I recall so clearly when I first heard about metal clay, back in the late 1990s, in the Rio Grande catalog. I thought I might like to work with it, and took my first class in 2000 (a two-week stint at Arrowmont in Tennessee, with Linda Kaye-Moses). I also recall, equally clearly, hearing about and then using Metal Adventures’ (Original) BRONZclay, when it came on the market in 2008. Such an interesting and different take on metal clay!
And look at us now: we have several versions of silver clay, plus a multitude of base metal clays, with more coming. What Bill Struve started experimenting with in 2006 has grown into an international community of inventors and users, with clays coming from many parts of the world. While I am personally far from a scientist, I do have an inquisitive nature that wants to know many things about the materials we use.
Most of us are aware of some differences in the base metal clays, like color and shrinkage rate. I’ve taught many classes that help others get the feel of different clays, but never went beyond the basics where firing is concerned. This is the subject of my latest set of experiments, and this article deals specifically with open-shelf firing of base-metal clays; torch firing is the subject for my next major experiment and another article. Continue reading…
When you work with metal clay, you tend to fall in love with this medium because it takes up so little space. It is extremely portable and a very small toolbox will hold most of your tools. Many of the basic tools are common things you might find in your kitchen or around the house. Miniature rolling pin, cookies cutters, picks, emery boards, brushes, etc. are some examples of basic tools. In no time at all, the tools multiply, and, before you know it, take over a portion of your house. The other people who share that living space are forced to give it up. It really is unfair – to everyone concerned. (Pictured is Yvonne’s Kitchen/Studio.)
It is a challenge to organize so many tiny tools. You can’t have too many tools or too many beads (everyone knows that). The question is, how do you know what to let go of? You can’t know what to let go of until you assess what you have. In my study of feng shui, I ran across a book entitled, “Clearing the Clutter,” and then I attended a workshop on the same topic. It turns out the basic premise or use for feng shui is in the clearing of spaces. The best tip I learned for weeding “stuff” out of your life was one about creating three boxes or bins with the labels: donate/re-purpose, pitch and keep. The trick for me was getting the boxes to the thrift store or the trash before I got a chance to pull things back out. Keep telling yourself, “less is more.” It is so true. Continue reading…
Alabama Gulf Coast eco-artist Kathleen Nowak Tucci was featured on the cover of the controversial oil-spill issue of Italian Vogue magazine in August 2010. It was the first time an eco-artist’s work had been featured on the cover of a mainstream fashion magazine.
Kathleen has been creating art for 25 years and recently has begun working with recycled bicycle inner tubes. This work with recycled rubber has brought her to the attention of a number of prestigious magazines, such as Vogue Italia (cover!), Marie Claire, Elle Decor, Ornament, and Interior Design, and high-end boutiques and galleries across America. “My work was also recently included in the Smithsonian Craft Show 2011,” she said. “There were 1300 entries and only 120 juried artists.”
Kathleen has always been creative. “I have no choice but to be creative,” she explained. “Even as a child, I always had some art project going. On both sides of my family there were very creative women.” Continue reading…
Glass clay is fairly new on the clay scene. Like metal clay, it can be molded and/or sculpted and, after drying and being fired in a kiln, it undergoes a seemingly magical transformation. But instead of textured, sculpted or molded solid metal, glass clay transforms into textured, sculpted or molded solid glass! Easy to use and inexpensive, it comes in powdered form in a wide range of colors (opaque only). You can use your glass clay cabochons as you would use any fused glass cabs, such as in the hinged bracelet project or the mixed media bracelet.
Author and photos except those noted: Paula Radke
Editors: Jeannette Froese LeBlanc, Margaret Schindel and Ann Davis
Photos 1-3: Ann Davis
In this article, I will show you how to make a metal clay hinged bracelet with wire bezel-set glass clay cabochons that you can buy or make yourself using Paula’s project. In a previous post I showed you how to make a polymer clay version.
Note: Project assumes some previous soldering experience. If you are new to soldering, you may want to pick up a copy of Joe Silvera’s book, Soldering Made Simple: Easy techniques for the kitchen-table jeweler (Kalmbach Books, 2010) before trying this project.
Author and How-To Photos: Jeannette Froese LeBlanc
Edited by: Margaret Schindel and Joy Funnell
Beauty Photo: Lisa Barth
Illustrations: Roxan Waluk
I hate New Year’s Resolutions simply because there seems to be this mass need to redefine, redesign and analyze our errors in order to improve our lives. What if things are pretty good and we just want to carry on?
I feel that the driving force behind New Year’s resolutions is that you look for what is bad about yourself or your life, or maybe your art or studio. I get that. I worked really hard on totally cleaning out my studio last summer. My studio was not working for me, it was cluttered and full of stale ideas. But I had to forge ahead on it on my own terms, at my own time. New Year’s resolutions feels like a forced march to me. Continue reading…
One of the key reasons for choosing metal clay as a jewelry making material is that it allows you to create or reproduce virtually any texture in metal quickly and easily.
What Can You Use to Add Texture to Metal Clay?
Although it sounds clichéd, you really are limited only by your imagination. There is a dizzying selection of commercial plastic, polymer or silicone texture mats and sheets, rubber stamps, texture rollers, molds, etc. that you can purchase to impress patterns in fresh clay. There also are many different ways to make your own one-of-a-kind texturing materials and tools. You can use water etching, carving, drilling, filing and metal clay appliqué on dried clay. After firing you can use traditional metal working techniques such as hammering to alter the topography of the metal’s surface. Continue reading…
ArtWay 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…
The first thing that struck me about mixed media artist Gail Crosman Moore’s work was the wonderful organic quality she achieves with the media she employs. From the warm softness of felt to the cool solidity of glass and metal, she captures flowing natural forms in a wonderfully eclectic body of work. Continue reading…