Sunday, March 27, 2011

designing a new piece

this is a piece that will be a process.  i've been studying on a necklace i picked up on a trip a bunch of years ago, and i have had it on my worktable, in the periphery of my vision for months.  i do this a lot with things i want to use eventually as inspiration.  i'm using it as a springboard for a new design for a 'necklace in the round'.  this is a slide show about using graph-paper to help make a symmetrical base to on which i will begin to make components for the new necklace.

i still have to make the rest of the parts, figure out the closure, work on connections, balance, and the finish.  i really want to do enamel on this piece.  it will be interesting to see where it goes........ an evolutionary process.  i'll keep you posted.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

an easy way to give new life to dry clay

this is a short demo showing an easy way to re-constitute metal clay when it dries out.  it works for bronze, copper or silver, any brand.  when clay dries out it cracks and is hard to cut, sculpt or mold, requiring the addition of water.    kneading water into clay with your hands or in plastic, is a messy process which rarely results in smooth clay.  

this way the clay comes out as smooth as it is when it first comes out of the package, even if the clay dries out completely.  when that happens you just have to chop it up into tiny pieces first, then, spray with water, roll,  and fold between the plastic layers, until fully rehydrated and smooth.  it takes a little elbow grease, but it's worth it!  add a little oil along the way if you need to. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

simple dry sifting project

 i have long contemplated how to add color to my metal pieces, and have tried heat patinas and colored pencil.  both were fun, but not satisfying, somehow.  lately i've been experimenting with glass enamel, and have become very excited about the results.  here are some of my discoveries:  bronze is dificult to enamel, but not impossible.  copper and silver work better.   the last demo in this blog was done in a bronze piece.  also, sifting is easier than wet packing, and i have found i can imbed small pieces in clear enamel.  here is another simple demo on applying enamel, this time with a tiny sifter.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

simple enamel project

yesterday i showed how to make an inset design into your metal clay project.  today, i have a little demo showing how to fill the insets with colored enamel.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

playing with clay, insets, inlay, and cloisonne

i've spent the last few weeks playing with my bronze and copper clay.  i've found a reliable way to make and fire copper inlay into bronze and happened upon several cool things along the way.  some things i've discovered about this process are:  keep my clay fresh.  pay attention to the manufacturer's instructions for storage of the clay when not in use.  also, pay attention to the shrinkage of each of the two clays i'm using.  when i first tried this technique, i was  using hadar's copper clay, and metal clay adventures bronze clay. i was having sintering problems with the copper.  i followed the very complicated firing schedule that hadar's clay recommends, but failed to read the instructions on how to store hadar's clay.  after many failures, i realized my mistake-----hadar's clay requires storage in the fridge, and metal clay adventures clay does not.

the first pair of earrings i'm the going to make are an inset pattern embellished with bronze syringe clay.  next i will show the same insets, but enamel filled, and finally, insets filled with copper inlay.  all these techniques start with the same basic steps.  so stay tuned.

so, starting fresh, with fresh metal clay adventures original bronze, i applied the things i'd learned.  my first pieces were too thick and heavy, aside fron not sintering all the way through, so my first decision was to make the layers thinner.  my basic idea was a two layer construction, with a cutout in the top layer.  this is how i did it, starting with rolling my clay out very thin---only one card thick.

i cut two identecle shapes, only one card thick, then, cut an interesting shape in one only

next, using a brush or sometimes my finger, i wet the tops of the shapes without the holes, and sprayed the bottoms of the shapes with the cutouts. 

carefully i placed them together, one on top of the other, making sure that the edges are lined up and that my cutout is not distorted.

i use home-made paste of bronze clay and distilled water to fil a syringe, and carefully add detail, in this case i added the veins of the leaf.

i used a brush wetted with distilled water to pat in the detail
then i place them carefully on 
 a small pyrex bowl for drying....the bowl produces a nice organic curve, that i find pleasing.

i usually add bronze loops when the shapes are till wet.  when the pieces are dry and sanded, they are ready forthe kiln.  i fire these at 1525 degrees for two hours in cocout shell carbon in my top loading kiln.  these are the results.
there are numerous options for finishing from here.....i'll cover those in my next post.