I sold the last of my finished fine silver leaves in Lake Placid on the 18th; and until spring when new leaves burst out for me to collect and use, the four shown here are all I have left. I had rolled and cut these some time ago, but have found that they clean up so much better if they're left to dry natually .. the longer the better. Any moisture left when you put them in the kiln, and bad things happen.
Shortly after taking this photo, I added bails to all four and they're currently drying. I'll be able to clean them up some time this week. (I'm sorry I didn't put a half dollar in the middle so you could see the size comparison. I'll have to remember that next spring).
I've found it easier to add the bails later rather than trying to work them into the design when cutting out the leaf. They just end up looking so much better. And it's easier to clean up and "polish" the dry clay without the bail being in the way (I've broken one or two bails this way, one of the reasons why I switched). I've toyed with the idea of creating the bails, letting them dry separately, and then adding them later. But I've been making the leaves with Standard (or original) PMC, and I haven't been able to find paste (or in clay terms, slip) in this version of PMC, so I have to make my own PMC Standard paste. And the few times I added water to the PMC powder that results after sanding, I ended up with a moldy mess when I went back to use it. Not good. Scary, in fact. So now I still collect the powder, as the stuff's too expensive to waste; but I keep it dry in its own container, and create paste as I go by just dipping a wet brush into the powder. Takes a lot of wet brush dippin' to create the kind of paste blob one occasionally needs to "glue" one really dried piece to another. So .. while at least the bails are still moist and willing to stick to stuff, I form them with greased up little straws, attach them, muck around with their placement, and hope I've been able to create enough of a sticky mess at their connection points to meld in the kiln (the PMC version of soldering!). I haven't been disappointed yet. Mostly 'cuz I'm a bit of a stickler for overkill. Not a bad thing in cases like this.
Anyway, I was really pleased with these four .. I think they're the best I've done all season. Can't wait till they come out of the kiln!! The one on the far left is my absolute favorite local leaf with which to work. It sticks nicely to the clay while still being easy to remove when I'm done with it. It has a lovely shape, great veining and they're the perfect size for working with both Standard (which shrinks 25-30%) and PMC+ and PMC3 (both of which shrink about 10-12%). I can't tell you what it is - I've tried to find out, but can't find it in any of our collection of books on trees and local flora. It comes from a grapeleaf like vine and is found at the base of several of the maple, oak and apple trees on our property as well as in among the honeysuckle the birds have "planted". If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to know! The next one is a birch and the third and fourth examples are a red maple and a white maple (one of which is already spoken for, just don't know which one yet).
OK .. I'm off to run errands. One of which is to stop at the local Agway and see if they have any house plants from which I can raid leaves over the winter! I haven't really thought about house plants as a source, but there just may be one out there with the perfect PMC leaf! I'll keep ya posted.