Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Showing Off a Few Things

I am really slow on giving my Christmas gifts. In fact, I STILL haven't given them all out. But I've given away at least three of my copper pieces, which I guess is enough to justify a post.

Just a few pics. Perhaps soon I'll post pics of my copper inlaid rocks. They turned out better than I expected. Up next on the workbench are two ideas for copper fountains. One as a gift, one as a combo moss and rock waterfall for me. I love that I have the best ideas; I hate how hard they are to implement. Anyway, here are some pics of presents I gave away this year.

One other thing I'm excited about - Duluth may be getting it's own hackerspace/art space. It sounds like just what I'd be looking for - a place to be noisy and play with fire. There are two big stumbling blocks, though...and it boils down to just one thing - money. First, the rent would be split among interested parties as a monthly fee. Rent at that space is $1250 a month. Unless there are 30+ people interested, there is NO way I can fit that into my budget. The other thing is...if I was able to afford space there, I'd still need to buy a workbench, and torch, and materials for the bigger projects I'd like to try. And that's also quite a bit of money. *sigh* I need the winning lottery ticket. But with the luck I've been having, if I got a ticket it would spontaneously combust and burn my fingers...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Itsa Moooooooooose

Now, I normally am not a fan of mooses. Brad asked for a moose or a bear for his copper thing, and I said "NO moose!". He got a bear. Then Adam said he wanted a moose or elephant. ...damn mooses are evil, but I'd prefer them to an elephant.

Damn lacquer killed the colors on this one. I know, it's supposed to be LIVING copper, but part of me hates to see the colors fade and go away. And I'm sure the people who get the pieces wouldn't like that either. So, I lacquer. I need to perhaps experiment with more types of lacquer. The kind I'm using now kills all the pinks and blues and purples. *sigh*

Anyway, I'm learning. The trees were cut the wrong lengths so are in the wrong places. I need to redo my pattern pieces for this one, I think.

Up next, a heron and a walleye. But first, vacation! Woohoo!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I finally made something that I think, with practice, may be sellable. Oh hell yes! (Yes, I know I need a LOT of practice. The trees are crooked. And I didn't scrub the metal hard enough; the bear looks like it's barfing because of some impurity on the tree. In fact, it looks like it's super-bear-barf knocking over the tree. Given the person that this is a gift for, that may be acceptable.)

A friend of a friend was kind enough to give me some copper gaskets, and they make a wonderful base to plan window hangy things from. I've already drawn up five patterns, and I've got quite a few more in mind. This first one, a bear based of this picture I took, was made as a thank-you gift for a friend. It was mostly a practice piece, learning the right order to do things (glue comes before lacquer!) and how things worked together. I may try soldering the next one. Copper glue works ok, but I really hate glue.

Over the last month, I've been trying hard to find studio space, with no luck. My art is small, yes, but there would be a few reasons it would help to have a studio. First, I wouldn't be pissing my neighbors off with copper grindy noises. Second, I could use an oxyacetylene torch, or rent one, and that would greatly speed up what I'm able to do. And it'd be nice to maybe meet other people who share at least similar hobbies.

So, I emailed a local organization for help a few weeks ago, but never got an answer. So, I made a post on a local forum, looking for help. You can read the post here, if you want (I am HappyHippo).

Now, I thought I phrased it rather well. And I was happy a few people chimed in to help. Especially surprising is the 5th comment, from "Samantha", leaving a phone number. So, I called it.

Turns out, she's the head of the Art Institute. And she did not leave her number there to help me. Oh no. She left her number there so I'd call, and she could berate me for speaking badly about the DAI, for not trying hard enough to contact them, and for not trying to make any connections in the community. I tried to interrupt her to apologize twice, then once to say I didn't call to get yelled at, and a final time to say "Sorry, I don't think you can help me" and hung up.

I spent several hours feeling very upset, before I decided she was just an asshole and I should get over it. I also restrained myself from replying to the last comment on my post; it was posted within 15 minutes of me getting off the phone. I don't know if it was the same person trying to do more "damage control" or what. I very much wanted to defend myself (I used the form on your website to contact you - it's not MY fault it goes to a box no one checks! I'm sorry I'm shy and don't know any local artists and I'm bothering you! Yes, I'm sure my comments have forever tarnished the DAI!) But, I did not post. I made a grumpy post on Facebook, and Ari offered to beat someone up for me. That also made me feel a little better.

But, I still have had ZERO luck finding a studio space.

Until I get a call from the landlord, though, I'll keep working on my new project ideas. Labor Day weekend will be full of copper!

Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm a Slacker

Yeah, yeah, I know I haven't posted anything in a year. Over a year. I suck. I still have been making stuff (though admittedly, not as much. I'm nervous that an hour on metal-on-metal grinding is going to get me evicted.) But I will post pics of the things that I've made that I've remembered to take pics of. They are in no particular order.

I do tend to go "Oh, shiney!" a lot...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Trying Something New

Today, I want to give a bit of backstory on how I picked the name of my blog/hobby/business/whatever you call all these pieces of copper messing up my apartment. Don't worry, I'll have a couple pictures of current projects too. In fact, let's start with a picture that should have been my last post, but it didn't quite make it.

Another rock pendant thingy. I'm not as fond of this one as the last one. The wirework seems to be off a bit, but I like the shape. I really wish the shores weren't all iced over, as I'd love to get out and look for some more rocks. Sadly, I'm guessing I've got at least 4 months before I can get out searching again.

But onto my story. Why 'Living Copper Art' and 'Fire and Spice'? Aside from sounding cool, there is a bit of reason behind them. I decided to go with living copper, as I don't want to seal any of the pieces I do. That means the patina on the copper will change and evolve as the piece gets older. Everyone knows copper gets green with age, but depending on the climate and conditions its in, it will be a gradual process. And I think that's part of the fun of working if copper. If I put a coat of lacquer over something...sure, the colors will stay put. But it will be much less interesting! As for the 'fire and spice' bit...it's both referencing some good writing and the two unique materials I use. It's the name of both a poem by Frost, and part of the title of one of my favorite books (A Song of Ice and Fire). And I use fire (coloring copper) and spice (in jewelry, you haven't seen much of that yet). So, there's that. In fact, I should really take a picture of a couple of my 'spice' creations. I don't think I have yet.

So, there are those. I've made one for myself before. It smells awesome in the sun in the summer, warmed up. Ok, it kinda makes me smell like a hippie. But in such a good way!

The other new project I've been trying was a picture frame. On my personal journal, I participated in a meme where crafters offered up their services for five random people, for free. I thought it'd be a good idea to give me more of a reason to make new things, and stretch. The first 'real' thing I've made is a picture frame.

Ok, ok, I didn't actually make the frame. I picked that up cheap from Michael's. But I have been decorating it. First up was my first experiment with copper leaf. I made the viney designs around the left edge of the frame. I used a glue pen; in retrospect, I wish I didn't, as the lines came out too thick. It still looks like vines, but not what I wanted. Next time, I think perhaps a toothpick dipped in glue will be better.

After the leaf was applied, I made a patina solution of liver of sulfur. Now, everything I've read about using the stuff says you dip your copper into it, but I figured what the hell, I'll paint it on with a paintbrush. Because really, can't dip the whole picture frame into a bucket of stinky yellow stuff. (And yes, that stuff stinks like, well, sulfur.) And it worked! It dulled the copper down darker, much closer to the frame. When you're looking at it head on, you can barely see it. At an angle, though, it catches the light in an oil slick of blue and purple and gunmetal. I like that effect!

I'm also making some copper wire vines and flowers as an additional embellishment. It'll make it look more 3D, and of COURSE I need something to blowtorch on everything I do. :) They're simple, but they work. I might need to make one or two more. I also need to figure out how to attach them to the wood of the frame. I'm thinking superglue at the thicker, twisted points of the wire...

I think to complete the frame before I send it, I'll add a photo of mine. That way, the recipient can use it for their own photo, or just throw it on a shelf somewhere, and have it he an art piece. I'm thinking either a waterfall picture (this one? or this one?) or a sunrise picture. I really wish my violet picture was the right orientation to go in this frame - it would otherwise fit perfectly! Ah well.

That's it for today. Next on my list is cutting out that complicated tree. I was able to find stencil material the last time I went shopping. I managed to cut it out without slicing myself with the exacto knife. Not even once! Now let's see if I can cut it out of the copper without getting a boob squished in the backend of the tinsnips. Yes, this is a real concern.

It hurts.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dangly Bits

Today, I superglued my fingers together while working on things. Yuck! I hate superglue!

At my place, if it's not one thing, it's another. Last weekend, the hallway outside my apartment began leaking torrential amounts of water. There was a waterfall all the way down the stairs, and all the other fun stuff that comes with lots of water going places. There have been huge fans in the hallway for the last week, drying things out. And the ceiling has been torn out. I guess what all this is leading up to, is, I am SO glad I have earplugs. Not only are they useful when I'm drilling copper, they are now allowing me to keep my sanity!

Haven't done much in the way of big projects recently. I did finish the Maui glass pendant and delivered it to my mother, who will give it to the person who will give it to the person it's for. I wasn't all that happy with it; the silver wire I bought left silver residue on the glass that I just COULDN'T get off! And it was WAY too soft and took toolmarks too easily. But perhaps that's just the perfectionist in me talking. I guess it got rave reviews when my mother dropped it off, and two other people are interesting in buying jewelry from me. Guess when the ice melts, I need to get out hunting more glass. Unless someone wants to buy me a trip to Maui! Anyway, here's a picture of the finished product. (I wanted it on a black silk cord, but the store was sold out. *sadface*)

With the success of that piece, I decided to try my hand at making one of a similar style, but that was purely Lake Superior. So I used a rock and a bit of glass from right here in Duluth, and putzed around a bit (this is where I happened to glue my fingers together). I kinda like how it turned out. And the copper wire behaves much more nicely than the silver wire! I heat-colored it...and I took before and after photos, so you can see how the blowtorch really helps the color. Here's the 'before' pic...

...and here's the after pic. I really need to get a piece of black velvet; I think it'll help the pieces really pop, in photos.

I did start the next big copper piece (the corner-huger is kinda on hiatus while I figure some things out). It's going to be another suncatcher, and I really like the shape. In fact, if it turns out well, it's going to be VERY hard for me not to keep it!

On the little branch that sticks out on the left, I'll add a bit of chain and a dangling piece of glass. I think this will work well; in fact, I want to find some heavier plastic sheet, so I can make it into a stencil. That way, if I want to make a few copies, they will be much easier to trace. Of course, this one will be a bitch to cut out!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Don't Drink and Dremel

This is just a short post....since my car got fixed (just loose lugnuts, so it was free!) I was able to get some more dremel bits, and keep working on stuff. So I finished my Grandma's Christmas present (my Christmases are always delayed). *sigh*

Anyway, here's a photo. There's some stunning colors on this one, even though the hanging points of balance are a little off.

I like it!