I love leaves, particularly ones with lots of texture. My friend Clark has a fig tree. Every spring he brings me small leaves that I can use to create molds for my work with metal clay. I’ve got quite a collection of leaves now. My opinion is that you can’t have too many leaves, just like you can’t have too much dark chocolate or too many pearls.
I’ve been making sample pieces for the Explorations in Art Clay Copper: Dramatic Focal Elements workshop I’m going to teach at the Idyllwild Summer Arts Program in July. I wanted to create a necklace that had a “yoke” of leaves. After I built a base platform, I began to decorate it with leaves that I made by pressing moist copper clay into various molds from my fig leaf collection. I knew that I wanted to dangle something from the yoke, but I didn’t know what that should be. Of course, my first thought was to suspend a giant pearl. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a pearl that was big enough. The horror! Obviously, I need to go shopping.
The yoke of leaves suggested ancient imagery from Greece and Rome to me. While pawing through the drawers that house favorite bits and pieces I plan to use in jewelry someday, I found a fabulous old pendant with what looked like the head of a goddess. I took a mold of the pendant because I’m not ready to part with it just yet. I filled the mold with copper clay, let it dry for a few hours, extracted the piece and did a little touch up work on her face. I created a frame for the goddess and also made one part of the clasp that would secure the necklace.
In the picture above, you can see these pieces in their “greenware,” or pre-kiln-fired state. I love the reddish color of the copper clay. It reminds me of the cliff walls in Sedona, AZ.
Before putting all the pieces into the kiln, I attached the head to the frame with moist clay. I made sure everything dried completely so no unhappy accidents would occur during firing at 1775 degrees Fahrenheit.
This photo shows the finished necklace. I used a patina to darken each element that I made because I wanted to highlight their textures. I forged a toggle bar for the clasp and soldered on a jump ring. I connected all the pieces with jump rings and lengths of beautiful commercial chain that I bought from The Bouncing Bead, a wonderful emporium in La Mesa, CA.
Spaces are still available in this workshop if you’re looking for adventure working with copper metal clay in the beautiful mountains that surround Idyllwild, CA. I’d love to see you there!