Tool Talk with Pat Evans

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Micro Engraver

This inexpensive battery-operated engraving tool is a lightweight and compact addition to the metal clay artist’s tool kit. It is handy for engraving both bone-dry and fired metal clay as well as other materials such as ceramics, wood and glass. This pen-shaped tool is comfortable to hold and easy to manipulate. It comes with both 1.4 mm and 4 mm ball-tipped diamond burs plus a hex wrench for switching between them. It operates on two AAA batteries (not included). I’ve found the battery life to be good.

I tried out the tool on bone-dry silver clay and found that it carved very quickly and easily—in fact, faster than I had expected. It’s easy to carve away more than you had planned, so I’d suggest practicing briefly on some scrap clay or even heavy cardboard before you use it on a piece you plan to fire. With only a little practice I was able to carve designs in my greenware much more quickly and easily than I could have done by hand. The engraver is operated with a thumb-controlled button that activates with just a light touch. That sensitivity prevents thumb strain so the tool isn’t tiring to use, but it also meant that I had to be careful not to turn on the tool accidentally.

The Micro Engraver is available for about $14.95 by Beadsmith and can be found at many retailers including Amazon and PMC Connection.

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Baroque Art Gilders Paste

I was first introduced to Baroque Art Gilders Paste by Paula Radke, who showed me how to use it to enhance finished glass clay cabochons. Since then I’ve noticed it popping up all over the place. The paste is a combination of waxes, resins and highly concentrated pigments. You can use it to add color to many different substrates including fired metal clay. It should be sealed with a clear coat (the manufacturer recommends Krylonâ UV-Resistant Clear spray (gloss or matte) to protect it from rubbing off.

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Experimental piece by Jeannette LeBlanc. Color: Patina on etched aluminum.

Gilders Paste is available in a wide range of primary, secondary and metallic colors that can be mixed to create an even broader palette. The metallic colors are my favorites. The paste comes in a tin with a tightly fitted lid to keep it from drying out. However, if that does happen it can be reconstituted by mixing in a few drops of paint thinner, mineral spirits or turpentine. Once applied, the paste takes 12 to 24 hours to cure completely, although it dries to the touch within minutes. This is a fun product to experiment with and since a little goes a very long way you can do quite a lot of experimenting: A 1.5-oz. tin will cover about 30 square feet!

Baroque Art Gilder’s Paste is available at many online suppliers, including www.pmcconnection.com www.cooltools.uswww.riogrande.com

About the Author:
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/

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…

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…

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…

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…

Kilns: Fiber or Firebrick?

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Kilns: Fiber or Firebrick?
By John S. Hohenshelt

There has been much discussion regarding the differences between brick and fiber kilns in light of the introduction of bronze and copper clays into the marketplace. This article explains the differences in these two insulating materials for kilns in relation to the firing requirements of the different metal clays. Continue reading…

Bill Struve’s New Invention: 3-D MetalCreator

Bill at Metal Clay Mojo 2015Every once in a while, if we are lucky, we meet someone who is truly a giving person. Someone who doesn’t expect something in return. Most of us know people who will look for the “what’s in it for me” before they give, such as: a tax receipt, their name listed on a donor page or carved onto a corner stone. But then there are those who quietly give. In the artistic community, artists are often preyed upon to “give” and “donate”. But in this case a scientist and an artist are giving to artists! Bill and Lacey Ann Struve are well known in the metal clay community. They have invented and produced several base metal clays under their company Metal Adventures and now they have a new invention to share with the artistic community. Continue reading…

Zen What? By Linda Stiles Smith

smith_zentangle1Ever have the thought that because you can’t draw you aren’t an artist? Well, according to the newest craze spreading across the country, if you can hold a pen and make a line, you can draw beautiful pictures. Does this make you an artist? Maybe not, but just about everyone who has tried it creates at least ONE original drawing, often worthy of framing!

Last fall I was introduced to a drawing technique called Zentangle®. A friend found it online, I ordered the kit, three of us watched the video, tried it out and we were hooked! We each have different backgrounds, but we were each able to create a set of diverse and interesting drawings.

The premise behind the process is that you combine some Zen time, soft music and quiet environment with a directed type of mark making, and you create small, 3.5”x3.5” (8.8cm) drawings full of dynamic patterns and shapes. By engaging your right brain in this way anyone can draw some pretty spectacular designs. Zentangle® provides a way to shift your focus and perspective onto the process of what you are doing and away from the results. Continue reading…

Tool Diva Reviews By Pat Evans

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One of Helen Breil’s texture plate designs.

 

Products Reviewed: Helen Breil Designer Texture Stamps,Rivet Piercing/Setting Tool and the Jool Tool

Helen Breil Designer Texture Stamps
Zentangles®, a meditative, repetitive form of doodling, seems to be everywhere these days. Last month, Metal Clay Artist published an article by Linda Styles Smith that explored a number of ways these highly graphic drawings could be used for textures in metal clay. Those who like the patterns, but don’t feel like creating their own, can now get the look from designer Helen Breil’s intriguing line of texture plates inspired by her experiments with Zentangles®. Continue reading…