Monthly Archives: April 2009

A great night in New York

       The Tuesday night party to celebrate Ubuntu’s 10 years of commitment to the children of South Africa was an incredible event at Terminal 5 in New York City. Many Islesford friends were there as well as many of the staff from the Ubuntu Education Fund office in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. 500 people generously helped to raise over $1 million for this incredibly worthy cause. The music of Paul Simon and Hugh Masekela had everyone out of their seats and dancing.                          Congratulations to Jacob Lief and Banks Guaxula for establishing the Ubuntu Education Fund which has provided lifesaving HIV support services and essential education resources to more than 40,000 vulnerable children and their families in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

It was a privilege to attend the Gala and to be able to contribute a piece of jewelry to the silent auction.


I believe the final bid was $950. Yee Ha!


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Copper Clay

First foray into copper clay. It feels a little more “rubbery” than the bronze clay. I finally understand about how these clays shrink while drying, even before they are fired. On the square beads, I made the sides first, let them dry, then used copper clay paste to attach the wet top and bottom. As they dried, the tops cracked. Only one bead dried without cracking. Next time I will attach dry tops to dry sides.


Copper clay beads before firing. 

The beads were not shiny or metallic looking after they were fired. But they polished up well with Fabulustre and the buffing wheel. I really like the color, and can’t wait to try more with both the bronze and copper clays. But first, off to New York for two days!


Copper beads after firing. Unpolished and polished.

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Some things worked and some didn’t.

Bronze clay pieces before going into the kiln:imgp0691 

Below, the ones that didn’t work. They looked okay except the sides shrank more than the top and bottom. I used the powdered clay for the tops and the Rio Grande clay for the sides. Why was I surprised ?

imgp0693imgp0700                                                      On closer inspection, the tops and sides and bottoms did not bond at all. Sides sintered properly, (hard to break apart) but other pieces were brittle. Frustrating, but not yet discouraging. I will not try mixing the two types of clay again.


The little “stone” bead made from the powdered bronze clay worked out as I had hoped it would. So did the flat beads made from the Rio “Bronzclay.” The experiment to fire them with wax wire in place worked out well. The wax melted away when the clay was firing, but the holes stayed open. Most of the beads were fired in an upright position so the wax could drain straight down. But a few were fired laying flat in the charcoal and the wax still drained and burned away.


Everything polished really nicely with a buffing wheel and Fabulustre compound. Even the pieces that I didn’t think fired properly.




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2nd try, Bronze clay

I am  firing the second batch of bronze clay beads that I made yesterday. When I get frustrated at how long the firing process is, (1 hour 20 minutes, cool down, then 3 hours more) I think about the first incarnation of Precious Metal Clay that I tried in 1997. That took about 3 hours to fire, too. Now when I use PMC +, I can fire in less than an hour. It has spoiled me for the bronze. 

With this batch of beads, I used up the rest of my 200 gram package of Bronzclay from Rio Grande. I was not impressed with the texture of the clay and what a mess it was, but was determined to find a way to make bronze clay work for me. Then I tried Hadar Jacobson’s  Bronze Clay powder. I followed the directions on her blog (see link at right) and the clay was a dream to work with! What a difference. Now I just have to wait to see how the pieces come out. I will definitely buy the powdered clay again before I buy the package. I can’t wait to try the copper clay powder tomorrow to see if it has the same feel. If you are a metal clay person, and you have not yet seen Hadar’s blog or web site, do it now. I guarantee you will be inspired by her creativity and her generosity in sharing her experience with these new forms of metal clay. You can also buy bronze and copper clay powder from her site.

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Big rain. Studio day.


Lots of time spent today working on several new incarnations of these flat PMC silver beads. I made some flat beads to match those toggle clasps I worked on last week, and worked on hollow form earrings. 

To make the flat PMC beads,  I place a piece of “wax wire”  across the “equator” of  one side of the circle. Then I place the other circle on top, to make a  flat disc bead with a hole through the center. (The wax melts away in firing, leaving the hole intact. I won’t have to drill.)

I tried the Bronze clay today for the second time. Good thing I watched some of the videos that are available on You tube. It made a big difference to condition the clay before using it.( Something I had not paid attention to the first time.) When I made the flat, two-sided beads in bronze, they did not warp while drying, as other flat bronze pieces have done. Might have been the wax wire through the center, or the fact that two sides pushed against each other create some kind of counteracting tension? I’m not sure what will happen to the wax when I fire the bronze.

The glass in the necklace above is not sea glass. I wish I had such a collection! Instead these are pieces of glass that have been commercially tumbled. I love their translucence, color, and consistency in size, and how they compliment my hand made beads.

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April Dip of the Month

We took our dip at 4 p.m. by Frannie Jo’s boat house, where Stefanie has been getting her lobster boat ready to launch. Here we are just after a refreshing dip in the 39 degree water. It was windy, but the wall felt warm after we dried off.  Good spa effect, as usual!


Joy, Cindy, Stefanie, Eliza


Joy, Cindy, Me, Eliza

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No more of these.

The dastardly ice slugs are gone! 


And so is the ice in Echo Lake and Upper Hadlock Pond. I spent the day off-island going from Northeast Harbor to Southwest Harbor to Bar Harbor. Errands planned and unplanned. Off again tomorrow to take Mom in for a CT scan. This is when island living interferes with studio time. Because of the boat schedule, I leave the island at 8:15 a.m. and return by 4 p.m. for a 1 hour appointment at 10 a.m. C’est la vie d’ile.

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Tool of the Day


I was starting to photograph things for my Etsy  shop, and this museum gel came in really handy for getting ear wires to sit straight on some of the earrings.



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Not quite here yet…


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