by JOE EVELYN SCHWAB
One of the more interesting classes being offered through Sun Lakes Rock Gem and Silver class is Precious Metal Clay (PMC). No special tools are required and the results are only restricted only by the imagination of the students to transform a clay-like substance into any shape they desire. Under the tutelage of instructor, Geri Hall, they learn to mold, texture and form the clay into jewelry and other small objects of decor.
Once they are satisfied with the form, it is dried under heat to a leather-like texture. Then it is cleaned, trimmed and rough edges removed for the final firing. It is then placed into a Kiln where high temperatures burn off the clay leaving only the pure silver, copper or bronze metal.
The first four classes consist of using a silver medium, crafting pieces that are catching to the eye, for instance a filigree of fine texture over a Quail egg. Once fired the pieces of the egg that are left are broken into smaller pieces that can be removed through a hole leaving the form that is then finished by cleaning and polishing.
The nearly finished form is shown in one of the pictures. One picture shows a student using gold ink to cover a textured design that is then buffed leaving the gold with silver highlights. The variety of forms shown in the pictures gives the reader an idea of the imagination of the individual creations.
The brown colored heart and circle shapes are copper in the dried stage and the large leaf has been dried and is being worked on to remove imperfections prior to firing. The three silver spiral objects are destined to become earrings and pin. The shiny silver leaf is in final stages of polishing.(Editors note:Spiral Objects and Shiny Leaf not pictured.)
Once the students complete the silver class, they may then advance on to classes using copper and brass mediums. The beauty of these class offerings is the opportunity to use stones they may have polished in the final process, creating pieces of jewelry or decor they can be proud to display or wear. I know from experience that friends and family that come to visit ask for pieces.There is nothing more appreciated than a piece of custom made jewelry or stone art.
Three airy and well equipped shops are open to the members who have completed the classes. Moderators attend each open shop session to supervise and give advice to members.
Meetings are held once each month on the third Monday at 10 AM in the Navajo room at Sun Lakes Country Club (Phase 1) from October through April. There you can see which classes are available and talk to instructors as well as view some of the examples of the work and even purchase raw stone for your projects. Work shops are available year round for qualified members.
by JOE EVELYN SCHWAB
This is my first article as the writer for the Sun Lakes Rock and Gem Club. I’ve been a member for just under two years and enjoy the activity and friendly cooperation of the more experienced members. My goal is to feature each activity and shop within the club so prospective members know what to expect.
Active members can design and finish beautiful works of art simply by taking classes and actively pursuing the activity of their choice. Classes include Lapidary, Silver, Lost Wax, Wire Wrap, Ming Trees, Stone handles, Faceting, Beading, Gourd Art, Precious Metal Clay (PMC), Stained glass, Dichroic Glass and the study of rocks and minerals. There are probably other options I have missed but be assured there is something for everyone. You may even bring a skill to the group that is original and incorporates well to the art.
The latest technology in machines and equipment await your presence to use on a year round basis in three different locations. As a full time resident I found the air conditioned shops a pleasant place to spend the afternoon on a hot summer day. Skilled monitors are on duty in open shops to assist you with any project and assure your safety. Raw materials for stone work can be found on field trips or picked up at rock shops in the surrounding communities. It’s a great way to create your own valuable souvenirs of the places you visit. It is also a fun way to make gifts for those hard to buy for friends and relatives. They appreciate something that is hand made and quality finished.
My first visit was the Wire Wrap class at Cottonwood taught by Gene Kelly. Students, Sandy Buike, Anita Metzbower and Jo Fett were busy with the meticulous art making beautiful pieces of shell, pearls and polished stones wrapped with gold wire to make attractive pieces of jewelry. It takes patience and a steady hand to perfect a piece. The instructors I have dealt with take pride in their students work and point out any flaws and methods to correct them. They attentively watch the work progress and give much needed hands on advice.
Field trips to stone acquisition sites are arranged by the club and all able bodied members are encouraged to come along. There are some modest fees but nothing compares to finding your own stone on a hillside dig and bringing it back for cutting and polishing. Next trip is scheduled for 9 March to Sycamore Canyon, details on the club calendar.
Faceting precious stones can be very rewarding. A weeks worth of work can turn a $30 dollar stone into a treasure to be mounted in a silver or gold ring resulting in a piece that could rival those at your local jewelry store.
Access the club website at Sun Lakes Rock Gem and Silver Club http://ww.slrgs.com Meetings are held each month on the third Monday of the month at 10:30AM in the Navajo Room.