Product Review: Five Star Metal Clays by Laura Moore

As a teacher, I feel I need to try every metal clay available so that I can give a knowledgeable opinion. Also, I love to explore and learn about new things! I recently had the opportunity to test the new Five Star Metal Clays made by Carrie Story at Clay Revolution.

This clay was created by Carrie Story, who says, “I have spent the last several years learning, experimenting and testing all sorts of clays. Developing Five Star Metal Clay was the result of finding each limitation and overcoming it. First, it needed to be pre-mixed. Eliminating that step for beginners was extremely important. Next, some color options to make it fun. Five Star Metal Clays come in Copper, Red Bronze, Bronze, Light Bronze, and White Bronze. This range of colors allows for beautiful mixed metal projects and a versatility of color options in non-precious metals. The clays are very smooth which picks up the finest of textures. Each is slightly flexible when dry which is the perfect density for the cutting machine projects. The dry state is also a great density for carving.

The clay comes in lump form in 20, 50, 100 and 200-gram packs. There are five colors; white bronze, light bronze, bronze, red bronze, and copper.  My first impression was that I love the packaging. It might seem trivial but the vacuum pack has a tear notch. So I don’t have to stop my momentum and pick up my scissors to cut the pack open.

The clay handles beautifully. It has a creamy feel and holds together well, making a nice rolled sheet. I had no problems with cracking during drying- sometimes I push the drying and use a bit of a high heat on the warming tray.

I make molds of botanic specimens and all the Five Star Metal Clays picked up the detail perfectly.

I did a little dry joining, making a paste by mixing a little bit if purified water with the clay. It mixed easily and after application, the join grabbed well. Post-fire I had a good solid attachment.

Sanding is a breeze!  I have been using Prometheus bronze clay. It is a very hard/ sturdy clay when dry; to sand the edges of a production run I use my Jooltool with a 220g wheel. With the Five Star Metal Clays, I can easily use 220g sandpaper or a sanding sponge. The same is true with the final damp edge finish if you use it. With Prometheus I have been using a damped cloth because it shreds any wet wipe I tried on it. I can now go back to wet wipes with the Five Star Metal Clays.

I experimented with combining two color clays; copper with the light bronze. The two clays joined nicely in the wet stage and held together during firing. It made a nice stand out detail on my piece.

Rehydration: I cut and dried some pieces I didn’t like so I ground them and doused them with some water. After rehydrating overnight, the clay was workable again and fired successfully.

The firing! Oh my goodness, the firing! Carrie has worked out the best firing schedule ever. Everything is in round numbers and thousand degree increments. Even I could memorize the simple two-step schedule. I keep a binder of all the clay instructions and always double check before I press start on my kiln. This is a life changer for me! All the clays use an open shelf 1000°F burn off for five minutes.  Then starting with the white bronze at 1300°F it goes up through the colors to 1700°F for copper. All the times are the same; of course, you can adjust for your particular project.

Polishing is fine with either the 3M brushes or a tumbler. All five colors polished to a bright shine. I used Rio’s Midas Oxidizer for bronze to bring out some of the detail. The white bronze did turn a little bit yellow/ gold hued with the patina.

I have enjoyed creating with this clay and it is going to become my go to clay for my bronze clay work.

 

Laura Moore is an artist from Newport Beach, CA. Laura comes from a family with a strong tradition in the arts and sciences. She is a Senior Art Clay Certified instructor, and Rio Grande certified in PMC, she also has a degree in chemistry, and an AS in Ornamental Horticulture. She has worked in wide variety of mediums such as textile arts, ceramics, and landscape design. Her latest expression is a line of jewelry featuring silver medallions made with impressions of plants and other elements from nature. Her medallions are handcrafted using Metal Clay.

www.billysabadkitty.com

 

 

Did you make it to You Can Make It? by Joy Funnell

Petra and Stuart – our wonderful hosts

“Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, the best weekend ever” “I’ve been to lots of metal clay conferences but this one stood out for me for the warmth and enthusiasm of the delegates” “It was just magical, everyone was so welcoming and friendly” “When I left I felt like I’d walked back through the door from Narnia” “I learnt so much and made so many new friends, and was still buzzing when I got home”

These are just a few of the comments from the attendees of the inaugural ‘You can make it’ event, who left at the end of the weekend feeling inspired, happy and with lots of new friends!

The YCMI Conference Tutors

You Can Make It 2017 took place in Wareham, Dorset, UK on the 24th – 26th March 2017. It was the brainchild of Petra Cameron Wennberg and was organised by her company Metal Clay Ltd. When Petra first approached me in 2016 to see if I might be interested in teaching at it I jumped at the chance. There hadn’t been any kind of large metal clay gathering in the UK for quite a few years and we were long overdue one. Petra was quite clear. She wanted to organise an event, but to be sure they could make the pricing viable they were asking if the tutors would be prepared to give their time for free – of course I said yes, and so did everyone else! We certainly weren’t going to miss out on it. Continue reading…

Book: Making Metal Clay Jewellery by Julia Rai

For eight years, Julia Rai and I have worked together to promote jewellery making.  Julia writes the artist profiles for Creative Fire and someday I’ll get her to sit still long enough so that I can interview her! Meanwhile this prolific writer and artist has a newly published book to share. The book includes 17 project tutorials giving step by step instructions to make beautiful jewellery in a home environment.

“This is the first book I’ve written and it was really interesting to see the process from start to finish. I have to say, Crowood Press who published the book, were terrific to work with. They guided me as a newbie author every step of the way and were such nice people to work with. It’s so exciting to see it finally in print and I really hope people enjoy it.” Continue reading…

CJS Sales in New York City – A Designers Quarry By Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

mcam-5-3_page_14_image_0001Imagine chatting about the history and the future of jewelry design while sitting in a warehouse stacked floor to ceiling with boxes and boxes of mostly vintage beads and jewelry making components. What an astounding wonderland of inspiration! I met with Carl and Elyse Schimel, co-owners of CJS Sales in New York City, one of my favorite places to head for a creative boost.

(Image: Wire wrapped stone necklace design by Carl Schimel.)

The CJS Sales warehouse is located on 36th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in New York City. Savvy jewelry designers can spend hours poring through this extraordinary trea-sure trove that holds literally millions of vintage beads and jewelry making supplies with limitless design potential. The Schimels are constantly seeking out great buys on anything that might be used for making jewelry and accessories.

“We bought a chandelier store that went out of business…[and] a rhinestone factory. We try to keep things that will be inspiration for people and [are] also unusual and different. We price at what we bought it at, so you can get quality vintage parts that are not found on today’s mar- ket at great prices,” said Elyse. To help designers compete and allow their work to stand out, Elyse and Carl sell only to wholesale customers who come to the warehouse. “We do not sell on the internet or show broad images. We do this to protect our buyers. Our customers are very knowledgeable. We believe in promoting design- ers, fostering new ones, to give them an edge.”

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(Image: The Milwaukee Sentinel – July 31,  1969)

As a jewelry maker, I marvel that Carl stayed constantly ahead of the curve with his fashion-forward jewelry designs for more than 50 years. It was fascinating to listen to him talk about why he created the line and the manufacturing hurdles he had to overcome to get “Kim Crafts- men” jewelry out to buyers.

I was curious about how the Kim Craftsmen showroom and design space morphed into this vast warehouse of jewelry making supplies.

Elyse explained, “When Carl was liquidating [his jewelry manufacturing business] I started cold calling people. He thought it was cute [and] he was giving me a 100% commission. I started to bring in big accounts, he started to buy [at] fire sales and we started a wholesale liquidation business.” Carl adds, “If I had to describe the business I’d say it is a designer’s quarry. Designers come here to dig out treasures.”

I can personally attest to the digging! When I pay Carl and Elyse’s warehouse a visit, I come prepared by dressing as if I were to go climbing, I bring a rolling suitcase (after one visit where I lugged 30 lbs of beads in a shoulder bag thirteen blocks in NYC) and of course water and a cell phone—in case I get lost or to keep track of time. Losing a day in here is an easy thing to do!

As Elyse showed Art Deco glass beads, unfinished brooch components from the 1950s and mouth-blown glass beads, her father talked about how the artist’s hand should be apparent in his or her work. Carl used the term analog to explain how he worked. “To me [using] a pencil is analog. When you write with a pencil there’s pressure, there’s a difference in how it looks. You can write the same thing ten times…it will be the same each time but [also] different. When I caged stones using wire wrapping the concept being used was ‘mass individuality’; everyonecould have a caged stone but all of them were different.” Today he is intrigued by the idea of what he might have made if metal clay had been on the market when he was making fashion jewelry. “What happens is, as an artist you use the materials that are available at that time in the best ways that you can. But can you imag- ine what Alexander Calder would have done if [metal clay] had been available to him?”

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Elyse models one of her father’s body jewelry pieces. This image is reminiscent of a photo from a 1969 newspaper article about his work.

Calder, a world renowned sculptor best known for inventing the hanging kinetic sculp- ture form known as a mobile, had a tremendous influence on Carl’s jewelry design. “When I got his…enormous book of jewelry it showed him working in his studio…a lot of his style of jewelry was much more understandable to me. He wasn’t using goldsmith tools, sized for jewelry making. His tools were large anvils with heavy handles, blacksmith tools, as he was used to making large mobiles and stabiles so there’s immediacy to the way Calder worked, and it showed in his work. If you look at his pieces, there’s a freshness still to his work. You can feel the hand, the way he twisted and moved to create his pieces. That’s analog!” Carl exclaimed. “You can always recognize his tools…for example if he used a hammer with a scratch on it, it would show on his piece like a fingerprint.” Carl went on to explain how metal clay is analog. “It is hands-on. In an age where a tremendous amount of design is going digital, the look is just opposite—180 degrees opposite. I’m sure [the artists using digital design tools] are very, very fine designers. It doesn’t look like jewelry that I’m used to. Metal clay takes me back to when we made jewelry. And we wanted to call it ‘Artistry in Metal’ because at that time, in the 50s and 60s and 70s, bench designers sat down and worked with the material, they under- stood the material. Metal clay is another vehicle for artists to express themselves. It is a phenomenal material….”

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(Photos of jewelry by Kim Craftsmen, a company owned by Carl Schimel and his brother.)

I couldn’t agree more! Combine metal clay with some of the vintage beads and findings at CJS Sales and you’d have an exquisite combination of a modern material matched with vintage beads. If travel to New York City is not an option, seek out your own local charity, “antique” shops, or online for vintage elements to add to your own jewelry. When I find my creativity waning, a visit here spurs new ideas in new directions. It is like going to a museum for in- spiration, except that here you can take home the items that inspire you and use them in your work! Elyse showed me old pedals from a ma- chine. I forget what machine they were for because I was focused on the typeface used for the logotype imprinted on them! Inspiration for a new line of necklaces, perhaps? Now how to explain to the TSA agents at the airport that I need to bring home a half dozen metal pedals even though I have no idea what they are for!

RESOURCES:

CJS Sales: www.cjssales.com, 16 West 36th Street, 2nd floor, between 5th and 6th Aves., New York, New York 10018 (212) 244-1400

To view images of Kim Craftsmen jewelry: www.costumejewelrycollectors.com/kim- craftsmen-gallery/

To read more about Carl Schimel’s jewelry manufacturing business: http://www.costumejewelrycollectors.com/ 2013/03/28/a-tale-of-two-brothers-part-1-by- molly-felth/

To view images of Alexander Calder’s jewelry: http://www.pinterest.com/lizzieiom67/ alexander-calder-s-jewellery/

To view the The Milwaukee Sentinel – July 31, 1969 article: http://news.google.com/newspapers? nid=1368&dat=19690731&id=K3RQAAAAIBAJ& sjid=NREEAAAAIBAJ&pg=7278,6232783

Photos from inside CJS Sales many rooms: Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

headshotsmallJeannette Froese LeBlanc is a studio artist living in Rural Ontario Canada.  She is inspired by the landscape and history of Canada.  The structure of trees inspires her as much as people’s portraits.  Both are re-occurring themes in her jewellery and photography. To see more of her work please follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sassyandstella/

Product Review: OneFire Sterling PMC

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A beautiful bracelet by Terry Kovalcik made with Sterling PMC Photo: Corrin Jacobsen Kovalcik

I was recently asked by PMC Connection to test the new sterling metal clay by Mitsubishi.  I was excited, but also a little intimidated when I thought about all of the beautiful pieces made by testers of PMC products over the years: Hattie Sanderson’s rings, Celie Fago’s rings and charms, Terry Kovalcik’s bracelets. I worked hard on my experimental test pieces, but I didn’t end up with anything that will grace the posters and ads for the new clay. I did learn some things that I’m sharing in the hopes that my mistakes benefit other metal clay artists.

pmc-onefire-sterling-45g-50-6g-clay-weight-2962-pThe new “OneFire Sterling PMC” is a marvelous new clay.  Celie Fago’s idea to combine metal clays into a sterling 960 was a brilliant twist for metal clay artists.  And now Mitsubishi has taken the clay one step further and it can be open shelf fired. Continue reading…

Book Reviews by Pat Evans (Soldering, Leather and Architecture in Metal)

MCAM 5.4_Page_24_Image_0001SOLDERING BEYOND THE  BASICS By Joe Silvera, Kalmbach Books, 2014.

I always tell my metal clay students that adding basic soldering to their repertoire can add versatility to their work. Until I took a class on production soldering with Joe Silvera, however, I didn’t realize just how many possibilities there were for more advanced soldering techniques to enhance my metal clay practice. Not everyone has such a skilled teacher available. Luckily, anyone with basic soldering experience and access to a torch can use Silvera’s new book to ramp up their skills.

Section one is full of information about tools, including types of torches and how to set them up and adjust them. It gives in-depth descriptions of materials such as flux and solder as well as some basic stone-setting directions. The author understands the limitations of home studios and his section on setting up a studio is down-to-earth and practical, with an emphasis on safety. Throughout the book Silvera suggests nontoxic products whenever possible. All the projects can be completed with the reader’s choice of a butane torch or a small tank torch system. Continue reading…

Product Review: EZ960™ Sterling

25 and 50g large“EZ960™ Sterling” is a new clay launching this week from Cool Tools!  It is another invention by Bill Struve.  Cool Tools and Bill worked together on this new clay and decided to name it “EZ960™ Sterling” which is an easy name to remember. However, if they had asked for my opinion on the name I would have called it, “Easy-Wonderful-Strong-Beautiful-The Metal Clay You’ve Only Dreamed About”.  Maybe that name wouldn’t fit on the labels?

Valerie Bealle EZ960 braceletI feel very privileged to have been in on the testing of this new clay.  Full-disclosure: I love it.

This sterling silver metal clay is open shelf fired in a kiln. Other comparable brands require mixing or firing in activated carbon. This hybrid sterling clay is .960 when fired and can be hallmarked Sterling Silver. Sterling Silver is the industry standard for jewelry and is known for its strength that can withstand everyday wear and tear.

Lisel Rings Group EZ960

Cool Tools, offers 25g and 50g packages http://www.cooltools.us/EZ960-Sterling-Silver-Clay-p/ezs-025-p.htm

Here is my review of the new clay:
WET FORM: Moisture content and workability
:As I waited several weeks to test the clay it may have lost some of its plasticity while in the temporary wrapping. I added a few drops of water and worked it in and found the clay to be beautifully smooth, easy to roll, it picks up texture nicely and joins are solid. (My release agent was olive oil.)

DRY FORM: How was the flexibility, was it easy to carve, sand, join? What an amazing clay to carve! There are no “tears” at the end of a push with a carving tool. Clean edges!

Firing:No blistering or cracking. In my first firing I forgot to support a ring and so it slumped. I was curious about the clay and hammered the ring round and straight–it could take the abuse! All items out of the kiln have the satisfying “clink” of sintered metal and they are a matt grey. Some pieces I hammered and others I tumbled.

Shrinkage:Ring #1-1.5mm thick wet clay, wet clay size: 11.5, dry 10.5 and after firing 9.5,
Ring #2-1.5 mm thick wet clay, wet clay size: 12.5, dry 12 after firing 10.

Rings warped in the firing, as I forgot to support them properly, hammering them brought them back into shape without increasing the size.

Finishing:I hammered some pieces directly out of the kiln and then I tumbled them to finish the polishing. Rings were polished further with a 3m polishing brush and patinaed with LOS.

“Cool” Video to check out with Lisel Crowley. http://www.cooltools.us/EZ960-Sterling-Adjustable-Ring-s/2468.htm

540704_577388125607677_846842341_nJeannette Froese LeBlanc is the editor of Creative Fire and is an avid jewellery designer.  She has worked in metal clay since it first came on the market. You can find her jewellery online: www.SassyandStella.com.

Colour your work!

20160419_122106 - Copy (2)Add some colour! Thank you to our article sponsor: PMC Connection.

Alcohol Inks:
20160419_122502 - Copy (2)What I tried: I cleaned up several metal clay pieces with nail-polish remover (acetone).  I painted the pieces with alcohol inks.  I tried mixing colours and diluting the colours, but in the end I liked the colours straight out of the bottles best.  As you can see in the photos the colour fades when it dries. (After image has been buffed and polished. But on the edges you can see the pure colour. I took some of the colour off the middle of the leaf to show the silver.)
20160419_122856 - Copy (3)What I learned: The rougher the surface the better the colour adhesion.  Metal pieces will need to be coated with a spray on sealer.  I did not try the ink on base metals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

20160419_123312 - Copy (2)Gilders Paste:
What I tried: I painted guilders paste on to several metal pieces.  My paste was quite dry, so I diluted it with a bit of paint thinner. Some people like to rub the paste onto the metal with a soft cloth. I had better luck painting it on thick. The next day (almost 24 hours later) I gently rubbed off the extra with a light sanding (1000 grit paper).
20160419_135030(3) - CopyWhat I learned: I think I would have better luck with the colour staying on if  my pieces had deeper crevices and carving recesses. Like the alcohol ink I found the colour adhered better to a rough surface rather that a highly polished one.

20160419_130423 (2)Heat Patina:
20160419_130503 - Copy (2)What I tried: I heated copper rings with a butane torch, just long enough to see the colour change on the surface.
What I learned: The prettier the heat patina, the easier it is to rub off.  I still like the colour and will hope that the spray on sealer will keep some of the colour.  When I was making raku pottery I was told often that the colour would not stay it will oxidize and change over time… I’m sure this is true here.  But many of my pottery pieces still look good 20 years later–so I’m hoping for a similar result with heat treated metal that is sealed. And just a word about this torch.This torch would be a great one for a student.  It is so easy to start and to shut off.

20160419_123530 - Copy (2)Liquid Patinas: Copper Sulfate (base metals), liver of sulfur (silver).
20160419_123825 - Copy (2)What I tried:
Base Metal Copper Sulfate:
I painted the liquid copper sulpate patina directly onto the copper rings.  I liked how easy it was to turn the copper rings a dark black.

Liver of Sulfur:“LOS”, is a staple to a metal clay artists’ repertoire of techniques.  I use dry LOS pieces from a container I bought 10 years ago.  I dilute it in a cup of boiling water.  I let it cool and either dip my silver piece in or paint it on certain areas.
What I learned:
The copper liquid colourant has a distinct cat pee odor.  My poor cat was kicked out of my studio until I discovered the source of the smell. About half of the black patina rubbed off when I vigorously polished the rings.  I will try this product again and see if repeating the process would give me a more solid black colour.  The design potential is encouraging.

Liver of Sulfur: LOS has a distinct rotten egg odor that some artists cannot stand.  For those I’d recommend using the liquid LOS that comes prepared rather than dropping a chunk into boiling water. Fine silver holds its polish and patina well  and so I’ve never used any sort of sealer.

Where to find products I used:

Alcohol Ink: https://pmcconnection.com/embellishment-finishes/alcohol-inks.html
Guilder’s Paste: https://pmcconnection.com/embellishment-finishes/gilders-paste.html
Heat Patina: https://pmcconnection.com/firing/torch-kits/butane-torch.html
Copper Patina: https://pmcconnection.com/embellishment-finishes/patinas/antique-patina-1-oz.html
Liver of Sulphur:https://pmcconnection.com/embellishment-finishes/patinas/liver-of-sulfur-gel-squeeze-bottle-xlgel-1-oz.html
Metal Sealer: https://pmcconnection.com/pym-protectant-pump-6-oz.html

540704_577388125607677_846842341_nJeannette Froese LeBlanc is a jewellery artist and the editor of www.cre8tivefire.com. She is definitely “A glass 1/2 full kind of person”! She has learned to enjoy the journey and not solely focus on the destination, which is something her kids taught her.  Look down, look around, enjoy where you are.

 

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 ARTISTS’ LIBRARY” Book Reviews By Pat Evans

51uTIxgH-YL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Sculptural Metal Clay Jewelry by Kate McKinnon Interweave, 2010

Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore to pick up Kate McKinnon’s newest book. With its focus on a professional understanding of fine silver metal clay, a careful consideration of studio safety, and a thoughtful approach to jewelry construction, Sculptural Metal Clay Jewelry has something to offer nearly every student of metal clay. McKinnon has long been an advocate of building metal clay jewelry in ways that make the strongest jewelry possible. When I read her first, self-published book about metal clay, it changed the way I worked. In this book, the author continues to teach methods that are not always standard, but which should be in the repertoire of all serious metal clay artists.

The ten beautifully conceived and executed projects are merely a dessert to the main course of techniques, tips, and what McKinnon calls “elements”. These elements are the building blocks of the projects. Some, such as drawing a bead or making a toggle clasp, will be familiar to many jewelry artists. Other elements, such as those which suggest forging pieces after firing will interest even more advanced readers.

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Author and Artist Kate McKinnon

McKinnon has strong feelings about the best ways to work safely and professionally with metal clay, and she is always concerned with structural soundness. These themes run though the directions for all the elements and projects. McKinnon explains the reasons for her preferred methods which are based on her long study of metal clay and traditional metal work. In order to get the most from the book, it’s important to read through all the introductory information—don’t just skip to the projects. Fortunately, the writing is so personable that it is a joy to read.

As an added bonus, the book comes with a DVD of McKinnon demonstrating most of the book’s projects and basic information. The DVD is the next best thing to having a class with McKinnon in person, and it alone is practically worth the price of the book.

Kate’s book is available through the publisher: http://www.interweavestore.com/sculptural-metal-clay-jewelry

And through http://www.amazon.com/Sculptural-Metal-Clay-Jewelry-Mckinnon/dp/1596681748

To catch up with Kate McKinnon these days please visit: www.ContemporaryGeometricBeadwork.com

941577_4891675494684_2071299978_nPat Evans (a.k.a. The Tool Diva) 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.) You can find Pat online through her website: http://patevansdesigns.com/