It’s nice to have a test piece lying around your workspace to experiment with various finishing, polishing, and burnishing tools and methods. Continue reading…
Cruz Bay, USVI Whatever happens to the beasts, happens to man
Silver, 24k gold, bronze, brass, ruby I used PMC 960 for this hollow-constructed mechanical pendant, with small keum-boo detail
on the angel’s wings and inlay techniques for the words. The ruby is set using traditional fabrication
What Can You Use to Add Texture to Metal Clay?
Although it sounds clichéd, you really are limited only by your imagination. There is a dizzying selection of commercial plastic, polymer or silicone texture mats and sheets, rubber stamps, texture rollers, molds, etc. that you can purchase to impress patterns in fresh clay. There also are many different ways to make your own one-of-a-kind texturing materials and tools. You can use water etching, carving, drilling, filing and metal clay appliqué on dried clay. After firing you can use traditional metal working techniques such as hammering to alter the topography of the metal’s surface.
You also can use ordinary items you might never think of as metal clay (and polymer clay) texture tools. Continue reading…
Depending on the type of metal clay you are using, from original fine silver to base metal clays, there are a number of options for firing. This may include anything from a kiln to a simple hand-held torch.
One of the processes of creating jewelry with silver metal clay that got me addicted was the ability to use a something as simple as a butane torch for firing. In as little time as two minutes, I could have a beautiful pair of earrings or a pendant ready to wear.
When teaching a beginner class, I only demonstrate torch firing as a way to help the students understand how easy it is to set up your metal clay studio with minimal cost.
There are a lot of U-tube videos on metal clay, but one of my favorite ones on torch firing is by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc https://youtu.be/OwwZ3RnkEHw.
Here are some additional tips to remember when torch firing your metal clay.
1. Always make sure you are in a well ventilated area and that your piece is not too large or complex. (These need to be fired in a kiln for a longer period of time.)
2. Allow your work to air dry overnight or place it on a coffee warmer or dehydrator until thoroughly dry. One of my favorite ways to test if the piece is dry is to place it onto a small mirror and wait 5-10 seconds, if there is condensation on the mirror when you remove the piece, it’s not quite dry yet.
3. Once the piece is thoroughly dry, place it on a soldering block or fire brick. My torch station consists of a ceramic tile under the brick/block, which is then set on either a fireproof surface or something that can be singed (like a piece of plywood).
If you are working on the kitchen counter and the piece rolls off the block you don’t want to scar the counter-top. I always have a fire extinguisher in easy reach.
4. Light the torch and hold it so the flame is nearly vertical with the tip of the cone, about 3/4″ away from the work. Within a minute, the piece will be enveloped in a soft flame as the binder burns away. Your first instinct is to pull the flame away from the piece. Don’t do that! The flame will soon go out by itself. Within another minute the piece will start to glow red. Continue heating until this becomes a bright and luminous color. At this point, glance at a clock.
5. Hold this color as uniformly as possible for at least 2-3 minutes (glancing away periodically to relieve your eyes). When the time is up, turn off the torch and allow the piece to cool at least until the red color is gone, at which point it can be quenched or left to air cool.
As I began to create more complex metal clay pieces and increased my production, I realized that my best option for firing was with a kiln. Utilizing a kiln allows me to fire larger pieces (in excess of 1”), as well as groups of smaller items, like earrings. This frees up my time up to get back to creating.
As with torch firing, I always ensure my pieces are completely dry. All types of metal clay can be fired in a kiln. As long as the kiln can ramp up to the required temperature (as high as 1650 degrees F (900 degrees C) for silver metal clay and can hold that temperature for anywhere from 10 minutes to 4 hours, it can be used for firing metal clay. Programmable kilns allow you to set the time and temperature for firing, which removes any guess work. It’s important to check the clay manufacturer’s time/temperature requirements to determine how high and how long clay must be fired.
The main issue with using a kiln, is that you want to make sure the temperature readings and hold times are accurate. If metal clay pieces are under-fired (fired at lower temperatures or for a shorter period of time than required), then they will not be fully sintered and will be subject to breakage. Alternatively, pieces fired too hot will melt. Kiln temperatures can drift slightly over the life of the kiln. So if you find that you are having firing issues, it is a good idea to test the actual temperatures in your kiln using a handheld pyrometer and compare that to the read out on the kiln’s display. This may result in the need to adjust the temperature (higher or lower temperature by as much as 25 degrees) or period of time (longer or shorter hold time).
I always place my work on a kiln shelf that has been elevated with kiln stilts. This allows the heat from the kiln to travel up, down, all around the pieces. I never place my pieces directly on the kiln floor.
Because metal clay may sometimes slump, flatten or warp as gravity acts on the metal during firing, it important to support the piece to help it retain its shape. If you are firing a complex piece (curved or shaped) that needs support, there are several ways to preserve the shape of your piece. The most common varieties of support are a fiber blanket or vermiculite. Vermiculite, which is a naturally occurring material, is my choice of support for my metal clay. It is easy to find – I buy mine at a local garden center and it works well. I just place it in a crucible and place my metal clay pieces on the vermiculite and fire. You can also place vermiculite directly on the kiln shelf. Fiber blanket can be used to support whole pieces. It can also be placed in negative spaces for support of hollow forms.
My final note on firing metal clay is on Safety:
You should always fire in a well-ventilated area or outside. If you’re torch firing, wear cotton; synthetic materials can melt and stick to the skin if burned. Tie back your hair, wear closed-toed shoes, and don’t wear loose-fitting clothes.
If you’re kiln-firing, follow the kiln manufacturer’s specifications on creating a safe firing station. My kiln is in my garage and placed on a concrete block kept well away from the wall of my garage. I always have a fire extinguisher close by when I’m firing either by torch or kiln.
About the author: Katherine lives in Southwest Louisiana and is a PMC Connection Instructor. She is a member of Louisiana Craft Guild and her class offerings range from introductory classes to Certification. Katherine teaches in her home studio, as well as at the New Orleans School of Art and Craft in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Katherine is one of four founding members of the L’ esprit du Metal, Louisiana Chapter of the PMC Guild where she serves as Treasurer and Secretary. Her jewelry can be found in several galleries both in Lafayette & New Orleans, LA including Sans Souci Gallery, Lafayette Art Association Gallery, Hermann-Grima-Gallier Historic Houses Gallery in New Orleans, LA.
Strata Ring by Kathy Van Kleeck is presented by Cool Tools and is part of a special series of projects designed by metal clay master jewellery makers. Kathy’s unique style and openness about her process is as refreshing as her jewellery.
(Note: click on images to enlarge)
The inspiration for this ring was born out of my curiosity about how thin I could work with the new EZ960® Sterling Silver Clay and still maintain structural integrity. Favorite themes in my work are repetition of form and layering of elements. The image of stratified layers came to mind and creating this effect in rings seemed like a good place to start.
I started off making what I call “washer” rings, thin and flat, but with my signature “wonky and weathered” edges.
Wearing a loose stack of the new “strata” rings worked just fine, but as a project to share seemed a bit lackluster. The idea of joining the rings via rivets, one small to stabilize the stack and one large to secure the group, seemed like it would be visually compelling, not to mention good fun. Continue reading…
At an invitational gallery show in France, Metal Clay jewellery by seventeen international artists is featured until June 11th. The show is the dream project for artist Angela Baduel-Crispin. PÔLE BIJOU GALERIE in Baccarat, France will display the works for the next four months. Are you unable to travel to France to see the show? We have a virtual tour of the show. The artists’ pieces and information is organized by country.
This exhibition is the first of its kind. It focuses on giving visibility to both this relatively new material and to artists of international renown who have pushed metal clay to it’s highest potential! Seventeen international artists (all women) each with her own their different styles and techniques. 70% of the work in the show is jewelry and the other 30% or so is composed of objects in metal clay. We were very thankful that number of artists were invited and submitted their work for the show. Selection was strongly based on originality of the work and technical proficiency.
Kim Booklass – www.facebook.com/KimBooklassWearableArt
Tribal Warrior Woman symbolizes Every woman, at once simple and complex, guarded and protective, secure and vulnerable, functional and decorative. She stands strong, fights fiercely for her own, opens herself with love, enfolds all into her armour for both defense and nurture. Her chains are not only the ties that bind but also the connections between women around the world. Made from the very earth of Australia, Warrior Woman is accompanied by Wolf, a symbol of her visionary creator, loyal yet fierce protector/companion giving both strength and worldly knowledge.
Like every woman, Warrior Woman gives pieces of herself to nurture and enhance others, remaining whole in and of herself. Appearing to be nothing more than a statue, her armour is symbolic and trans-formative, revealing interconnected pieces of exquisite jewellery. Functional and decorative pieces include her arm guards becoming earrings; her shield, a stick pin; the bow and arrow across her back, a bracelet.
Warrior Woman was sculpted completely by hand from Aussie Metal Clay. Unlike traditional metalwork in which precise measurements remain true, metal clays shrink varying amounts during both drying and firing stages. Using five colours in two different firing temperature ranges, Kim combined beauty and functionality, seamlessly fitting the jewellery pieces, while accounting for the differences in shrinkage, malleability, and strength of the two High Fire colours of the armour and three Medium Fire colours of the body, the like types fired together. During her creation, Kim also perfected a unique metal clay glue enabling finer, more delicate pieces to be invisibly affixed.
Kim, a lifelong Australian, has been a renowned designer of dog jewellery and accessories for many years. She pioneered personalized pet sculptures using traditional metal casting techniques. A new world unfolded when introduced to metal clay. “Knowing No Boundaries” Kim’s motto, encourages her to be an innovator in metal clay. Warrior Woman’s inspiration appeared as both form and symbolism in a dream, with a personal message about life’s battles. Kim relates, “Sculpting Warrior Woman pushed me to areas I had not ventured before. She helped make me into the sculptor I am today, and for that I am forever thankful to her.”
Suzanne McNenly – http://suemcnenly.com
From studying economics to 20 years in the investment industry to full-time artist… “If something is holding you back from taking such a major step, start small. Work at night…weekends….whenever. Never think you can’t become what you wish to be. Find a way”.
“My love of small, detailed pieces was fueled as a child upon my first visit to that marvel of miniature engineering, the Queen’s Dollhouse at Windsor Castle. Tiny masterpieces have always tugged at my heartstrings. My homemade Barbie house was to die for, but I’m thankful my experiments with homemade braces never took off!
What began 14 years ago at an evening sculpture class at Alberta College of Art and Design quickly turned into a desire to become a full time maker. My introduction to silver metal clay a few years later allowed me to make smaller, more detailed pieces that may have been impossible using traditional fabrication techniques.
Although I have, for the most part returned to those traditional methods, I view my metal clay skills as a very valuable tool in my box.”
Vignettes are the art forms that make up most of my work. They immortalize cherished and wacky moments of my childhood……the wonky hair-do on picture day…wearing flippers around the house…learning to tie shoe- laces in the great century before velcro.
Sheep : « Let these sweet, charming ewe fly into your heart with their precious silver wings and whimsical expressions. Tiny treasures are hand sculpted from sterling silver, with round felted wool bodies. They are lovely alone, or gathered in a herd“
Angela Baduel Crispin – http://www.angelacrispin.com/index.php/fr/
Angela Crispin was born in Sao Paulo to a Brazilian mother and an American father and grew up alternately between Brazil and Hawaii. In 1987 she flew to Paris to complete her studies in political science and chose to remain in France after graduation. She then decided to give her professional life a new direction devoting herself exclusively to her vocation: jewelry making and design.
She trained in Paris at BJO Formation and further trained in jewelry making and enamel at the LEI Nicolas Flamel in Paris. Thereafter, she followed several courses and certifications by Metal Clay specialists in the United States. Angela Crispin is constantly interested in new materials and new techniques.
Her work is in perpetual change and renewal, combining traditional and innovative techniques in the use of different metals that she occasionally combines with a wide range of materials such as resin, leather, Faux BoneTM, or with objects of everyday life and other natural elements. She is an internationally recognized metal clay specialist. Her work as maker/designer and Artisan of the Arts (« Artisan d’Art ») is recognized by the competent bodies in France, namely the Chamber of Trade (Chambre de Métiers) and the Ateliers d’Art de France, as well as in the USA by the PMC Guild, PMC and Art Clay World Connection, and in Europe by Art Clay Europe.
She draws inspiration from her philosophy of life, based on multicultural influences, which leads to constantly observing her surroundings to develop an inner knowledge of self and further build relationships with the world. She captures both physical and symbolic elements, from natural or man, which she then makes her own, combining them in order to reconstruct a personal and worldly representation through the original contact with the material in a contemporary interpretation.
The creative process sparks from an inner vision. Then, guided by instinct, the piece emerges, evolves and takes shape in her mind, until her hands take over to give it life in the appropriate material for the imagined object. Sometimes, on the other hand, it is a found object or a trivial subject that inspires her to imagine it out of context and beyond its original purpose and destination.
“I discovered metal clay in 2012 and immediately developed a passion for it. It is an amazing material, flexible, sprinkled with ribs and extraordinarily malleable. It is ideal to fulfill any whim of your imagination for modeling, sculpture and volumes. I like bronze for its color and also because it demands special techniques to design and bake it. I do not use much silver in my work, mainly because of its high price. My interest in technical matters quickly led me to create three dimensional objects such as boxes. L’Envol is the second one I made. I received an award for it from Metal Clay Artist Magazine in 2014. It is the creation I am most proud of, probably because, at the time, I made it in materially difficult conditions.
I have often used clay, making series of little balls or settings made with an extruder, which helps to create thin and regular wires just like in l’Envol. Then, I started to sculpt and carve clay with gouges or a scalpel. Sculpture has been like a revelation for me and has constituted a new step in my work. I made L’Eveil following a model I had imagined.
I conclude by saying that I like to model and sculpt birds whose wings make it possible to create beautiful movements. After the peacock, I am currently working on other series like songbirds or fantastic birds. ”
Noortje Meijerink – www.noortjemeijerink.nl
”Birds in all their freedom, gracefully gliding through the sky or proudly strutting on the ground. To capture those motions is my challenge.”
“As a ceramist I fell in love with porcelain. I prefer the craftsmanship of the throwing wheel and the precision of the sgraffito technique. Thrown porcelain pots are covered with a black engobe in which geometrical shapes or birds are scratched. After graduating in silver clay in the United States in 2003, some of the birds on my pots receive a silver wing. The combining of these two forms of “clay” is a technical challenge that’s more than worth the effort. The result is a graceful combination of matte black, bright white porcelain and lustrously shining silver. Currently my birds are becoming more and more figurative. The hand-formed porcelain bodies and heads are getting tails, necks and legs made of bronze clay or copper clay. The rich yellow hue of the bronze or the warm red of copper lends themselves perfectly to complete my proud porcelain birds.”
“Oh, to be a bird; fragile yet firm…”
Helga Van Leipsig – www.laleipsigjewels.com
Helga Van Leipsig graduate a Bachelor “Art – Jewellery Design” on Maastricht Fine Art Academy. Then she work around 10 years as grafical designer for several company’s, before create her own business (grafical and jewellery work) in 2004. She live and work in Netherlands.
She present “Earth Collection”.
“Because of my traditional metalworking skills, I come to metal clay with the question, “What can I accomplish with metal clay that I can’t achieve with conventional techniques?”
All metal clays include moisture and some form of binder in their fresh or raw state. Because these are removed in the firing process, it follows that all forms of metal clay shrink during the sintering process. This makes it possible to incorporate elements such as other metal alloys or stones that can withstand the firing temperatures.
I have taken advantage of the fact that metal clay shrinks during the sintering to create my Earth collection. By pushing silver squares in the wet clay I mimic the furrows and ridges of a ploughed field. The back of the jewellery pieces show the shrinkage pattern after firing.
A ploughed field is soil turned around. It ensures the circulation of nutrients and aeration. Earth needs oxygen and water for the seeds to grow. The furrows and ridges that are created while ploughing form striking perspectives. We often only touch the surface. To go deeper we have to work actively to enhance our knowledge and handling skills. Repetition is key.
In the re-creation of small areas of my rural environment I discovered my language that evolves into powerful, meaningful jewellery. It are combinations of strong textures and stylized shapes. The textures are created by actively working with the clay, so fields, spaces and areas are brought into existence.
Then, they erode again, in the ever evolving landscapes.”
Joy Funnell – www.joyfunnell.co.uk
Joy Funnell originally trained as a Graphic Designer and worked as a self employed graphic designer from 1981 until 1985. She began jewellery making as a hobby in 1985 working with silver wire, silver sheet and enamel. In 2006 she qualified as a Senior Art Clay Instructor and since started is own jewellery business. In 2009, she was made a Craftsman of The Guild of Enamellers and was the first person to be awarded this status by submitting all six pieces made using silver clay and enamel.
“I love colours and I love textures. These two things inspire most of my work. To see a rainbow will always bring a smile to my face. I try to be – Joy by name and Joyful by nature.
I work mostly in silver clay and I absolutely love it !
To add colour to my work I often set stones and enamel pieces. Enamelling allows me to add colour and depth to my work, and for eye catching sparkle I use small stones which are fired in place. These are laboratory grown stones and czs which are able to withstand the high temperatures of firing the silver. Some of my pieces are also set with beautiful natural stones after the firing process.
Enamelling is an art which is centuries old. Powdered glass is fused onto precious metals at high temperatures in the kiln to create a durable coloured finish. I use transparent enamels in my jewellery so the silver can shine through the rich colours. I have developed my own technique – Enamelled Accents – where jewel like colours are captured by fine silver wires on the surface of a piece to give a freestanding cloisonné effect.
By using silver clay and then enamelling it I make original jewellery which is unlike commercial high street jewellery. Mostly I create one-of-a-kind work – unique pieces for unique people. By exhibiting my work I can reach a wider discerning audience and I always hope my work will bring a smile to the faces of viewers.”
Tracey Spurgin – www.craftworx.co.uk
Tracey trained in fashion design and textiles, working in the industry for a short time. She was always explor- ing new creative skills and techniques. She then moved onto teaching various arts and crafts in adult learning through colleges when life’s journey brought her to discover metal clay. She knew instantly this would be her devoted joy and passion!
As director, principal artist and tutor of Craftworx Studio Jewellery School in the UK, Tracey carefully and effi- ciently manages her time to promote her own studio, courses and workshops. She writes articles for jewellery magazines and works as a demonstrator for a major craft exhibition company.
“ My inspirations have come from many sources… my grandmothers “button box” which is where it all started, a curiosity for trying new things, a collection of random objects, travel from holidays where I enjoy taking pic- tures of interesting architecture, a love of the arts and crafts movement. These things together with the sur- rounding of where I live in the beautiful idyllic setting of the Yorkshire Wolds, where my studio is set on a farm – these all play a role to drive me forward.”
“So my passion is the share the wonders of working with this amazing material. I love to push the boundies of working with this material so the concept of attempting engineering in clay fascinated me, I adore creating hinged boxed and lockets in metal clay. These pieces were inspired by the architecture of a local Minster. The shape, the form and ornamentation where all details I observed on a trip around the Church.”
Barbara Becker Simon – www.bbsimon.com
Barbara Becker Simon studied Art in State University of New York at New Paltz, and then Metal and Silversmithing in University of Wisconsin at Madison, and completed her training through a variety of differents workshops (Arc and Gas Welding, Glassblowing, Lampworking, Custom Knifemaking…)
She present two necklace : Polygons and Linked.
Polygons was inspired by the shapes of the stone beads and their surface patterns. “I wanted to use metal clay beads that were compatible and had interesting contrast. The stainless steel cable adds another wonderful texture to the design and contributes to the comfort of wearing this piece. Most of the beads were constructed with dried, textured metal clay sheet in a variety of images and patterns. The sides of the angular beads were cut out and mitered before connecting them together which results in clean joints and allows the various textures on the boxes to flow visually flow into one another”
Linked was inspired by its own specific technical needs. Making hollow forms and interlocking them using metal clay is a thousand times easier in metal clay than using traditional metalworking techniques. “These hollow forms are complex to construct but result in an unusual form. The contrast between the hard-edged metal elements and the luxurious, organic quality of the pearls is very intriguing”
And the four bronze bangles, 4 Spirals/4 Triangles, Mountain Peaks, Little Details and Walk in the Woods were influenced by African motifs (Moroccan, ancient Benin civilization).” To made them, I roll out a thick piece of clay, cut out the inside circle, cut out the outside shape and let it dry. The sides and edges are sanded smooth and using carving V-shaped gouges, I incise the all-over patterns on the bracelet. It gets fired in a kiln and finished with a patina and soft shine. The surface and edges of these bangle bracelets will get more beautiful the more they are worn.”
Pam East – www.pameast.net
Pam East is an internationally known artist, writer and teacher. Her work and instructional articles have appeared in many magazines. Her book “Enameling on Metal Clay” is considered the definitive resource for enameling on silver clay.
“My passion is combining metal clay and enamels, and igniting that passion in others. For me, the definition of the creative process is bringing rich, vibrant color to metal work and expressing different moods, feelings or visual impact through color. I began enameling on copper in 1997. In 2003 I was introduced to metal clay and was immediately captivated by the creative possibilities it represented. Metal clay is the perfect medium for enamels. With each new piece I create, I am always striving to take it farther, to push it to the next level, interlacing color and metal in new and unexpected ways. Over the years I’ve developed a wide variety of techniques to bring it all together. My latest work is a fusion of champlevé & cloisonné and Mokume Gane which is a mix of copper and silver producing woodgrain patterns.The addition of enamels to an already complex process has been as challenging as it is rewarding.. ”
Lora Hart – www.lorahart.com
She has been working with metal clay since the year 2000, and is a Senior Instructor and the Artistic Advisor for PMC Connection (PMCC). PMCC is one of the two importers of Precious Metal Clay brand metal clay in the United States.
Prior to 2000, Lora was a make-up artist working in Los Angeles, California.
“My little studio is an always changing cabinet of curiosity, populated by found objects, architectural photographs, and little containers filled with colorful gems, antique buttons and otherwise forgotten objects that help spark my creative imagination.
A long held fascination for historical decoration and architectural detail can be seen echoed in my designs. Softly glowing silver, bronze and gold gilt vessels and jewelry are warmed by velvety patinas and beautiful gemstones. Complex forms are assembled from individually hand formed elements before being finished with the delicate details that make each piece unique.
Vintage photographs may be set beneath high domed quartz to accentuate the fact that perception is often distorted when one doesn’t look at the whole picture. Tiny reliquaries and scent bottles remind us that hidden content is sometimes more intriguing than visible context.
A combination of lusciously malleable metal clay and traditional metalsmithing techniques come together to construct whatever contours my designs demand. Each piece is patinated and polished to accentuate its specific features.”
Kim Nogueira – www.kimnogueira.com
Kim Nogueira is an automaton maker and award-winning jeweler who learned the goldsmithing trade on the job as a production goldsmith and has taken intensive workshops with reknowned American enamelists and metalsmiths. She is based on the tiny island of St John, in the US Virgin Islands. She combines the mechanics and wearer intereaction of automata with the narrative power of text, found objects and three dimensional figures to create multi-dimensional stories in metal.
“Employing the traditional fabrication techniques of the goldsmith and enamelist in combination with the contemporary metalsmithing innovation of metal clay, I construct complex narratives in metal that speak to the curiosities, challenges and marvels of our time. By incorporating movement and wearer interaction with tiny automata that are activated by turning a crank, I hope to explore and keep alive the enigma that is childhood wonder as well as draw attention to the marvels of our everyday life and the preciousness of the extraordinary journey that we are all on together.
For about a decade I have collected early to mid-twentieth century vending machine toys and gumball charms, Stanhope peep charms, antique mechanical toys and lilliputian Victorian curiousities. These inspire me, and I also work directly with these diminutive oddments, making molds of them for use in my work, deconstructing them to make the mechanical figures and details in my wearable automata using the innovative material metal clay. I manipulate these to form my own narrative, integrating universal themes in tandem with the questions of my own heart.
For me, creation is intangible and magical, with a mystical element.The possibilities are infinite and manifested often, though not always, in material form. I focus on the mystical, unseen and enchanting aspects of creation in my work.”
Donna Penoyer – www.donnapenoyer.com
Donna Penoyer graduate as Certified Artisan on PMC certification program, and take part in several Art workshops on other techniques (metalsmithing, keum-boo, enameling, mixed media, etc.). Before that she study creative writing (poetry) and English literature.
“Metaphor gives us poetic, psychological, mythological, and metaphysical ways of looking at the world. I am interested in exploring metaphors and narratives that help me understand how one small story can be connected to an entire history of a planet, and that give me intuitive ways to navigate through time. Navigation and tools for staying afloat are themes in many of my pieces. The boat has become one metaphor for balance while moving forward, groundedness during surrender to the current, and the subtle work and constant adjustment required to produce a seemingly effortless glide. Dichotomies like these fascinate me, as they are charged with a practical but also emotional tension—like the strings that give a violin its beautiful sound, or the anchors that keep a tent from succumbing to the wind.
My whistle sculptures often elicit the response, “How useful these must be on a dark night when you are walking alone.” I don’t think they would be much literal protection, though I am always open to metaphorical possibilities. I have purposefully omitted the “pea” that would make my whistles sound shrill and discordant. They are more about pleasure and surprise than alarm and danger. Blowing and hearing a joyful whistle are interactive acts that keep me fully present, which is the best way I know to navigate through my life.”
Liz Sabol – http://www.beadlizzy.com/BL/index.html
Liz Sabol studied Chemical Engineering and Art & Design in West Virginia University. She continued her education at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in Communication Arts & Illustration.
Though a relative newcomer to the jewelry world, she is a veteran in design and graphic arts. The eldest of seven children, Liz grew up on a dairy farm in Western Pennsylvania where she cultivated a lifelong love of nature, art and design. She nurtured that sensibility through the study of concert piano, chemical engineering, fine art, design, and technology. After a successful 25-year career in branding and corporate marketing, she found herself restless and sought new ways to express her artistic vision. In 2011, she experimented with intricate bead work, transitioned to the hypnotic experience of lampworking glass, and then began an exploration into metal in 2013. That journey led to a discovery and harmony she has achieved with a combination of technology and her signature organic forms. Inspired by fairy tales, fantasy and mysticism, each Champlevé piece is hand-painted and protected by resin, and hints at her love of oil painting. By combining metal with media and techniques not traditionally used in jewelry, Liz brings a different and unique perspective to metal.
PÔLE BIJOU STUDENTS
Pôle Bijou is also a training center in which you can learn several techniques (traditional metalsmithing, wax work, creativity … and also METAL CLAY). Metal Clay classes began 5 years before, and some of our students are now in their own journey … We are so please to show you some of their research
Elisabeth Le Dantec Munoz
Elisabeth was born in Lyon in 1970, she grew up in a family of Spanish immigrants and began studying foreign languages, and decided to continue her education in the university of Madrid. Back in France, she devoted fully (or focused) on raising her children.
Lisa had been interested in plastic arts for a long time when she started, by chance creating jewelry. Wishing to learn more techniques, she attended several courses in jewelry making. In this constant research for new techniques, she discovered metal clay, which was an epiphany to her, “pure creation”, “multiplication of possibilities”.
Those courses will take her to Brittany, Baccarat, through Paris. She will have the opportunity of being trained by major names in the sector of metal clay, Angela Baduel-Crispin, with whom she starts learning this new technique, and then she’ll attend the workshops of Hadar Jacobson and Holy Gage, in France.
In order to combine this particular technique with traditional jewelry techniques, she will attend a course at the Tanné School of jewelry. She obtained an official qualification from Art Clay, and continues to explore the techniques in metal clay, a product constantly evolving.
To her, the technique mastery of the material opens limitless possibilities for creation. It is also the satisfaction of creating something from beginning to end. From clay, sometimes a powder that you mix, knead, shape, carve, you get the object that you had imagined.
Evelyne Thiery – www.evelynethiery.com
Evelyne Thiery lives and works in Épinal (Vosges).
A course of self taught, supplemented by various training courses as and when and according to his needs and research (natural paintings, plastered Earth Chaux, techniques of jewelry ) and of course formations around metallic clay. She likes to approach the jewerly in a shifted way, not only according to her appearance. Aesthetics, but also by basing its manufacture on the use of unusual materials, precious or not…
She will present two collections:
-Plic Ploc, representation of the impact of a drop of water striking the surface of the water and the propagation of the wave that follows….The oxidation of the texture underlines the variations that the liquid undergoes.
-Pearl of water, depiction of the morning dew in equilibrium on reliefs. The dew clumps to form the ultimate drop….
With thanks to Angela Baduel-Crispin and PÔLE BIJOU GALERIE for sharing information and images about the show.
A few months ago we ran a survey for our readers and there was a reoccurring question about whether one could make a living being a jewellery artist. Some people asked specific questions wanting me to talk to a certain artist and find out what they made in sales vs how much they spent on materials. Other readers were not as specific but there was an overall hope that there was some magic path to follow to full-time employment at a jewellery artist.
The answer to the question is, Yes, you can make a living as a jewellery designer. But be careful how you define living! Many people have a vision that a full time jewellery artist designs jewellery and people buy it. But the path is more complicated than that.
Being self-employed is tricky as you wear many hats. Artists have to be able to handle marketing, business accounting, sales, shipping and receiving, customer service, inventory control, as well as design and manufacturing of your jewellery. When your desire is to create, stopping to look after marketing and accounting seems like it is taking you away from what you love. But it is those exact things that are keeping you working in your studio!
A jewellery artist needs to be able to self-promote on social media and have a web-site to show off their portfolios of work. Networking events are opportunities to meet new collectors and to show off your work. I personally find this part hard. I’ve worked for years promoting other artists, but always fall short when showing and talking about my own work.
But, all that said, many artists ALSO have jobs outside of their studio. Many work freelance jobs, taking on teaching and some have full-time employment. Most artists need to be good at budgeting as self-employed artists do not have pensions, medical plans or sick leave.
Another thing about being a self-employed artist–there is no time off. It is hard to balance home life and work life. I try to take advantage of blocks of time and get a task done from my to-do list. I keep a notebook and write down items as they come up. (I know there are fancy apps you can use on your phone.) I’m hoping I’m more productive by knocking off something from my to-do list here and therefore creating time off to be with my family. But shutting off the list and being present is something I’m working on!
In conclusion, yes, you can make a living as a jewellery artist just don’t lose sight of making a life while you make a living.
Jeannette Froese LeBlanc is a studio artist living in rural Ontario. She walks the fine line being making a life and making a living–trying to balance life as an artist and a mother. Currently she is working on a new line of jewellery using metal clay and mixed media. To see more of her work please follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sassyandstella/
Chicago based jewellery maker Marco Fleseri has been working with metal clay since 2003. “I made some crude dangly shapes and textured them using the point of a toothpick,” he told me. “I knew it had potential, particularly for creating things that would be difficult or impossible to produce using previous/ traditional methods.”
I asked Marco about his earliest memory of being creative. “When I was five years old I made some blobs that I thought resembled fish, using a papier-mâché I had fashioned by soaking crumpled facial tissue with glue. I sculpted the shapes and let them dry. I was later dismayed when I put my ‘fish’ into a bowl of water and they dissolved.”
Marco’s studio is in a building with other artists and I’m always interested to find out how organised other people are. “My studio is usually somewhat organized, unless I have several projects happening simultaneously.” I can relate to that!
Marco told me a bit about his creative process. “Sometimes I sketch things if I’m not sure how to execute them, in order to solve design challenges. Or if I have an idea for something that I know I might not get to for a while. Otherwise, I get an idea and immediately launch into making it. Sometimes the finished piece varies wildly from where my imagination started.”
He uses a combination of techniques to create his designs. “As metal clay is more expensive than working with sheet, wire, etc. I often use traditional metal-working techniques in conjunction with metal clay in the same piece.”
I asked Marco what influences his work. “Geometry, shapes, and patterns found in nature, machinery, architecture, and ancient art and adornments. I look at all of these, and make new variants on the shapes and combinations that resonate with me.”
So what is his style? “I don’t have a singular style, but rather three: very biological/organic, geometric/mechanical, and ancient/ethnic. I find all three satisfying for different reasons, and they keep my work from all looking the same.
Marco has done some teaching and I asked him about it. “I’ve taught beginning metal clay workshops and would like to do more of that. It’s fun watching students see the potential for what’s in their hands, and the excitement of seeing their efforts realized as metal objects.”
Finally, I asked Marco where he sees his work going in the future. “I would like to do more stone-setting, as I have collected some beautiful specimens that I want to include in upcoming work. I’ll go wherever the voices tell me to go…” he said with a smile.
To see more of Marco’s work, visit him online here…
Julia Rai is a teacher, writer and artist working in a variety of media. She is the director of the Metal Clay Academy and runs the Cornwall School of Art, Craft and Jewellery. She finds inspiration in science fiction and fantasy and loves a good story where disbelief can be suspended in favour of wonder. Her practical and ultra-organised side is always vying for attention alongside her creative and messy side. Each is trying hard to learn from the other and live in harmony.
Whether you need to create a simple loop to hang an earring or you need to string together a complex network of components, embedding wire in PMC is an essential design technique. When working with PMC, always use fine silver wire and make sure the wire is clean by running it through some clean folded 320 grit sandpaper. To insert eyelets, small loops, or prongs, slightly flatten the part of the wire you plan to insert in the clay and rough up the surface with a file to give more tooth for better grip. Insert the wire carefully into the wet clay, pull it back out dip it into the paste, and then reinsert. Remember, if you are inserting a loop, be sure to embed the bottom 1/3 of the loop.
If you are laying wire through a piece (for example, making a clasp) make your piece in two layers. When the pieces are dry, sand a groove into both halves and then generously cover both with paste. Lay the flattened wire into the groove and sandwich the pieces together. This will eliminate the bump from the wire.
With a little practice, the addition of wire to metal clay designs can expand your creative horizons tremendously!
Having a lifelong love of art, Ruth has a diverse background that includes air-brush painting, Australian cake decorating, stone sculpture, lapidary arts, and fine wire wrap settings. Ruth is self-taught and enjoys learning from renowned teachers by attending classes taught in a wide variety of jewelry art disciplines.
Her introduction to PMC was a dream come true – to be able to work in silver with a true freedom in design. But the best reward is being able to share and enable others to create their own works of silver art through her role as a PMC Connection Senior Instructor.
This project is the third in a series presented by Cool Tools. A dozen artists will present projects that showcase their personal style and artistry using EZ960™ Sterling Silver Clay. Come and enjoy this unique opportunity to look over the shoulder of some of the world’s premier metal clay artists as they work.
Marco Fleseri presents a project that artists of all levels will enjoy. By combining fine silver with the metal clay he has taken away many issues with shrinkage and it makes the project more economical too! Enjoy and feel free to share your results with the artist.
Cuff Bracelet Project by Marco Fleseri
This is a how-to guide for creating your own version of my cuff bracelet which I called “Nelumbo vertabralis.” Inspired by vertebrae and lotus flower petals (“nelumbo” is the genus name for the lotus family of plants), this bracelet has an architectural quality while still looking very intentionally organic / biological.
For this bracelet I used EZ960™ Sterling Silver Clay, which is a premixed formula that can be fired in one stage on an open shelf (no need for carbon). Continue reading…