Monday, April 23, 2012

The Story Without End, In-Progress - Part Two

Welcome back!

'The Story Without End', not surprisingly, continues...

 The sawn-off segment of brass eyepiece is replicated in metal-impregnated resin, using techniques graciously shared over two intensive January days by master moldmaker Jim Hood, to whom I owe tremendous praise and thanks. The last three months have subsequently been spent in my studio learning and honing these techniques.

Using the casting allows me to use an object like this that was previously too heavy to be incorporated into something wearable. It will even allow me to alter the scale of the object, an idea that boggles my mind with possibilities. 

So this is where the front of the pendant stands now...

The lens is removed so I can continue my work on the body.

A spot is recessed in which to mount an extraordinarily beautiful blue chalcedony, which has a very slight translucence.

 The chalcedony in place, with numerals hazily glimpsed underneath.

 Now attention turns to the rear of the pendant.

A gift last week of several Victorian harmonium knobs provides a fantastic element to occupy the opening in back, really changing my earlier thoughts about what would happen back there. Thanks to Elizabeth and Jude for this treasure!

The knob is extremely deep - way too deep to use without alteration, as it would stick into the chest when worn. I want to be very thoughtful about the side-on silhouette, so first the knob is reduced in length.

Next, the ivory plate is removed and the wood hollowed out dramatically. It has a resemblance to a eucalyptus nut now, and after popping out the dowel that attached the knob originally to the organ, there is a lovely hole in the back that I can put to good use.

Now that I've gotten the knob to this stage, I need to go back and widen the hole on the pendant to allow it to sit farther into the piece. 

After a good 45 minutes of alteration, the knob sits where I need it to. 

The knob is now provisionally glued into place and the interior is painted the same color as the oyster knife handle. 

The pendent seen from the side. I'm really enjoying the odd asymmetrical shape of this piece as it's progressed.

Now to work on the interior of the knob.

 A large, faceted labradorite bead is pressure fit, then affixed to the back of the knob. The plan at this stage is to have a lot of small things that will roll around inside the knob and some sort of clear panel in front. I look around for a lens or something similar to work here. 

After picking out some very tiny glass balls and snippets of antique paper to occupy the chamber, it doesn't take long before I realize that a mica panel is in order. I don't want to use glue to affix the panel on the front, however. 

 So I set about making a tiny thin groove that will allow me to snap a disc of mica into place over the top.

 I initially cut a piece of quite clear mica.

 I opt, instead, for a very striated piece, where you can see the black deposits between the layers of the mineral. The disc is cut just larger than the circular opening, and because mica is quite flexible, it should snap into place when I gently push down on it. 


At this stage, as I've mentioned, the knob itself has been glued into place. I never like to have glue holding anything in a structural way, so I find a method  to mechanically connect the knob.

Miniscule copper tacks fit the bill. Mike Meador, are you smiling up there?

 Pre-drilling the holes for the tacks.

Inserted and patinated. 

Next I move to just below the knob. The copper title plate, as you may have noticed, has holes on either side that have been wrapped around the piece. The holes protrude over the recessed area on the back of the handle. These holes will do the double duty of permanently keeping the plate on the piece, and attaching an object below the knob.

 An extended hunt through my materials yields the perfect object – a fragment of 19th-century clay pipe. It's the perfect width to span the recessed area below the knob.

It's also, I realize, a perfect place to sign my name on the piece. 

Engraved, painted, and rubbed back, the fragment is ready to mount. 

Next week, the last finishing touches to complete the piece. Stay tuned!




  1. Wonderful, Keith, each step magically adds to the perfection of the piece. So looking forward to the next episode.

  2. Loving the generosity of your sharing the process (the mystery and excitement). I feel fortunate to have met you through your work and I have hopes to share mine with you one day...

  3. Love your sense of humor and as always your mastery which always takes me back to an earlier time when items were repaired or used for new purposes and never thrown away. Can't wait to read another episode and wonder how you end "the story without end."

  4. I completely enjoy watching the processes you use to create your magical pieces! Thank you for taking the time to create these posts.

  5. Thanks for sharing your alchemical process, So much beautiful stuff in the world just waiting for you to find it and see it for the treasure it is.
    I love the way you work each element until it is just right and can get along with all the others without fighting

  6. Your creativity and talent continue to astound me. You have a mind like no other.

  7. Where can I find out more about metal impregnated resin and how to work with it? See, you shouldn't have brought that up, Keith!

  8. So much fun Keith! Love the adventure you're taking us on. xox Riki

  9. So grateful you share all of this with us - you're the Mozart of found objects! (and I'm not just trying to get a workshop discount:).

  10. Amazing craftsman Keith, I do so love watching your pieces take shape - thanks for sharing!

  11. Just amazing keith I love your process

  12. Wonderful!!! Yes JH is the master mold maker had a magic weekend too.

  13. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful piece with us Keith, it's like magic happening before my eyes to see how you bring so many treasures together in such a way that they all begin to sing the one song, each with their own voice.

  14. Another wonderful piece. Thanks for documenting the progress. The photos are appreciated.

  15. Beautiful the twists and turns of your process and the new story you are creating with it! Thank you for taking us along on your glad you are back in your blogging saddle!!!

  16. Your level of skill and imagination is quite a rare gift. Thanks for allowing us to visually participate!

  17. love the fun to see this piece come together.

  18. I so love and appreciate how generous you are in sharing your process as you develop another incredible piece -- incredible both aesthetically and structurally. It's wonderful to see how you rescue small treasures (and even just the odd thing like the clay pipe) to give them new life.

  19. I've always loved the way you respect and morph relics at the same time. Nothing precious here. Thanks for sharing your adventures - always an inspiration

  20. You are not only an amazing artist, you are my "Stash Hero!!" What an eye you have for picking up incredible things that you transform into something altogether different and even more incredible! WOW! Thanks for sharing,
    Toni Federe

  21. Alchemy - pure alchemy! All those components in your hands and you produce pure magic. Noice. x Sue