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. Continue reading…
Jewellery 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.
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…
I make jewellery. No wait. I MAKE jewellery. These 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…
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.
PMC3 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.
With 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 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.
In my opinion there are energies and forces all around. To declare that we are separate from nature or that spirits don’t exist is to close yourself off from the wonderful vibrations of life all around. A few years ago I learned about “spirit animals” from a jewellery artist. I thought it was a fascinating idea. I didn’t discount it, but I really didn’t understand it either.
Well that was until I started to have a bird follow me around for the past year. My new friend is a great blue heron. I started to see one every day last spring. And in some form or another…I see a heron nearly every day. When the first heron showed up, I was still mourning the loss of the magazine my husband and I published. I missed the daily contact with editors, writers and contributing artists. After spending six years working on a business that was lost, not due to any errors I made, I was devastated. The carpet was literally pulled out from under me. I feared for our house, our finances and my family. Our readers rallied and through contests and fundraisers they helped us recover most of our personal loss. They saved our family. I started this site (Creative Fire) as a way to say thank you back to our community. But I was lost.
I used to be an artist. With two little kids and the magazine, my studio was neglected. Even without the magazine I found it really hard to get back into my studio and to get back to work. Stresses and distractions crept into my life and making jewellery became less important. To help me get out of this rut, a dear artist friend invited me to visit. After making jewellery with her and enjoying some wonderful sunsets on her front deck–I declared out loud one evening that I would make jewellery. I knew it was a long shot to make a living at art. I had been there before. But I was in love with the etching process she had taught me. Ideas buzzed in my head. I couldn’t wait to take some of my children’s drawings and to etch them into jewellery. “Maybe that would be my new line. Maybe I’d get back into my studio and work.” Just then a huge heron flew inches from us making the most awful heron croaking sound. Every day for months I saw a heron. It didn’t matter what town or even what country I was in…I saw a heron. Even in winter I’d see a a heron on bumper sticker or a photo online or in a magazine…every few days I’d see a heron. Usually just when I ready to fall off the path to starting up my studio again. It was almost a reminder to keep going. Out of curiosity I looked up spirit birds and learned that herons show up when your life if out of balance. They remind us to follow our heart and to be determined.
Well I’m determined! My new line is called “Sassy and Stella”. (If you would like the back story on why I named my studio after two stray dogs from Alabama, click here.) I have a long way to go and a lot to learn about running a full-time jewellery studio business, but I’m excited at the possibilities!
Are you curious about your spirit bird? Here is a simple chart.
Photo Credit: Heron on a beach in Florida, USA by Sandy Bowman.
Heron drawing: Sea Martini
Another of my animal friends, Sassy the dog from Alabama.
NO MATTER WHAT YOUR BUSINESS, at some point you will likely have to engage a professional to help you with something. Traditionally, this has meant accountants and lawyers for most. In the past ten years, we’ve added design and technical professionals who help us create websites, manage social media, and conduct e-commerce. Continue reading…
Artists and makers tend to talk a lot about creativity. It is good to think about this. Contemplation of creativity allows us to understand what we do. To really develop our studio practice and move our creative expression forward, examining the nature of creativity is worthwhile. So, let’s start with a question. What is creativity? Creativity is the transformation of thought into action. It is awareness of the power of creative thought and application of creative energy through conscious activity. Creativity itself is a process. That is the way creativity becomes expression. Examining the nature of the creative process enhances our awareness of the true nature of creativity, and enables us to engage it and activate it more fully.
Creativity is a resource. This is my favorite thing about it. It’s available to everyone. There is no cover charge or entry fee. It is the same cost to all of us. Creativity is free!
This brings us to our second question; What is the source of creativity? Creativity is endless and eternal. It doesn’t have a beginning or an end. Creativity is like water; it’s liquid and flowing. It’s like an ocean, constant and enormous. Just like an ocean, it is always there. Continue reading…