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

 

 

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…

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.

 

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…

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…

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…