Friday, April 25, 2014

Labor of Love

My latest piece was truly a labor of love.  I wonder if I jinxed myself in the post about my last piece, when I said it just went together without a hitch.  Not so with this one.  The May challenge for my guild is the theme of bowls.  Immediately I knew 2 things, I wanted to make a yarn bowl and I wanted it to have a different design, perhaps 2 levels that were separated by space.  I made some sketches and came up with a design and shape that made me swoon.  I decided to use hammered metal spirals to support the upper level of the bowl.  While this idea was fun, it proved a challenge.  In hindsight I would have made the bowl and drilled holes into it for the metal supports.  I had actually considered doing this, but was wary of how thick I'd have to make it for drilling and was worried that I would drill through the bowl, so instead I tried to build the bowl around the metal supports.


I began by making a first layer of the basic shapes I needed to create the look I wanted.  I used a glass vase to form my shape.  After the first cure I wanted to sand down any bumpies, and in doing so cracked the top piece right in half.  I guess it wasn't cured well enough, as that should not have happened.  Super glue to the rescue and onto the second layer for strength.  This layer went off without a hitch.  Next up, was to build the hammered metal spirals -  I shaped these with my round nose pliers and hammered them on my anvil, and during that process I once missed and hit my thumb with the hammer.  Did I mention that this piece was a labor of love? ;)


After a few choice words and successfully forming and hammering all of the spirals I glued them to my pieces, which was a feat in and of itself!  Once I had them glued, I had to create another base layer to bring the clay to the same level as the metal.  In this next curing the cracks started.  I had 3 cracks from where the metal was straining while the piece rested on the vase for support.  I patched up the cracks, added another layer and back into the oven for another cure.  This time the cracks were healed, but I still wanted one more layer.  Imagine my disgust after the additional layer was cured and I pulled the piece out to find 3 cracks in the same general area as before!  One more patching and a layer of black lpc fixed that issue.


Next I gave it a good sanding all over to eliminate the bumps and fingerprint marks, then another layer of lpc for one more full polymer coating.  I wanted a surface treatment on the bowl that was just as unique as the shape, so I opted for a version of what I call impasto polymer technique, which I did in the Premo Bright Green pearl color, straight from the pack because I love that color so much. 


One final curing to harden the surface treatment, as I held my breath and watched over like a mother hen for fear of more cracking.  It survived with no issue! YAY!  I gave it a nice coating of a polymer gloss sealer for extra protection.  The interior bottom of the bowl, I forgot to mention, is a slab of mokume gane polymer done in black, silver, wasabi pearl and white.  You can get a glimpse of that here:



As I said, the idea for this was to be a yarn bowl, and the 2 layers askew were meant as a place for the knitting needles to rest as seen here:



And the yarn is meant to feed through the metal spiral like this:


Yes indeed, this one was a labor of love.  Lots of work went into it and while it is not perfect, I do love this piece.  The design of it is very "me" and I was so pleased with how the surface treatment turned out considering that part was totally unplanned.  I love it when pieces come together with something that just "happens"! :)  If I ever revisit this project again, I will definitely make the base parts full thickness first and then drill the holes for the wire support, that's the lesson for this one.  But overall I'm quite pleased!  What do you think of my funky bowl?  Have you ever had a project that kept giving you problems all through construction but you stuck with it and it turned out as good as you had originally hoped? Tell me about it in the comments!

15 comments:

  1. Beautifully done !!! Most of the fun in a piece like this is in the mechanics of making it work !!!!

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    1. Thanks so much Jan! You're right, the mechanics of making it work is definitely the fun part for me! :D

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  2. Stunning work! I am always fascinated to read about the effort you put into construction. I think you were an engineer in another life.

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    1. Thank you Marie!! I think you might be right about the engineer bit... the conceptual and working out how to make that happen are the best part of creating for me! ;)

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  3. Truly gorgeous. The colors, the finish, the design. Everything. Gorgeous.

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  4. Beth, you do not disappoint. I've been away and was thinking about you this weekend wondering what you have come up with for this challenge. It is, as usual, beautiful, well thought out and just plain gorgeous. I truly sympathize with you about the construction challenges of make bowls and other structural works. I love the outer layer and the metal wire. Wonderful job!

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    1. Thank you Line for the sweet comment! :) I hope you had a great time at your retreat!

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  5. Awesome Beth! I'm totally in love with this bowl.

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    1. Thank you so much Anya! I spied your sea flowers piece last night and feel the same way about that, absolutely love it!

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    2. Thanks for the compliment! It means a lot to me! ♥

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  6. Definately a labor of love. And gorgeous!

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