Are You Covered? Talking Insurance for Artists By Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

index1So as Monday’s go, today has pretty well lived up to the reputation of a Monday.  I innocently called the insurance company we’ve been with for 16 years about insurance needed for a craft show….and after an hour’s worth of questions about the shingles on our roof and the equipment I had in my studio…(I have a sewing machine, a sander/grinder and a 5 amp kiln)…my home insurance coverage was cancelled.  Awesome.  Why put me though all those questions only to cancel my policy? Was she just curious?  Maybe the agent I was on the phone with wanted to start her own home jewellery making business?

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Sample of one of the pieces of equipment used in my “manufacturing business”.

I’m sharing my story as it may serve as a reminder to check into your own insurance coverage.  Asking about coverage for a show–a show I may or may not get into–led me down the worm hole of studio insurance.

In retrospect, the questions I consider to be quite silly about my “manufacturing equipment” have made me realize that I was not insured by the right company.  We assumed going with a company that bore the same name as our bank, meant that it was part of the bank.  I’ve since learned that it is a company “associated” with my bank.  And while we saved money going with a large insurance company, we were a number and they were unknown to us. Continue reading…

BOOK REVIEWS by Pat Evans

MCAM 5.1_Page_16_Image_0002HOW TO MAKE SILVER CHARMS FROM METAL CLAY
By Sue Heaser,
Apple Press, 2013.

I always look forward to a new metal clay book from Sue Heaser, but I must admit I had my doubts as to whether the subject of making charms could support an entire tome. It can. In How to Make Silver Charms from Metal Clay, Heaser gives a superb mini course in metal clay techniques through the medium of charms.

Fifty projects, each with several variations, encompass a wide variety of designs, from tiny books to animals. Techniques used include everything from rolling and cutting clay to molding, sculpting, using resin and coloring the finished product in several ways. I particularly liked Heaser’s techniques for sculpting polymer clay originals then molding them for use with silver clay. For hesitant sculptors, this method avoids the worry of silver clay drying out while working, and it allows for multiples to be molded easily. Each project gives both an exploded diagram and an actual size image of the tiny finished piece. The book also includes a number of ideas on ways to use the finished charms and some simple ways to make bracelets from chain and cord.

Although the subtitle says the book includes instructions for all skill levels, most of the projects are for beginners or early intermediate metal clayers. Teachers will find it a solid resource for introducing metal clay techniques using small amounts of silver clay, while Heaser’s excellent description of techniques will let do-it-yourselfers progress easily. Some of the easier projects make good projects for parties. All in all, this is a truly “charming” book!

MCAM 5.1_Page_16_Image_0001METAL CLAY 101 FOR BEADERS
by Kristal Wick,
Lark Jewelry and Beading, 2013.

Kristal Wick is a beader who loves metal clay, and this book is her ode to combining the two. Some of the 23 proj- ects emphasize the beading, some the metal clay, but the majority are an integrated balance of the two media. Metal leaves are sewn into a peyote cuff; a silver and resin flower is both toggle and focal element for a tubular herringbone weave lariat.

The techniques section of Metal Clay 101 for Beaders includes metal clay basics, bead stringing tips and bead stitches. While the instructions are clear and well-illustrated, there is a clear expectation that readers are coming from a beading background. In keeping with the emphasis on beading, most of the metal clay projects are basic “roll, texture and cut” designs, sometimes with stacked pieces adhered with paste—or even epoxy—for dimension. I didn’t understand the use of epoxy in several of the pieces when the sections could have been adhered with traditional metal clay techniques. More experienced metal clay artists who are using this book for inspiration may prefer to use more traditional metal clay methods to achieve the looks.

If you’re a beader who wants to incorporate your own findings, focals and accents to your work, you’ll find a wealth of ideas in Wick’s work. Artists who are already familiar with metal clay can find inspiration to accent their work with beading techniques. Everyone will draw inspiration from the lovely gallery of work from well-known metal clay artists such as Jackie Truty and Lorena Angulo.

MCAM 5.1_Page_17_Image_0001SILVER CLAY WITH STYLE
By Natalia Colman,
Search Press, 2013.

If you enjoy incorporating a variety of jewelry making techniques in your jewelry, then you’ll want to browse through Silver Clay with Style. This book, originally published in the UK in 2011, has 22 silver clay jewelry projects, many of which incorporate techniques such as beading, textiles, wire wrapping and polymer clay. I especially loved her fabric cuff bracelet.

Colman’s designs are clean and modern. She includes four designs for men’s jewelry (although women may find them appealing, too.) The book starts with a solid techniques section which includes a particularly good description of how to achieve a mirror finish. Instructions are clear and extensively illustrated. My favorite section, however, is Colman’s one page chapter on design. Her explanation of deconstructing a frog in order to create a design is a wonderful teaching moment.

This book for advanced beginner to intermediate metal clay artists can inspire the reader to use Colman’s concepts to move into creating original designs.

MCAM 5.1_Page_17_Image_0002PAT EVANS keeps her hoard of jewelry making tools in San Jose, CA. She is a Senior Art Clay instructor and holds PMCC Level III and Rio Rewards PMC certifications. Pat has been teaching about crafts and creativity to both children and adults for more than 20 years, and she loves to encourage students in finding and playing with their inner artists (generally along with a nice selection of tools). Contact her at pat@metalclayartistmag.com

Metal Clay 101: Moisture Retention and Storage By Kris Kramer

 

Since the finest creations are made with the freshest of clay, keeping your clay fresh is critical for a good result. Moisture keeps binder in the clay at its peak performance, allowing you to best texture and join clay in your beautiful creations.

Everyone develops his or her particular way to store clay for the short- or long-term. Here are some tools and processes to know about while you develop yours. Many of these tools can be purchased or homemade.

While Working — Parked Clay
Never, never leave your clay out exposed to air while you are working on a creation.

Put clay away immediately, even if temporarily. You can quickly pop this clay into a Clay Safe or Vault, or you can hide it under a moisture chamber (see below). I like to place mine in misted plastic food wrap, wrapping the clay in the plastic wrap once or twice to either park it on my workstation or to sit on it (that gets all the air out). Then I can go back to work on my piece until I am finished and it’s time to store the clay properly.

Moisture retenion pic 1A Clay Safe or Clay Vault is a moisture chamber that is airtight. It comes with small moisture absorbing crystals inside. You can make your own moisture chamber to simply set over your clay out of something dome-shaped and a material that holds moisture, such as a sponge. Both of these create an environment with 100% humidity.

Kramer Storing Clay 2Short-Term Storage — Days and Weeks
First, know that the zip-lock bags that many clays come in are not airtight! So, find airtight containers of assorted sizes, because the container you use need be only slightly larger than the clay you are storing. Sometimes, I will put a tiny bit of water-saturated paper towel at the bottom of my airtight container. Again, 100% humidity is the goal. You’ll also need a mister that delivers a fine spray. The mister should contain water with or without an essential oil (few drops oil per cup water). Finally, cut a 6-inch or so square of plastic food wrap. Grab your clay and you are ready:

  • Mist the plastic wrap.
  • Roll your clay into a ball. When you roll your clay into a ball for storage, press hard in order to leave no cracks on the surface of your ball. Cracks trap air and air dries clay.
  • Place your ball of clay on the misted wrap and roll the clay up, trapping as little air as possible.
  • Place this wrapped clay in your container and snap that lid shut.

I know metal clay professionals who store their bare clay in an airtight container, like the Clay Safe, with no other preparation. This works great for them; maybe they use that clay within a day or two. It’s fun to come up with your own method, and I wonder what yours will evolve into.

Kramer Storing Clay 1Long-Term Storage — Weeks and Months
Prepare your clay for short-term storage above, then pop it in your freezer.

Re-Hydrating Partially-Dried Clay
Clay that has become completely dry can either be recycled or crushed back into powder and rehydrated. But before clay reaches that point, you may be able to reuse it without resorting to either of those options.

Here are the steps to re-hydrate partially dried clay:

  • Roll, press, or punch the clay as flat as possible.
  • Mist with water.
  • Roll it up and knead the clay like a tiny loaf of bread.
  • Repeat: roll flat, mist, knead.

If or when clay sticks to your fingers, keep rolling until it goes back into the ball (no more water needed). Repeat this process until the clay feels homogenously soft, perhaps a little moister than usual. Wrap the clay for storage, using your preferred method for short-term storage. Allow it to rest for at least 24 hours. Then take a look and decide if it is workable or not. You may have to repeat this process, rolling the clay even flatter with each roll.

kris_kramerAbout the author: Kris’ home and studio are in Whitefish, Montana. Kris is a certified Precious Metal Clay (PMC) instructor at PMC Connection. She has taught metal clay classes at a community college, at art centers across the country, and out of her studio. Now her teaching presence is online at I Love Silver, which one can access via her website, kriskramer.com. Also at her site is a video showing Kris’ art process, access to Kris’ Etsy shop, and lots of free information for all metal clay artists.

Link for her page at PMCC: https://pmcconnection.com/education/teachers/kris_kramer

Thank you to PMC Connection for sponsoring the Metal Clay 101 series.

Project: Silver and Gold Pendulum by PATRIK KUSEK

Untitled-61I’ve always been interested in supernatural phenomena: ESP, clairvoyance, telekinesis, observations that are beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding. Today there seems to be an unlimited number of TV shows on everything from Bigfoot to psychic pets. Even The History Channel has gotten into the act with programs on UFOs and psychic phenomena. So when I got the idea to make a pendulum for a necklace, I thought a little investigative research might be in order.

MCAM 5.1_Page_07_Image_0004Pendulum divination has been around for hundreds of years. It has been used to find hidden treasure, diagnose illness, locate missing persons, uncover gemstones hidden in the ground, and even find Russian submarines. Many notable people took advantage of the power of the pendulum. Leonardo da Vinci, General Patton, even Albert Einstien was known to use the pendulum with great success. He believed its power lay in electromagnetism and energy that is unseen and not yet fully understood.

Regardless of how or why it works, you don’t need to be psychic to use it, and now you can make one for yourself!

Artist/Author: Patrik Kusek
Photos: Patrik Kusek
Editors: Jeannette Froese LeBlanc, Joy Funnell and Margaret Schindel.

 

Kenji von Achen-Interview by Julia Rai

MCAM 5.1_Page_28_Image_0001Jewellery artist, metal clay instructor and business owner Kenji von Achen lives in what many of us would regard as the most romantic city in the world, Paris. We’ve been Facebook friends for a long while and I love keeping up with what he’s up to, but interviewing him for this profile was a revelation. He’s had several careers, has an interesting family history and a positive and uplifting attitude to life – and yes, there’s a little bit of romance, so read on and find out more about this charming man.

The youngest of three children, Kenji has two older sisters, one of whom passed away in 2000. His father is German, born in rural Illinois, and his mother is Japanese American, giving him his interesting name. “My pieces are signed just using KENJI,” he explained. “It’s not a ‘Sting’ or ‘Cher’ type of thing, it’s only because nobody ever spells my last name correctly anyway and also because I’m definitely assured that they’ll massacre the pronunciation,” he laughed.

MCAM 5.1_Page_29_Image_0003

My Secret Garden Collection

His parents met just after his father left the military during the Korean War. His mother and her family spent three years during the Second World War in captivity. Kenji explained, “They were forced to live in different ‘internment camps’ that were built for Americans of Japanese ancestry. In fact, they were horse stables that were converted into barracks. I don’t know a whole lot about that period of her life as a lot of Japanese Americans don’t really like talking about that period. Over the years I’ve learned a little more about life in the camps but most of that information has only come from reading books and doing research.” Continue reading…

Showing Up and Playing By Catherine Davies Paetz

JustShowUp_ChristinaRosalie1The other day I was at Trader Joe’s, checking out with my bags in hand. The cashier asked if I wanted to enter a drawing to win a gift card–a “reward” for bringing my own bags (as if saving our planet isn’t reward enough, but that’s another story). I almost said no, because I fill out a ticket every time and I haven’t won yet. But then I thought about the saying, “You can’t win if you don’t play,” which I often use to encourage people who ask about entering a show or submitting work to a book or event. So I filled out the ticket again.

That experience got me thinking more about entering, submitting, and the whole jury process for artists. Woody Allen said, “80% of success is showing up.” I think that goes hand in hand with “You can’t win if you don’t play.” Many people don’t even try to submit work because they don’t think their work will be accepted, or they fear rejection. But in order to have any chance of being accepted, you have to show up and play. Continue reading…

With These Hands by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

 

I make jewellery.  No wait.  I MAKE jewellery.  workingThese days my hands are never clean looking. Normally I don’t really care what my hands and nails look like. But recently while out to dinner with some friends I felt like the “one of these things doesn’t belong.”  Each of my friends had such nice nails.  Nicely painted nails, clean hands.  We were sharing sushi so I felt the need to announce that my hands were in fact “clean”.   As I said the words, I realized that I wasn’t ashamed.  The public announcement was to put the other diners at ease.  I am actually very proud of my raggedy nails and the permanent black stains.  To me it is a sign that I am working in my studio.  I am making jewellery. Continue reading…

Graceful Petals- Incorporate metal clay into traditional metal working with soldering by CANDACE STEPPES

MCAM 4.3_Page_45_Image_0001Providing elegance and sunshine to everyday, flowers can always brighten a mood. Create a flower of grace and splendor with carved leaves for that added touch of detail. I will then show you how to solder the foliage to a sterling silver cuff that will allow you to take the flower with you everywhere.

Project and Photos by CANDACE STEPPES
Editing by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc, Margaret Schindel and Joy Funnell
(All images and text copyright to the artist and permission must be given by the Artist or Creative Fire to reproduce.)

Artist Profile: Michela Verani by Julia Rai

I’ve known award winning artist Michela Verani for a while now, having first met her at a metal clay conference in the US. She and I share a love of sci-fi and we are also both participating in the metal clay Masters Registry programme so we have lots in common.Verani - Phoenix full necklace

Visitor to the studio1Michela lives in Londonderry, New Hampshire with her furry friends, a dog called Tolliver and a cat called Yang. “Tolliver is a Bouvier des Flandres and Yang is a dumpster kitty,” she explains. “My home is at the end of a dead end dirt road and is surrounded by hundreds of acres of woods and my messy gardens.  Whenever I am at home Tollie and I take a daily walk in the woods.” Continue reading…

Metal Clay 101: Where to Begin: Choosing Your First Metal Clay By Dona Miller

101 montana-agate-pendant-Dona-Miller-DesignsWorking in a new medium can be as overwhelming as it is exciting. As anew metal clay artist, your first question may very well be “Where should I start?” There are many varieties of metal clays to choose from and where you start your journey can have an enormous impact on where it leads.

Looking metal prices, one would think that base metal clays would be the best way to get started in metal clay. However, the firing of base metals is complex and often takes trial and error to get it right. In addition, base metal clays must be fired in carbon in a kiln.

So which metal clay should you choose to start? I start my students with PMC3.

101 Donna 1PMC3 is a fine silver clay (.999 silver). True, fine silver PMC3 is more expensive than base metal clays. But the ease of working with and firing fine silver clay makes it a much better choice for beginners. From start to finish, PMC3 is the least complicated of all of the metal clays, which means that students can focus on the basics of construction, firing, and finishing without having to worry about complications created by the clay itself. Once you have those basic skills under your belt, there is an entire universe of textures and colors available to the metal clay artist.

101 mountain-night-sky-custom-silver-ring-Dona-Miller-DesignsWith all metal clays, getting the basic texture and forming in place before the clay starts drying is key. Make sure your clay is sealed in an air-tight container when not being worked, and don’t hold the clay in your hands when you are not shaping it as your skin will pull moisture out of the clay.

Most important is to stay relaxed, have fun and experiment.

Still wondering about the other varieties of PMC clay? Here is a quick summary:
PMC3 – great for beginners; can be fired with a torch; low firing temperature allows for inclusion of findings, glass, and fire-able stones.
PMC3 paste – good for joining pieces; can be used for adding texture and painted designs; can be used with PMC3, PMC+, PMC Flex, and PMC Sterling.
PMC3 syringe – good for making repairs and filling grooves; can be used for drawing, building up forms and setting stones; can be used with PMC3, PMC+, PMC Flex, and PMC Sterling.
PMC Flex – designed to stay flexible when dry; good for bending, twisting and braiding; low firing schedule and can be fired with a torch.
PMC+ Sheet – flexible and does not stick to itself; great for origami, folding and weaving; can be laminated and used with paper punches.
PMC Sterling – great for added strength and shine, must be kiln-fired in carbon
PMC Gold – great for accents; low firing temperature; can be fired alongside silver PMC and can be torch fired.

dona-n-logan-5Dona Miller: “Art, especially jewelry, is very personal.  Through the constant inspiration of nature, animals and my dogs, I interpret the spirit around me into jewelry, using my love of stones and shaping metal.  My designs and metal work incorporate the use of cut and natural stones to reflect the peace, love and joy of nature.”

Jewelry in article by Dona Miller.

“Metal Clay 101″ is an ongoing series brought to you by PMC Connection and their instructors.