Thursday, July 3, 2008

MAKING CHINA BLOSSOMS

I made a bunch of China Blossoms the other day, and it hit me that I'd never taken any pictures of the process, so this time I did.

The procedure is this:

Cover whatever large surface is available with as many saucers or other small dishes or glassware as it will hold.
Bring out the votive holders, ashtrays, little dishes, small glasses, little bud vases, etc., that have been gathered over the past weeks or months, and put one, or sometimes two, in the center of each dish.

Change your mind eight times about which center piece goes with which saucer.

Then change it again.

When you've finally got it figured out (whew!) glue the pieces down.



Two tables full


On this day, I worked outside. It was pleasant to be in the yard, and the warmth of the sun made the glue I use set up faster. That's good, because this step also entails coming back to the table every few minutes to see what has slid off-center, and sliding it back into place.

The glue is not secret. I use E6000, which is the best I've found, after many trials, but takes quite a while to set up. You don't have a reliable bond for at least 24 hours, but once you've got it, there doesn't appear to be anything that will separate your glued pieces from each other.




Showing some of them close-up


Even when you think you're done with this part, you might not be. I added to some of the ones shown above, a colorful flat marble here and there, or some other oddment, often completes the flower.




Couple of Favorites



While the China Blossoms were drying, I took myself into my shop and set up my itty bitty chop saw, to cut the copper tubing. It gets cut into lengths, crimped flat on one end, and then I take it to a friend's house, where I do a combination of welding and soldering to complete the back assembly. We're working on getting the spot welder set up at my place, so I don't have to go away from home to do this.





Set up to cut the tubing




A completed back, which holds the China Blossom stem



The last step happens the next day (remember the 24 hour glue set-up time). I turn the China Blossoms on their faces, and glue the backs on. Some of them have to be set on bowls, because they aren't flat on the front. Sometimes the center piece has managed to slide off-center, in spite of my vigilance. Those I hold up and turn until they look like the piece is centered, then place the back accordingly. It's an optical illusion thing. After that, it's just a matter of sliding the stem holders back into place when they slide away from where I've put them. (I have a mechanical engineer friend who says they slide because, basically, a glob of glue constitutes a little hill. Anything set atop that hill is going to slide down it, until either the glue is sticky enough to hold it in place, or the hills has flattened itself out. Knowing that, I now aim for a flatter hill to begin with!)



And that's how you make a China Blossom!

2 comments:

Carrie J said...

Those are going to be lovely. I'm not sure but I believe that E6000 can be used like a contact cement. Apply it to both pieces, wait a few minutes then put the parts together. It helps avoid the dreaded slip. I used to use it on a craft product that I made and that was the way I applied it.

Cyndi L said...

Your work is so much fun! I'm planning on sharing this post on my blog Layers Upon Layers, and then it occurred to me that I'd really love to have you do an artist profile discussing all your different talents! You can see a sample profile here:
http://www.layersuponlayers.com/category/artist-profiles/

Please let me know if you'd be interested! cyndi @ b5Media.com

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