|Bird House Earrings|
|By:|| Barbara Otterson|
| ||Specifics: ||Jewelry|
|These dainty bird houses are amazingly detailed. Each features a brick chimney, shingled roof, and tiny wild flowers growing by the front door. These whimsical earrings are made of solid sterling silver. First class bird houses for first class birds (and ears!)|
|Medium: sterling silver Dimensions: 1.8 x 0.5 x 0.25 inches Weight: 2 oz |
|polish as needed|
|About the Artist |
| I was born some time ago and don’t plan on dying for quite awhile. I began my art training at Mission: Renaissance in Hollywood, CA where I studied drawing and painting. I later moved to St. Louis, MO where I continued my studies at Meramec Community College and Craft Alliance. I have taken various basic classes in metal working, torchworking (glass), lost-wax casting and pate de verre. I am, however, primarily self-taught.|
|Artist Statement: |
|"I have been creating art for over twenty years-- ever since escaping from corporate America. I started out working two dimensionally, but found it too limiting. I experimented with various media before finding my artistic home. I now create primarily in glass and sterling silver with occasional inclusions of brass, gold, copper and gemstones. I love the elasticity and fluidity of glass. Its free-flowing nature takes me to places I might not explore otherwise. Juxtaposed with this is the unyielding character of metal. It seeks to hold its own and challenges me to shape it to my will. |
During the past few years I have found myself exploring the vessel as an art form more and more. There is something evocative, instinctual, and basic in objects made to contain or hold. These instincts trace back to our earliest beginnings and quests for survival. Our forbears made baskets and bowls to gather the things needed for survival and to convey them back to home and hearth.
I use the works I create to convey emotion: to communicate with those who view them. I frequently dream my designs as completed pieces. I then go to my studio to give them life in the waking world. In this way my work conveys my dreams--figuratively and literally. My works can be found in the collections of private individuals, churches and corporations throughout the United States."
|See more of their works: Barbara Otterson|
|I focus on organic images from the gardens that surround my studio as well as images that come to me in dreams. Frequently I will see a completed piece in a dream, then go out to my studio and create it. I bring my visions to life in sterling silver, gold, glass, gemstones and found objects. I utilize forming, fabrication and lost-wax casting for metal work and slumping, fusing, torchwork and pate de verre for glass.|
I know a lot of these words are just that, words, to most people. So let me try to give a little more depth to some of them.
This technique tells a lot about itself in its name. The original is created in wax. It can be carved from hard wax or molded from a soft wax. Or the two can be combined. Once the wax is completed, it is placed into a flask (a steel can) and "investment" (a mold material) is poured around it. There is a fat wax wire (called a "sprue") leading to the piece from the outside. The flask is placed into a kiln and heated up to around 1300 degrees. At this point the wax has melted out and burned up. The flask is then placed into a centrifugal casting machine and a crucible of silver is placed up against the opening created by the (now missing) sprue.
The silver (or gold) is melted with a torch, then the flask and crucible are made to spin at a high rate of speed. This forces the molten metal into the cavity left by the melted wax. Once the flask and metal cool for a bit, the whole flask is dunked into cold water. This blows the investment out of the flask and allows the artist to retrieve the metal. Of course if anything goes wrong, (remember that "lost wax"), the artist gets to start all over again from the beginning! Fortunately, things don’t go wrong very often. (Shhhh, don’t let the machines hear me say that! They’re liable to get ideas.....)
Pate de Verre:
This means "paste of glass" in French. In this process, the original is sculpted, usually in either clay or wax. A form is then made around the sculpted piece so that mold material can be poured around it as it sits on the work area. Once the mold material hardens, the mold is turned over and the still-soft clay is dug out or it is placed into a kiln and the wax is burned out.
Once the mold is cleaned, it is packed with a mixture of ground glass and a binding agent. The mold is then placed into a kiln and heated to around 1500 degrees. As the glass melts and fills the cavity it "shrinks" (no more air spaces around all those little granules of glass), so more crushed glass must be added until the mold is filled to the top. The kiln is held at this temperature until all the glass has melted into every crevice and detail of the sculpted piece. After that, the temperature is lowered until it reaches the "annealing" point.
The annealing temperature is the temperature at which all stresses and strains are released for that particular type of glass. (Different types of glass anneal at different temperatures.) The glass is held at this point for anywhere from an hour to days, depending on the size of the piece. If the glass is not properly annealed it will eventually crack. This may occur minutes or even months later. After the annealing is completed, the kiln is allowed to slowly go down to room temperature. Again, depending on the size of the piece, this can take anywhere from several hours to several days. After that, the piece is taken from the kiln and the mold is broken away. (Yes, there it is again. No more mold. No more original. One of a kind. No wonder this stuff is expensive!) Then the rough edges are ground away and the glass is polished to a degree that suits what the artist wishes to convey to the viewer.
Whew!! What a lot of work for one little piece of glass!