Monday, October 22, 2012

Paint the Sky with Golden Stars

A recent workshop with Ken Bova brought a few of us metalsmiths into an entirely new direction.  We learned how to make our own mineral pigments out of stones (raw or in bead form), how to formulate the medium needed for these pigments, and and how to gild our piece with 22K gold sheet prior to painting.  We also learned a little about narrative jewelry and cold connecting along the way.

We began with grinding up some "soft" stones, i.e., lapis, azurite, etc., in a mortar and pestle until it was as fine as we could make it.  Then we sifted it to remove the larger particles.

We then drew our design onto quality watercolor paper, and painted the gesso mixture (mordant containing Gesso, varnish and sugar water) onto the design wherever we wanted to place the gold.  Once the gesso was dry, we blew onto it through a straw to bring some warm moisture to the surface and then quickly placed the gold sheet down.  This is done over and over until the area is completely covered.  Once dry, we mixed the sifted pigment with the egg yolk mixture (egg yolk, wine, olifa oil and lavender oil) and began to add color to our piece.

22K Gold Sheet

Some of Ken's Pigments:  

Here is an example of what we were trying to accomplish (note - this is not mine, it's Deanna's).  First the gesso mixture was laid down wherever there was to be gold.  Then the gold was carefully applied.  Once dry, the paint was put into place.  Voila!  

Pam decided to gild and paint a colorful fish design.  It came out absolutely beautiful.

 Ken gave us plenty of time to work on our pieces and then also gave us a demonstration on how to make a "narrative" type of pendant using only cold connections.  Here are a couple of examples of his work:

 I like the idea of bringing a story into one's work...a feeling, memory, a marker of important times in one's life.  Ken has a chain that he has been working on for years.  Each piece attached to this chain represents something in his life that was important to him.  Here's a small section of his chain.  I can't wait to get started on my own.

We all had a great time in Ken's workshop!    He was thorough with his instructions and demonstrations, had plenty of handouts to reinforce everything we were learning, and was a complete joy to learn from.  We're all hoping he comes back soon.  Thanks, Ken!

Recommended books:  The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting by Daniel Thompson, The Bible of Illuminated Letters by Margaret Morgan

Monday, October 01, 2012

Time Travel

In September we spent a lot of time with friends on another amazing adventure.  We are so grateful to have such good friends in our lives!  We've known them forever and they will always be our favorite traveling companions. 

We began the journey in Barcelona, Spain and found the Cathedral of St. Eualalia while in search of the Gaudi Cathedral...all I can say is we were jet lagged and got a little confused.  The cathedral is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, co-patron saint of Barcelona, a young virgin who, according to Catholic tradition, suffered martyrdom during Roman times.  One story says that she was exposed naked in public square and a miraculous snowfall in mid-spring covered her nudity  The enraged Romans put her into a barrel with knives stuck into it and rolled it down a street.  The body of Saint Eulalia is entombed in a the cathedral's crypt.  

Sometimes it's exciting to travel to places you've never read about...places you've heard mentioned, but with no pre-conceived ideas in your head.  I knew we were going to be on a port in Italy and that it was a small fishing village.  But imagine my surprise when THIS is what we came upon.

Portofino, Italy...a little slice of heaven on earth.

Then there was Bonifacio on the island of Corsica, France where the language, Corsican, is spoken.  We're told it sounds more Italian than French (once I've mastered Italian via Rosetta Stone, I'll let you know).  The climb is quite steep up to the old town, but there's a small train that will take passengers to and fro if needed.  Bonifacio is the oldest town in Corsica and after touring around a bit, we stopped at a lovely little outdoor cafe and had some wonderful appetizers.

And then there was Rome.  Here I expected a loud, hot and crowded city, but was pleasantly surprised by the cool weather, the lack of crowds and the astonishingly well preserved pieces of architecture every which way you looked.  We had a wonderful tour guide who enjoyed telling us the gruesome stories about the gladiators, the vestal virgins and many other interesting fables.

The Tevoli Fountain (or Trevi Fountain) is one of the ancient aqueducts that supplied water to ancient Rome.  There is a belief that by throwing a coin into the fountain, you'll be assured a return trip to Rome.  Yes, we definitely threw our coins in.  An estimated 3,000 euros are thrown into the fountain each day.

We also visited Ibiza, Spain and Palma De Mallorca, Spain and Lucca, Italy on our visit to the Mediterranian.

For my gluten-free travelers, Silversea was excellent about making sure my meals were 100% gluten-free at every meal.  Even the morning and lunch buffet in one of the restaurants had GF breads and desserts every day.  This is a great way to travel if you're worried about traveling and getting glutinized in restaurants.  I was very careful, also, when we dined at restaurants along the way.  There was only one incident where the waiter didn't appear to understand what I was talking about.  It seems that just about everyone is aware of celiac disease/gluten-free diets these days.