Monthly Archives: July 2010

A charming little story…

…or more accurately, a story about little charms;  for the charm swap at the PMC conference this weekend at Purdue. I like to participate in the swap, but this year I gave myself permission to sit back and watch. Which meant, Yes, I came up with an idea at the last minute. I knew I wanted to make something that used small components, as I like having them on hand to combine with earrings or necklaces.

I wanted to try making a headpin by embedding fine silver wire in a ball of PMC, to create a pin with an end that would have a larger  ball than if I melted 18 or 16 gauge wire. I made a bunch of pins with ball ends, and a bunch of PMC discs, textured on both sides, and fired than for 2 hours at 1650º.  (Thanks to Kate McKinnon for all of the tips and tricks in her FABULOUS new book, Sculptural Metal Clay. I used a number of her techniques in making this set of charms, including making all clean cuts, which eliminated the need for any sanding.) I also combined copper and bronze clays to make some base metal components.

Once the first batch was fired, I stacked these little components on the pins with the ball ends, and cut out ovals of textured PMC, 7 cards thick. I imbedded the posts into these fresh PMC pieces and let them dry before firing. I did wonder how the copper/bronze discs would withstand a 1650º firing. It seemed hot for the bronze. Then I started wondering about fire scale on the copper, if it was reheated in the open air during the firing of the silver. So I fired the second batch at 1500º for an hour and a half. Fingers crossed that this would be long enough and hot enough for the silver clay t0 firmly hold the embedded head pins. When the firing was done, I removed the pieces while hot and quenched them in cold water; hoping that would help with fire scale on the copper.

Well, there is a reason why no one suggests this sequence of firing when adding copper/bronze components. Some firescale came off with the quenching, but there was still a lot of black. Pieces that originally  had looked pretty darn good, now looked pretty mediocre!  But I was ever so pleased with everything else about the firing. The embedded parts held, and the charms have the kind of playful movement of the components I was hoping for. Another trick learned from Kate McKinnon: I grabbed each end of the wire – the ball end and the flat end – pulled tight and gave a few quarter twists. This action totally work hardened the wire that holds the little discs. It also tested the pieces to make sure the embedded wire held firm. (Full disclosure: Out of 27 charms, one ball end came off, and two others twisted off because I was getting a little carried away with my twist action. It only takes a quarter turn, or a pinch more, while pulling simultaneously on the two ends to harden this 18 gauge wire.)

I then added patina with liver of sulfur, to add some depth. I buffed most of it off with a muslin wheel and polishing compound.

So, I have 2 dozen charms I am very happy with. Even though the copper/bronze bead is not as planned, I learned so much from doing this, and I have new ideas for earrings as a result.  I can’t wait for the conference to see my old friends, to make new ones, and to see what other people are doing in the world of metal clay.


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Once upon a time…

…I made many, many beads from polymer clay. And I have many, many still on hand. Sometimes they call to me from high on a shelf in my studio, “Remember us? Don’t you want to play with us again?”

So, I gave it a whirl with updated versions of some necklaces I used to make.  I’ve run into several people lately who were wearing earlier versions of these designs. They all said, “You know, I still get comments on this necklace.”  I thought I would try a few on my Etsy site and in some of my summer time galleries. It might be a step backward, but I keep dreaming about polymer clay and all of the new techniques that are around since I made these beads 15 years ago. Maybe playing with these beads will head me in a new direction of polymer clay beads to combine with metal clay.


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…but still a great lunch at the Islesford Dock Restaurant.

Had the *President of the United States shown up with his family for lunch here on Saturday he would have enjoyed the sparkling view of our harbor and the mountains of Mount Desert Island, where they vacationed last weekend.  On Wednesday, restaurant owner Dan Lief got a call from the Secret Service saying they would like to come out to check on the restaurant on Thursday.  Well, the presidential protectors never showed up, but the rumor was planted, and it was the talk of the island, the mainland, e-mails and Facebook.  People were saying, “I heard they’re going to Little Cranberry for lunch!”

So, of course we went there for lunch. Why not? The restaurant is on our island. When else might we be able to see the first family up close? But it was not to be. Regardless, lunch was delicious. Bruce had a Pearl Dog, my sister-in-law Karen and I had Dockburgers, and her husband Hugh had his favorite lunch; steamed mussels and french fries.

People from Great Cranberry, Islesford and off-island were there for lunch, and the restaurant was pleasantly full, but not crowded. We all smiled at each other recognizing our cleverness to be in place for the big event. Karen was the only one who had really planned for a no-show, taking the opportunity to play a little prank on the rest of us. As we were preparing to leave Karen reached into her canvas bag and turned on her iPod with its portable speakers. Out blasted the music, “Hail to the Chief” which startled everyone into looking around for the President, for just that split second, before they realized that if he was arriving, there wouldn’t actually be music playing to announce it. Everyone clapped. Later we learned that the first family had gone to the Claremont in Southwest Harbor for lunch. (We knew we had enjoyed a better meal, and probably had a lot more fun.)

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I’m tired of looking at that mouse photo,

but I am surrounded by things I never get tired of seeing.

Like, the view from a summer commute on the  mailboat:

The bald eagle who watches over the swimmers at the Islesford sand beach:

The diners who rush out of the Islesford Dock Restaurant, on a clear night…

…to take their pictures of this:

And how happy  our summer roommates are when they actually have time to spend with each other!


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I did not set a mousetrap…

…but this is what I saw when I turned on the kitchen light, after coming home in the dark from a dinner out with friends:

It freaked me out! I turned off the light and left the room rather quickly as I tried to imagine who would be disturbed enough to leave a bloated dead mouse (mole? vole?) in the middle of our kitchen.

When I realized it was not moving, I went back, turned on the light, and took a closer look…

A gift from Eliza, island prankster and grower of beets.


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Big event on a little island

July 4 picnic in the Town Field.  Volunteers get together to help prepare and serve a choice of lobster, chicken, hot dogs or veggie burgers, in an annual fund raising event for the Islesford Neighborhood House. This is one of those summer kick-off occasions where people who haven’t seen each other since last August get a chance to ask, “How was your winter?”

Two artists, a poet, and a freelance event planner get ready to demonstrate their barbecue expertise.

Who can identify this food item?


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In time for the 4th

I thought I had missed my chance to get these necklaces to the Archipelago Gallery in Rockland before the weekend started. Luckily my friend Ashley Bryan was headed there today for an opening show of his paintings.  I called to ask when he was leaving and he said his brother were taking the 11:00 boat off the island, and he would be happy to deliver my package for me.

That gave me just enough time to take some photos on the back porch before pricing and wrapping the items below for Archipelago. (Note to self: Take photos when you are not in a rush. You’ll enjoy it more and have better results than these.)

Handmade fine silver PMC beads and clasp, turquoise jasper, sterling silver.

Recycled glass,  African glass,  sterling silver.

Hill Tribe sterling silver fish beads, patina-ted copper beads from Miss Ficklemedia.

Sterling chain, Czech glass, Bali silver beads.

Tumbled glass, freshwater pearls, sterling silver, handmade fine silver clasp.

Fine silver PMC “beach rock” beads, recycled glass.

Lampwork borosilicate beads by Angie Pendleton at Crazy Cat Glass, handmade fine silver PMC beads and clasp, recycled glass.


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