Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Metal Clay Class with Terry Kovalcik

Snow Farm--Summer camp for adults

Over 4 days at Snow Farm I learned what separates the great metal clay artists from the rest of us.  Creative and unique designs certainly play a large part.  But it's really all about the precision, the "painstaking" attention to the finest detail, and the polishing, literally the polishing.

After working with metal clay for about 4 years, mostly learning on my own, I finally enrolled in an intensive class being taught by Terry Kovalcik.  I'd just created my first 3 dimensional piece earlier this year so creating a hinged box seemed like the logical progression.  I did learn how to make a hinged box but I came away with so much more.

On the first day we created the carcass of the box using PMC silver clay, rolling out each side, then putting them all together, and sanding and sanding until they were perfect. We were 5 students in the class being taught by Terry with special assistance from his wife, Corinne.  We chatted and got to know each other as we bombarded him with questions both relevant to the project or totally off topic.  And we took copious notes.

On the second day we had the anxiety producing chore of cutting our perfect boxes apart. Terry very precisely showed us how to saw them--with a saw!
                                                                   I did it!
We then learned how to make the hinges and how to create a hasp plate for the front.

Each of us seemed to have pretty definitive ideas about what the box should look until we realized how much work we had ahead of us. As a result we all ended up making some compromises and did little of the decorating we had planned.  Except for Lillian who pulled an all-nighter, with nothing to eat but Triscuits, to paint on her beautiful design.  I think she has a great future ahead of her as a jewelry designer.

Three of my classmates are from the Eastern part of the state.  Lucille has a background in website design as well as jewelry and she and Amy take classes at Metalwerx in Waltham. Lillian, appropriately, will be starting an MFA program in the fall.  And Deborah's background is in botanical illustration so I was disappointed when we all found that we really didn't have time for much decorating before our projects went into the kiln that night.  I'm sure her painting would have been beautiful.

In this small class we were able to get plenty of Terry's attention.  He's a knowledgeable artist and it was important for me to see him at work and learn from his example.  He manages to quietly demand precision, he patiently answers questions, and generously shares his knowledge and experience with those of us who still have so much to learn.                            

                And so many useful little tips!

But I don't know how he would have taught our class without the help and support of his wife, Corinne, who knows where everything is, knows the prices of products he mentions and where to buy them, and generally keeps him organized.  A great lady with lots of stories, Corinne was fun and always helpful when Terry was busy.


Fresh out of the kiln

Sanded and polished and polished some more, my box has a bright finish only to be oxidized once I get it home.
                                                         Finished Products                                                                    

                                                               I love this hinge!