Trying to have it both ways

Some of these pieces are all bronze and some all copper. But a few were made of  a “marbled” copper bronze blend. I love the colors  just after firing. Holly, you were right. More color seems to show up after the charcoal has been used for several firings.


I don’t mind a matte finish for earring parts, but I want the beads I wear against my skin to feel smooth. I put this load in the tumbler with steel shot to see what would happen to the surface and the color. Result: More shine, less color.


The “rock” beads looked like actual rocks, right out of the kiln. After being tumbled for 15 minutes, they looked like rocks with jaundice. (Not quite the look I was hoping for!)



To test how much of the color on these beads was from the marbled effect of the mixed clays, I used the buffing wheel and Fabuluster compound to achieve a high polish on the bronze beads. Then I used Baldwin’s Patina to see how much of the copper would oxidize.  


I’m not satisfied with how they came out. The last test on these beads will be to polish off the patina and bury them in the hot activated charcoal the next time I fire my kiln. Maybe I can recreate some of the color that came out of the kiln originally, while maintaining the smoother surface. I tried to do this with a torch, but the results were unremarkable.


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2 responses to “Trying to have it both ways

  1. holly

    i LOVE the way they look right out of the kiln, tho i can see what you mean about the feel next to the skin….besides right out of the kiln, i love the way they look in the pic that is 3rd from bottom (rocks with jaundice, perhaps!)… are those rocks all marbled? i think i hear SB calling! let’s see what they look like after going back in the charcoal….
    you are totally inspiring me…unfortunately, i went to my pmc drawer and lo and behold….no clay! yikes…that has never happened before…quick order from rio, now i’m just waiting….


  2. fernald244

    FedEx 2nd day air!
    I’ve had fun playing with the clay, but I have not put many things together yet. Yikes. Summer is arriving, and I have to send out some work!
    Did you try the coffee grinder trick with your unfired PMC scraps? That has saved me a few times when I have been out of fresh clay.
    Here’s a though on SB for next year. They changed the category from precious metal clay, to metal clay. Bronze and copper will be in the picture. Since the PMC category is sponsored by Rio Grande and Mitsubishi, I wonder if that means using only their products for copper and bronze clay? I like Hadar’s powdered clay so much better. That could be a problem! I have no ideas yet for SB. Do you? This could be your year!


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