Thursday, May 14, 2009

Neuron neurosis: Sketch to Completion

Funny the Metal Clay gallery on Yahoo Groups has a sketch to completion themed challenge this month as that is the whole point of my blog-venture, well here goes: Neuron-ic as the Next Guy.

This doodle has been bidding it's time in the sketchbook since my birthday in February, & the amethyst cab was one of my gifts. The design for the ring is based on a neuron twining itself around 2 fingers. The ring turned out close to my original sketch, though it evolved a bit to accommodate for functionality & structural support.

I first started building the ring shank with 1 thick coil laid out over a S shaped pattern. After it dried, the tentacle & bezel setting "cup" perched on one side & decorative coils tacked onto the others with syringe. (I do <3 class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_1">Humpty Dumpty proportions, & never got put back together the same again. (The nice way of summarizing a couple hr long ordeal!) A messy blessing in disguise, as the final ring band with 3 layers of thinner coils is lighter & more proportional looking than the original band.
As I don't have a kiln, the secret to building larger & more abstract things seems to be Overlay paste & repeated torch firings. Fire small pieces, cement them together with overlay paste, dry/sand/fire, & repeat. So the 3 swirls on the dendrite tail (swirly end) were formed & fired together, before being pasted to the previously fired setting (yay for salvage!). One thing I found about overlay paste is that it doesn't particularly appreciate sand paper or files. Smoothing blemishes with a rotary tool after firing still remains to be seen, but I'm psyched everything is holding together nicely!

The final challenge for this ring was to set the amethyst in the bezel setting, which I haven't tried before but it didn't seem that difficult. The stone was easy enough to get into the setting, & though it isn't technically the right tool, I used the scoop/burnisher to push the bezel walls in. It is the tiniest bit loose still, but the stone doesn't seem like it will fall out. I tried putting the ring in the tumbler with stainless steel shot to hopefully work harden the ring & bezel, though the bezel seems unaffected. Probably the shot was too big to get into the little nooks & crannies.

So here's one that's hopped off my sketchbook. Going from theory & asking for advice to actually doing has resulted in some "oh duh" moments, & even better - more ideas, including 1 with the original attempted ring shank, hmmm.....

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