Artist Project Series: Penannular Brooch by Julia Rai

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Cool Tools is proud to present the next artist project in our series.  This time UK artist Julia Rai presents her artistic talents using EZ960™ Sterling Silver Clay.

Julia Rai has been a contributor to Creative Fire (Metal Clay Artist Magazine) since 2009.  We are thrilled to feature her latest project.

“Penannular style brooches have been used to fasten clothing since the late Iron Age. This style of brooch has a loop of metal with terminals or flattened ends and a moveable pin. The pin is pushed through the fabric and the end of the ring goes under the sharp end of the pin. The ring is then turned locking the pin in place. There are a wide variety of designs for the terminals of historical penannular brooches and this is where the fun comes in on this modern take on an ancient design.

I have used a natural theme for the hoop, texturing it to resemble bark. The terminals use pod, fungi and lichen forms and this is echoed on the curve of the pin.”

Tools and Materials

  • 25g EZ960™ Sterling Silver Clay
  • Thick paste – any silver clay type will do or make some using scraps of EZ960
  • Syringe – any silver clay type will do
  • Liver of sulphur
  • Extruder with tube making attachment
  • Snake roller
  • Craft knife
  • Cocktail sticks
  • Pointed small clay shaper
  • Tweezers
  • Oil
  • Paintbrush
  • Sanding pads
  • Polishing pads/papers/cloths
  • Vermiculite and stainless steel container
  • Half round pliers

Step 1

Using an extruder with a tube making attachment allows you to easily form a tube for the hoop. This makes the brooch lighter and saves on the amount of material used to make the hoop. Choose a round die which is 3-4mm larger than the central rod on the disc that makes the hole. My die is 5mm in diameter and the rod is 1.5mm in diameter.

Step 2

Oil the inside of the extruder barrel, the die and the hole making disc. Put a large lump of clay into the barrel, assemble the tube maker and screw on the end. Turn the handle and extrude a long tube. Cut it off the extruder with a sharp knife. Form this into a hoop the size you want it and trim off the ends. My hoop has two downward facing terminals but you could also have the gap wider and have the terminals facing each other. Allow this to dry.

Step 3

Trim the ends of the hoop so they are angled facing forward. This will allow the embellishments to face forward when they are added. Using a pointed craft knife, thin out the walls of the terminals from the inside being careful not to go too thin and break the ends.

Step 4

Texture the hoop using thick paste. Drag a cocktail stick in random lines through the paste to form bark like patterns. Do this in small sections on one side so the paste does not dry out before you have made the lines. Allow one side to dry, then turn it over and texture the other side the same way. Make sure the hoop is covered on all sides.

Step 5

To make the pin use a snake roller or a CD case and start with a sausage of clay on a non-oiled surface. Roll a tapered snake thinner than the hoop at the thickest end. It needs to be long enough to be bent over the hoop with the potential to almost touch without restricting movement around the hoop. The sharper end should protrude beyond the gap in the hoop, how long that is depends on your design.

Step 6

Cut the thickest end at an angle and then bend the length so it forms a hook shape with the cut angle facing forward. Embellishment will be added to the flat end to match the terminals. Allow this to dry.

Step 7

When the pin is dry, texture the top and sides of the bend down to the angled end using thick paste and a cocktail stick. Take the texture a little way down the back of the pin but not so far that it will interfere with the action of sliding the pin smoothly through fabric. Do not texture the inside as this will make it difficult for the pin to slide around the hoop smoothly.

Step 8

Take a small ball of clay and form it into a cone shape. Form a pod by pushing a small, pointed clay shaper into the end of the cone and creating an asymmetric aperture with the opening facing forward. Make sure the end of this fits into the hole in the terminal. Form another pod roughly the same size. Allow these to dry and then stick them into the ends of the terminals with thick paste.

Step 9

Make a number of small pod forms using the same method as before. These should be different sizes and shapes to make the overall form interesting. Allow these to dry and then add them to the terminals around the larger pod forms and extending up the hoop a little way. Tweezers help to place these small, fiddly forms. The aim is to cover the transition between the hoop and the main pods so they look like growing forms.

Step 10

Form a number of small balls and poke a dent into each ball with a cocktail stick while they are still wet. Allow these to dry and then stick them into any gaps between pods. Add some paste and cocktail stick texture to the outside of the pods if you like or leave them smooth. Make sure the back gets some embellishment too. When you are happy with the overall design, put it to one side to dry.

Step 11

Use some smaller pod forms and some balls to decorate the front facing part of the pin end and slightly up the bend. Add texture if desired. Use a sanding pad to smooth the pin and sharpen the point. Allow the pin and the hoop to dry thoroughly.

Step 12

Nestle the pieces on a bed of vermiculite or fibre blanket in a stainless steel container. Fire at 1650˚F/900˚C for four hours to ensure the pieces are at maximum strength to bend the pin after firing.

Step 13

Use a brass or steel brush to get into all the nooks and crannies of the pods and texture on the hoop and the pin. Tumble polish to a high shine.

Step 14

Mix up a solution of liver of sulphur with boiling water and dip the hoop and the pin until they are black. Rinse in cold water and then use polishing papers and cloths to shine the high spots of the texture, pods and balls.

Step 15

Assemble the pin on the hoop. Using half round pliers, gently bend the decorated end of the pin so it almost touches the stem but allows free movement around the hoop.

Julia Rai is an award winning artist, teacher and writer well known in the international metal clay community. Her work has featured in a wide range of publications and she writes regularly for print magazines and online. She teaches in her home studio in Cornwall and travels to teach by invitation.

Artist Project Series: Iwona Tamborska

The 3 Fish

This is the 5th project in our ongoing series of tutorials sponsored by Cool Tools.  All projects use their new silver metal clay EZ960™ Sterling Silver. This project is quite advanced, however, artists of all levels will learn something new! Be inspired by the way Iwona uses a drawing for the plan and layout of her pieces, or by her use of colour as she adds stones and coloured paste to this project!  Those who want to learn about hollow forms can follow along and learn about using a burn out media.  This beautiful pendant is wearable sculpture! Continue reading…

Metal Clay 101 – Firing Metal Clay – by Katherine Prejean

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.

TORCH FIRING — —

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. Continue reading…

Artist Project Series- Kathy Van Kleeck

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…

Metal Clay 101- Embedding wire in PMC

Embedding wire in PMC

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!

Ruth Greening
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.

 

Artist Project Series: Marco Fleseri

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…

Design Challenge for 2017

It’s a new year and people seem more excited this year to start anew.  I am too, and I’ve come up with a design challenge for jewelry artists working in any media!

A few years ago I went to CJS Sales in New York City.  I interviewed the owners and learned about the “design quarry” of beads, findings and interesting things that jewelry makers and mixed media artists can find there. (Article link.) I came home with 60 pounds of goodies!!  Seriously!  Luckily I had traveled to NYC by train and not plane!

I have divided up part of my stash into 20 equal collections.  Now I’m looking for 20 artists who would like to participate in a design challenge.  Everyone will get the same amounts of vintage beads, chain, and crystals in their design kit. You can use them any way you want and with any media.

Basic Challenge Parameters:
-Due date: March 31, 2017.
-Must send images of finished piece to cre8tivefire (@) gmail.com.
-Must use 4 pieces of design kit in your finished piece. (1 piece = 1 bead, 1 component, or 1″ of chain)
-Artists can submit up to 3 pieces–either separately or as part of a set.

Oh and is there a prize?
Yes there is!  I have 2 original vintage pendants from the 1960’s found at CJS Sales. A little piece of art history!
**Plus we will put together an interesting series of articles showing off the designed pieces, comments by the artists and a gallery.  I think this would be really fun and it gives us a chance to work with unconventional materials and to stretch our design ideas!

Anyone game to join a design challenge? ***NOTE all kits have been claimed*** Stay tuned for the results!

Jeannette Froese LeBlanc is a studio artist living in rural Ontario Canada.  She has been seen in New York City, hauling obscene amounts of beads and copious piles of fabric back to her hotel. Her studio is packed to the rafters with finds too good to use and is only now starting to share.  To see more of her work please follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sassyandstella/