Thursday, December 6, 2007

2007 Art Clay World Contest Piece and It's Reproduction

Japans's 2007 Art Clay Contest

I was told by a friend of mine about the Art Clay Contest being held in Japan and I thought I would give it a shot. I went to the art store, bought a couple of colored pencils & paper, curled up in my chair and started sketching. Evidently this design was in my head somewhere because I pulled it out and fine tuned it in one day. Some of my other designs had not been that lucky. I knew it was the perfect design for the Contest...It just felt right.

Being a porcelain artist it was only natural that I choose the Porcelain/Art Clay Fine Silver Overlay Paste Category but trust me, it would have been easier using all Art Clay Silver Clay.

The next day I started to draw the design on my steal bust. Working with porcelain was definitely going to be a challenge. I knew I would have a problem transferring the necklace to the kiln. The porcelain was an 1/8" in many spots with uneven weight. Not a challenge I was looking forward to. Another problem I saw with this piece once finished was warping. Porcelain is notorious for warping and here I had the worse case. I wasn't working with a flat piece, it had the bust curves which would not lay flat in the kiln.

To make a long story short, the first one broke and had to spend another 16 hours sculpting the second necklace and as far as the warping...I walked away from it for two weeks letting it air dry as much as possible and that worked.

Here is a bit of bad news though. Once it shipped to Japan, they really had no clue it was porcelain so when they removed it from it's stand...they broke it. So with it broken, there was no chance that it was going to win in anything. The good news was that Art Clay in Chicago professionally photographed it before they shipped it. So it was published unbroken in the 2007 Japan Catalog.

New Exciting News!

I have been asked to reproduce my 2007 Art Clay Contest Piece.

The request was made to reproduce the Orchid Necklace in sterling silver as a Limited Edition.
She has also requested the matching Orchid Bracelet, but I will also be making additional pieces to complete the Collection.
I have spent the last month sculpting wax parts for this necklace which consist of the Phalaenopsis Orchids shown below plus practicing on my buds and leaves for the big day and today is the day. I am so stoked about building this necklace.

Phalaenopsis Orchids are by far the hardest of all for me to sculpt especially in porcelain. They are such perfect little Orchids and with so many talented Orchid growers out there...I feel they have to be perfect!

The secret to my sculpting is the flower in layers. You first sculpt the dorsals, then the lateral sepals and then the petals and last, sculpt the lip or labellum.
You have to respect the uniqueness of this flower in my opinion to be able to reproduce it. Again, just my opinion but I think it helps.

I will be using my bust mandrel today and taking pictures throughout the process. My goal is to inspire someone to take out their porcelain, polymer or wax and make might be surprised you have a wonderful talent like I did.

OK, this was a bit tough to do. I'm trying to stay true to the orchid design above but when I sculpted the original one in porcelain, I had to go heavier so that it wouldn't break. When you sculpt in wax (which will eventually be sterling silver) you can go much thinner. This unfortunately made my design a bit sparse.
So instead of 2 buds at the bottom tip of the cluster, I ended up having to add 4 buds plus a small leaf.
That same pattern had to follow all the way to the top of the cluster. Tomorrow I will continue with the left side of the cluster which will pull the design together.

Well it's Saturday and I have finished the left side of the Orchid necklace.
I've had to go ahead and put pieces on my mandrel so that I could make sure the pieces were flowing together. Unfortunately it makes taking photos more difficult plus the wax is dark green & blue so it's difficult to see all of the leaves and buds poking out from under the orchids but they are there.
Like the original design the buds intertwine between the has turned out to be such a delicate design but yet this necklace makes a huge statement.
My next step will be designing the section around the neck. It will consist of sculpted leaves that can be lengthen or made shorter, depending on the person by adding or deleting leaves.

Well this is almost the last step for me before I cast all of the pieces in Sterling Silver.
The leaves will connect to each other around the neck and I'm in the process of designing the hook in the back. The original was a stiff necklace which is uncomfortable but the way this will go together will allow movement.


  1. Hi Dawn,

    I saw your post on Orchid regarding jewelry blogs, and I have to say, next to you I am a complete and total amateur. Your work is stunning and inspirational.

  2. Thank you Miachelle.

    If you ever have a question about my work...just ask!