Christine Cox

Archive for the ‘General Art’ Category

Amazing Awls

Besides being one of the first tools created by humans, the awl is amazing for its usefulness. The earliest were made from wood, stone, obsidian and bone. Before that they were probably used as found in nature, in the form of talons or teeth.

Grotte de Tarté

A few uses:

  • Punch holes in the pages before sewing a book
  • Check the depth of etching on a piece of metal
  • Push eyelets into tight holes
  • Dig small items out of tight spaces
  • Precisely scratch off resists
  • Sgraffito in enamels
  • Untie knots in threads
  • Push “reset” buttons on small electronics
  • Clean out a seam before soldering
  • Scratch words and designs into polymer clay and PMC
  • Point during demonstrations
  • Poke holes in leather
  • Hold jump rings in place while making chain maille

Sooner or later the question becomes “why don’t you own one.” You’ll need one for every room!

lda-tube
Get yours from Volcano Arts

Historic photo of awls by: Didier Descouens – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10880610

3rd Century: Earliest woodblock-printed fragments

Bookbinding, Miniatures, Writing and Paper
(Timeline project)

From some time before 220 – Earliest woodblock printed fragments to survive – silk printed with flowers in 3 colors (China)

This post is part of an ongoing series on bookbinding, miniatures, writing and paper since the year 1. Please consider it a kick-start for your own private timeline and a springboard for further research. See my blog for the rest of the series.

2nd Century: First Batch of “Modern” Paper

Bookbinding, Miniatures, Writing and Paper

Year 105: Han Emperor Ho-Ti’s chief eunuch T’sai Lun invented first batch of “modern” paper. The paper was called T’sai Ko-Shi, meaning: “Distinguished T’sai’s Paper” – It’s a felted material formed on flat, porous molds from macerated vegetable fiber (probably bamboo). He is revered as the patron saint of modern papermaking (China)

This post is part of an ongoing series on bookbinding, miniatures, writing and paper since the year 1.

On Paper: A Book Review

On Paper: The Everything of it’s Two-Thousand-year History
By Nicholas A. Basbanes

This book took me by surprise in several ways. When it arrived I was disappointed to see that it was written by a journalist. I had been expecting a scholarly history of paper written by, say, a hand paper maker; someone with an artistic love of the subject.

My fears were quickly allayed and I have to admit that I’m so glad Mr. Basbanes took up the topic! He used his journalism skills to seek out all kinds of information that I didn’t expect. Yes, there is the very well researched and written section on the history of paper, but there is so much more substance to this book. The author discusses the people involved in papermaking, the inventions of machines, the evolution and uses of paper. He covers the past, the present and the future of the subject and the techniques in making it.

I was satisfied with this book both as an artist who uses paper in bookbinding, and as a curious human who loves receiving the answers to questions I hadn’t thought to ask. My biggest surprise was that it made me cry. Yes, it’s a non-fiction book about paper that had me bawling through the final chapter. I don’t want to give it away, but let’s just say that this book brought home the 9/11 attacks and the human impact like nothing else that I had seen or read before.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys paper, history, or just a good read. You’ll come away with a greater appreciation of the subject and its affect on our culture.

Purchase the book from Amazon from this link:
On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History (Vintage)

Happy 4th!

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Here are 2 hot publications for your Independence Day consideration.

The first is a great article from The Public Domain Review showing representations of fireworks from past centuries.
http://publicdomainreview.org/2014/06/25/picturing-pyrotechnics/

The next is a 1785 manuscript showing how to build fireworks. It can be read online or downloaded as a PDF.
https://archive.org/details/artificialfirewo01mask

Both were fun reads in anticipation of the displays of patriotism scheduled for the day.

Metalsmith: Old Gold

I love a new challenge and this one was a blast. My friend Lauri and I decided to take some old gold jewelry and turn it into sheet. I had a couple of pieces of 14k gold jewelry that I knew I’d never wear again so we studied up, melted it down and rolled away. What started out as a very ugly nugget bracelet and an old wedding ring are now 2 small 23 gauge sheets of gold ready for my creative vision. We learned a lot through the process.

There was definitely a learning curve on the adventure as neither of us had ever melted down anything in a crucible, only silver on a charcoal block. We set up a little kiln using firebricks. This would allow us to hold as much heat inside the crucible as possible. I had a brand new crucible (a ceramic dish made to take the heat) so it needed to be prepared ahead of time. The crucible needs a glaze inside to prevent the metal from sticking or being absorbed into the ceramic. We had read online that it could be done in an oven so we assumed that we could do it in the kiln at no more than 500 degrees or so. Bad assumption. We chose a mix of borax and boric acid, neither of which melts at 500 degrees. The powders kept getting harder and harder inside the kiln. No signs of liquid to swirl around and glaze the crucible.

We decided to be brave and use a torch (MAPP gas because it was handy). We got it unbelievably hot: so hot that the crucible was glowing orange! I kept expecting it to blow up and kill us at any second, and then lo and behold we saw that the borax and boric acid were melting! Suddenly we had another problem in that our crucible tongs were absolutely the wrong type for the job. We couldn’t swirl the borax mixture around to coat the inside of the crucible. A quick trip to the kitchen and one pasta server later, we had a great little tong setup that made us feel like maybe we weren’t going to drop the whole mess and melt my floor. Sometimes my kitchen is the best supplier of metalsmithing tools.

Crucible seasoned, we started experimenting with pieces of the old bracelet. We figured out early on that one torch wasn’t enough so we put 2 torches to the task. Lauri held the torches while I stirred the gold and borax mixture with a graphite rod. Hotter and hotter it all became until the gold melted into a little glowing orange blob. I poured the gold into a graphite ingot mold while Lauri kept the torch on the crucible to prevent oxides from forming.

We felt like amazons! There were problems, but we forged ahead (PTP) to the rolling stage. I rolled the ingot into a tiny sheet, but because it wasn’t as homogenous as it should have been it started to develop air bubbles as I rolled. We had a feel for the process now so it was a no-brainer to melt it all again and start over. Besides, it was really fun. Given all the heating, I’m pretty sure that my 14k gold is more like 18k now.

This time we added the rest of my ugly bracelet and the wedding ring and melted down the whole shebang in 2 batches. It took a lot of heat to melt down .87 oz of gold! The keys to getting the perfect ingot were to add more borax as we were heating, to stir well with the graphite rod in order to burn off any impurities, and to follow the crucible with the torch all the way through pouring into the mold.

Once the ingot was made I started rolling, annealing, rolling, annealing until the sheet was down to 23 gauge, which is where the project is now. I just love my little sheets of gold, and the fact that they are made from old jewelry is wonderful. After we were finished Lauri and I searched our jewelry boxes for more gold to melt down! I have an old herringbone necklace that is in serious danger.

Image

New Earrings in my Etsy Shop!

During the holidays, my jewelry inventory was almost wiped out by friends and fans. Thank you very much! What with running a retail art supply company and all, my Etsy shop was pretty dry there for a while.

So, I just spent all day photographing and listing sterling silver and enamel earrings for my shop. I’m really exploring my style, and find that right now I’m into simple and elegant designs, clear colors, and shine (yes, like a crow). I’m not into too much foofaraw, ya know?

I hope that you’ll hop on over to the shop and let me know what you think!

Thanks!
Christine
https://www.etsy.com/shop/volcanoarts

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