Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Funky Tribal - Ancient Image, Modern Materials

How to make a funky double layer pendant:
1) Use ACS or PMC clay that's been around a while
& re-used / re-rolled a few times. You'll notice it's not quite as smooth as the "Fresh out of the Packet" stuff you get better results that way ;)
2) Choose two texture plates (you can make them yourself or use commercial ones)
3) Spray one of them with coolslip (or oil it so it doesn't stick)
4) Roll out clay and press onto texture sheet
5) Here's the cool bit, RIP the edges leaving it irregular.
6) Let that shape dry flat & don't try to neaten it!
7) Repeat the process making top piece using the second texture. This time wet the edge of your finger & smooth the edge slightly
8) While the top piece is still fresh & shapeable, moisten the pieces and add a little slip to help join them together.
9) Let dry completely then either make a roll over bail for the back ,or drill a hole to attach a jump ring.
10) Smooth any rough areas on the edge (just enough so they're not scratchy). Sponge backed sanding pads are great for this.
11) Fire & finish your pendant as normal (these look great oxidised)

Here's my finished pendant beaded with sterling tribal beads and labradorite 3mm rounds.
Hope you like it!
Nic xx

Friday, 24 April 2009

Bronze Clay - The pleasure & the pain!

Recently one of my regular customers came in and asked whether I had anything in Bronze (it was their Bronze Anniversary). Well the brainwave hit that I had three packets of Bronze clay that had been sitting in my Fridge since I got them From Rio Grande 3 months ago!

Did the fact that I'd never even used bronze clay deter me?
Nope, I figured how much more different to silver clay could it be??? Besides I've already cast in Bronze, so I thought maybe I could melt the stuff....
*Regular users of the clay are probably rolling on the floor now tears of laughter and pity streaming down their face.

It is not at all like working with art clay silver at all. The texture is stickier which makes it harder to move pieces around before they’ve dried more, at which point it starts cracking. It reminds me most of the very early Silver Clays which were harder to work with than todays formulas. It imprints well though :)

My customer decided on Silver Cufflinks with a Bronze Heart on. So washed off all my silver clay tools and cutters in soapy water (so they didn't contaminate the bronze clay). I did various bits and pieces before saving 1/2 a pack for later the packs are HUGE particularly after working with silver clay. I made various sized hearts and also added a little bronze bunny and a ring.
I left them to dry 24 hours and then fired them overnight
Once fired I brass brushed them in soapy water, the hearts were fine but when I got to the ring it broke. You can see the inside in the picture, the dark area is unscintered clay. I didn't even brush the rabbit (it's thicker so if the ring broke I figure the bunny will need another toasting!)

After a quickfire programme and a good file down I was happy that the hearts were good and solid.

Here's the finished result after soldering to the pre-prepared ACS cufflink base and adding Sterling fittings.
Once I oxidised the background the bronze really stood out.
My client picked them up today, she loved them so I hope her hubby does too! I think I'll make some more in various bronze/silver designs. The Hearts would look good engraved with initials too....

Nic xx

Blog Candy - FREE Jewellery or Silver Clay

Just to let you know in honour of St Georges Day I'm giving away some prizes on my
Murano Silver Blog and one of them is two packs of Art Clay Silver (ACS) or you can bag some Jewellery, whichever you prefer. The Entry Post is HERE
You can choose from any of these fabulous prizes.... 1) A Textured Heart Pendant with Your Choice of Stone Colour2) A Sterling Silver Ring Made to your Size with Either "Until the Seas Run Dry" or your own name stamped upon it.
3) TWO 10g Packs of Art Clay Silver for you to make your own Silver Jewellery and a few little extras to help ;)

So come on get entering - It's FREE & there will probably be a few extra gifts thrown in for good measure! ;)

Nic xx

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Earth Day, Recycled Silver & Altered Art Jewellery

Today is Earth Day. Now what does it mean to us? Well, it is just a reminder to us that we need to appreciate our Earth, the place we live in. What's the best way to show appreciation of our planet? There are many ways to do it but I guess using recycled materials has got to be a good idea. Thankfully for Silver Clay Artisans that's easy :)

Art Clay & Precious Metal Clay (PMC) are recycled products which reclaim a variety of different metals. The silver for Art Clay comes from sources such as film stock and negatives so you could be wearing a little piece of Marilyn Monroe's big screen debut!
ACS is 100% recycled, and PMC has a high percentage of recycled material too. Even the organic binder that burns away has very little impact on the environmnet, which is great news because "green" and "recycled" are not only beneficial to the planet but they're also Hot Selling benefits too!

It can't have escaped your attention that "altered art" and "found item" jewellery is very popular on selling sites such as Etsy and Artfire, it's also fun to make and low cost in terms of components.

When you re-use, re-purpose and generally recycle old buttons, fabric scraps, twigs and ephemera the results can be stunning PLUS you are definitely living a more sustainable lifestyle.
Here are a few of my favourite pieces by other mixed media artists....Opie and Linda O'Brian are mixed-media artists, authors and teachers, who enjoy pushing the envelope in myriad ways, using organic, recycled and found materials because they seem to have a voice that must be heard, a story that must be told, and a life that would otherwise be too soon forgotten. They consider themselves "caretakers of the mundane and the ordinary" and their unique offerings include jewelry, dada dolls & recyclabots, assemblage, books, collage, masks, music and more!
Jenny Crossley is another mixed media artist (from Australia) she works with paper, metal and other ephemera I just adore the way she uses old photos in her work. I wonder who those folks were....
Would you like to give mixed media work a try? Then here are a few books that might help :)

"Semiprecious Salvage" by Stephanie Lee
"Making Connections" by Susan Lenart Kazmer

& "Altered Art Circus" Lisa Kettell

Happy Making!
Nic xx

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Making Layered Pendants for Resin / Enamel

Would you like to add colour to your pieces? There are lots of ways to do this, resin, patina solutions, enamel, polymer clay, coloured pencils, transfers...the list is endless.
In the case of resin & enamel you ideally need to design indents for the resin or enamel to go.
Options for this include indenting the clay with stamps or using cutters to make a two layer pendant.

Here is the first stage in one of my two layer "starry night" cat pendants...
1) First I cut a detailed top piece (the window & cat shape).
This can be as simple or as complex as you like ~ multiple circle cut outs are easy to do, yet look very effective
2) Carefully use water & a smear of paste to join onto rolled out clay.
3) Trim to fit & leave to dry.
If the pendant is to be enameled then take extra care to make the top layers vertical as undercuts can cause cracks in the enamel.
Next you need a hanging point so (avoiding the indented resin area) drill a hole for a jump ring or make a roll over/fold over bail.

This pendant is using a roll over bail which is formed on a straw.
1) Using your chosen texture plate roll out clay to 2/3 cards thick.
2) Use a cutter to create a straight edge.
3) Roll clay over a straw until it touches the other side
4) Cut another straight edge at the "touching point"
5) Use a little water moisten & join the edges.
6) Let dry to leather hard & ease straw out
8) Finish drying then fill in any gaps with syringe clay.
9) Tidy up edges, sand & smooth
10) Moisten pendant & bail, then join using paste or syringe.
11) Let dry then reinforce front & back with a thin syringe line.

Fire in a kiln: at approx 850 degrees for 2 hours to make the pendant as dense as possible.
If using a round bail fire in a fibre blanket or vermicellite (so pendant doesn't end up curved)
If torch firing: I suggest using a flat bail (or a hole with jumprings) to help get get full scintering
Note: Both PMC and Art Clay Silver are porous so to get the best results the areas to receive enamel/resin should be compressed by burnishing, engraving or tumbling with steel shot.

Once fired, finished & polished, follow the directions to add enamel, epoxy resin or UV resin of your choice.
Add the chain and voila, your finished!
Nic xx
P.S> If you intend to sell these pendants then
1) Please don't use my design ;)
2) Don't forget to weigh it & if you're in the UK, get it hallmarked if over 7.78 grammes!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Art Clay Price Increases ~ Due 8th April

For those of you who use Art Clay Silver here's a "heads up". There is a massive 35% price increase due to be implemented on the 8th April.
You can see confirmation of this on silverclay.co.uk (one of the main UK distributors). The good news is that if you buy clay for them before 8th April they will sell it you at the current price (even if out of stock).

Increases are due to the fluctuation in the dollar rate (which Silver is set in) and price increases from Aida (the manufacturer). It's not that surprising really, they haven't had a big increase in two years but still a bit of a blow if you make a lot in silver clay.

So go and stock up now (I did) :)

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