Last weekend I attended a workshop in Detroit, hosted by the Michigan Silversmiths' Guild, with Marilyn and Jack DaSilva. They are both accomplished metalsmiths and professors of metals at universities in California. I spent the first day with Marilyn. She is known for her colored pencil techniques. She encouraged us to play around and try everything. We started with samples of copper squares. Some of the copper samples were textured first with various methods- i.e. rolling milled, hammered, stamped. The key to this technique is to have the surface sandblasted first. Simple sanding is not enough. The surface must have a good tooth in order for the pencils and gesso to hold. Some of my samples started with a gesso surface, others did not. You can apply the gesso in thick textured patterns or simply brush it on. It must be thoroughly dry before anything further is done to the surface. You can then apply all manner of color to the gesso surface- paint, prismacolor, stamping inks, etc. These can then be layered or worked wet. You can also do the same without gesso, simply applying the color directly to the metal surface. Really, the sky's the limit. I really enjoyed this technique and do plan to incorporate some of it into my future works. Here are the samples I made in class-
The second day was spent with Jack, who specializes in raising. He demonstrated various techniques of synclastic and anticlastic raising. He starts with annealed bracelet blanks and marks the areas for raising with Sharpie markers on the inside and outside of the blank. He uses simple wooden blocks or handmade delrin stakes for most of his work. Final planishing and crisping of the details is done on a metal stake. He are some of his images as well as some of the more finished forms.
My favorite tip of Jack's was to make a "shoe" for his anticlastic stakes out of copper strips. This technique can be used for any horizontal stake or mandrel- it's so simple yet effective. It keeps the stake from moving all over the place when you are hitting it. I can't believe I didn't think of it myself!
Here's a picture of that "shoe"-
I had a terrific time with the DaSilvas who were most generous in sharing their wealth of knowledge with us. Thanks Marilyn and Jack!
L. Sue Szabo