Artist Profile: Martha Biggar by Julia Rai

I always think of Virginia based metal clay teacher and artist Martha Biggar as part of a team – Ed and Martha go together like ham and eggs – for the US readers – or tea and crumpets as we say in the UK! I’ve called her a ‘metal clay teacher and artist’ but Martha describes herself slightly differently. “I usually think of myself as an artist/educator/farmer, but maybe renaissance woman would be better…” she told me.

It’s not often that I meet someone who still lives within a stone’s throw of where they were brought up, but Martha is an exception. “I grew up on the family farm that touches the one we own today in Draper, VA,” she began. “My husband Ed, a glassblower, and I travel and teach both glass and jewelry.  Although I sold my cow herd in 2013, we still have donkeys, horses, and a couple mules.  We raise specialized vegetables for the farmers markets and chefs in our area, including figs, asparagus, and assorted varieties of cherry tomatoes.”

Not surprisingly, her first memories of being creative involve animals. “My earliest memories involve drawing horses as a very young child,” she said. I asked her how she discovered metal clay. “I taught middle school art in our county, and as is required in Virginia, I had to take classes every five years at least in my field. Since I didn’t want to write reports, I generally went to Arrowmont in Tennessee, where I took my first class in metal clay in 2000 from Linda Kaye-Moses. I had seen metal clay advertised by Rio Grande and wondered about it but was concerned about the cost of a kiln. So, I figured I would try it out and see if I liked it. If I didn’t, my family would have a vacation and I would have Christmas presents. But I did, and promptly went home and purchased a kiln. My first piece was a 1-inch square that Linda always taught to beginners, I still have it.” I guess it was a lean Christmas that year! Continue reading…

Cyprus Copper: Celtic Cross by Martha Biggar

Inspiration Cross by Carson Sams.

Part 1: Experiments with Cyprus Copper

Here’s the back story to this unusual Celtic cross:  while Ed and I were working glass at the State Fair of Virginia, we met a nice young blacksmith named Carson Sams.  Carson did regular demonstrations during the ten days of the Fair, as did we, and we got to know each other pretty well.   I watched his demonstration of this cross and was floored by his techniques.  He started with three straight lengths of steel; the first piece he heated and beat and heated and beat until it became a ring.  The next piece he beat into a U-shape, and then he assembled the three pieces, as I’ve shown here, and beat the U-shape down to lock them in place.  This he called a friction fit.  He finally added through rivets to keep the shape in place.  He used his riveting hammer to add the texture at the end of each bar, flaring the ends as he hammered.

I was so fascinated by this process that I went back to our tent and made a small one out of silver metal clay.  I’ve done a few more small scale pendant pieces out of silver, but wanted to do something in a larger scale and so decided to give the new Cyprus Copper a try.  The only real modification I made to Carson’s basic technique was to start with a donut shape for the rounded part instead of a straight length.  I used a bit of slip to connect the pieces before firing, and used faux rivets to continue the design.  This takes a little patience and practice to get to work out, but is worth it in the end.

Continue reading…

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!”

Continue reading…

Artist Project Series: Une Bague Paon par Armelle Burbaud

Cool Tools et Creative Fire ont le plaisir de présenter un autre projet de notre série d’œuvres de maîtres artistes. Ce tutoriel est un magnifique une bague paon par Armelle Burbaud.

   Bague « Paon »

J’aime beaucoup sculpter des oiseaux, à la fois parce que je les trouve émouvants et parce qu’ils sont un joli prétexte à créer du mouvement. Et comme  j’adore passer des heures à fignoler la gravure et creuser la pâte avec un scalpel pour voir apparaître le frémissement de leurs plumes – et que j’adore les bagues …  voici un pas à pas qui m’a permis de lier ces deux passions : une bague paon !

Continue reading…

Artist Project Series: Ann Davis “Columns” Pendant

[Cool Tools and Creative Fire are pleased to present another project in our ongoing “Artist Project Series”. This time master artist Ann Davis took up our challenge to design a unique tutorial using FS999.  Thank you Ann for your creative and fun project!]

The mystery and mystique of columns seems to infuse all parts of human history. Sumerians had them, Minoans had them, just about everyone did. There are even some Stone Age columns, admittedly more lithic, rectangular, or kind of ax shaped at Gobekli Tepe.  So they kind of started out stone and then were wood or whole trees turned upside down and planted in holes. Premium stone eventually replaced wood ones, fluted columns are said to simulate tree bark. The representations of columns on early Minoan seal rings, have people dancing around them, makes you think of Maypoles:) The Greeks and Romans took it to the next level, erecting victory columns, highly decorated with statues of heroes on the top. Columns are said to represent the bridge between heaven and earth, important buildings, shrines, and the Egyptian Djed pillar, stability and the spinal column. To me the column represents knowledge, written records, ancient alphabets.

There are so many  archeological sites with columns, standing, fallen, broken. I really like the broken ones, they speak to me of past civilizations. Something epic enough happened to break a column. Makes you wonder. I love a good mystery!

I have 4 fluted and twisted columns holding  glass shelves in my living room.  There are two columns on an antique linen cabinet complete with brass finals, along with 2 brass Nikes in my dining room. I also chose a Doric column to replace the old wrought Iron trellis on my front porch, it supports a Trumpet Vine that spirals up to the roof, the August humming bird’s delight!  Did I do all that on purpose…no not really it just happened, apparently I love a good column. Continue reading…

Artist Project Series: The Tree of Tolerance by Trish Jeffers-Zeh

Cool Tools and Creative Fire are pleased to present a new tutorial by Master Artist Trish Jeffers-Zeh.  This in-depth project is both an artistic and creative soul journey.

“Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the wrong. Sometime in life you will have been all of these.” ― George Washington Carver

My work and designs are highly influenced by my need to find peace in an often hectic and uncompromising world.  Hence, I headed into the studio, followed my intuition and “The Tree of Tolerance” was born.

At first, I had a totally different design in mind. However, once I sat at my bench gazing outside, the stately Elm tree in my front yard drew my attention.  After all, it would be her leaves, skeletonized and carefully collected by me for their lacey, intricate beauty of imperfection.  They were to be central as my bail, texture, and theme for the ceramic pendant.  When I am creating to release my worries, it becomes a meditation or prayer.  It is at these times I let go and trust my intuition.  The works that manifest while under this influence are most often admired by others and are prime examples of my yearning to grow past the techniques I have learned.

The elm is often associated with Mother and Earth Goddess, strength, communication, relationships and its essence energizes the mind and balances the heart.  It attracts love, protects and aids in sharpening intuitive instincts.  Elm is the arbitrator that listens without judgement.  Most mature elms of European and American origin have died from Dutch elm disease, even though they had a long history for their tolerance to thrive wherever they were planted.  Thankfully disease resistant cultivars have been developed that are as tolerant to various growing conditions as their forbearers were before the dreaded disease.  The Tree of Tolerance represents the seed that I hope is cultivated in all of us so that we may lead with compassion. Continue reading…

Part 2: The Tree of Tolerance by Trish Jeffers-Zeh

Part 2: The Tree of Tolerance by Trish Jeffers-Zeh

NOTE: *Click on photos with the black frame for a detailed slideshow of steps*
All images enlarge when clicked on.

Step 10: Tree Details.

It’s Tree time again! Using only the syringe with the 14ga/olive green and 18ga/light green tips I began to add layer upon layer blending each one to create my tree relief. This took some time, which is no issue to me since I’m very process oriented.  With each added layer I used both number 4 and 1 paint brushes as my sculpting tools.  I kept adding to achieve the look I wanted the tree to have.  This was one of my most favorite steps of the project as each layer the tree came more and more to life.  In watching the video you’ll see little tips on how to maneuver the brush to sculpt. Before I add more branches I proceed to set the stone.  In doing so this will give me a visual on how much more I want to build up the branches of my tree.

Step 11: Setting the Stones.
Setting the stones first step for putting it into place had already been accomplished when I placed a concave dome in the doughnut center and drilled the hole. I wanted the stone recessed, however I still wanted to raise it up a smidge so I made a seat for it. First dampening the area I would be laying a syringe line around the cleaned up opening.  Using the 14ga/olive green syringe tip I extruded my line around the perimeter of the hole and used the fine tip brush with water to clean it up and blend the fresh clay. Continue reading…

ARTISTS PROJECT SERIES: “Love Heals” by Lorena Angulo

Cool Tools and Creative Fire are proud to present another project in the “Artist Project Series”.  Thank you Lorena for this beautiful and detailed pendant step-by-step. (Please note that you can enlarge all photos by clicking on them.)

Love Heals

This necklace is inspired in the mini niches you can see around Mexico where you can add symbolic objects to protect yourself and your home. Niches also display objects that have a special meaning, in this case a Milagro Heart and the birds.

As the title says, Love Heals, we all have to be surrounded by love to protect us and heal any wounds we may have. Live your life with Love and respects for others, this will enriched you.

With my project I want to inspire you to create a niche with an object that has a strong meaning for you and your life. Continue reading…

Artist Project Series: Nesting ring by Tracey Spurgin

 

Nesting Rings

Level: Intermediate

UK Jewellery Artist Tracey Spurgin is the next master to present in the “Artist Project Series” proudly presented by Cool Tools.  Tracey has challenged metal clay artists to create a nesting ring and shows us step by step in close up photos how to create two beautiful rings. This Nesting Cocktail ring is a stunner, the design allows you to wear each of the two rings individually as a stand alone, or simply nest them together to make one statement cocktail ring.

Materials:
EZ960 Sterling
1 fireable square 6mm gemstone
8 x 1mm fireable faceted gems Continue reading…