Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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02/02/2008: "PMC = My Latest Obsession"

OH MAW GAWD! I have found a new love. Precious Metal Clay. After I graduated with my BFA in printmaking, I quit the 2-D stuff for years and only worked in clay. The second I squished it through my fingers, I was hooked. I couldn't think of anything else. Carving into leather hard clay, there's nothing like it...and I'm good at it. So, why did I stop?

Well, I went off to grad school in Hawaii for library and information science. I've always been practical and the fear of homelessness has prevented me from wholeheartedly pursuing an artist's life. After grad school came the job in Juneau, and I just never got back into it. Have any of you had anything like that? Something you felt soooo passionate for at one point in your life, that you let just fall by the way side because something else took up the space?

Every 6 months or so I go to's ceramics section at about 2am when I can't sleep and I fill up my cart with about $3000 worth of ceramics supplies. A wheel, kiln, clay, materials for glazes, the whole nine yards. Then I go to sleep and in the morning I remember how impractical that is. How there's no money, no room, and I remember how sitting at the wheel hurts my I just let it go again.

But then over the holiday break Aaron and I started researching jewlery making. I love hand made silver jewelry and I've always wanted to try and make some myself. Of course, I only knew about lost wax casting which is complicated and requires a lot of equipment. I realized after a few Google searches that it would probably never happen.

Then Aaron discovered Precious Metal's basically either silver or gold dust that's bound together with water and an organic binder. It looks and feels just like clay. And when you fire it, the organic binder disappears and you're left with 99.99% pure silver! I bought the book The Art of Metal Clay that came with a DVD. Aaron is really into it too because we're going to make eachother's wedding rings. Today I bought some clay, a firing torch, a firing brick, and a ring mandrel (used for sizing rings).

It's going to be so much fun. There's a category on eBay for loose gemstones and you can buy just about anything. I bought some small turquoise cabochons (they're actually only 10mm by 10mm). I like the one in the upper left hand corner...I may ask Aaron to use that one for my wedding ring, only shaped more into a rectangle.

turquoise (7k image)

I don't have the PMC yet so I'm going to take care of some business today. I'm finishing up the article for Art Calendar, starting a new painting for the show in July, and finishing packaging up three paintings I need to get mailed ASAP! I'm also starting work on a new commission (so I'm not taking any new ones for awhile).

It's beautiful here today, tons upton tons of fluffy white snow, perfect for skiing or snowshoeing. It's hard to be inside on a day like today but I've got work to do. I took this photo yesterday and since then it's snowed an additional 6 inches. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

parking-lot-alaskan-trees (100k image)

Replies: 4 Comments

on Sunday, February 3rd, berry connell (boneman) said

I love that look on the Christmas trees (all pines are Christmas trees) and have been working on painting my own smaller versions of same.

I, too, got some metal clay, though I didn't realize it was a specific type. Craig White gave me a big ol' lump to "play" with. I still haven't actually made anything I'de want as a brass piece, but, it's great stuff, as you said.

As for the gem stones, dang! I've been collecting rocks since 1956, some good, some just rocks.
But, I'll tell ya what I know for sure...You can find gemstones anywhere you are.
Get out your observation tool and wander on down to where there is regular water next to regular land, stop and look at the stones carefully and you'll see them. The best ones are corundum (sp?) and quartz based, and, if you're looking by the ocean, you'll find many already polished and in all sizes, too.

Last, but not least, since you ARE in Alaska (ok, the snow may thwart you looking for stones now, but, wait'll spring!) I have put my family recipe for the world's best chicken on m'blog. Perfect for those stuck inside on snowy days! :satisfied:

on Sunday, February 3rd, Elise said

Hi Berry,
Thanks for all the tips, especially about the world's best chicken, I've been looking for a reciepe for that.

I tried a sticky orange crock pot version that sounded great on paper but didn't taste that great to me.

on Sunday, February 3rd, Jackie said

Hey E!: It's me...I'm back in Alaska, having arrived just last Weds. evening. I started my new job on Friday, and I'm housesitting and driving a borrowed car. So I still don't officially feel 'back' or settled. But anyway, I totally know what you mean about putting something aside that you really love to do. I put my writing away years ago, deciding I only had time for one passion outside of work: art. That has taken me from 1989 up to now. But here, in the midst of moving from Seattle to Kodiak, and not having a studio or my tools, I may go back to writing as a creative outlet. I know that I can't live and work without some creative exercise - or I'll go bonkers! So congrats to you on the PMC obsession. I hope that you enjoy it. I've seen some cool stuff made with PMC. It blows me away how a lump of grey 'clay' turns into shiny silver!

Oh - and a HUGE congrats on your impending marriage! Who knew? :laugh:

You know what - that whole news piece you heard on 44 being the lowest slump for women is total BS. I turned 45 last Sept. - and have never been better - but 44 was no washout either!! So there - put that in your pipe and smoke it! ~Jackie

on Sunday, February 3rd, Elise said

Welcome back to Alaska Jackie! If I'm ever up in Kodiak I'll look you up.

And it's great to hear that 44/45 has been such a great time in your life. I know those studies are just generalizations, it doen't mean that you're life is going to suck for sure!
Rather than my happiness level going down and down as I get older, I find that it's going up and up. So, I will also put that in my pipe and smoke it!

Oh, and good luck with the writing. That's actually another thing I used to LOVE doing but as you said, there are only so many hours in the day. I already feel guilty that I'm spending all my time with PMC when I have a rather large gallery space to fill in 5 short months and not even a single piece started yet.