, accompanied by a few rose leaves adjacent. I have some other variants in progress to make into earrings, but at this point, my kiln was full anyway, so I have a second batch of pieces to fire shortly.
It is my habit with all metal clay work to keep a very detailed record of all pieces. I keep a kiln log of the firing itself, with photos and measurements recorded in a separate log. That way I know what brand of clay was used for a particular piece and when and how it was fired etc. As I always like to see other artists pieces in progress, I’ll post a couple of pre-firing photos too.