D8 Found Object

Iron knife by Julia Rai
Iron knife by Julia Rai

Submitted to the Registry evaluators - November 2008

This 14th Century iron knife blade was a perfect candidate for this project. It’s quite big – the blade is 10cms long so the whole piece is 11cms long by 3cms at its widest point. Because of its size, it presented some challenges, not least the prongs that hold the blade to the metal clay background. I’d made the piece with the prongs attached but after firing, they all fell off! So I had to solder the prongs on and this was too much for my little torch. I had to use a large torch to get the metal clay piece hot enough to solder the prongs on. To add a bit of colour and interest I put little copper spirals on the prongs and I thought it worked quite well.

Still, the assessors were quite critical of this piece and it only just scraped through with 7 out of 10.

Design – 3 out of 5
Craftsmanship – 2.5 out of 2.5 – that’s something I suppose!
Finish – 1.5 out of 2.5

​This was the first piece with which I came up against my lack of design knowledge. The assessor’s first line of feedback said, “The design of the piece suffers from lack of hierarchy. There is no integration,conceptually or formally, between the object and the background. The silver provides little more than a plaque on which to mount something.” So I had to consult some books and also get some information from other artists on this one.

The assessors did like the copper spirals though, they said, “The rivets are elegant front and back. The copper spirals are a very nice touch. Great sensitivity to scale here.” Who knew! I never thought of it as sensitivity to scale, just a bit of colour and interest. Even the positive comments sometimes help you to learn something so again I consulted the books about scale.

​The reason I got low marks for finish were explained by the assessors. “The brushed finish does no favor to either the found object or the silver, which looks like aluminum. On a technical note, be aware that a brushed finish will tarnish faster and be more difficult to clean than a polished surface.”

So this piece provided lots of learning and if I was going to do it again, I’d choose a smaller found object. I hate to think how much metal clay there is in this piece!

Here is the description of the project from the Masters Registry website:-

​D8 Found Object

The first step here is to select an object that was not intended for jewelry such as a washer, a bottle cap, or a gear wheel. These may be new or they may show the bruises of a long history. Develop a design that uses metal clay to secure and present the found element in a new light.

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