Well, folks, I'm back to update this blog after neglecting it for some time. A lot has happened since my last post. Back in October of 2011, I was participating in the Art Harvest Studio Tour of Yamhill County for my fifth year and sharing my studio with a woodcarver friend who was showing his work with mine, when I received a surprise visit on the first morning of the tour from my friend Greg Wilbur, whose work inspired me to take up raising, along with his wife Sandy. After perusing my work he asked me if I was interested in being in a show. I said "Sure" without hesitating and he went on to explain that he was organizing a traveling exhibition of hammered metal art by eleven Japanese metalsmiths and eleven American metalsmiths that would open in Portland in 2013. Now mind you, I've only been at this raising business for about six years and I was being invited to show my work along with some of the best metal artists in the world. I was overwhelmed to say the least.
Greg told me each artist would produce two pieces, a vessel and a non-vessel, with a sixteen inch maximum size. So I had well over a year to make the two pieces. After Art Harvest Studio Tour was over, I drove to Portland to buy some copper sheet and stopped to see Greg at his house. That was an incredible experience. First of all Greg is a great guy and he is an amazing metal artist, so to see the history of his art in the many pieces he has sitting around his house, and then to see his shop where he works with pieces in various states of completion, and his hammers, and so on.... I went home inspired and a month later I had made the largest vessel I've yet created, a twelve inch globe necked down to two inches, and in my first attempt using ammonia and salt, I got a wonderful blue patina. So that was my vessel for the show, and on to the non-vessel. This is when things went south. Over the next year on every piece I worked on, about half way into the piece, small cracks began showing up and then grow larger with each round of raising, and then more would show up. It stopped me in my tracks. After eight successive pieces all failed, coming apart in dozens of cracks, and completly stopping me from creating what I wanted. My confidence went to hell, because evry time I tried to make a new vessel, about halfway into it, it would began to disintegrate. I asked around but could find no explanation of what was causing my troubles. So I scaled back, working on small pieces and pieces that didn't require such extensive raising as the vases I was doing.
Time went by... I contacted a gallery on the coast in Astoria, the RiverSea Gallery, and they liked my work and I've had good sales there. But the copper kept coming apart when I tried raising a large vessel and time was running out. So in desperation I bought two sheets of brass (70 per cent copper) and began work on a female torso. Ideally I would have made one or two torsos and worked out the difficulties before starting a final piece for the show, but I had only time to create one piece so it had to be right the first time. It came out good enough with no cracking but only because the deadline was at hand. I delivered my two pieces to Portland to be photograhed and now can look forward to the opening of the show at the Waterstone Gallery at the end of July.
So the copper cracking problem is still unsolved and I have two sheets of brass to work with. No cracks have appeared after making two pieces out of the brass so I'm left to think that there was something wrong with the copper sheet. The real test will be when I get another sheet of copper.