Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Necklace in My Head

I have this exhibition necklace I have been working on for several years.  I can see it in my head……
I could see it when I gathered wild grape leaves to make impressions in clay.  I could see it when I finished sculpting the grape leaves and grapes and made little grape beads in porcelain clay.  After careful and thorough drying to be sure there would be no steam build up inside the pieces to make them explode during the first firing, they were bisque fired. 

The bisque pieces were beautiful when they came out of the kiln.  Pure white on white sculptures.  They were so nice just they way they were I was afraid to mess them up.  What if I glazed them and the colors were not what I envisioned in my head?  Panic! 

Since I had made the components for four complete necklaces, I decided to start by glazing just one.  I have learned that if the glazes are not just right after the first firing, I can carefully layer more glaze and underglaze and fire them again.  It took a lot of experimenting to figure out how to make it work as most potters will tell you once a pot is glazed you can’t get more glaze to stick.  But they say necessity is the mother of invention.

After several attempts to get it right, I put the one necklace in the kiln for the last time and turned on the heat to let it fire.  Then I waited for it to reach glaze temperature, over 2.000 degrees and then cool down.  When I emptied the kiln, disaster struck.  As I lifted the kiln shelf that was above the shelf the necklace was on, one of the supports stuck to the bottom of it just long enough to be lifted above the necklace where it let loose and fell breaking the grape leaves.  I was so devastated, and mad at myself,  that I could not work on the remaining three bisque form necklaces for a whole year.

I was so glad that only one necklace had been under that kiln shelf!  NEW RULE ,   the necklaces can only be put on the TOP shelf !!!   I began again very timidly.  The colors were much too pale the first time.  This allowed me to layer more colors and glazes but took a lot of time and since I work with small items it take a while to fill the kiln even for a glaze fire, so another year or so went by with several firings getting the glazes right. 

Finally, all the grapes and leaves were the colors I had in my head and I could add the finishing touches with China Painter’s Gold.  This was a labor of love, and since I had come this far with the pieces I wanted to be sure it was perfect.
Again the necklaces went into the kiln.  ON THE TOP SHELF !!!

And again, they were so beautiful I was afraid to start putting them together.  How would I assemble them to create the necklaces that were in my mind’s eye?  I began to sort through the amethyst and peridot, fluorite and serpentine beads in my bead drawer.  Seed beads and pearls were also selected.  I ordered some special head pins with green swarovsky crystals.  How many strands of beading wire would I need to use to get the effect I had in mind? 

I have started to put the beads on the first wire and string it through the grapes that are attached to the leaves.  Will two more strands of beads and grapes be enough to create the full effect that I can see in the necklace in my head?  And when I get the right fullness of grapes and beads on the collar of leaves,  how will I secure all the strands together and finish the sides and back of the necklace and clasp it?

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