D7 Metal Clay with a White Metal

Aluminium and silver necklace by Julia Rai
Aluminium and silver necklace by Julia Rai

Submitted to the Registry evaluators - February 2009

My first attempt at this project was an open box form with strips of aluminium sawn to different lengths and standing up in the box. I thought it was a bit quirky and interesting. The box was textured with a tear away pattern and was also a bit quirky being higher at the back then the front. The evaluators weren’t impressed!

Design – 3 out of 5
Craftsmanship – 1 out of 2.5
Finish – 2 out of 2.5

Six is not enough to pass. Here are the comments…

“This piece meets the requirements but only in a literal way. It includes aluminium nails (I think) and a cold connection of sorts (epoxy) but I see no reason behind it. The rods are not interesting and they compete with the metal clay box. Why are there ten of them? Why are they angled at the top? Why this long?” Because I like it that way! Not sure what the purpose of these ridiculous questions is. I can’t answer them, there was no mechanism for me to explain my choices at this time in the Registry evolution.

“The piece hangs awkwardly and sends vibes of pricly (sic) danger. This in another piece might be a central point, but here it is merely annoying” Not sure why it’s annoying in this piece but wouldn’t be in another piece!

“The chain relates mechanically (geometric pattern, square box, square links) but it does not relate visually. I think it competes, especially in scale.”

“Might be better as a non-wearable.”

“The texture and patina of the two metals compete and the chain (which is a third colour) does not…” (something – the feedback box was cut off at this point on the printed sheet so there could have been a whole lot more information for me but I’ll never know!)

So I tried again.

Coral and Shell Ring by Julia Rai

Submitted to the Registry evaluators - June 2009

My second attempt was a ring with a sea theme. The white metal part was a pewter coral component which sticks out from the other elements. All the elements in this piece was connected with a bolt embedded in the top of the ring. The nut was embedded in the shell at the top. All the elements were threaded onto the bolt and then the nut was screwed onto the top to create the whole piece.

Here are the scores…

Design – 2.5 out of 5
Craftsmanship – 2 out of 2.5
Finish – 2 out of 2.5

6.5, so close! Only one paragraph of comments.

“This needs some sort of explanation (or am I missing something?). Where is the ‘white metal’? The shell? The fish? Both of these are set apart because they both have a different finish from the metal clay parts. This difference does not really look intentional. The goal of the project is to work with a white metal – cut, file, cast and so on. I don’t think this piece advanced the candidate’s understanding of any of the white metals.”

Back to the beginning again!

Night City Pin by Julia Rai
Lino cut city by Julia Rai
Etched city print by Julia Rai

Submitted to the Registry evaluators - December 2012

I love lino carving and I’d made several prints of cityscapes –sort of fantasy cities which I find so therapeutic to carve. Using lino is a really freeing medium as it’s so cheap and if you make a mistake, it doesn’t matter. I never plan or draw what I carve in lino. Designs just develop as I carve and I can get totally lost in the action of carving these cities.

​I made a tear away texture of one of the lino prints and then created the front piece but cutting around the buildings and piercing out elements so you could see the heat patina on the titanium sheet. The back is a solid piece of silver with a pin embedded. It was riveted together.

​This was the second one of these I made as the first one wasn’t so successful. I didn’t bargain for the effect of drilling holes in the titanium changing the heat patina. The heat of the drill changed the colour of the patina so I used less heat on the titanium before drilling the holes so the slight change in the colour would work with the intention of the design. This piece is called ‘Night City’.

Design – 4.5 out of 5
Craftsmanship – 2 out of 2.5
Finish – 2 out of 2.5

​I was happy with 8.5. Here are the comments…

​”The cityscape detail against the dark titanium background is very striking.”

“The detail in the cityscape is wonderful.”

“The metal clay back piece that extends slightly above the titanium is an effective framing detail.”

“I’m not sure how much experimentation there was with the titanium (one of the requirements of the project) besides patina. (Therefore the lower design score.)”

“The pin stem is crooked.” Wasn’t when it was put in the package so I’m not sure how that got bent!

“The lower left corner is out of square. On another piece would work, but is visually bothersome considering the more exacting geometry of the rest of the piece.”

This was one of the first evaluations where they segregated the primary and secondary evaluator’s comments. Here are the comments from the secondary.

“Agree with primary except the off-square corner doesn’t bother me as I think it’s in keeping with the piece.”

“This is a lovely design and well executed overall. The little strip of silver showing above the titanium lets the design breathe. The cutout buildings have an energy and movement about them that really serves the theme.”

“My only quibble is the rivets: They look out of place, not really the same color as the silver.”

On the left are a couple of my prints.

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

​D7 Metal Clay with a White Metal

The term “white metal” refers to a wide variety of low-melting gray metals
that includes lead, tin, bismuth, antimony, and alloys of these metals such as
pewter. It also encompasses zinc (used in plated steel) and aluminum, and
for our purposes, we’ll expand the term to include nickel silver, titanium,
and niobium. Use any of these metals or alloys, singly or together, to make
a piece that also includes metal clay. The purpose of the project is to experiment with these metals and the techniques particular to them.

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