Thursday, 20 June 2013

Electroform All The Things

It's probably pretty obvious what this post is going to be about...  Over the last month I have slowly been acquiring the parts I need to set up my own electroforming bath!  The first step was getting a rectifier!  I absolutely love the digital read-out.  It's going to make my life so much easier. 

Step two:  Get giant plastic tub to hold the solution.  Mine is the same at the one at NSCAD, 7 gallons! 

Step three: Get the ingredients for the bath. 

Now, this is where I ran into some (hilarious) issues.  I suppose it is a good thing that sulfuric acid is so difficult to come by, but a few weeks ago this was the bane of my existence.  I was told it would be simple and straightforward.  I was told to go to CarStar and walk in and ask for sulfuric acid.  Simple, right?  I knew because it's me that there was no way it would be that easy.  

So when I showed up at CarStar and asked them for some acid the woman looked at me like I was completely insane and told me they don't sell anything like that.  Slightly dejected, I went home and called the other CarStar location in Burlington thinking maybe I had just gone to the wrong one.  I even explained to this man on the phone what I was doing (to avoid sounding insane) and the man rudely asked me if I knew who I was trying to call.  I told him yes, CarStar.  I explained that I was told specifically that what I needed was available there.  He told me I must have misheard.  I explained that since this information was given to me all via email it was highly unlikely that I would have misunderstood.  The rude man grumbled a little bit and then we disconnected. 

I then called Napa Auto Parts and spoke to a lovely man who understood what I was trying to do and was not incredibly rude to me.  So I was off to a good start.  He told me he did have sulfuric acid, a whole 20 litres of it.  I explained that it was literally 20 times what I needed and asked if there was any chance he sold it in smaller quantities.  Unfortunately he didn't but he referred me to a company that they supply and told me to give them a shout because they were likely to sell me a smaller quantity. 

So the next day (when Peak Powersports was actually open) I gave them a call.  The first man I spoke to thought I was insane and suggested that maybe I should speak to someone in the service department.  I told him that was probably a good idea.  After a quick conversation explaining once again what I was trying to do, Mike in the service department did me a solid and told me he would sell me a litre of sulfuric acid. 

So I went the next day.  I was told to go in the showroom (where I totally didn't belong surrounded my camo gear and ATVs), ask for Mike and I would be lead to the service department.  It sounded a bit like a covert operation to me, so I was all over that.  Except when I went to the showroom and explained what I needed and that I should ask for Mike the guy at the desk looked at me like I was insane (something I started getting used to) and told me how to get to the service department. 

The adventure isn't over though!  It didn't occur to me that I should bring something to carry the acid home in since the 20 litres of acid comes in this sort of bladder thing in a box and there were no other little containers.  So I went to Canadian Tire (where I had just come from) and bought some mason jars, came back and got them filled up.  Only true NSCAD students keeps their sulfuric acid in a mason jar... 

The best part of this was Mike asking me "Is this stuff hard to get or something?"  Another thing that made me happy was that he seemed to know exactly what I was doing with it, he even asked me if I was using it for jewellery! 

Copper sulphate - super easy to get at Pottery Supply House in Oakville.  No one even looked at me like I was from outer space either!  

Distilled water - This wasn't even all I needed to fill my bath... If you need this much distilled water get it in bulk! It's only $4.50 for 20 litres! 

Step four - Do the math.  I had to crunch some numbers to figure out exactly how much I needed.  Turned out after doing the mix that I needed about 3 litres less than I calculated so there was a little bit of improvising at the end but what can you do? 

Step Five - Mix it up! One sunny Sunday I mixed my bath.  I am pretty sure pedestrians in the neighbourhood thought that I was up to no good in all of my safety gear.

Step Six - neutralize the excess and the cleaning bin. 

Step seven - Anodes!  I had to be so patient waiting for these beauties but they were absolutely worth the wait.  This was the last piece in the puzzle...

Step eight - Electroform all the things!  I started my first test about two hours ago.  I had the amps a little bit too high at first but now it is working perfectly! 

Love my little rectifier! 

Hopefully soon I will be posting some pictures of what I am working on now that I have something that resembles a studio again.  My next show is the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition and I will be swamped in prep for that over the next couple weeks.  Maybe somewhere in there I will find some time for another update! 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

SNAG Conference in Toronto

It's been a few weeks since the conference now but I figured it was about time I finished this post.  It is definitely going to be heavy on the photos because there was so much to see and be inspired by at the SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) conference.  The shows that I got a chance to see during the exhibition crawl were pretty incredible. 

The first images are from "À Table!" at the Design Exchange an exhibition of sixteen Canadian metal artists

Mary Anne Barkhouse:

Charles Funnell:

One of my NSCAD professors Kye-Yeon Son:

Michael Belmore:
(who also did a really wonderful presentation during one of the rounds of rapid-fire presentations)

Another exhibition, also at the Design Exchange was "Design Sans Frontières: Metal Arts Guild of Canada Juried Exhibition".  It was great because artists were encouraged to collaborate with another outside of their medium, and we all know how much I love interdisciplinary work!  This is an installation by Marina Babic and Sally McCubbin. 

We were surprised and delighted to see the work and the face of Karin Jones who is currently doing her MFA at NSCAD.  Karin says about this work: 

The work I'm doing in the MFA program at NSCAD is all about hair and (racial and cultural) identity. I made some brooches out of synthetic hair extensions using Victorian techniques, and then Kristy Depper photographed me wearing wigs that match the jewellery. (Is hair a body part, or is it adornment?) The intention was to be a bit silly and awkward, and to see how it would feel wearing "someone else's" hair.

I wish I had though to get the name of the artists on this one, because I absolutely love the textures here.  This was at the beginning of the night and I was already starting to get anxious about not seeing everything we wanted to, so names of artists became much less important

After leaving the Design Exchange we happened upon this little slice of Nova Scotia.  It was especially funny for all of the "Scotians" who had come to Toronto for the conference. 

A Peggy's Cove lighthouse in the financial district!

This is from "Opine" the student exhibition at OCAD's Student Gallery.  This is a piece by one of my NSCAD studiomates Yuanyuan Zou. 

more lovely pieces from Opine:

I think my favourite exhibition was "Making It Real" which showcased digitally fabricated work.  There is so much potentially in this kind of technology and work and it was truly amazing to see what people were doing with it.

so beautiful:

Our next stop was "Moving Metal: Canadian Silversmiths at Work" at shopAGO.  There was some really beautiful work in this show.  Having taken holloware I have such an appreciation for these pieces. 

Speaking of holloware!  Here is another piece by NSCAD prof Kye! 

Amazing piece by Mike Sharpe:

We also stopped at 18 KT gallery for their show "Ferrous".  I was overwhelmed by the small gallery that was crammed with interested onlookers, but the work there was incredible.  Love this piece by Maureen Faye-Chauhan:

More gorgeous work by Melissa Cameron:

Fast forward another day.  After another day of lectures Emily and Alice took a break from jewellery when we arrived at Harbourfront Centre for the happenings there to play with some puppets

After the brief puppet break we were once again overwhelmed by the work we saw:

And if all of those shows weren't enough, some galleries held pop up shops in their hotel rooms during the conference.   Galerie Noel Guyomarc'h had some amazing work.  I fell in love with Peter Hoogeboom's pieces immediately. 

Heidi Lowe Gallery had an amazing display of earrings in their pop up shop.  I really loved how they were displayed. 

The last night of the conference we had a little bit of a kitchen nightmare.  No really, we were waiting for the cameras to pop out and for Gordon Ramsay to arrive.  I have never experience such rude service, it was so bad to the point that we cancelled our orders and left the restaurant.  We ended up at Jack Astor's which was cheaper, came with friendlier service and crayons to draw on the table with!  Naturally when you put four artists at a table, they are going to start drawing... 

This is a bit of foreshadowing to the next post...

SNAG ended with desserts and a big dance party.  It was so wonderful getting to spend some time with my east coast friends.  It was like a mini reunion only two weeks after having left! 

Sunday, 2 June 2013

West Hamilton Artists Tour 2013

So I am three weeks late in this post, but I suppose it is better late that never.  I blame my procrastination with the previous post.  I can't promise that this one is going to be much more exciting writing-wise but here's some pictures! 

All setup in Gord's kitchen!

Here are some of Gord Leverton's painting, he was my lovely host again this year.  Such a great and welcoming family (that once again kept me well fed).  I might have to kidnap their cat Malcolm though. 

I only took a few shots during our pre-tour crawl, mostly because I decided that I actually wanted to enjoy the night and not be the paparazzi the whole time.  The quality of work on the tour this year was really fantastic, the artists were really well matched to their spaces and each other.  Here are some of Paul Elia's pieces (which I am so in love with)

Amanda Immurs' paintings and mixed media work:

Elizabete Ludviks' jewellery:

Tara Lynne Franco's beautiful pottery

Still love Julia Veenstra's paintings!

After the show was over Malcolm was simply exhausted, and rightfully so.  All of that helping really wore him out.