By Katie Wilde and Melissa Gobeil
As we continue our 12 Month Artful pledge, the staff at GAC are pleased to update you on what February: Create! meant to us.
February is a short month, and it felt even shorter with the high level of activity and change in my life at the moment. February may seem like a quiet month at Guelph Arts Council but we’re taking applications for Art on the Street and Wall of Art, planning workshops, Walking Tours, and Doors Open Guelph, looking for a new Executive Director, developing creative spaces, and assisting members and the community on the daily. I’m not a fan of the b-word, but honestly, it’s been busy!
Outside of work, I’d been practicing some pretty challenging music for Guelph Concert Band (which I joined last month for January’s theme “Join”) was performing for our February 22 concert at the River Run. I may have done some permanent damage to my partner’s eardrums practicing Cuban Overture at home.
So how have I found time to “Create”? Well, it’s had to come in bits and pieces. I’ve been feeling down about how little time lately I’ve been able to spend on the painting I’ve been developing for months. When I look back over the month of February, my creative time has come in the form of stolen moments whenever I could get them or incorporate them into my day-to-day life.
Sometimes when it’s hard to find time to work on my own long-term projects, a sudden need to show love and appreciation to someone important can be the kick in the pants needed to create in little bursts. A beloved mentor of mine had a birthday this month. I knew it was coming but it managed to sneak up on me anyway. So, even though I normally use oil paints and haven’t touched acrylics for years, I busted out the old tubes for their fast-drying qualities, and powered through a little bird to give as a gift.
Even half an hour of down time before a concert can be enough to draw up a little handmade card to thank someone who has brightened the life of your band. It may seem like nothing to you, but people’s reactions to your small creation – whether doodles, a handmade card, something knitted or sewn, a verse written or a song sung – will often make you and those around you way happier than you thought they would. And while I still believe that making time for difficult and ambitious creations is important, what this February has taught me is that stolen moments of creativity are worth far more than they seem.
This crisp cold month forced most of us indoors, and while Netflix by the fireside may have called (loudly), I made sure to make room for my creative practice and to remember that I am an artist first.
While at the workbench a couple of weeks ago, I was working on a prototype of a locket for a client, when a new idea made its way into my head.
This may sound like total distraction from the project at hand, but it wasn’t. You see, this is how the jewellery studio operates. At the bench, you usually have a few projects on the go.
The reason for this is that there are forced waiting times in between certain stages of the process. Sometimes you have annealed a piece of metal (making it softer with heat so it’s easier to work with) and then it goes in the pickle (a hot vat of acid that eats away the oxides that form on the surface after soldering)for a while. So, while waiting for these processes you find you have some time on your hands.
This day in the studio, while waiting for this little locket to come out of the pickle, I noticed a piece of 18k yellow gold wire that was sitting on my bench. Then I noticed a piece of sterling silver wire of the same diameter sitting beside it and decided to join them to make a ring. In this case, I used a lower karat solder (with a melting point that wouldn’t melt either the 18k gold or the sterling silver) to solder the two pieces together before turning it into a ring (for the curious, see the how-to ring making process below.) The result was a lovely, subtle piece that now rests on my finger, reminding me to keep my hands moving and make time to play and create.
I hope your February was wonderful, that you found time to create something new this month, and that the results were delightfully unexpected!
Bonus Background – How to make a ring:
Most rings start off as a long piece of metal called a “ring blank.” The maker first determines the ring size and then does a calculation to figure out how long to make the “ring blank.”
This “ring blank” is then cut, filed, and measured carefully in millimeters. Then it is annealed (softened) again, pickled (cleaned) again and then formed by hand into a “D” shape before it being soldered closed.
After soldering the ring closed, it goes back in the pickle. When it is done, the solder gets filed off, the ring gets formed into a perfect circle (using a rawhide hammer and madrel). To finish, the entire piece is sanded and polished. And voila! – you have a ring.
This, my friends, is the reason that you see so many projects on a goldsmith’s bench!