Monday, December 22, 2014

Watch Your Copper!

If you pay attention to the fluctuating prices of metal like I do, you are probably aware that even though the value of gold, silver and copper has dropped in the last 2 years, the 10 year trajectory for the three metals has been in the positive direction.
Trading at less than $3.00 per ounce, copper is definitely the humble relative of silver and gold.
It is also the metal that frequently goes missing because it's easily accessible in the form of downspouts, flashing and water pipes.
Friends of mine came home to their beautiful, century-old home in a lovely neighborhood one day and found that, while they were at work, someone had stolen all of their copper downspouts.
Another friend who builds and remodels homes, has come to job sites only to find that the newly installed copper plumbing has disappeared overnight.
Pretty brazen and, unfortunately, pretty common.
I recently had to have my roof redone, and a dumpster sat in my driveway, collecting all of the related debris.
I knew there was some copper on my house which I planned to salvage for future projects.
The roofing crew had just left and I went outside to find my neighbor rooting through the dumpster.
"What are you doing?", I asked.
"The metal is only going to the dump, so I'm taking it out."
I explained that I was going to be salvaging the metal myself and could he please go home.
He was definitely disappointed as he turned to leave, but he was carrying an armful of metal.
I realized I needed to be more blunt.
"You go home, please...the metal stays."
Even more disappointed, he reluctantly put the metal back in the dumpster.
After he left, I realized he had tucked the copper in the groundcover instead of the dumpster.
Maybe he was hoping to come back to retrieve the copper.
I don't know, but it's now at my workbench waiting for the proper inspiration.
Watch your copper!
Turn your back, and it might be gone.
But if you're lucky, you might get someone else to do your dumpster diving for you.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Shop on the Square

Don't forget...
this is the weekend of the fabulous holiday sale
curated by the Philadelphia Art Alliance.
Original work by more than 40 local artists will be available for sale for those special holiday gifts for loved ones....
or for yourself.
Yes, I'm one of the local artists.
Happy Handmade Holidays!

Holiday Show at Wallingford

I just finished working one of my shifts at the Wallingford Community Arts Center Fine Craft & Pottery Holiday Sale.
One of the nice benefits of working at the show is getting to meet some of the other artists.
It's a comforting feeling to be part of a community of creative people who enjoy each other's unique expression of artistic talent.
The Duke Gallery is a beautiful setting made even more wonderful with a great selection of locally crafted items.
If you live near me and want to go....hurry!
The show concludes this Saturday, December 13, at 5:00pm.
When you're there, check out my display.
Happy Handmade Holidays!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I'm Inspired by Fungus

I try to keep my mind open for possibilities so that I'll recognize potential inspiration when it appears.... 
(photo by Pat Zafian)
like when a friend posted this picture on Facebook.
Back in October, Pat went out of her house, looked down and saw an interesting growth of fungus on her planting bed mulch.
Luckily, Pat has an interest in horticulture and identified the growth as Little Bird's Nest Fungus, or Cyathus striatus.
My reaction was similar to Pat's....
'Oooooh, that's pretty!'
Probably unlike Pat, my next thought was,
'That would be a great design for earrings!'
I like the depth and texture of each cup, and the small 'eggs' (actually, they're peridioles) are a wonderful, almost whimsical detail.
Within a few days, I was at my workbench figuring out my interpretation of the Little Bird's Nest Fungus.
I made the deliberate decision to not look at Pat's photo again as I considered the techniques to use.
Instead, I was more interested in capturing the inspiration and moving it in my own direction.
Brass seemed like the natural choice of metal.
Discs were cut and then textured with one of my old chisels.
After filing the edges to develop some irregularity, the discs were annealed and formed with a series of dapping punches.
Small piles of sterling silver scrap from my workbench were then melted into little balls which were pickled and soldered to the formed discs.
Another pickle soaking and some selective cleaning with my flex shaft and the discs were ready to become earrings. my earrings look like Little Bird's Nest Fungus?
Sort of, kind of.
The cups of the fungus are actually a cone shape.
While I could make a cone shape out of brass, it would require significantly more work, the value of which I would have trouble recouping with a realistic selling price.
This is my interpretation and I'm sticking with it.