February 15, 2008

Steam Week: intermission, reflection, progress

Welcome to , urm, let's call it day4 3/4 of Steam Week. I am taking a short intermission in order to get a wee bit caught up on orders and business stuff, and also I was out for some of the day yesterday with the hubby for Valentines day. Got some yummy chocolates, gobble, gobble, yum! Above, the very first glazed tests of the first gear carving. As you can see, the glaze softens them up significantly, from the original which was pretty angular. And I finally have an idea about the final shrinkage results. The original was just about an inch, and this is just about 3/4 inch. Shrinky dinky! These are glaze fired to cone 6 which is about 2200* F.So a little bit more info about the process I used to get here...above, a porcelain mold made by carefully pressing the bisque fired original into the clay, pulling it out, and cleaning it up a bit. I really like making clay molds because they are porous and so the eventual pressing of the mold can go very quickly. As you can see I was able to make many components in about an hour last night (more than what is shown here, actually):

above, some of the different styles I am testing, with unusual loop configurations. The loops are made from high temperature wire, which are embedded into the clay and fired in place. They end up being a dark pewtery silver color after firing. They are very secure, stuck firmly into the clay permanently. I have to make each little loopy thing by hand with round nose pliers. I usually sit down and do a whole mini spool at a time while I watch tv.above, three more molds made last night, which are now drying. When dry, they will be fired to cone 04, then I can press some components! After the components are pressed (like the batch of gears I did last night) they are cleaned up by a light sanding/rubbing with a damp cloth, then fired to bisque at cone 04, painted with glaze, and fired to cone 6. Lots of steps! Today, I hope to clean up some of the pressed gears from last night and boldly single fire them with glaze (skipping the bisque fire, which I usually do not do, but I cannot wait to play with them.)

Ok, today's video shows a gentleman who is very popular in the Steampunk object making genre on the internet. His name is Richard Nagy of Datamancer and he makes incredible retooled computers and other high tech hardware items. This is a great interview and some clips of his processes. I love the DIY aspect of Steampunk, and the use of recycled materials. It speaks both to the environmentalist in me and the lover of things beautifully crafted from ages gone by. The blend of futurism and history and craft all coming together. Check out the Datamancer website, there are some great links to other steampunk site such as Brass Goggles and Steampunk Workshop.

I will return to Steam Week on Monday, I need to re-energize this weekend.

Link to video on You Tube


  1. I have been following your work this week with breathless anticipation - I love love love these pieces!

    (longtime fan, firsttime commenter)

  2. Pixie (love the name!)
    Thanks for stopping by. I am glad you are enjoying it, thanks for the compliments and for commenting!

  3. Really enjoyed your description of the process. I had a production ceramic jewelry studio for 20 years and used bisque molds w/low fire white, underglazes, clear glaze and lusters, etc. so was very similar to your technique, although the look was very different. Love your work! Had to laugh at your single fire, which I did many times too.