Metal Clay Textures Are Everywhere You Look! By Margaret Schindel

TexturesOne of the key reasons for choosing metal clay as a jewelry making material is that it allows you to create or reproduce virtually any texture in metal quickly and easily.

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. Continue reading…

Reviews: Tool Talk By Pat Evans

Tool Talk By Pat Evans – USA

artway-shape-frame-gear-set-1ArtWay Tools Gear Shape Frame Sets
Gears are a popular motif in jewelry these days, especially for Steampunk style creations. After trying several ways to create this shape, I was happy to come upon ArtWay Tools’ line of Gear Shape Frame Sets. I tested the Small Gear Set 5, which has three different sizes of gears, all shaped alike. Gear shapes formed with Shape Frames interlock neatly, so combinations of sizes can be interconnected for different designs. Continue reading…

Artist Profile: Gail Crosman Moore

-Artist Profile by Julia Rai

IMG_6558_2 - Version 2The first thing that struck me about mixed media artist Gail Crosman Moore’s work was the wonderful organic quality she achieves with the media she employs. From the warm softness of felt to the cool solidity of glass and metal, she captures flowing natural forms in a wonderfully eclectic body of work. Continue reading…

Book Reviews: by Pat Evans


Metal Clay Artists’ Library By Pat Evans – USA

51PN-UgK6nL._SX392_BO1,204,203,200_Lisa Barth, Designing from the Stone: Design Techniques for Bezel Setting in Metal Clay Using the Stone as Inspiration (Author, 2011)

It’s hard not to gush about Lisa Barth’s book on designing bezel settings for stone cabochons. In a straightforward, conversational tone, Barth takes her readers from a survey of basic design tenets to how to apply those tenets while designing settings around the characteristics of an individual stone. Her teaching is so clear and thorough that one of my students who had never before set a bail in her short metal clay career was able to produce a stunning pendant and pair of earrings just by following the instructions in this book. Although I’ve been using bezel settings for years, I feel that Designing from the Stone has helped me take a big leap forward in thinking about my work. Continue reading…

STUDIO BUSINESS: Creative Sparks and Embers by Linda Stiles Smith

Creative Sparks – and Embers By Linda Stiles Smith

creative_sparks_cutie_mark_wip_by_aqwrao-d5ot53nWhat sparks your creativity? Do you need a bag of materials to play with? Do the sparks fly when you read the details of a challenge? Or can you launch into creative euphoria just at the mention of a word? Can you turn it on – and off – with little effort, or does it take a level of concentration that requires a block of time and a specific place? Does a visual cue sprout wings and become an artistic image in your mind? Continue reading…

Reviews: Fire Mountain Gems “Barely There Chain” and the 3-D Metal Clay Creator by Metal Adventures

FMG Chain Fire Mountain Gems and Beads has introduced a light weight sterling silver chain.  When they say “light weight” they mean it!  When I first received the sample I was surprised how thin it was.  I’ve never worked with such thin chains.  My work is more on the “robust” side.  While attending a few art and craft shows recently, I took the time to chat with jewellery makers who had “petite” jewellery in their booths.  All were surprised that the “barely there” jewellery was the hot item this year especially for buyers between 25 and 35 years old. Continue reading…

Photo Inspiration for Artists

Tips: Keeping Metal Clays Moist.

Whenever I teach a metal clay class I always see students carefully re-wrapping their metal clay and putting it back into the packaging. I hate to see fresh metal clay dry out so I show my students several ways to store metal clay. Here are a few of my favourites for keeping metal clay either lump or syringe types ready to use and in their optimal condition.

111831Long Term Storage
Clay: There are several ideas for long term storage. Some people like to use pressed powder containers with a wet sponge on top. Others have purchased different storage containers from metal clay sellers. I find the lotion sample containers from the make up counter to be cheap and plentiful. I like to have containers dedicated for one type of clay. Simply write the type of clay on the lid. A small piece of wet sponge can be added for really long term storage.
Syringes: I have a few containers that hold water and seal off the syringe. I like this one by Linda Stiles Smith which is sold by Rio Grande. Continue reading…

What’s in a name? My Struggle to Choose a Business Name.

name tagChoosing a name for my business has proven to be harder than it was to name my children!

I have had several businesses over my career as an artist. Each business name seemed to fit the business at the time, but now looking back some of the names seem lame. For example: I live in an old fashioned red schoolhouse—complete with a belfry. When we moved here I named my studio…. “The Schoolhouse Studio”. Yup. Wow eh? Okay it fit the location. When I started a magazine for Metal Clay artists it needed a name. I agonized over that name. Then I realized “Metal Clay Artist Magazine” fit…most of the time. Some newsstands insisted on putting the magazine in with Ceramics for the first few years and not in jewellery making section. Clearly there was room for improvement on the magazine name. When I had a brick and mortar bead store…the name was simple and clear. Guess what I named it…. wait for it… “The Bead Store”! Despite this clever name I still had people come in and ask what we sold. Ugh. Can’t win maybe? Continue reading…

A Lack of Focus

IMG_25051“A Lack of Focus” by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

“I’m not going to limit myself just because people won’t accept the fact that I can do something else.”― Dolly Parton

I love that quote. I started to think of it this week when a friend who was visiting my studio remarked that I have “so much going on” and that I should just pick one art media. ~Maybe. That does seem logical. Even the head of the ceramics department at the University of Regina would agree with my friend as he said the same thing to me 24 years ago. Well his words were harsher, “You’ll never have a career in the arts if you don’t focus.” I did focus. I focused on ceramics. Loved it. (Ended up as a potter for 15 years.) But I also enjoyed the painting classes and photography classes I took along with my major. Looking around my studio it seems I never was able to focus on one thing, to fit into one media. I have a painting easel, canvases, a sewing dress form, a potter’s wheel and kiln, a sewing machine, a grinder, sheets of glass, beads by the pound and a jewellery bench….

While I was a “potter” by definition, I enjoyed slab work which led me to take courses in architectural ceramics–and make fireplace mantles. I also loved raku and for many years was a “production raku potter”. But slowly jewellery eeked into my life. First I started to make raku fired beads. Then I learned new ways to string them and new ways to finish necklaces and brooches. Soon my pottery booth at shows was split between hand-built raku sculptures and raku jewellery.

Enter Metal Clay. After working with 50lbs of ceramic clay at a time, teeny tiny amounts of metal clay was an interesting change. Making my own findings and jewellery in metal clay to compliment my raku beads became my new passion. As many of my readers know I started and ran a magazine devoted to metal clay jewellery. I was an artist in search of such a resource and with none available, I started the magazine. Metal clay still holds my attention 7 years later, and I have a large part of my studio set up for making jewellery. I also have a few sewing machines and shelves of fabric in my studio. I merged the two studio spaces this summer during my “60 Day Studio Challenge”. This is what my friend was passing a comment about…How could I work on two such different things? Didn’t I need to focus? Her questions made me wonder, “Am I less of an artist due to this perceived lack of focus?”. For me one media seamlessly flows into another.

The artists I would like to question are those who make the same things…for decades. I know several potters from when I was a ceramics major…who are still using the same glazes and making the same forms. How is it possible not to go crazy doing that? I don’t see having a single focus as being an asset for an artist.

Continue reading…