Monthly Archives: September 2009

Torch fired silver clay inlay

Firing a piece of fine silver wire in place with a bronze clay bead worked, earlier.  (Except for that unexpected crack.)


I polished the bead, then filled the recessed lines with PMC3 fine silver clay. I placed a pair of copper tongs on top of the wire as a heat sink, then torch fired the PMC3, moving the torch back and forth for  90 seconds to sinter the thin layer of silver clay. The bronze bead was a bright orange-y red, and I had my fingers crossed that the heat would not melt the silver wire. It worked! The silver clay even filled in the crack, making it less obvious, almost part of the design. (Um, that’s the way I meant to do it….?)


The bronze clay did seem to turn a little more reddish with the heat from the torch firing. This is one of a pair of earrings. I plan to try it with copper beads as well. The design is to have the bead move freely, 360º,  around the wire. The wire is fired in place, but not stationary. There is no hole in the bottom of the earring bead.


Filed under Uncategorized

Common Ground Fair

My friend Wanda and I took the day to go to the Common Ground Fair, organized by the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association in Unity, Maine. Great crafts, great food, amazing vegetables, and some spectacular……..chickens!


I want some yarn the color of these lower feathers…



Who knew the tasty Cornish game hen had such beautiful black and gold feathers?


What if you tried to give a perm to a pigeon?


This one was just plain scary looking to me!


Some produce booths were more artistic than others. Loved this one with its Chinese lantern and corn stalk walls.



Filed under Uncategorized

You ain’t got a thing…

…if you ain’t got that “plink!”  Some bronze and copper clay pieces came out of the kiln fully sintered and some didn’t. Yet they all were fired at the same time. I haven’t done this enough to keep track of where I’ve placed pieces in the kiln to see if that is relevant to which ones sinter and which ones don’t. But, after firing, I have started dropping each piece, from about 2 feet high, onto a table to see if they make that metallic “plink” sound. The pieces that hit with a dull plunk have most likely not sintered properly. These I will tuck in the stainless steel box with my next batch to fire, and I’m pretty sure they will sinter properly when fired again. So far, I can’t tell the difference visually. The earring on the left, below, broke easily when I started to bend it a little. You can see the crumbly brown interior of an unsintered piece of base metal clay. The one on the right made a better sound, and did not start to break, but I will still refire it.


The pieces below seemed to be fine, by the sound of my “drop test.” However, when I polished them with a Scotchbrite wheel,  the copper earrings on the top left clearly had not sintered properly.


Come to think of it, the copper earrings above made more of a “thuddy plink” when I dropped them. I though they sounded metallic enough,  but it was still a little different than the others.  I’ll have to learn to tune my ears to these new bronze and copper clay sounds.

Below are 3 sets of earring components, made with a mix of copper and bronze clay, polished. It’s hard to see the difference between the two metals without applying Baldwin’s Patina to darken the copper. (They all passed the “plink” test!)




Filed under Uncategorized

Cracks unexpected

With the inlay firing, I thought the thin, sanded tops of the beads might crack, but they did not.


The fine silver wires were not affected by the firing. However, the thicker tops of these beads cracked away from the sides. (I was going to torch fire a silver inlay.)


Because of the silver wires, to fire these beads I placed them flat in the charcoal. The inlaid beads I placed vertically in the charcoal as I usually fire most of my base metal clay pieces. I wonder if the positioning caused the cracks in the beads.

Below is a pair of earrings with copper on top of bronze clay: before and after sanding. But before firing. They’re still in the kiln…




Filed under Uncategorized

Things I learned this week

When teaching a beading workshop to elementary school students:

  • Terry cloth hand towels under the work surface will keep beads from rolling all over the place.
  • Leave beads at home if they don’t have large enough holes for the elastic to pass through.
  • If you think it’s smart to bring a battery  powered bead reamer  to enlarge the holes in Fimo beads – be prepared for the 8 year old boy who will insist on using it to enlarge holes in just about anything. “Wow, this bead is getting hot!”



During the one hour workshop at the Islesford School, for Inter Island Event, I was amazed at the patience in all of the young students as they waited for me to get to them to help finish off a bracelet, glue a knot, or give them more elastic. They were all great.

I learned that it  may be just too time consuming to use inlay as a technique when making these bronze and copper clay beads. After spending hours getting the copper pressed into an indentation in the dried bronze surface, drying it and then sanding the excess copper from the surface, I finally realized I could probably get a very similar result by rolling pieces of wet copper clay into the surface of wet bronze clay and vice versa. More experiments to come. I’m not sure how these inlay beads will fire. In the end, they are pretty thin. The non-inlay beads are an experiment in firing a piece of fine silver in the bead. Not silver metal clay, but fine silver wire. The plan is to torch fire a silver inlay in these. Also not sure what will happen with the wire when I torch fire.


And, I learned just how much I have missed having a super macro setting on my little digital camera, when my new Pentax arrived this week. This waterproof, dust proof and shock proof baby should be able to withstand all of the times I toss it into a canvas bag or my back pocket.  I can once again start playing with shots of something only 1 cm away.




Filed under Uncategorized

Been out of the studio for too long!

It’s also been too long since adding to the blog. Sheesh. How can it take over a week just to catch up on life? I’m looking forward to more bronze and copper clay work tomorrow and Friday.  Meanwhile, there are always ongoing silver clay projects:




Filed under Uncategorized

Le troisieme jour de plein air

Look what washed up on the beach in front of the Twinney House.


Henry critiquing Ashley critiquing Charlie.


Group shot before last critique.


After lunch the workshop was officially over, but quite a few people returned to Gilley Beach to paint some more. Henry finally gets to paint one of his own.


Zoe. Totally undaunted by painting on the largest canvas she has ever tried.


After feeling totally daunted by my first painting of the morning, deciding all it needed was a smile painted across the bottom to look like a Muppet instead of a landscape, I tried a different approach as Henry announced 15 minutes were left until we would gather for the last critique, and then lunch. This is not necessarily finished, but I like the starting point.


Tomrrow, the jewelry studio. AAAHHHH!


Filed under Uncategorized

Plein Air Part 2

Another incredibly sunny day. We painted near the marsh. An initial talk by Henry and then off to paint.


(I know. Living on Islesford is like living in a painting all the time. It is beautiful and inspiring. I promise I never take it for granted.)

Morning critique:



A jewelry designer’s third attempt:


A chance to see everyone’s work, back at the restaurant:


The perfect plein air sunset:



Filed under Uncategorized

Before painting…

…I finished some necklaces to drop off at Alone Moose Gallery in Bar Harbor.




Back home on Islesford, in time for the start of the plein air painting workshop. Everyone met over lunch at the Islesford Dock Restaurant. Painter and instructor Henry Isaacs makes some opening remarks.


Henry and his sidekick Ashley Bryan talk about oil paints.


First critiques:



I’ll admit to being way out of my comfort zone with oil paint, or any kind of paint for that matter. Some of the frustrating moments made me want to come right home and get out a fresh package of metal clay. But on the way home from dinner, with the full moon peeking out from the clouds, I was much more aware of the shapes and colors in the sky. I really look forward to day 2 of the workshop.


Filed under Uncategorized