Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Custom Etched Copper Plaque: Journey from concept to finished art.

What I love about the creative process is the journey itself, it is very much like life unfolding before our eyes, sometimes in expected ways and sometimes sprinkled with little surprises and disappointments.
My son's preschool teacher Ms. Sarah is retiring this year after teaching and bringing her best to their classroom for three decades. We as parents wanted to make something special for her, something she could enjoy for a long time to come and remind her of her last pre-K class and students. That's how was born the idea of presenting her a custom copper etched plaque with her students drawings, hand tracings and names. We also wanted to include a quote that would mirror her contributions and dedication to her work. I am very grateful to my friend Naomi who had many interesting ideas and helped and supported this project from inception to completion. I also want to thank my wonderful teacher and mentor Pat Evans who first taught me copper etching.

Naomi scanned all the hand tracings, kid's drawings and their names in their own handwriting and sent me the digital files. I then incorporated these into a black and white
composition. I came across a beautiful quote by Carl Jung on teachers and that helped spring this idea up for a nurturing tree with blossoms.
The design created in photoshop elements, this would make the front of the custom etched plaque.

This would go in the back, just imprinted and set with heating and sealed with clear acrylic.

The biggest challenge turned out to be the size of the piece at 12 x 18 inches, 18 gauge thick copper sheet. I bought mine from onlinemetals. I typically use Pnp Blue paper To transfer the design from a digital file onto a copper sheet using laser printer. I could not find this paper in a size lager than letter. So I hunted and researched for an alternate transfer paper and settled for lazertran silk transfer  paper which came in 11x17 size, perfect for our project.

A trip to Kinko's and I got the artwork laser printed on glossy side of Lazertran silk paper. I cleaned the copper sheet and taped the artwork face down on it. I simply used my household iron to transfer the ink to the copper sheet and then submerged it in hot water. I lost very little amounts of details in some places which convinced me that I could not use this to transfer the text in the back. I could go back and fix the drawings with a black sharpie, but text would be much more challenging unless I just did freehand writing with the sharpie itself.
I very gently shook the excess water out and let the sheet dry and then popped it in the oven for 10 minutes at 300. This helped bond the transfer ink well to the surface of copper sheet. Some corrections with the sharie and the sheet was ready to be etched.
Transferred Artwork on copper sheet.

I used foam pieces on all the sides to help the sheet stay up in the ferric chloride solution. The copper sheet came with a plastic covering on one side, and I reinforced that with masking tape to seal the back of the sheet so that only the front etches in the solution.

Copper sheet, artwork side down being etched in ferric chloride for one hour.

Then comes the fun part of removing the ink with extra strength acetone and sanding and polishing and curving the borders. 

The last step was to patina  and polish it some more to enhance certain areas more than the others. I used both Baldwin's patina for the whole artwork and liver of sulphur for kids drawings areas to make their artwork show nice and dark. I also decided to paint the border with Vintaj metal paint to give it a more framed look. Here is how it looks:

The kids presented the plaque to teacher Sarah who was visibly moved and the room was filled with expressions of emotions and happy tears...Thank you so much Teacher Sarah for inspiring our children in endless ways.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Teacher Nature

I love picking up little things from my nature walks, a simple stroll in my garden or neighborhood. I now have a prized collection of them:) With the inception of this blog I have started photgraphing these to share with my readers and friends as these inspire me in endless ways... I am humbled by their beauty, each one a lesson in its own significant way. It could be about form, movement, texture , shape, color, feelings or inexplicable nostalgia at times. As subjective as it sounds I know that any nature lover can relate to this and appreciate. I have to say, I am really enjoying taking these photographs.  Some of these images seem to become larger than life in their visual impact. I can't say all of these will translate directly into the things I create, but the happiness I derive from these nurtures my creative spirit and I am very grateful for that. Hope you'll enjoy these pictures! 

I came across this great new blog called dearest nature, which is a treat with its beautiful nature inspired vibe and breathtaking photography and graphics. I am participating in their project called ( visit this link for details and check out their blog!)  Spring Pickin’s.

Found this under a tree on one of my walks, it has beautifully maintained its green color for months now.

I have a couple of these as it fell of form one my potted plants. I liked watching cool textures emerge on this one as it contued to dry. I love the way light dances through it too in this picture.
I found these under a palm tree during this rainy season.
This is actually a dried mushroom I found under a tree.  This  has cool radial design on both sides as shown in the picture ( see below as well). 

These are part of a very interesting furry-bushy looking blossoms on a tree in my neigborhood.

seeweed found on a seashore

very cool drift wood found on a beach here in northern ca.

The other end of the driftwood.
I found this in my garden, it is the outer skin of a flower bulb, I love the diamond patterns on this.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Vaasvara Celebrates National Women's History Project

March is National Women's History Month and this years theme is Women's education-Women's empowerment.

This non-profit is very close to my heart and I decided to design a pendant after this year's theme and do a fundraiser for them.
This was a great learning lesson, from concept to a finished peice of jewelry and doing that within the limits of the theme. After some drawings for concept, I made a digital print of the design on Photoshop elements. Next, I created a photopolymer plate of it.

I used this plate as my texture plate to make the pendant out of bronze clay. I made this a reversible pendant with a custom texture I call eternal spirals. I decided to add a vintage brass bead to make it more feminine and vintage looking. Here is the result.

One of this pendant can be seen in the bidding for good website in the auction benefitting NWHP( National Women's History Project).
There is a limited number of pendants available for sale at National Women's History Project's webstore

Please support this fundraiser! This necklace will make a great gift for women in your life who have helped empower you through their support, encouragement and education. Or simply a beautiful keepsake for you while supporting this very important non-profit.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Creating Organic Forms in Metal Clay

Vaasvara earrings make it to the pages of Metal Clay artist magazine. This my first published work in print! Hope to see more in coming months.

This design is an excellent example of what I call designing and creating organically. I did not use any shape cutters, templates or textures to design and create these. These were made with metal silver clay( Fine silver) and I wanted to take advantage of its unique properties to design and create organically.
I wanted to create a multiple piece, simple form based design that resembled an exotic blossom. Since these are earrings, the forms need to be of similar shape and size. ( if not identical;in the spirit that nature is perfect in its imperfections) This can be pretty challenging if you also decide that you do not want to use shape templates or cutters or any cutting tool on your clay!
So here is what I had to do. I needed to make 3 graduating sizes so I started with three lumps of metal clay in and weighed them. I needed to know the weights so that I could reproduce the other pair in same size and weight.

Here is what I did to roll out the forms:
I wanted the smallest petal to be more or less rounded so I hand pressed it in a flat rounded shape and then rolled it between the slats.
I wanted the other two pieces oval shaped, so hand-pressed the clay in an elongated shape and then rolled the clay.
Since the weights were same the rolled out forms came out similar and I did not have to use any cutting tool!

The texture that you see in there is just the clay drying up a little bit and leaving this scale like texture, that I found beautifully organic. Since I didn't use any cutters or cutting tools to make these forms I didn't have to sand much at all. I antiqued the earrings and then polished them just enough to enhance the texture.
So there you have it, an organic design not just looking natural and organic but created in the same spirit and process, a holistic design approach that I have come to love.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Few inspiring pictures from my India trip.

Buddha at Kanheri caves (1st century BCE to 10th century CE), Mumbai, India 
These caves served as a center for Buddhism in ancient times.

Ornate cave monuments of Buddha, Mumbai, India 

I thought she had a cool nose ring. She comes to clean dishes and floors at my sister in law's home. She seems so joyful all the time;  amazing for someone who lost all fingers of her right hand in an accident, lost her only son at a very young age and has to fend for herself as long as she lives. She is so cute, she quickly dropped the broom when I asked her if I could take a picture of her and covered her head with her Sari. A beautiful person indeed...

I loved photographing these trees in Mahabaleshwar, India,
 near Arthers seat point, 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Custom Texture plate design

The latest in the nature designer cabochon series..this is gorgeous blue green Chrysocolla and Malachite cabochon from Gerard scott For this I made a custom texture plate using copper etching based on hand drawings, this lends a particular hand rendered organic look to it.