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.
The real trick to making fingerprint jewelry in metal clay is getting a clean, detailed print impressed into the clay. In my experience, all metal clays types can take fingerprints beautifully. But there are a few different ways – both direct and indirect – to harvest the fingerprint and impress it into the clay, and each has advantages and drawbacks and produces a slightly different result.
The three most common approaches are:
1) Pressing the finger directly into metal clay.
2) Taking an impression of the fingerprint into a molding compound, and pressing the molded print into metal clay.
3) Taking an ink fingerprint on paper and then using the image to create a photopolymer plate (PPP) or to etch a copper texture plate.
In this article, I’ll describe the major pros, cons, and unique considerations for each approach. Continue reading…
Our third interview is with Terry Kovalcik from the USA. Terry’s locket “A Tear for Icarus” (2005) was the first piece that caught my eye and made me really look at metal clay. As you can see by Terry’s finalist piece for the Saul Bell Design Award, his attention to detail and excellent craftsmanship have not wavered at all.
Creative Fire: How long have you worked in metal clay? Is there one kind of metal clay that is your favorite?
Terry Kovalcik: I was first introduced to Precious Metal Clay in 1999 and have worked with it ever since. So that makes it 16 years. As for a favorite, it’s hard to say, I do find myself using the 960 hybrid PMC clay a lot lately. My approach is to pick the best clay for the job. PMC 960 works well for many different techniques, it’s strong and versatile. Continue reading…
Recently one of our favourite jewellery supply companies announced the finalists for in their annual design contest. The 15th Annual Saul Bell Design award, sponsored by Rio Grande, is named after the father of one of the owners of the company. If you are not familiar with the contest or Saul Bell, here is a lovely video explaining the history of the contest and a short biography of its namesake.
The mandate of the contest is clear, “We’re looking for an original vision, a fresh take on traditional methods and materials and a mastery of your craft. We want you to stretch the boundaries of your capabilities as a designer and as a jeweler.” (For more information about the contest and the judging please see their website.) Every year fellow artists enjoy seeing the finalists and guessing as to who is the winner. This year is no different, and so over the next few days we’ll present a brief selection of Q&A’s to the finalists in the metal clay category along with an image of their piece.
First up, we interview two time winner, Ivy Solomon. Yes that’s right–she has won twice in the metal clay category.
Makingchainrequirespatiencebecauseittakestimetomakeall theindividuallinks.Butthesenseofsatisfactionyouwillfeelonceyouareholdingyourfinishedhandmadechainwillbewonderful andwillmakealltheeffortworthwhile. Thischainislinkedinthegreenwarestageandfired fullyassembledwitha decorative clasp worn at the front. It has a sinuous, slinky feel, plus the stones add a nice bit of bling.
Level: Advanced Project by: Joy Funnell Edited by: Jeannette Froese LeBlanc and Margaret Schindel