I make jewellery. No wait. I MAKE jewellery. These days my hands are never clean looking. Normally I don’t really care what my hands and nails look like. But recently while out to dinner with some friends I felt like the “one of these things doesn’t belong.” Each of my friends had such nice nails. Nicely painted nails, clean hands. We were sharing sushi so I felt the need to announce that my hands were in fact “clean”. As I said the words, I realized that I wasn’t ashamed. The public announcement was to put the other diners at ease. I am actually very proud of my raggedy nails and the permanent black stains. To me it is a sign that I am working in my studio. I am making jewellery. Continue reading…
I’ve known award winning artist Michela Verani for a while now, having first met her at a metal clay conference in the US. She and I share a love of sci-fi and we are also both participating in the metal clay Masters Registry programme so we have lots in common.
PMC3 is a fine silver clay (.999 silver). True, fine silver PMC3 is more expensive than base metal clays. But the ease of working with and firing fine silver clay makes it a much better choice for beginners. From start to finish, PMC3 is the least complicated of all of the metal clays, which means that students can focus on the basics of construction, firing, and finishing without having to worry about complications created by the clay itself. Once you have those basic skills under your belt, there is an entire universe of textures and colors available to the metal clay artist.
With all metal clays, getting the basic texture and forming in place before the clay starts drying is key. Make sure your clay is sealed in an air-tight container when not being worked, and don’t hold the clay in your hands when you are not shaping it as your skin will pull moisture out of the clay.
Most important is to stay relaxed, have fun and experiment.
Still wondering about the other varieties of PMC clay? Here is a quick summary: PMC3 – great for beginners; can be fired with a torch; low firing temperature allows for inclusion of findings, glass, and fire-able stones. PMC3 paste – good for joining pieces; can be used for adding texture and painted designs; can be used with PMC3, PMC+, PMC Flex, and PMC Sterling. PMC3 syringe – good for making repairs and filling grooves; can be used for drawing, building up forms and setting stones; can be used with PMC3, PMC+, PMC Flex, and PMC Sterling. PMC Flex – designed to stay flexible when dry; good for bending, twisting and braiding; low firing schedule and can be fired with a torch. PMC+ Sheet – flexible and does not stick to itself; great for origami, folding and weaving; can be laminated and used with paper punches. PMC Sterling – great for added strength and shine, must be kiln-fired in carbon PMC Gold – great for accents; low firing temperature; can be fired alongside silver PMC and can be torch fired.
Dona Miller: “Art, especially jewelry, is very personal. Through the constant inspiration of nature, animals and my dogs, I interpret the spirit around me into jewelry, using my love of stones and shaping metal. My designs and metal work incorporate the use of cut and natural stones to reflect the peace, love and joy of nature.”
Jewelry in article by Dona Miller.
“Metal Clay 101” is an ongoing series brought to you by PMC Connection and their instructors.
In my opinion there are energies and forces all around. To declare that we are separate from nature or that spirits don’t exist is to close yourself off from the wonderful vibrations of life all around. A few years ago I learned about “spirit animals” from a jewellery artist. I thought it was a fascinating idea. I didn’t discount it, but I really didn’t understand it either.
Well that was until I started to have a bird follow me around for the past year. My new friend is a great blue heron. I started to see one every day last spring. And in some form or another…I see a heron nearly every day. When the first heron showed up, I was still mourning the loss of the magazine my husband and I published. I missed the daily contact with editors, writers and contributing artists. After spending six years working on a business that was lost, not due to any errors I made, I was devastated. The carpet was literally pulled out from under me. I feared for our house, our finances and my family. Our readers rallied and through contests and fundraisers they helped us recover most of our personal loss. They saved our family. I started this site (Creative Fire) as a way to say thank you back to our community. But I was lost.
I used to be an artist. With two little kids and the magazine, my studio was neglected. Even without the magazine I found it really hard to get back into my studio and to get back to work. Stresses and distractions crept into my life and making jewellery became less important. To help me get out of this rut, a dear artist friend invited me to visit. After making jewellery with her and enjoying some wonderful sunsets on her front deck–I declared out loud one evening that I would make jewellery. I knew it was a long shot to make a living at art. I had been there before. But I was in love with the etching process she had taught me. Ideas buzzed in my head. I couldn’t wait to take some of my children’s drawings and to etch them into jewellery. “Maybe that would be my new line. Maybe I’d get back into my studio and work.” Just then a huge heron flew inches from us making the most awful heron croaking sound. Every day for months I saw a heron. It didn’t matter what town or even what country I was in…I saw a heron. Even in winter I’d see a a heron on bumper sticker or a photo online or in a magazine…every few days I’d see a heron. Usually just when I ready to fall off the path to starting up my studio again. It was almost a reminder to keep going. Out of curiosity I looked up spirit birds and learned that herons show up when your life if out of balance. They remind us to follow our heart and to be determined.
Well I’m determined! My new line is called “Sassy and Stella”. (If you would like the back story on why I named my studio after two stray dogs from Alabama, click here.) I have a long way to go and a lot to learn about running a full-time jewellery studio business, but I’m excited at the possibilities!
Are you curious about your spirit bird? Here is a simple chart.
Photo Credit: Heron on a beach in Florida, USA by Sandy Bowman.
Heron drawing: Sea Martini
Another of my animal friends, Sassy the dog from Alabama.
NO MATTER WHAT YOUR BUSINESS, at some point you will likely have to engage a professional to help you with something. Traditionally, this has meant accountants and lawyers for most. In the past ten years, we’ve added design and technical professionals who help us create websites, manage social media, and conduct e-commerce. Continue reading…
Jewelry has been an important element of male style since the first caveman threaded a seashell onto a length of sinew and tied it around his neck. Perceived as a status symbol, a show of wealth, an emblem of strength and power, or simply a decorative adornment, jewelry often defines a man’s character without a word being spoken.
From the elaborately bejeweled majesty of Henry VIII to the subdued sophistication of Don Draper’s elegant watches to the menacing headdresses, ankle cuffs and breastplates of an African chieftain to Dave Navarro’s and Steven Tyler’s heavy metal jewelry, men embrace the gold, silver and gemmy goodness of ritualistic adornment just as fervently as their female counterparts.
An online exhibition showcasing some of the most exemplary work currently being done in metal clay. The exhibition, which was conceived by Susan Silvy and co-curated with Christine Norton, is being hosted on Crafthaus (www.crafthaus.ning.com), a subscription based, juried, online artisan community that is home to many professional artists in all mediums.
“One of the biggest obstacles I have had to deal with as a metal clay artist is the widespread misconceptions regarding metal clay,” Silvy explains. Part of the problem is that it was introduced only in the mid-1990s, and in the context of the established media that have been used throughout art jewelry, it is a comparative newborn. “It has been fascinating to watch this material capture the creative imaginations of artists, to see the years of experimentation, and to realize that metal clay is now beginning to reach its stride.” She and Norton wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to showcase some of the best and most inspiring metal clay work to a large audience of other high-level, professional artists.
The concept of the exhibition elicited such a positive response that it is being presented in two parts. The first part ran from April 14 through May 14, 2011. The second part will debut on July 17 and run through August 17 2011. The exhibition includes work from 60 respected metal clay artists that were selected by a jury from among hundreds of entries based on their demonstrated mastery of the medium. The jurors for this show were: Ann Robinson Davis, Jeannette Froese LeBlanc and Gwynne Rukenbrod.
A full-color print catalog of the exhibition was designed by Hallmark artist Sam Cangelosi, all profits went to CERF, the Craft Emergency Relief Fund. “Early on, Jackie Truty and Katie Baum from Art Clay World generously volunteered to support the exhibition by producing a print version at the Metal Clay World Conference. Their support is what really got our adrenaline going, and led Susan and me to come up with a plan to bring a more expanded exhibition into catalog form to support CERF ,” Says Norton.
Safety Tips: Always dry your clay completely before firing. If your clay is damp the moisture will try to escape quickly during firing and the piece will break or it could explode while torch firing.
Most metal clay pieces under 15 grams will take a day to dry. You can speed up the drying by using a mug warmer—remember to turn the piece every once in a while. Or you can use a food dehydrator that has been dedicated to non-food use. With these methods it will still take a few hours to dry out.
Do not torch fire metal clay that has been formed over a core, such as a ceramic bead, wood or cork clay.
Always follow the clay manufacturer’s directions for firing. The insert that comes with the clay will explain firing temperatures and timings.
Always fire metal clay, with a torch or with a kiln, in a well-ventilated area and have a fire extinguisher handy.
Technique Tips: Keep that clay moist and you’ll be a happy artist! Clay can be stored in a small airtight container and if you are leaving the clay in-between projects, put a small piece of damp sponge in the container. It is also handy to have a small spray bottle handy to re-moisten clay if it starts to dry out.
Keep all the bits and shavings clean. All dried bits of clay can be re-hydrated into a paste, but keep the bits free of sandpaper grit and other work-space debris.
Before you open your package of clay, have your work-space ready. If you are rolling out the clay, have a non-stick work surface ready. (This can be a sheet of glass or plastic.) Lightly coat your hands and tools with olive oil. And lastly—know what you are going to do! Don’t wait for inspiration while your clay is drying out.
“R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me” Aretha Franklin
~Sigh…respect. Or in this case the lack of respect. Why do artists sometimes feel superior over another artist simply because of the media or the type of art of another artist? I’ve had THREE separate conversations this week with other artists where this topic has come up.
One artist is a graphic designer by day and a singer/songwriter by night. She is often asked if she compromises her singing for her 9-5 day job. And her answer is no. Why can’t she do both?
Another friend is at an art show. I would classify her as a jewellery designer. But within the jewellery making community there are tiers of respect given and received based on the type of metal you work in, the type of tools you use…and so on. She was upset over a conversation she’d had with another jewellery designer. The other jewellery designer felt that my friend’s work is “artsy” and not “real jewellery design” and therefore should not be in the same category of the same show as their work.
Are we going round and round the same old conversation of “Artist Vs. Crafts person” or “Designer Vs. Artist”? ~Yawn. I remember these conversations from “back in the day” when I was a potter. I have just realized…I was called a “potter” even though I hardly ever made any actual pots! I wasn’t ever upset about this title—I worked in clay. Those who made tea-pots were potters, those who made thrown clay sinks…potters. Those who hand-built slabs of clay—potters. But I remember when this need to define came up in my circle. I think it was the late ‘90’s at the “One of a Kind Show”. Some potters had their shorts in a bunch that the show had “allowed” those who paint on bisque ceramics into the show. Egad…they poured liquid clay into molds—purchased molds. And then painted glazes on them. How would the public know that “OUR” pottery was “real” pottery? Painted bisque-ware was a lower class pottery.Continue reading…
At some point, every jewellery artist wonders where they should sell their work. Several of my artist friends sell their work in big shows, with big travel and booth costs. But their work is at that level. Collectors all over the world love and buy their jewellery. I’m not at that level! I dream of that level.
Right now, I’m thinking that I’m making a big step to put my work online! After years of promoting the work of other artists through Metal Clay Artist Magazine…I somehow stopped making my own jewellery. Editing and publishing an independent magazine that was available on newsstands world wide was a big job. We had a great team and did an excellent job. But I put my “all” into the magazine, all the time. My studio gathered dust, then it gathered junk. I reclaimed it this past summer. I started to make some jewellery! Continue reading…