Artist Project Series: Peacock Ring by Armelle Burbaud

    Peacock ring 

Cool Tools and Creative Fire are pleased to present another project in our series of works by master artists. This tutorial is a gorgeous peacock ring by Armelle Burbaud.

(Version française cliquez ici.)


“I love sculpting birds, both because I find them quite moving and because they are a nice pretext to create movement. And since I love spending hours refining the sculpting part and carving with a scalpel to eventually let emerge the quivering feathers – and since I love rings … here is a tutorial which allowed me to incorporate those two passions of mine… a peacock ring!”

Tools and Materials:

Part A: Making the Different Elements 

Step 1-The Peacock

-Form the peacock’s body (picture 1)

-Let dry until the surface is dry but the inside is still soft

-Carve an opening on the bird’s belly and scrap the inside in order to make the whole piece lighter and to save metal (pictures 2-3)

-Let dry

-Refine the bird’s body (neck, beak) with a scalpel and carve its eyes (pictures 4-5)

-Smooth out every irregularity and sand the whole piece using sanding pads of different grits and/or a slightly wet brush.

 

 

Step 2-Peacock’s tail

-Cut several large feathers and let them dry on a support to give them the required shape (pictures 6-7)

-Let dry

-Sculpt the feathers with a scalpel and/or some chisels (pictures 7-8)

 

 

 

 

Step 3-Peacock’s Body

-Using some paste (tooth-paste consistency), form some reliefs with the tip of the scalpel to figure out the feathers on the bird’s body (pictures 9-10)

 

Step 4-Orientating the Feathers

-Make tiny balls (you will also need some for the ring band)

-Make small coils with one larger end, and three tiny coils (a couple millimeters long), each of them topped with a tiny ball (pictures 11-12)

Step 5-Assembling Body and Feathers

-Using paste, stick the feathers onto the bird’s body, making sure they are set harmoniously and that the bird will sit nicely on the hand (pictures 13-14-15)

-Let dry onto a support which will securely hold the whole piece (picture 16)

-If necessary, add some more paste underneath to reinforce the junctions.

-Adjust the size of the crested feathers by cutting them if necessary and paste them up on the peacock’s head.

-The same way, stick the coils with wider ends on the feathers (picture 16)

-Let dry

Step 6-Making the Band

-Roll down some clay to a 2mm thickness

-Cut a strip according to the requested shape and length, using a template, for example (picture 17)

-Roll the band around a mandrel and stick both ends together (picture 18)

-Let dry

-Sand the band smooth

Step 7-Adding the Bird onto the Band

-Using some paste (tooth-paste consistency), stick the bird onto the ring band, keeping the piece on the mandrel

-Let dry and add some more clay if necessary to strengthen the whole piece

-Add, if you which, some embellishments on the band (balls, tiny coils) (picture 20)

Part B- Firing and Polishing 

-After complete drying, securely nest the ring on a bed of vermiculite

-Fire it for two hours at 900°C (or according to the recommendated temperature, here I’m using FS 999)

-Polish the ring, then give it a quick flame with a torch until it has come back to a white color (necessary for Keum bo)

Part C- Embellishments and Finishing the Ring

Option 1-Keum bo

Warning : for this step you must be cautious not to burn yourself (gloves, tweezers) for you will work with a piece which has reached 700°C

-Cut different shapes in the gold foil in between sheets of tracing paper (picture 21)

-Set the gold flakes on the desired places

-Put the ring back into the kiln at 700 degrees C for about 5 mn

-As soon as the ring is out of the kiln (cautious, it burns!), burnish the gold foil to make it adhere well to the silver. It might be easier to proceed in several steps, putting the ring back into the kiln for a couple minutes (picture 22 : cooled off piece, picture 23 : achieved gold plating)

NB : for this project you can’t achieve Keum bo on a hot plate because the ring is too big to be heated uniformly

Option 2-Oxyidizing the Piece

-Pour a couple drops of LOS in warm water and drop the ring in it. To do this I like using the device you can find in pickle jars, much better than tweezers! (Picture 24)

-Leave the ring until really black (picture 25)

-Rinse the ring.

3- Finishing

-Sand off the LOS where you want the silver to show off (with abrasive pads for example)

-If necessary add some more LOS here or there to enhance the black parts

Et voilà ! Finished ring is 17 grams.

I wish to thank so much my friend Céline Gaspard who so kindly translated my article.

Armelle Burbaud is an extraordinary artist living and working pear Paris, France.
Find her online: https://www.facebook.com/Armelle-Bronze-Metal-clay-655457871163459/