I spent this past weekend selling my jewelry and prints at the Buckman Art Show and Sell, a fabulous annual fundraiser for the only Arts Elementary Magnet School in Portland. My silver jewelry was of great interest to my customers, because the details and textures you can get in a small, intimate scale are almost like little prints and tiny things always charm people! I love the metal clay work for this reason--it is akin to printmaking, a discipline I am in love with and am continuing to learn about in my 2-year Fine Art Certificate Program at Pacific Northwest College of Art, here in Portland, Oregon. Currently I am taking an etching class, learning about the techniques the old masters used to make intimate and intricate artworks that we still admire and emulate today.
When I form a lump of Metal Clay into a piece of silver jewelry, I start by rolling out the clay to make a flat ground, much like a prepared substrate for the printing press. Onto this surface I push textured material from diverse sources, including rubber stamps, polymer or fiber. In this sense, I am working the surface into an intaglio print, with the indented surfaces being able to take a darkening agent, or patina, so that the image or texture comes into sharper focus. The result is a miniature etching, a small piece of unique art, because each image is printed individually and is one of a kind. Each time I press my texture into the clay, a different result happens. The piece pictured in this blog post is a thistle, one of my favorite flowers. The thistle is the symbol of Scotland, where I spent a semester in college. The thistle and other wildflowers feature in my artwork regularly. I was happy when I found I had an old rubber stamp with the image of a Celtic tree, including thistles, a bird of paradise and other flora & fauna (I love using that phrase!). I use this texture plate frequently since there are so many little areas from which I can grab a texture. Do you see which thistle I used?