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.

No comments: