It’s nice to have a test piece lying around your workspace to experiment with various finishing, polishing, and burnishing tools and methods. Continue reading…
What Can You Use to Add Texture to Metal Clay? Continue reading…
Depending on the type of metal clay you are using, from original fine silver to base metal clays, there are a number of options for firing. This may include anything from a kiln to a simple hand-held torch.
One of the processes of creating jewelry with silver metal clay that got me addicted was the ability to use a something as simple as a butane torch for firing. In as little time as two minutes, I could have a beautiful pair of earrings or a pendant ready to wear.
When teaching a beginner class, I only demonstrate torch firing as a way to help the students understand how easy it is to set up your metal clay studio with minimal cost. Continue reading…
Strata Ring by Kathy Van Kleeck is presented by Cool Tools and is part of a special series of projects designed by metal clay master jewellery makers. Kathy’s unique style and openness about her process is as refreshing as her jewellery.
(Note: click on images to enlarge)
The inspiration for this ring was born out of my curiosity about how thin I could work with the new EZ960® Sterling Silver Clay and still maintain structural integrity. Favorite themes in my work are repetition of form and layering of elements. The image of stratified layers came to mind and creating this effect in rings seemed like a good place to start.
I started off making what I call “washer” rings, thin and flat, but with my signature “wonky and weathered” edges.
Wearing a loose stack of the new “strata” rings worked just fine, but as a project to share seemed a bit lackluster. The idea of joining the rings via rivets, one small to stabilize the stack and one large to secure the group, seemed like it would be visually compelling, not to mention good fun. Continue reading…
Whether you need to create a simple loop to hang an earring or you need to string together a complex network of components, embedding wire in PMC is an essential design technique. When working with PMC, always use fine silver wire and make sure the wire is clean by running it through some clean folded 320 grit sandpaper. To insert eyelets, small loops, or prongs, slightly flatten the part of the wire you plan to insert in the clay and rough up the surface with a file to give more tooth for better grip. Insert the wire carefully into the wet clay, pull it back out dip it into the paste, and then reinsert. Remember, if you are inserting a loop, be sure to embed the bottom 1/3 of the loop.
If you are laying wire through a piece (for example, making a clasp) make your piece in two layers. When the pieces are dry, sand a groove into both halves and then generously cover both with paste. Lay the flattened wire into the groove and sandwich the pieces together. This will eliminate the bump from the wire.
With a little practice, the addition of wire to metal clay designs can expand your creative horizons tremendously!
Having a lifelong love of art, Ruth has a diverse background that includes air-brush painting, Australian cake decorating, stone sculpture, lapidary arts, and fine wire wrap settings. Ruth is self-taught and enjoys learning from renowned teachers by attending classes taught in a wide variety of jewelry art disciplines.
Her introduction to PMC was a dream come true – to be able to work in silver with a true freedom in design. But the best reward is being able to share and enable others to create their own works of silver art through her role as a PMC Connection Senior Instructor.
This project is the third in a series presented by Cool Tools. A dozen artists will present projects that showcase their personal style and artistry using EZ960™ Sterling Silver Clay. Come and enjoy this unique opportunity to look over the shoulder of some of the world’s premier metal clay artists as they work.
Marco Fleseri presents a project that artists of all levels will enjoy. By combining fine silver with the metal clay he has taken away many issues with shrinkage and it makes the project more economical too! Enjoy and feel free to share your results with the artist.
Cuff Bracelet Project by Marco Fleseri
This is a how-to guide for creating your own version of my cuff bracelet which I called “Nelumbo vertabralis.” Inspired by vertebrae and lotus flower petals (“nelumbo” is the genus name for the lotus family of plants), this bracelet has an architectural quality while still looking very intentionally organic / biological.
For this bracelet I used EZ960™ Sterling Silver Clay, which is a premixed formula that can be fired in one stage on an open shelf (no need for carbon). Continue reading…
I have divided up part of my stash into 20 equal collections. Now I’m looking for 20 artists who would like to participate in a design challenge. Everyone will get the same amounts of vintage beads, chain, and crystals in their design kit. You can use them any way you want and with any media.
Basic Challenge Parameters:
-Due date: March 31, 2017.
-Must send images of finished piece to cre8tivefire (@) gmail.com.
-Must use 4 pieces of design kit in your finished piece. (1 piece = 1 bead, 1 component, or 1″ of chain)
-Artists can submit up to 3 pieces–either separately or as part of a set.
Oh and is there a prize?
Yes there is! I have 2 original vintage pendants from the 1960’s found at CJS Sales. A little piece of art history!
**Plus we will put together an interesting series of articles showing off the designed pieces, comments by the artists and a gallery. I think this would be really fun and it gives us a chance to work with unconventional materials and to stretch our design ideas!
Anyone game to join a design challenge? ***NOTE all kits have been claimed*** Stay tuned for the results!
We are proud to present the 2nd project in a series brought to you by Cool Tools using their new metal clay, EZ960™ Sterling Silver Metal Clay. Cindy Miller created a beautiful project that both new and experienced metal clay artists will enjoy.
Images of owls have been recorded in art and literature throughout history from the Greek and Romans to numerous Native American tribes. The owl represents wisdom and is associated with inner sight. The owl is associated with the night it has played on the imagination of people throughout time. Here’s a link to learn more about Owl mythology. This is Cindy’s interpretation of an owl totem amulet necklace.
To learn more about our featured artist, please see Cindy’s artist profile by Julia Rai. Cindy was very candid and talked about her journey to becoming a full time jewellery designer. Continue reading…
It is very hard for some artists to write an artist statement and it is sometimes equally hard for others to read. It is easier to write a bio and to tell others where you’ve been and what you’ve done. But it is so much harder to explain why.
Having an artist statement prepared is a great way for customers to connect with your work and it gives shops and galleries “sound bites” to use to promote your work. After having suffered through the agony of writing my own artist statement I can tell you that the most important thing about an artist statement is the process of writing one. I found it helped me sort out my own artistic history and methods. It has helped me to clarify the direction of my work and it has jump started a new body of work. Despite already knowing how important one was to have, it’s not something I’d written for myself.
I rewrote my artist statement. (After I raided my kids’ trick or treat bags, walked the dog, tidied my studio…procrastination is one of my rituals before writing.) I read some guidelines about artist statements and I started over. I hope my new version is a real artist statement. And I hope that when you need to write one you can remember that they are very hard for most artists to write—give yourself a break.
Wet, dry, push, pull. Whatever method you choose, with time and a little practice you can create beautifully carved metal clay.
Carving in wet clay can give you curved edges and a sculptural feel. (See opening photo.) The clay is wet and the tools used are generally soft and rounded. Wet clay added to wet clay can be shaped by pushing the clay into place. Large amounts of wet metal clay can be cut off and small amounts brushed off with a wet brush. Often artists working “wet on wet” will simply brush each side of clay to be joined with a swish of water from a paint brush. Just about any tool can be used with wet metal clay and most people like to use traditional clay carving tools. In general carving wet clay involves a pulling technique, where the tool is being pulled toward you to remove clay. Another way to think about it is that the clay you are removing is moving toward you. Fortunately, clay carving tools are readily available and inexpensive.
The method that I prefer is carving dry clay, which creates crisp, clean lines even on textured surfaces. (See Cat Tail Brooch photo.)I use micro wood carving tools to do this. When using a wood carving tool, you will be using a pushing motion to remove clay. The clay you are removing will be coming off the tool in front of your tool. Keep in mind, you can achieve a slightly different result depending on whether you carve into leather hard or fully dry clay. Fully dry clay will create more resistance which can give you more control, especially when you are first starting.
I generally use a pencil to draw my carving lines if I am doing a detailed carving or I want very crisp, specific cuts in my clay. If I want a more organic look, I will only mark starts and stops for my lines. I will then do a very shallow carve to create a guide for the tool when I am carving deeper. This allows me to move the first cut along a line, easily seeing my marks in front of the tool. After the shallow groove is in, I let carving tool to track in the groove while making the deeper cuts.
The trick to nice clean carvings is to remove a little clay at a time. You can always remove more clay, but it is often difficult to cleanly add clay back where you have removed too much. Also, make sure your piece has good support under it where you are carving. If you are carving a domed piece, leave the piece on the form while carving.
As always, safety is key when you are carving. Clay carving tools can be sharp and pointy and can easily injure if you are not paying attention. If you are using wood carving tools, note that these are extremely sharp and placement of your hands so the tool is always moving away from your fingers is important.
Once you have control of your carving technique, you can carve shallow, intricate designs. You can also take a completely different approach and create negative spaces by carving all the way through a layer of clay to make an open space. The sky’s the limit. Enjoy!
Dona’s love of jewelry began as a child, sitting on the floor for hours with her mom’s jewelry box. She began designing her own jewelry in high school and spent time studying the work of a jewelry designer and family friend. During her career in high tech, Dona traveled the world fascinated by the cultures and their use of color and texture.
After leaving the high-tech world, Dona returned to her love of jewelry design. Her work is influenced by the places she has lived and traveled, bringing the textures of nature into her designs. Her love of stones is featured in her one-of-a-kind pieces which showcase the stones she has collected.
Dona currently teaches classes in jewelry design and techniques. Her students continue to be an inspiration to her, fascinating her with the unique perspective each student has conceptually and artistically.
Dona is an award winning artist. Her work is featured in stores and galleries throughout the Northwest and in print.