Artist Project Series: Iwona Tamborska

The 3 Fish

This is the 5th project in our ongoing series of tutorials sponsored by Cool Tools.  All projects use their new silver metal clay EZ960™ Sterling Silver. This project is quite advanced, however, artists of all levels will learn something new! Be inspired by the way Iwona uses a drawing for the plan and layout of her pieces, or by her use of colour as she adds stones and coloured paste to this project!  Those who want to learn about hollow forms can follow along and learn about using a burn out media.  This beautiful pendant is wearable sculpture!

Iwona was inspired by a photo by Visarute Angkatavanich, of a group of Betta fish. The first part of her creative process was to create a painting based on the photo.  This gave her the idea to create a pendant and to add as much colour as she could using guilder’s paste and cubic zirconias. Iwona and Cool Tools owner Alan Rein tested CZ’s and at the end of the project we have a comprehensive chart showing the effects of firing CZ’s with EZ960™ Sterling.

Supplies: EZ960™ Silver Clay – 50g, cork, zirconias (synthetic sapphire 8, synthetic ruby 8, orange zirconias), pearls (5), 2 silver circles (5 mm diameter), 2 silver wires (1 cm long)

Also: sketch and a painting of the design, olive oil, water, citric acid, solder, flux, glue, nail polish remover, Gilder’s Paste (3 colours), UV Gel

Tools: glass shield, rolling mill, cards, scalpel, pointer, drills (<1mm, 2mm, 3mm drill for cubic zirconias), hair dryer, brush for paste, polishing rotary tool (with polishing rubber discs: dark blue- coarse and light blue – fine; felt polishing disc), polishing paste, brass brush, cotton swabs (I.E. Q-tips), tooth pics, UV lamp.

1. The first thing I did was to place a glass shield on a previously prepared drawing, so I would be able to keep the scale. I recommend you do the same. Use cork clay to form the body of the fish.

2. It is easier to tell if you have the proper shape when you place the prepared pieces on the drawn fish’s body. Use a blow dryer to dry them.

3. Put some olive oil on the glass shield, next to the drawing. Roll the clay to get a 3 cards thickness. Place the first cork body on the clay and cut out an amount, that would cover it fully.

4. Cover the cork with clay. Do the same to other pieces. If the clay doesn’t want to stick, put some water on the side, that will stick to the cork. Make sure with your fingers, that you have an even layer on the whole piece, with no parts thinner or thicker. Remove the excessive clay with a scalpel.

5. Mark the mouth and the gills with a scalpel. Make sure not to cut too deep, as you may weaken the clay and make it break while firing in the kiln. Make small balls of clay as the eyes, put some water on them and place them on the fish. Use a thin pointer, like a pin, to make details on the eyes. Gently mark where you want to place the fins (back fin, 2 side fins, tail) on each fish. When you know what parts will be covered by the fins, use a pointer to mark where you want your stones to be set and to look the best on the fish. Remember about the size of the stone to leave enough place between the markings. I used 8 stones (3 mm diameter ) on each fish. I decided to give the most attention to the parts, that are facing me straight, so they are different for every fish. Use a drier to dry the fish completely.

6. As the first drill, I used a thin diamond drill, to go through the marked zircon points. As a second drill, I used a bigger one (2 mm).

7. To set the zircons, I used a special 3mm drill (for setting cubic cut stones). Drill until you make sure a zircon can fit in the hole and will not stick out.

8. Drilling produces a lot of dust. Collect that and put in a small container. Add water to the clay dust and make paste. Put some paste in the drilled holes. (Make sure you have only dust from the silver clay…no cork clay dust!)

9. Put the stones in, while the paste is still wet.

If your hand slipped during drilling and the hole is too big, use some wet clay to fill the hole.

Put the stone in the corrected hole and remove the excess clay.

10. Put the prepared bodies on the drawing. Put some olive oil next to it and roll the rest of the clay again. I decided to try a 2 card thickness this time to see if 960 clay would be hard enough for the fins. It passed the test, so you can do it as well. Cut out from the clay the part, that will be used as a tail of the orange fish. To make it clear, I marked with the orange colour the part of the fish I am making. Use a scalpel to mark details on the tail. Do not cut too deep! Turn the tail on the other side and also make markings and details.

11. Put some paste on the place where you want to attach the tail to the orange fish. Attach the tail and place it in a position the drawing suggests.

12. Cut out the right side fin. Mark the details. Turn in on the other side and do the same. Put paste on the fish body, where you want to attach the fin.

13. Attach the fin as the drawing suggests.

14. Cut out the left side fin of the orange fish. Make details on both sides.

Attach the fin.

Cut out the back fin, make details on both sides, attach the fin. At first I wanted the fin to be long, so I cut out a long shape. During attaching I decided it is too much, so I shortened the fin.

15. We are making the red and blue fish now. Prepare the back fins of both fish, each piece is marked by the corresponding colour. Make details on each fin, on both sides.

16. Attach the fins to the fish by adding some paste between them.

17. Cut out the back fins of the red and blue fish. Make details on both sides of the fins.

18. Put paste on the place of the attachment. This is a bit tricky, as we want the fin to go from the top of the fish and under it.

Cut out the tail of the blue fish. Make details on the tail, on both sides.

Attach the tail, using paste.

Make the missing side fin of the blue fish, make details, attach.

19. All we have left is the red fish. The orange and blue fish are ready! Cut out the tail of the red fish. Make the details on both sides of the tail

20. Attach the tail, as the drawing suggests. Try to make it as dynamic as you can.

Cut out the missing fin of the red fish. Mark the details, on both sides.

Attach the fin. Dry the fish with a hair-dryer.

21. When you made sure the piece is completely dry and it could be removed without any problem from the glass – drill a small hole in each fish’s body (from the back) to allow the gas to escape, while firing in the kiln. Otherwise, it might make the fish crack or explode.

22. Take the rest of the clay. Put some olive oil on the ring. Make a ring shape with your fingers. Roll it flat ( 2 cards thick). You want the ring to be so big, that you can place all your 3 fish on it.

I used a round shape to cut a circle from the clay and did the same with the inner side of the circle. My circle is 7 mm wide.

Put the paste on the whole circle. Place each fish on the circle, in the place the drawing suggests. While placing the fish, make sure they stick well to the circle. If needed – add some clay between the connecting sections.

This is how you want this design to look like. Make sure to dry everything properly (bone dry) before firing.

23. Put your design on a lifted shelf, that will allow the heat to surround the whole piece evenly. Because I used stones of various origin, I had to check which firing program to use, that will be safe for the stones. I recommend checking the Cool Tools firing table for the stones Because I wasn’t sure what might happen, I chose the 4 h firing cycle, with 899 C as the top temperature.

24. I wanted to see what soldering is like with EZ960™ clay, so as a part of the design I added 2 circles and a silver wire sticking out from the fish mouth. Prepare for soldering by adding flux on the parts, where you want to solder: the small 2 circles, the back of the big circle, the wires and fish mouth.  Heat up the small circles, add solder and let it flow on the circles. Heat up the back of whole design and add the small circles to it. The solder on them will join with the large piece. Do the same with the wires (2) and the mouth of the red and blue fish. When everything is soldered, wait until it cools off on its own.  Otherwise the stones might crack or loose colour! When the piece is completely cool, heat up some pickle (I use concentrated citric acid) and put the piece in there to get cleaned by the acid. Take it out and rinse under running water thoroughly. Make sure you get everything out, even from the inside of the fish.

25. Use a rotary disc (dark blue silicone rubber) to remove all rough edges, uneven layers, and pointy endings. Parts, which were inaccessible by other tools, should be polished by a small, rotary steel brush. Use a rotary disc (light blue silicone rubber) to smooth all the surfaces and polish the piece further. This tool will help you remove all pointy parts and make the whole piece nice to touch.

26. Take Gilder’s Paste and add some nail polish remover to it. Use a cotton swab to add colour to the fins.

27. When the paste is dry, add some UV Jelly Resin on it using a toothpick. Gently cover the coloured parts with the jelly – it will protect the colour from being removed in the future. Put the piece in the UV lamp for several minutes.

28. Put some glue on the wires sticking out from the fish mouth and place the pearls on the wire

Iwona Tamborska is a Polish artist, a member of the Goldsmithing Artists Association, whose jewelry works can be recognized by the use of insects as part of the jewelry. The artist creates in a style inspired by the early century art – “Art Nouveau”. Her jewelry style is quite narrative, shows characteristic etherealness, dynamics and often shows a use of colour. Iwona works under a name “Rekami Stworzone”, which in Polish means “Hand Created”.

2017 – Saul Bell Design Award finalist
2016 – Bead Dreams double finalist
2016 – Royal Stone contest double winner (II place)
2015 – Art Clay World Instructor certificate
2014 – Awarded with “The City of Krakow Artist Scholarship”
2014- national Creative Jewelry contest winner “MODEUS 2014”
2013 – awarded with the “Poland Handmade” – quality sign

Websites: , ,


EZ 960™ Sterling Clay

Test fire charts of various stones-Click on image to enlarge.


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