Art meets Parts

Art comes together piece by piece. I pulled some antique clockworks from bin in the studio last night, searching out elements to upcycle in the fabrication of a pin for a steampunk medal commission. It was the best excuse for playing with my Smith minitorch using oxyacetylene. With oxyacetylene gas, metal temperature moves from the solder point to fusing in a split second; it's really just too hot for most applications. But periodically, there is nothing like exploring the nature of such enormous heat in a fine-tipped, exquisite instrument like the Smith mini. I was part surgeon, part reckless adventurer. Thats an addictive place for a jeweler.

It is said you have to know the rules to break them. Flux is the layer of ground glass used to stop metal from oxidizing and preventing the union of one metal surface with another when soldering. There was plenty of excitement in fusing the clockworks to fashion a simple spring mechanism and soldering a steel flange into the jaws of a brass fitting for the catch. The surprise to me was in the finishing. I loved the combined patina of brass skin and flux. Under the high heat of this particular gas, the brass had accepted the flux, shading it like a burnished layer of enamel that captured the microscopic copper brought to the surface in the near molten metal during the process. Copper reacts to heat more quickly than the other metals, so it left its fingerprint in a most painterly way which the glass captured, melted into the thinest glaze of enamel, like a slide would what is under a microscope. Usually one cleans off the heatskin, filing, sanding, and polishing to reveal the shiny surface beneath. I could not bring myself to remove it everywhere because it fit the coloration and dimpling of a warm, autumnal planet, serving the thematic nature of the medal which captures a stormy moonlit night. It just FIT the piece. So I broke all the metalworker's rules, keeping this rough, worn, organic surface and using it as an artistic element. This is not to apologize. Why not break them in the service of this gleeful, natural magic?

I say, give me your poor (old clocks), your tired (steel coathangers) yearning to breathe free. I was in Halloween costume enjoying the treat of my amazing torch. Picture this silvery haired Deaf lady liberty: jewelers headset on, but bent over the work, the magnificence of a Smith minitorch in her grasp. Exhileration and freedom. Chemistry + art = metalwork, just like art + reUse = smart. That's the equation of this kind of liberty, to make of each piece something distinctive. A fun trick, too.

Here's my challenge: what new can you bring of your tired, poor or castoff lifestuff? Bring some liberty out of the parts and pieces. Make it count. Here's a mental medal for your efforts.