Wednesday, April 16, 2014
I Guess You'd Call it Metal Mixed Media
Susan is an artist, designer, author, product developer, and entrepreneur. She produces several lines for the crafting industry, including metal bezels and jewelry parts, Ice Resin, embossing powders, and decorative papers. Her work is in private collections around the world and also in prestigious museums. She was very proud of the fact that she had an 8-page spread in a recent issue of Elle magazine featuring her jewelry. In addition to being an accomplished artist, she is also a dynamic, informative, encouraging, and inspiring teacher.
At Art and Soul she taught four separate one day classes. A few people I met took all four, and that would have been a fine experience. I know that one of the others was enameling on metal, but I'm not sure what the rest were. I'd definitely take another class from her.
In this class, we did cold enameling both on metal blanks that she supplied us from her Art Mechaniques product line and also on blanks that we cut and formed from 24 gauge copper and bronze sheet. I preferred cutting my own shapes - as shown in the photo.
At first, the array of techniques and products that she presented us with was quite overwhelming, but then I decided to just do something and found it fun indeed.
Perhaps most surprising was the first "cold enameling" technique she demonstrated which was simply based on using nail polish on metal. It turns out that there's quite a bit you can do starting with this simple medium. But the coloring technique I liked best was her embossing powders. These are pigments mixed with wax (and other things, I presume). We adhered them to the metal using her medium then heated them with a heat gun. The look is quite like enamel. And she's mixed some ingredients into the powders that heat up as beautiful metallic dots. We also used acrylic paint, glass glitters, and Stazon ink pads.
We were able to use several new Stazon colors that the company just introduced in January and which aren't widely available yet. They're very nice. I especially liked Spice Chai, and I'll buy it as soon as I can find it. These inks dry so quickly and you can't rub them off the metal.
In my examples in the photo, I used embossing powders and Stazon inks for the large round one and nail polish and Stazon inks for the smaller ones. We finished all of our pieces with a coating of Ice Resin. The only trouble I had is that the resin on a few of my pieces never completely set. It's absolutely critical to use equal parts of both of the resin components and I suspect that unequal parts led to the problem.
I really liked making the metal shapes. I cut them from the sheet metal then annealed them to allow shaping. We used a die press made for embossing scrapbooking papers and texture dies for some pieces (I used a texture die for the lower right piece) as well as dapping blocks, which I how I shaped the two concave discs in the large round piece. My absolute favorite part was making the little blobs on the ends of the bronze wire in the large round piece. You just hold the end of the wire in a torch until the ball forms.
This was lots of fun, and if I don't do it myself, the only reason will be a reluctance to buy new equipment required to shape and anneal the metal.