Tuesday, 31 March 2009

PMC Course - Students Pieces :)

The real beauty of Silver Clay is that under tuition even complete beginners can design and make lovely, real silver jewellery in a couple of hours – with no previous experience at all!

These are the pieces that my students made on Sunday (in amongst all the other things they learnt to do!)

Courses are taught in small groups (minimum 2 maximum 4) in my fully equipped workshop. Although the courses are specifically designed to enable absolute beginners to produce fantastic results we tailor each course to the abilities of the participants. (This week my students also learnt soldering, patina techniques and using coloured resins)

I run courses about every six weeks and the £65 course fee includes a kit to take home and enough silver clay to make one large piece or two to three smaller pieces. (You can buy more clay from on the day if you want to make chunkier jewellery).

These pieces are their first ever pieces & I think they look fabulous!
Nic x

Friday, 20 March 2009

Inspired by Dali

Persistence of Memory -

"Bits and pieces of fired metal clay had been lying on my workbench ~
The face had been managing to look accusing ~ she needed to be jewellery, so I sawed her in half intending to make earrings.....
A single earring stud waiting for me to make it's mate (I'd lost the other).
The Oval frame was an experiment in pouring liquid clay into a silicone mould & then topping it up...(it worked, though required lots of syringe filler & sanding to make the surface acceptable!)

I'd been reading one of my Dali books, so was in altered head space when I spotted the oval frame and other pieces, I started arranging them into different combos....Dali's muse had struck!

The only problem was it was all fired silver...The textured back & bail helped pull it all together. Lots of Oil paste & multiple firings later & I was quite pleased with the result (until the face fell off in the tumbler - ARRRGH).
I couldn't face opening that stinky smelling oil paste again so I hard soldered the face back onto the pendant! Problem solved ;)
Once it had been soldered I pickled it then used bicarb to un-pickle it then I felt that "just in case" I should cover where the solder had been --- I used multiple layers of Black and Aqua UV resin until I got the greeny black almost patina colour "Persistence of Memory" was born!"

Have you ever read and inspirational journal/book & then re-purposed some of you pieces??
Exciting isn't it!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Making Art Clay Silver & PMC Rings

I make a lot of rings but always explain that they are not as strong as sterling silver rings. As a pure metal Fine silver doesn't have the strength of an alloy like sterling silver.
So when designing a ring in PMC or Art clay silver you need to follow a few guidelines....
1) Make the ring thicker to add strength (most times at least 6 cards thick). 2) If you can, re-inforce the join by adding any decorative elements on top of it. 3) Fire it long & hot ideally in a kiln for at least an hour. I fire at 850-900 Centigrade for 2 hours to make extra sure...

I generally test their strength after firing, on a ring mandrel. Whacking them into shape is a great test, lol. Personally I wouldn't recommend hob firing for rings as it just doesn't get hot enough to fully sinter.

Torch firing can work but as the temperature is controlled by eye results can vary.

For those that dont have a Kiln
Maybe you could try these?
http://www.metalclayfindings.com/rings.aspx. They're fine silver ring liners that you build your ring on top of - then you could torch fire it...they're an American company but are also available in the UK from their distrubutor Argentice.
Nic x

Monday, 9 March 2009

Making pictures into Jewellery

Here's a quick snap of some penguin cufflinks I made & here's how I made them
1) I drew the cute penguin in black indian ink on white paper.
2) I scanned the image into my PC.
3) The Image was scaled to cufflink size then printed onto clear acetate.
4) Using a Photopolymer Plate I made a custom impression stamp. The photopolymer plates were purchased from WholeLotta Whimsey (here's one of their videos on Making Photopolymer Plates)
5) I impressed the plate onto freshly rolled pmc & cut the cufflinks fronts to size.
6) The cufflinks were kiln fired for two hours at 880°C, brushed, tumbled & polished.
7) I flash torched them to remove any oils and give the 22k gold overlay paste something to adhere to.
8) I applied the gold overlay paste & torch fired it. (see how here)
9) Anther quick brush & session in the tumbler
10) I then applied the fineness stamps & soldered a sterling silver back onto the front of the cufflinks. (Here's a ganoskin post on PMC soldering)
11) Finally I hand textured where the patina was going and used a paintbrush to selectively apply Platinol.
12) A swoosh off of the Platinol & a polish later and HOORAH I was done!!

Naturally it doesn't have to be a cufflink, why not try it yourself on a plain pendant (no soldering involved) lol

Nic xx

Friday, 6 March 2009

Making A PMC / Silver Clay Leaf

Use your Slip Pot to Create a Unique Leaf Pendant
1) Pop into the garden & pick a fresh leaf (2-3cm, not hairy). It's the back of the leaf that gets painted, so check that has lots of lovely veiny texture.
2) Use a small (cheap) paintbrush to apply a thin layer of paste to the underside of the leaf.
3) Let it dry slowly (e.g. overnight)
4) Apply additional layers of paste and repeat the drying process until you have made up at least 5 layers of paste (2-3mm thick).
5) Make a hanging bail by rolling and cutting out a small rectangle of PMC3.Wrap this rectangle around an oiled wooden skewer or small straw. Partially dry then remove the skewer/straw & let it finish drying. (Alternatively use a purchased fine silver "poke in" loop & attach a jump ring after)
6) Attach bail to the back of the pendant, using a little more paste/slip as "glue".
7) Torch or Kiln Fire the pendant (the leaf will burn away). Don't worry of there's more smoke than usual (it's the leaf burning away)
8) Brush the "white" off with your steel/brass brush.
9) Tumble & Polish as normal
10) Enjoy the compliments your new pendant is getting :)

Nic xx

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Repairing Unfired PMC & Art Clay

Here's how to solve those Silver Clay "oopsies"
The easiest way to fill a small crack is using a syringe version of the same Art Clay as the one your created the pendant in. (i.e If Art Clay 650, then you'd use art clay 650 syringe).
The fine tip (blue) is perfect for piping the clay straight into the crack.
Another alternative is to use home made slip (created from waste clay when you made the pendant) a toothpick is a good way to apply it.

You should try to do all repairs in the greenware (unfired) state & you need to slightly overfill the crack so that as it dries (& shrinks) it still fills the crack. Once the clay has dried sand to blend the repair in.

If the design has texture, fill it and then very carefully blend in the "fill" while its still moist (you'd use a rubber tipped blending tool for this). If you fill & blend be prepared to do the filling procedure more than once as each time it dries it will shrink into the crack.

Alternatively use your "break up" change the design in a new & creative way!!
Like pretending it was your idea all along and adding some enamel ;)
Nic xx

Monday, 2 March 2009

Tutorial - PMC and Polymer Clay Pendant

Challenge yourself using Mixed Mediums!
This pendant was made in four pieces & 2 stages. If you'd like to adapt the idea to your own designs, this is how I made it. :)

Stage One
1) First I made the flat leaf shape at the back, this had three little blobs of clay attached towards the centre of the top section. I carved lines in the edge in the clay stage too
2) I made the Aztec Texture top section, again with some blobs on the back (but in different areas to the bottom)
3) I made & attached the swirly bail to the rear section (a fold over bail or just a hole would also work).
4) All the silver clay pieces were then fired at 850 for 2 hours. (You can fire them how you like)

Next Stage
Remember those blobs of clay? (Top of the back piece and rear of the top piece?). Well they become like little rivets to hold your polymer clay in place
1) Make a thick layer of polymer clay.
2) Cut it to the shape needed to fit between the 2 layers
3) Sandwich it between the two layers & pat the edges with a shaper to tidy the fit up
4) Bake in the oven like you normally would
5) Apply any patina to the silver you like & polish it all up
Finally - relax with a nice cup of tea, glass of wine etc & enjoy your new pendant!
Nic xx

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Adding Liver of Sulphur Patina

Liver of Sulfur offers us a unique "fix" of instant colour gratification.
It's quick to prepare, simple to use and can really make your work stand out!
Here are some patina options & usage tips, I hope you give them a go and send me pictures of your latest creations...

Types of Patina Solution
To get the variable colour effects described below then you need to use Liver of Sulphur, if you want "straight to black" I recommend Platinol. ;)
Dry chunk-form LOS (Liver of Sulphur).
This is what I use as it seems to give me the best results! My current formula is a pea-sized chunk to a cup of almost-boiling water, (each brand comes with instructions on the packaging).
If you use this type, make sure you keep it absolutely dry & store it in a cool dark place (or it'll be ruined)
I order mine from Whole Lotta Whimsy a lovely family business in the USA :)
Liquid LOS (Liver of Sulphur) Same as LOS above but in liquid form. Available in the UK from Cookson Gold in an amount that will run out of potency before you use it all up!
That's why I get mine from Petra over at silverclay.co.uk (she does small amounts at a lower price point).
"Platinol" Oxidising Solution
This gives a deep black to pale grey finish. It's very good for colouring text on rings and pendants. Also excellent for a long lasting deep black on high contrast pieces.
In the UK it's available from Cookson Gold - product number 998 161A

Using Liver of Sulfur:
1. OPEN THE WINDOWS & ventilate your room = LOS really, really stinks (rotten eggs)
2. Stronger/hotter solutions = faster reactions (not always good if you want purples or specific colours)
3. The longer you leave a piece of silver in, the darker it will get.
4. LOS colours the silver in the following order: Golds, Reds, Purples, Blues then Greens.
It's final colour change is grey then matte black.
5. The best way to stop the LOS reaction is to rinse well in clean, very cold water.
6. If it all goes horribly wrong then re-firing will remove the patina and restore the piece to white.

1) Put some gloves on (protects you fingers from the chemicals & the piece from finger oils)
2) Make sure the piece is clean & grease free
3) Warm the piece in hot water (even temperature = more even results).
4) Dip piece briefly in the solution (if the piece has a hole or bail, use some wire as a dipper)
The patina will continue even if you take it out of the solution; the warmer the piece the faster the reaction. The moment you see something that you like rinse it off in the cold water solution!
5) Rinse and repeat until the darkness you want is achieved.
By going slowly you'll have more chance of achieving the colour you want :)

Extra Tip:
Achieving additional depth to your pieces:
1) Get to a colour you like & rinse it off
2) Use the soft brass brush & plain washing up liquid to pull some of the patina off
3) Repeat the process over again. Each time you repeat the colour tones will get deeper and even more gorgeous!!

Here's another useful article from Liver of Sulphur article from Ganoskin (great technical details),

Happy Colouring :)
Nic xx

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