Friday, January 15, 2010

The Results of Thinking, Designing & Creating

Well! After a brief poll of my Art Clay Friends - I patina'd the hibiscus piece and finished both the pieces from last poll.

This piece... "Hibiscus Family" is made from precious metal clay which when fired results in .999 Fine Silver. The gold on one is 24kt gold applied over the fine silver. I used patina to darken the details in the flowers and then... learned a tip (from Lorena Angulo - check out her site here: on how to apply the patina to get more colors.
SO I tried again - you can remove the patina by simply refiring the piece with a torch. And I LOVE the result, the colors, the piece just speaks!! :o) The stones represent a friends two children... moonstone and ruby. It hangs on an 18" sterling silver chain.

NEXT I had the problem of the 'googly-eyed' heart. I loved the idea, til I tried to work in the birth stones. Then all I could see was ... Googly-eyed heart. So I tried covering the heart hole with another heart.. not so much (I didnt even take a picture!!). See it? I'm sure you do!

Well, I couldn't bear it! So I opted to put together another heart for my friend whom I was seeing the very next day!! The result is a partially open fine silver heart with two birth stones representing garnet and emeralds. The texture is from silver flake being applied to the piece before it's fired. When it's tumbled the texture is really, really neat. The heart swings freely from an 18" sterling silver chain.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thinking, Designing & Creating...


Back in the saddle so to speak. Two pieces currently in the works. Started working them at the same time. One is a heart w/ 2 birth stones. The other is a grouping of Hibiscus w/ 2 birthstones.

The heart is throwing me.

First I wanted it hollow - just an outline w/ the stones hanging in the middle. Then I decided I really liked the hidden hearts I've been working into some of my pieces so I made it solid w/ a heart cut through at the bottom. I couldn't decide so I got out the polymer clay (I KNOW, I KNOW I hate polymer clay - BUT I love playing with it). I created a heart w/ a little flip at the bottom and a carved out heart. Hmmm - me likey!

Then just because it would save time I cooked (ahhh I mean cured) the polymer and made a mold from 2-part molding material. Ahh the feel of fresh, new PMC clay! I filled the mold and cleaned it up enough to play with - BUT when you put the birth stones in it looks like a silly smiley face.

Oh brother!
And then ::key the hallelujah choir:: the UPS man rang my door with ::key them again:: my delivery from ACW ::one more time just 'cause I can::.... Silver flakes - fine, medium and rough. Ohhh what fun things could I do with this? Hmmm edge the heart... encompass the bezels? GO NUTS! :o)

OMG before I go on...
The timer just went off and poof there was a precious piece ready to come out of the kiln. Now - for those of you who have never done this before, when you incorporate gems in a piece for firing and you take the cover off and see the color COMPLETELY GONE from the gem (it was Ruby when I put it in... wasn't it??) and then when you pull it out and it starts to cool... the color comes back and I swear, I know it sounds hokey but - it's magic! :o)

OK enough about that - back to the hearts. Would adding an edging of medium fine silver flakes around help?

What about prongs? instead of setting the garnet and emerald in the piece, what about pronged settings? Would they just look like GOOGLY eyes on a silly smiley face? Hmmm what if...

OK now - for the hibiscus that stole my breath away when I opened the kiln.

Pretty hibiscus family - large, medium and two small. Birthstones representing the children - Moonstone and Ruby (those are the stones, not the children! ;o)). I played with some drawings in my design book and came up with a grouping that I liked. THEN because I knew I didnt have time to spend a lot of time carving - I reproduced the design on my computer and then created a PhotoPolymer Plate (PPP).

Because I'm still learning I tend to experiment. SO this one has a fine silver bezel for the moonstone (didnt think it would fire and put the bezel in and then tested a spare stone and POOF worked) and a PMC clay setting for the ruby. Plus I added a tweek of fine silver flakes on the tips of the two larger hibiscus stamens. AND now I'm thinking as I type this that I may put some 24K gold on the medium size hibiscus.

Off to finish the pieces - will post photos tomorrow. :o)

Monday, January 11, 2010

January 10, 2010
Silence... Designs

Silence - sometimes it's welcome, sometimes it's deafening.

Right now it's not so bad. Although I've been absent for a bit from my blog it's not because I haven't been "working" it's that I've been working. Once again work interrupts life. BUT I used this time away to work on the design for two new pieces for friends and to work on getting answers to how to better attack the problem child that is the copper canyon pendant.

Keep an eye out for Carol's Heart and Hope's Hibiscus.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

January 3, 2010
New Year!


Sickness is about gone - at least I'm sleeping now. And I'm trying to make up for losing about 12 days at the end of 2009. Not a bad thing in 'life' but when it comes to 12 lost days for "real work" that's bad.

BUT as I attempt to do 'real' work on this gorgeous 46 degree, blue sky, Memphis Sunday I keep thinking about a problem child - no, not one of the boys... but a project I'm working on for loved ones.

Here are the problems...

~ Copper and Silver.
~ Prongs.
~ Shrinkage factor.
~ Possible sintering problems w/ copper.

I think the main part of my problem is jumping for joy that the copper was available for me to use w/ a torch. I thought I had thought out the process of putting this piece together but maybe only on paper.

I started with a polymer clay carving of the heart w/ mountains and created a mold from the 2-part molding material. Originally it was going to be all silver THEN copper clay came along. Ohhh the joy! The mountains in the piece I'm making were red rock and the copper would be stunning!

So I thought use the mountain part of the mold and fill w/ copper. Then add a "tack" with the copper to the back of the mountains and fire.

Once that was done I would make a mold "filler" w/ polymer clay to block the mountain space in the mold. Then fill it with silver to make the heart portion. I was going to make a hole in the silver heart, slice it and form it around the mountains and the "tack" so that when the silver was fired it would shrink down around the 'tack' (maybe I should just call it a post) thus attaching the copper to the silver.

Here's where the problem came in. I skipped steps - I know, I know! Don't skip steps til you know the steps work in the first place!

I was over excited by the copper - and had to make a mountain - it came out awesome - really, really pretty - but I didn't put the 'post/tack' on it. Then of course I had to try the silver... but because I didn't have the post I didn't make the hole. I thought hmmm I'll use bezel wire on the silver and hold the copper to it that way.

Well - that didn't work out - I forgot about the shrinkage factor. The heart shrunk away from the bezel. (I had put it around the base of the heart and it pulled away from the bezel as it fired.)

Then I put the two pieces - copper mountains and silver heart together and POOF the heart shrunk more than the mountain and now it's a whole lotta mountain.

OH and did I mention prongs above - well you won't see them in the silver piece (which actually looked better before I pulled the bezel off, in the pic above it's just setting at the bottom of the heart). In my frustration with the bezel issue I popped the prongs off figured they weren't on there right and ... hmmm that may have been correct. They snapped right off. (I had only done one set of prongs before and they were wires embedded in the piece, these were silver clay and may not have been secured down enough PLUS they were not yet hardened in the tumbler.) ANYWAY - the prongs were going to hold a piece of the red rock I picked up to go on the hearts.

Now, back to the copper canyons - because the mountains were not sitting correctly I tried to bend it down a little with plyers and PPPPPOOOOOOFFFF! It snapped off. Looking at the snapped area I think it didn't sinter 100% through.

But as I'm only partially sure I know that not being sintered correctly means in my terms - it wasn't cooked long enough. So, I'm posting pictures of what I think it's NOT supposed to look like in the hopes that one of my smart Art Clay Friends will tell me yes, indeed it is not sintered correctly and that they are good pictures of what not to do.

What to do?

Unfortunately I have to travel this week so I have a week to think about it and no time to do anything about it til the weekend.

Suggestions on what I did wrong? Or am I going it the right direction and need to follow the steps I originally laid out?

Things that make you go hmmmmmm....

(PS... it's now 37 degrees, overcast and I still have to do 'real' work.)