Monday, March 7, 2011
There has been a somewhat unknown jewelry product available to people in the craft arena for years. It's called metal clay, and for those of you who do art/craft work, it's worked and sculpted a bit like polymer clay. Metal clays, however, are fired several different ways - I use a kiln or a torch - and when it is, everything burns out of it (rather magically) leaving only the desired metal shape. The "always friends" pendant is made from silver metal clay, which becomes fine silver (.999%) silver after it's fired.I earned Level One teaching certification in 2005, and have played and taught a bit with the silver since then, but the work most people wanted from me seemed to be pieces made with the individual cell tiles I designed for the alphabet bracelet. So, I inadvertently got passed by as newer, more easily worked - and by far, cheaper - clays became available in copper, bronze, steel and even glass. I'm determined to play catch-up, and have begun working with a couple of University of North Texas metals students who are brainstorming - a HUGE ingredient for creativity - with me and my witty, comm design prof. husband, who never fails to have witty, direct word play ideas I can bounce ideas off!
We have had the best time the last couple of months, and frankly, most of it in the last couple of weeks. Some of the ideas won't be on display at this week's conference, but will be at the following, Texas Association of Educators and Rehabilitators (AER) conference, slightly more than a week after this one ends.
I'll have lots of new pieces cast from pewter or bronze (Heather, one of my UNT student cohorts) loves bronze casting, so I'm taking her up on it - then, she can give me pointers! And, there'll also be pieces in bronze and silver clay, and hopefully some in the newest for me - steel!
With all of these new pieces and ideas, also comes greater potential for others in the jewelry arena to see how well braille jewelry is received in the blind and sighted communities. Though the numbers of people making braille jewelry and selling it primarily through such hand made arts and crafts sites as Etsy, were a surprise to me, and honestly, knocked the wind out of my lungs a couple of times, most of the people putting braille on anything from rings to hair pins, have fallen under braille's aesthetic spell, and several have come by it through family members who are blind, or were/are braille transcribers - who we adore! My hope is this new generation of braille jewelry makers will continue to ennovate, rather than emulate, and strive to make good braille jewelr; and even - dare I dare them...learn to read and write braille.