Monday, October 17, 2016

10.17.16 Hallmark Greetings

Photo credit: Vickie Hallmark
I first encountered Vickie Hallmark, and her beautiful jewelry, in a wonderful Facebook group called Aspiring Metalsmiths - which describes itself as "a friendly and supportive place to talk metal, share business and technical advice, show off your work, and have fun."  I have found that to be completely the case!

Last March she posted a picture (on the group page) of these fabulous mountain laurel earrings, made with precious metal clay and argentium wire and sheet.  About that time, these bushes - with their deep purple flowers - were beginning bloom and to fill the air with their fragrance (which smells a lot like grape Kool Aid), a sure sign of the arrival of spring in Texas. 

As I am want to do, I sent her a message and said "are those for sale?".  She replied yes - and after a discussion about size (she's tall, and prefers longer earrings; I'm short and, well...) I bought the small pair, with lovely rose cut amethysts.

Fast forward 6 months, and I've had the opportunity to take a class with Vickie and learn how she combines fine silver metal clay and argentium in her fabulous creations.

She brought in two trays full of examples (it took more than a little willpower not to add to my ever expanding earring collection) - which were truly inspiring.

Vickie's jewelry is unique - she works in BOTH clay and argentium.  She forms small, detailed components from clay, then combines and layers them together before fusing them to argentium to make finished pieces. She spent a fair amount of time on the first morning talking about the properties of metal clay and demonstrating a variety of techniques for working with it.

At the bench - there was a detailed handout and a complete set of tools for both clay and metalwork.  As I always do, I took a photo of the bench set up  - because it's always helpful to be able to go back and reference the tools I used for a class.

I was glad for the review - because it had been over a year since I too my first metal clay class with Lorena Angulo. Turns out - I remembered more than I expected to (or maybe I am just more familiar with the whole jewelry making process) - but the result was that I felt much more confident working with the clay this time.

Vickie encouraged us to "make as many pieces and components as possible" so that we could use them both for creating pieces on the second day of class, and in our future projects.  In an effort to be a good student - and because I don't have the set up to work with metal clay outside the studio - I used up my entire 25 gram packet making Erlenmeyer flasks and Texas charms along with lots of tiny hearts and flowers!

At the end of the day, all of our clay pieces went into the kiln - to be fired at 1640F for two hours.  The firing burns away the organic binder and leaves behind solid, fine silver (99%) components.

Until next time...when I'll tell you how the pieces turned out - and all about the second day of class.

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