Mimi and her girls

Mimi and her girls
Mimi and her girls

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Adult Summer Camp - Common Ground on the Hill

I had no idea they had summer camp for adults! No clue that there were wonderful things that adults could sign up for for a week or even a full 2 weeks. You could be a "day camper" or you could make it "away camp" and stay in the dorms and be a full time camper taking as many classes as you can fit into the day!
Common Ground on the Hill  is just such a camp, right in my own back yard, which happens annually at McDaniel College. I know this isn't the only place that has these wonderful camps, I met loads of people who had been elsewhere or were going somewhere to do more summer camp!

The most wonderful thing about this camp is it is totally dedicated to art and artists of all kinds. From making native black clay into beautiful works of pottery art, making a gourd banjo, taking women's blues singing lessons and yes- metalwork classes! Click on the link above to see the myriad of classes available for all ages! Yes, there were 70 year old women taking beginning blacksmithing classes and there were high school students with scholarships taking piano for the first time. So much fun and so many wonderful new friends I met!

Of course I took a jewelry class! I have always wanted to take a class from Linda Van Hart of Tollhouse Studio. Linda is the director of the arts program for Common Ground and is also a full time professor of art at McDaniel, has a fabulous art studio and does shows all over the US. Her forte is chasing and repousse, but she is so gifted a teacher, she is able to teach all forms of metalwork to a class that includes rank beginners to those with experience and makes it fun, challenging and exciting for everyone.

This years class was Reticulation, along with demos for chasing and repousse, wire work and forging. Reticulation is the process of taking a piece of silver a bit different from sterling (sterling is .925, so only about 17% copper - reticulation silver is 20% copper), heating and coolong it many times, and rising the pure silver, then painting your design with a hot torch to make beautiful hills and valleys of swirled silver on the surface. No two pieces are ever alike.

This was my main project - a hydragea leaf from my garden, cut to shape then reticulated. Later I added the stem and created a neck wire to form the torque.

  The process of reticulation was 7 steps, usually mine take 10-12. She had us heat (no flux), air cool (I used to quench), pickle, scrub with a brass brush then scrub with pumice powder using the 3M sanding pads- fine grit. Do that 6 times- on the 7th time after pickle- no brass or pumice- just reticulate. Everyone in class got a perfect result first time- even total beginners that had never touched a torch. So the leaf shrug, and earrings were from reticulation silver- the cuff was from 18g sterling. I had to use a torch in each hand to keep it hot enough to reticulate, then she helped me holding one torch while I added my trash and treasure to fuse the sterling and gold. No solder anywhere.

After trying the process with reticulation silver, I wanted to see what effect and pattern I could get with sterling. Sterling is a bit less expensive (not much) and I have more of that- I had to order the reticulation silver for the class. I also wanted to try fusing sterling and gold to sterling- no soldering. The result is my Treasure Trash Cuff with bits and pieces of scrap sterling, some granulation balls I made with scrap in sterling and a few 14k gold balls also made from scrap.
With my left over scrap from my leaf, I was able to get 2 pair of earrings. The little circles were cut with a disk cutter, the aspen leaves were sawed from a traced aspen leaf from my neighbors tree!

I hope you enjoyed my little story about adult summer camp- and I really hope you will look into these wonderful programs for yourself or your kids to expand and grow their love of the arts!