Sunday, 27 December 2009

Soldering on Enamel & Silver Jewellery

Here's the front of a brooch I made & enamelled for my mum's Christmas present. All I have to do next is make and attach the brooch finding for her. Thankfully I attended a course at MidCornwall Jewellery school where under the superb tuition of Linda Darty, Lisa Cain demo'd exactly how to do it! (well we learnt on earring studs but the techniques the same).
The main secret to successful soldering of components onto enamel is to use a high melting point solder e.g. Hard Solder. This is because you need the enamel to flow on the opposite side (which avoids heat stressing the enamel and cracking it). Think of it like torch firing the enamel, with the added benefit of soldering something to the back.
N.B. It's important that you don't get direct flame onto the enamel areas at it will blacken the glass and ruin your piece!!!
1) Prep the area to be soldered by burnishing and cleaning.
2) Clean Solder and cut pallions ready (use more than usual as metal clay is porous so tends to soak it up)
3) Use borax or other flux on area to be soldered and solder (I used Auflux)
4) HEAT up the silver until the solder flows make sure everything is heated evenly and the metal is all red.
5) Move your findings quickly into position, remove the flame, continuing to hold them in position until the metal cools and the solder is hard (a second or so). 6) Let the silver cool down naturally & if using leaded enamels don't pickle or keep a very close eye on it.

7) If making a brooch then form the pins etc. You can find instructions for making your own brooch findings on my Murano Silver Blog.

Above is a picture of the brooch before it's final clean up - I used rubber wheels and polishing buffs as I didn't want to pickle the enamel. For those that haven't the pleasure of a class with Linda Darty ~ if you can GO on one (she really is amazing) at the very least buy her book
"The Art of Enamelling"
P.S. mum loved it ;-)

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

And the Winner is....Joy Funnell

This is a picture of hubby picking out the winning ticket in my "Robert Dancik - Amulets and Talismans" book giveaway. He even did the paper opening (he said it made him feel like the draw master on the lottery).
Congratulations Joy Funnell you're the lucky winner - email me your address & enjoy your early Christmas gift!
Nic xx

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Amulets and Talismans - Dancik Signed Book Giveaway

Great artists are often great story tellers and the idea of adding a story to your everyday adornment soon had me ordering an Advance copy of the Amulets and Talismans book from Amazon. I was so pleased with the book that when I next bumped into Robert (at a recent course at Mid Cornwall Jewellery School) I got an extra copy just for you to have a chance of winning :)

Robert Dancik shows how you can make your jewellery more meaningful and more personal. He says "it is the idea that steers the work, not the fascination with a material or showing off a technique." Handily Dancik adds a comprehensive section showing you how to use the tools needed for the projects. He writes in excellent easy to understand detail. (You can tell this guy has years of experience and is a great teacher, below is Robert in full flow at a recent symposium)
Getting the book isn't quite as good as face to face demo, but it's not a great start!

Faux Bone and PMC pieces, is a wonderfully versatile material. Alternatively you could substitute polymer clay but my suggestion is to try the Faux Bone (Robert also created a using Faux Bone DVD which add extra techniques to this book)

"Amulets and Talismans" ProjectsThe books 20 projects include:
Karma Bracelet (Charm bracelet)
Minkisi (Beaded tea infuser necklace)
Abracadabracus (Beaded abacus necklace)
Prayer Holder Bracelet (Pvc pipe inro bracelet)
Bound Heart Pendant (Wire-wrapped Faux Bone pendant)
Rune Necklace (Inlaid polymer clay beads carved with symbols)
Protection for the Traveller (Copper sheet pendant with Faux Bone accents)
Laibon Ax Pendant (Wire and Faux Bone necklace)
The Protective Eye (Polymer clay transfer on sheet metal background)
Story Bracelet (Faux Bone charm bracelet)
Medal for Unknown Good Deed (Tin can medal on Faux Bone background)
Finding your Way (Compass and wire necklace)
Split Rock Power Object (Paper pulp mache and resin pendant)
U + Eye (Bottle cap and resin pendant)
Power is Safe in the Void (Jar lid and concrete pendant)
Magnifying Your Path (Jar lid, polymer clay and magnifying glass pendant)
Never Far (Copper sheet pendant)
Closure for a Memory (Mica, sheet metal, and photo pendant)
Looking Back Bead (Plexiglas with Faux Bone topper)
Seeing Through (Pendant with a copper sheet box and concrete)

You can guarantee that you'll be inspired enough to try your own projects too. So get collecting those ticket stubs, bottle caps and beach treasure......and enter to win your own copy!

Here's how you win a signed copy of the book!Leave a comment below - one entry
Blog or Twitter about the prize - one entry for each :)
Be a fan of the blog or facebook - one entry
You need to make a comment for each entry - makes it easier to cut my pieces of paper up and put them in a hat ;)
Good LuckNic x
p.s. Entry closes November 30th

Monday, 12 October 2009

Murano Silver in Print!!

After being named Silver Clay, Jewellery Maker of the Year by Beads and Beyond Magazine. I found I'm going to be included in TWO internationally published Metal Clay Calenders!!!
The first to tell me the good news was Marjorie Oxman who has published the "2010 Metal Clay Jewelry Calendar". Marjorie Oxman has done such a fantastic job creating this beautiful calendar which you can see below. (If you click the arrows you'll see my "Dali inspired" piece on page 11)

Excitingly I've also been included in Holly Guages "The Art and Design of Metal Clay Jewellery" - Hollys calenders have been gracing my wall for the past two years. It's so exciting to see what international artists have been producing and such a honour to be included amongst them!
Click the link to see more of "The Art and Design of Metal Clay Jewelry Calender". The images Holly uses are stunning! Mines the colourful triangular one, entitled "Thoth", which I think will be August :)
Sooooo so happy.
I've got to go and buy plenty of Calenders now, mum and the family have put their orders in already ;)
Nic x

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Blistering Metal Clay....

Here's a question I was asked recently:

"I'm soldering jump rings on to my fired pmc pendants and I'm having real trouble with the surface of the pmc popping and making bubbles as I'm heating the solder. It was fine when I fired the pmc so I can't understand why it's happening now, any one got any ideas?? It takes so long to make each pendant and they're being ruined at the last stage Thanks!"

Thankfully it's now sorted out and here's the solution for you! :)

The problem turned out to be quenching the fired PMC pieces prior to soldering.
Fired metal clay that has been washed, or wet in any way, can keep humidity for a very long time inside its pores. This is especially true of quenching which seems to force the water into the metal.. If that's the case then the fast heat up with a torch is the problem the moisture is trying to force it's way out.
Try going over your silver clay on it's own and heating it with a more gentle heat to drive out moisture then when soldering try and heat the whole area to even the heat distribution before a final quick focus on the jump ring.
Either that or you'd need to use easy paste solder and be very very quick with a fine flame (so the Metal Clay doesn't get heated)
Hope that helps

Nic x

Monday, 28 September 2009

Enamel Testers Lavenders, Purples, Golds and Reds

Above are my third set of enamel samplers (see the first Opaques HERE and last weeks set below). As mentioned previously these test firings are direct onto well Burnished Silver Clay.
On my screen, the colours are quite true, with the exception of Rich Ruby Red (which you have to tilt to the light to see a deep dark red) but feel free to ask questions or there's a MUCH higher res photo on my Flickr photo stream.
All comments and experience sharing welcome & feel free to link to any colour tests of your own!
Hope this is useful to folks :)
Nic xx

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Soyer Jewellery Enamels - Colour Testers

Above are my second set of enamel samplers (see the first Opaques HERE). I've tried to photograph the colours as accurately as possible but feel free to ask questions or there's a higher res photo on my Flickr photo stream. Not every colour is probably at it's best, they might be changed by different temps or times but I've followed the temperature notes in the catalogues as much as possible. My personal favourite from this group is Soyer Jewellery Enamels 27 Deep Blue, which has made a perfect "Night Sky" for my "Not a Creature was Stirring" brooch.
All comments and experience sharing welcome & feel free to link to any colour tests of your own! :)
Nic xx

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Latest Makings and Anubis progress...

Here are a few finished commissions PLUS some "works in progress".

These were drawn freehand, then the design transferred using photo-polymer plates, onto Fine Silver (PMC). Post firing, I attached sturdy Sterling Cuff link fittings and oxidised for detail.
Below is another commission, this time square cufflinks, stone set and with three initials.

I've also been working on my Masters Registry votive piece, Anubis. He's starting to take shape. Since last time I've added some detail to the head area (lots more still to go though).

The body has been slimmed down, ready to apply the clothing and decorative layers.

I still need to add hands but I'll do those after the other parts are finished (easier to work on and less risk of damage). Anubis might have to wait a while though as the Christmas prep is higher up the list (here's a "Night Before Christmas", which is also progressing nicely).....

Hope you enjoyed seeing my "works in progress", what are you working on at the moment?

Nic xx

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Christmas Designs and Enamel Prep.

I seem to get in a panic about Christmas earlier every year! I aim for an August start… but it can be hard to find the time, especially when I've been lucky enough to receive plenty of commissions. Ah well, better late than never! Here's the prototype of a brooch design I'm working on. It might also end up being a box pendant..
As you can see, there's still plenty of work to do, but the idea is that there will be a back piece, which will have dark blue enamel or resin added. I'm also going to add a star to the back, maybe top RH corner?
Then the text needs tidying up....and plenty of sanding and finishing before seeing what our little mousie will look like fired!
My final thing for today will be to tumble this lot (prep for my enamel experiments) and finish off the cuff links for a customer order. Really pleased with how the JC stands out will look fab when they're oxidised.
Nic x

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Making Enamel Samplers

PMC / Silver Clay is just "perfect" for enamelling, but if you're going to work with enamels, you need to know they change colour when fired! Another issue is many enamel sample pics are taken on copper and fine silver produces different reactions and colours....
Above are over 60 different enamel testers that I got from the helpful folks at Vitrum Signum. I've made it my mission to find a palette of colours I can work with on fine silver. Hopefully by documenting my experiments I'll save you some time and trouble.
To make each sample as equal as possible (and to allow for future identification) I've made 64 sampler leaves (+extras) engraving the make and colour reference on the back of each one. I also added LowF to low temp enamels and HF to Higher Temp ones. Eventually they'll create a very useful, colourful graduated sampler necklace!

Above are my first 15 enamel samplers. I've tried to photograph the colours as accurately as possible and have added some notes. Not every colour is probably at it's best, they might be changed by different temps or times but I've followed the temperature notes in the catalogues as much as possible. My personal favourite from this group is Soyer Jewellery Enamels 606 Moss Green, which although labelled as Opaque is surprisingly transparent.

All comments and experience sharing welcome! :)
Nic xx

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Metal Clay Masters Registry - E1 Votive Figure

After my Thoth inspired project I've turned to Egypt for my Masters Registry votive figure....
The brief: Duplicate a Votive Figure from an Earlier Culture....Using primarily metal clay, make a figure that fits into this tradition.
Prayers to the Jackal headed god are found carved on the most ancient tombs in Egypt, and he has many duties. Annubis watches over the mummification process to ensure that all is done properly. He conducts the souls through the underworld, testing their knowledge of the gods. He places their heart on the Scales of Justice during the Judging of the Heart, and he feeds the souls of wicked people to Ammit (the crocodile demon). At first I was going to create the full Jackal version (as I thought it would be easier) but then I thought, what the heck, it's the masters registry, lets stretch myself a bit (for that read "lots and lots")
So above was my first few days work, design, plan, build a fine silver skeleton and fuse it all together then start the process of modelling the body.
And here's where I am tonight - hopefully you can see the rough shape coming together....There's obviously still loads to do...add more clay to shape and define the body, start carving more defined arms and legs, shape the feet, add hands, add the loincloth, add more to the ears etc etc etc.
I'm quite pleased with my progress so far though, he's even balanced enough to stand up on those two pins...
Nic x

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Student Work - August Course

I had three students today and we were very proactive! They learnt setting with CZ stones, Brooch Fittings and how to make a ring. One had done a "smidge" of PMC work the other two were completely new to it :)I love this pretty flower brooch that Claire did - we added polymer clay to give it a jazzy centre and the earrings were left brush finish (because they looked fabulous!)Sally made a dragonfly brooch with a sapphire CZ highlight and a gorgeous ring (which fitted perfectly!)
Finally these stunning earrings and custom Pandora style charms, made by Adele, finished off this talented trios creations!
Didn't they do well :)
Nic xx

Friday, 21 August 2009

PMC and Enamel Charms for the EMCTeam Swap

Did you know about the EtsyMetalClayTeam? It a fab bunch of Metal Clay Artists who sell their wares on Etsy, all gathered together for mutual self promotion. Anyway while we were chatting together on our forum we decided to do a charm swap. One bracelet for each of us and one for charity (28 charms in total!)

I'm so happy to say my charms are finally going to be winging their way to America today :)
Here they are straight out of the kiln & freshly enamelled. And here they are polished up & with their Swarovski Crystals added!

Spirals were chosen because I love their organic form and in Celtic belief the spiral symbolised the journey from darkness into light. The little crystals just complemented the colour so well I had to add them too! I can't wait to see what the other folks have made (I've had a sneak peek of a few and they look AWESOME!!
These are Lindas (Clayology) , Dinas (Dina Alexander) , Catherines (Happy Day Art), Ruths (Birdland Creations) and Bevs (Mango Tango Designs)

Nic x

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Soldering PMC or Art Clay Silver Cuff links

Personally I use the complete cufflink mechanisms from Cooksons (NVU-101 you can find them here)

This is what I do for my fine silver (PMC/ACS) fronts onto the Cooksons cuff link mechanisms.
1) File off the little bump so you have nice flat contact
2) Burnish the area on the PMC that you'll be attaching the cuff link too
3) (If using paste) Blob paste onto the cuff link finding
3b) (If using Pallions) Clean and flux both pieces and the solder pallions
4) Hold cuff link finding onto cuff link with cross-locking tweezers (at an angle where you won't burn yourself while heating the piece)
4b) (If using Pallions) put solder pallions at join point
5) Aim the heat at the block around the fine silver cuff link gradually bringing the heat more onto the cuff link. Don't aim the heat onto the solder itself until the the fine silver is hot. The solder tends to melt when the fine silver is around the Salmon red colour.
6) Remove heat when the solder flows BUT continue to hold the cuff link finding in place as the solder will still be fluid until the metal cools a bit.
7) Pickle & polish as normal

Here's what they look like finished - hope that helps :)

Nic x

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

PMC Symposium Bristol

Last weekend was spent very, very happily at the PMC symposium in Bristol.

Guest presenters included Tim McCreight, Jeannette Landenwitch, Robert Dancik and the inventor of Bronze Clay-Bill Struve. It kicked off with a wonderful keynote presentation from Tim (far left in the picture), ahhh so the focus of the weekend was design....

This fitted well as we got so see for real fabulous Masters Registry creations including Maggi Bergmans bracelet and brooch with stilt rivets. Clare John demonstrated resins (she has a great selection of colours ans they look fabulous). Sue Heaser demonstrated Polymer Clay. Helga van Leipsig presented on using ceramic transfers on silver clay (her work is amazing and the effects look very similar to aluminium and silver mixed)

Then there was the Balloon Festival and the Red Arrows fly over. Lisa Cain is good very, very good at organising conferences - but a Red Arrows fly over!!! WOW!! ....(NB apparently Lisa said that it was just co-incidence and all that stuff was going on anyway, but I'm not so sure, lol)

Critique Sessions were available with:
•Tim McCreight •Robert Dancik •Lisa Cain •Jeanette Landenwitch •Chris Pate •Julia Rai
I was booked in with Tim McCreight who was extremely generous with his knowledge!
OMG then there was the eye candy!!!!
I put more here in my Flickr Photos - (just click the conference set)
There was soooo much more the stone setting with Jeanette Landenwitch, the riveting (literally) session with Robert Dancik where we saw some of the things you could do with cold connections and faux bone (I had to get some of that!).
Then there were lots of opportunities to buy stuff and a prize giving too £££ Major value prizes!!

All in all I shall definitely be booking next year and now I am also committed to participating in the Masters Registry. The Masters is a program linked to an independent evaluation system that is the most prestigious and professional credential in the field of metal clay. It's not cheap but you DO get world class designers evaluating your work and build up an impressive portfolio of professional photographs...

Nicola xxx

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Handy Tip for adding Resin to Jewellery

Oasis is available very cheaply from florists and florist supply companies. It is the resin artists friend as it allows you to easily make sure your jewellery is level! Here are my latest selection of resin dome rings, pendants & earrings and this is one of them after drying (a ruby resin pendant & earrings set)
Hope you like them & you found the tip useful!
Nicola x

Monday, 13 July 2009

£100 Blog Giveaway on Murano Silver

Just to let you know there's a blog giveaway on Murano Silver (my other Blog), we're 8 facebook followers away from the £100 of Murano Silver Jewellery Giveaway!
That would include your choice of three Daisy Themed Pieces...PLUS
a handmade ring with your own choice of wording: PLUS
Either Stud or Dangly Earrings (surprise choice made by me)
and whatever else I throw into the mix :)
To enter:
1 Entry for posting a comment on the Murano Silver Blog thread plus
1 Extra entry if you're a fan - (Also includes this PMC Tips Blog so if you follow both that's 2 extra)
5 Extra entries (yes FIVE) to everyone who follows my shop facebook page (Link below)
2 Extra Entries for Blogging, Twittering & Facebooking about the comp.
(2 entries for each promotion - please post link)
That's a potential 14 entries in my Birthday Bonanza Giveaway!
Nicola xx

Monday, 6 July 2009

Babette Cox Name Stamps Review

So you've created your jewellery and hopefully people are buying it, but wouldn't it be fabulous if they could easily remember where they'd bought it from a year or two down the line??
Well thanks to the marvelous Babette Cox now you can!.
Babette makes very, very detailed custom name stamps and makers marks that are perfect for adding that professional touch to all your polymer clay and pmc pieces. They're made from a hardened plastic that gives perfectly crisp text impressions.
Here's the back of my butterfly brooch showing my new "Murano Silver" text stamp (one of the two stamps I got from Babette). She was really helpful in matching up the font I use in my website etc to the font I got for my stamp. There was even a proof with multiple true to scale sizes so I could choose the size I wanted!
The back of the flower pendant shows the other stamp I bought. This one has the "Created by Heart and Hand" logo used on my business cards and website. I only had crude graphics for this, but Babette got them tidied up for me and they came out beautifully.
All in all Babette's Makers Mark & Custom Name Stamps provide excellent value for money and superb quality. They come with clear and detailed instructions and tips for usage (both for polymer and silver clay) and I'm sure I'll be using them for many years to come!

Nicola x

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Level 2 Certification - Silver Clay

I've now posted my Level 2, Art Clay Silver Certification pieces..... If you need me, I'll be in a corner gibbering & hoping they're good enough to pass (or I'll have to do them again!).This is the first piece, a shaped rolled rope ring, with inset CZ and carving. I also had to oxidise it but took the picture before that (so you could see the carving depth better). It also had to end up an exact size (did that bit phew!)For the second piece you have to set a natural stone using fine silver bezel strip. The stone is bezel set post firing and a part of the pendant has to be mirror finished. The stone is a very pretty green Tourmaline & you can see the textured silver through it (cute).

This is the back showing the Fine Silver Bail back (or flat screw eye) which has to be used. It also shows the new name stamp I got from the fabulous Babette Cox! The final piece is a brooch, this one requires the use of syringe type clay. It also uses Art Clay Exclusive brooch findings which are always fun to set, lol. I really hope this one passes as I might have been a bit ambitious in adding cabs & SiChrome flakes. (fingers crossed).

Nic xx

Monday, 29 June 2009

See what my PMC class learnt today!

Today my fabulous "intro course" students learnt how to use silver clay.  They learnt setting with CZ stones, Dichroic Glass Cabs, Resin work (they even did some soldering too).

Didn't they do well!

Nic xx

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