Friday, December 16, 2016

Finished Piece for Challenge Week 3

This week my finish-a-piece challenge is met by a small vessel. It's one of three that I made several years ago when I was just starting to learn how to raise bowls from sheet. I didn't have proper stakes, just some large dapping punches that I had to jerry-rig a method of holding in order to use them like stakes. Not knowing any better, I used 16 gauge copper and a 4 inch diameter starting disc so I had very little leverage to use in holding the disc against the stake while I hit it. This little guy took me a week of evenings to get formed!

Later, after I'd learned more about raising, it became my first practice piece to learn how to patina and how to apply gold leaf. The patina was good. The leafing job was... barely acceptable. Lots of weird spots and lumps where dust or something had contaminated the gold size (glue) or the leaf itself. So it sat on a shelf. Then, in this fall's class at Flo Valley, I had a chance to try commercial gold plating on a piece. This was something I'd been interested in for a while. So I took off the gold leaf, polished up the inside, masked off the outside, and sent it off to get electroplated. When it came back the patina was ruined. Lesson learned - plate before patina.

I wanted to see how well the plating would hold up to a hot patina process so this week I removed the old patina and re-applied ferric nitrate which goes on at about 212 to 220 F. The result is that the gold is unharmed but slightly darkened. I suspect that there may be some alloying of copper from the substrate to the plating. It's a nice look though. Unlike the gold leaf, this interior is safe to drink from.

Unfortunately, the plater missed a spot so I don't think this piece is saleable. But it's a good end to an experimental piece and I'll hang on to it as a reminder of where I started and how experimentation is always a good idea.

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