Sunday, March 21, 2010

Blogging at 30,000 feet or...
"Caution... The moving walkway is ending"
March 21, 2010

(started while at 30,000 ft on 3/8 - posted from Cincinnati International Airport 3/21)

OK so maybe not REAL TIME blogging but that's only because the little teeny-tiny plane they rebooked me on this morning doesn't have wifi. Honestly, it's so small I think that there are chipmunks in the bottom of it running and running on a treadmill to keep us in the air!

ANYWAY... it's been a long time and of course I didn't recheck my posts last night to see where I was so - here goes an attempt to catch up.

Copper & Silver...
I love precious metal silver clay. I have now used two types - Art Clay Silver (ACS) and Precious Metal Clay Silver (PMC+). I enjoy the shrinkage rate of the ACS - I find the PMC+ shrinks a little more BUT I enjoy the texture and pliability of the PMC+ when it comes out of the package.

I love the IDEA of quick-fire Copper Clay. I've only tried the Art Clay Copper (ACC) because it's the only one on the market right now that I can fire with a torch. My Ultralite kiln is to low a temp to fire the copper - and regular copper (those released before the December 2, 2009 launch of ACC) require a stainless steel container, charcoal, and a bunch of special things that just won't work in my baby Ultralite.

Combining the two.
I have tried (and you've seen the results if you are one of my 3 followers ;o) ) to combine silver and copper. First try was abysmal to say the least. It's the "Canyons on a Heart" piece that yes, I'm still working on. I made a mold and created the canyon without giving much thought to how it would 'connect' to the silver heart. needless to say, not such a good go-round.

I then tried to connect copper clay piece w/ a hole in the center to a silver piece using the silver clay as a "rivet" to hold them together. 1/2 Success here. I say half because I created two pieces. One I 'forgot' to put the copper piece (it's actually the Pug Paws piece previously posted) onto the silver piece before I dried the silver one. This meant I had to create the rivet by smushing silver clay into the hole in the copper, getting a good contact on to the silver piece on the back and making sure there was enough of a head on the front of the copper to keep it from shrinking up and sliding out the hole in the copper. The second piece I "remember" and smushed (note the technical terms used here) the finished copper paw onto the still wet silver paw. The clay came up through the hole, creating a rivet, and the silver was almost acting like a bezel around the edges of the paw. - OR SO I THOUGHT.

The "forgot" piece worked beautifully. The silver reduced, sintered and formed a pretty secure rivet (hoping my god-child Mary doesn't yank on it to test it). The "remembered" piece was a failure. The rivet snapped when I handled it. The silver had struggled to reduce in size around the copper paw and had done the only thing it could do ... bend backward and get all misshapen. Lesson learned.

I posted my findings and honestly - until I started typing about what happened I had no idea WHY the "remembered" piece had problems. It was as I described it that I realize it shrank away from the copper. However, my loyal Facebook "Art Clay Friends" (more aptly called gifts from the creative god mentors) gave me feedback. Gordon U... advised - "create the copper and let it lead the piece". So back to trying again.

My next test was to go back to the "Canyons on a Heart" piece. This time I worked it out step by step, created the canyon piece with a 'rivet-like' tack on the back of it. The thought was the tack and canyon form one piece. The silver heart is made and shaped AROUND the tack piece. The canyon sits on top of the heart and the cap (or top of the rivet) is on the other side of the silver holding the whole rivet together.

I used ACC and PMC+. I was thinking if I got lucky I could position the fired canyon tack so that there is enough edging of silver around the base and sides of it so that when the silver reduces it will end up with the canyon sitting right where it needs to be - even on the two sides and bottom of the silver heart.

SUCCESS! Well, partial. I can't call it total success because the tack is a little long and the piece doesn't sit perfectly together. It's a bit loose and a little uneven but I'm thinking that if it's sintered properly and not over fired I may be able to hammer it a tad to get the rivet to push down a bit onto itself and form a tighter bond.

To be continued...

Precious Metal Clay Class...

Although I've been addicted to Silver Clay since August of 2009 I have not taken a complete silver clay class. I've had a "how to make a mold" and then create a silver clay piece from that mold class, I've had a paint silver clay "slip" onto a dried cork clay form and create a hollow vessel and beads when they are fired in the kiln class. And I've taken a couple of enameling classes. But no straight from the hip "intro to silver clay" class.

SO - in February Brandy Boyd (aka the silver clay dealer to my addiction) had a beginners class. What fun! I felt good because I had learned quite a bit of what she taught on my own from reading, searching, and just taking a leap to try... but I also learned how to put texture on front and back of a piece (sounds easy but I was just plain doing it wrong!) and I saw how the heat and humidity in a room can change how Liver of Sulfur (LOS) works to patina a silver piece. We had colors I had never seen before - pinks and greens and gorgeous almost turquoise blue! A couple of new comers to the class said, "hmmm don't really like that pink and turquoise, I think I'll remove it all" and it was all I could do not to cry. But I had to forgive them didn't I? After all it was their first time and they simply "didn't understand". :o)

I lucked out and found a cute mold that went along with a vintage piece I had made a mold of in my very first class with Brandy. It is a pretty little piece and she molded well AND I got a pretty decent texture on the back of her (a test). I added a teeeny-tiny little CZ to the very bottom of the piece (I think I could have gone bigger but the teeeny-tiny one looked cute) that hardly shows. My inital thought was that she was going to go on a silver chain w/ pink stones wired to the chain. But my chain skills are not where they need to be and my idea was bigger than my capabilities.

So instead I used some beads I'd bought at the bead shop that we had the class in and tossed in some clear / silver beads I had and created a piece that looks pretty sweet. The picture doesn't show it well enough, but the patina is actually bluer in person and goes well with the blue beads.

Metal Clay Class Missed...
the last weekend of February was supposed to be the class that started my desire to learn more about this craft. Last year in early summer I had seen a class listing on the Memphis Botanic Garden website for making a silver leaf. I had NO IDEA what the product was but - ever distracted by bright, shiny objects - I wanted to take the class because the leaf was pretty!

As luck would have it, I had to go to Boston the week before and was unable to make it back in time for class. BUT - here it was - being repeated in February! woo hoo!

Not so much. I had visitors from the Boston area that weekend and unfortunately one of them has an attention span issue and LOL she wasn't up for sitting through a 6 hour class painting silver clay slip on a leaf and drying it between each layer! ;o) Obviously, although we are sisters, my idea of fun and her idea of fun are on far different edges of the 'fun' spectrum!

SO... instead, because I knew HOW to do it, I just had never actually done it. I stopped in and picked up a couple neat leafs from the class along with Brandy's very descriptive directions and proceeded to do four of them on my own that evening. The results are below...

Back paint vs. Front paint...
Brandy's instructions and other instructions I had seen online and in books & magazines stated to paint the silver clay "slip" onto the BACK of the leaf. Well Two of the leafs I had were cool looking on the front! Why can't I do it on the front? Hmmm. So I decided to try. first one was I THINK a plumeria leaf. It was lumpy and bumpy but not hairy. I thought hmmmm I have transparent enamels on the way and this leaf could be cool w/ enamel in the recesses if I painted it on the front. SO I tried. After about 6 layers the leaf had dried and silently fell off the silver! OH NO!! so I carefully continued the layering process until I had reached about 17. Now, the good thing about this is I was able to see what most people can't see until they fire the piece - what the front would look like. AND I was able to add a little clear CZ and stem design squiggle to the front of the leaf before firing.

The second piece did the same thing - the leaf fell off at about the 6th layer. I carefully did as I had done for the other and completed all 17 layers and then decided to add a red CZ to the front of this one and a curly stem on the back to act as a kind of bail.

The third leaf I did on the back and that piece stayed with the leaf til the firing process where it burned off, and the fourth piece was actually a piece of fungus I had pulled off a log in my back yard. That one - because it was not dry - had a very faint texture. The texture portion, when painted w/ slip became the inside of what looks like an oyster! (Funny thing, someone told me it's "oyster fungus" so maybe that's why it looks like an oyster!) Because I like the way it looked and the blue/grey of the patina added, I adorned it with a little faux pearl and it became a charm as did the third leave that I painted the back of. I'm excited that this is one piece I'm going to keep as my own and keep adding little 'charms' to it as I learn and grow in this wonderful medium.

OH OH - "at this time the use of any electronic equipment must be discontinued as we begin our decent into the Boston Area"... more later!!