Making connections

One of the techniques I have been trying lately is to join two pieces of bone dry unfired metal clay with just a wash of water and “squidging” the edges together until they catch. This I learned from reading Kate McKinnon’s book, “Structural Metal Clay.” I’ve always made my joins, before firing, with PMC slip. But the idea of just using water to create a small amount of slip on the surface of two well-fitting pieces sounded so much easier and cleaner. I found it hard to believe it might actually be stronger, so I made a test piece to try it out.

These sample earrings were made from PMC+  rolled 4 cards thick and pressed into my own silicone texture plate. I cut the discs in half with a blade and dried them on a cup warmer. I filed the edges ever so slightly to make sure I had the widest surface to join, and wet the edges with a brush and butted them together, sliding back and forth just a little until they started to catch. I held the pieces together for a few seconds longer and then placed them back on the cup warmer. When dry, I drilled a hole in one end and fired them at 1630º for 2 hours. After firing, I tried to break these puppies apart, and they did not bend. I then hammered them on a steel block with a steel planishing hammer and no stress or breakage along the join. I’ll be darned. That is a strong little connection!

I used the same technique to attach the inside ridged piece in these earrings. It was SO much easier to use water and dry clay, than to fit two wet pieces together, or  to use oozing slip to attach them. When I used to use my own slip to join two dry pieces, I had to go back and clean up the messy dried bits before firing.

I wonder if this same technique will work with Hadar’s copper and bronze clay? I’ve been away from those clays for too long.


Filed under Uncategorized

5 responses to “Making connections

  1. holly

    i’ve got something on the bench right now that i can assemble without slip to see how it goes….. i just got an email from the guild that i had 2 pieces accepted for the exhibit at purdue (cultural symbolism). nice, yes? well the pieces that were accepted were hk1 and hk2. guess what? i know for sure 1 of the pieces i sent, but have NO IDEA which the second was! how embarrassing! i might have to ask them to describe it!


    • fernald244

      Congratulations! Now you’ll HAVE to go to the conference so you can see them in person and remember which one was hk2.
      I was surprised at how well this technique for joining dry pieces worked. I had you in mind when I made the first test pair of earrings. I wanted a way to prove to both of us that it actually worked. Good luck with your assembly!


  2. Hey Barb,
    Isn’t dry connecting aka Kate McKinnon great! I did try this technique with Hadar’s bronze and copper clay too, and I got a really strong bond that way. It was SO much easier than trying to build with wet clay. And no endless sanding to clean up the joins!
    Hope you are doing well…and wow…can you make us a divine grilled cheese sandwich…love those everyday miracles! Hee! Hee!
    Angie and I sends hugs,


    • fernald244

      Marly! Angie! Hi you guys! I’m glad to know you tried this technique with the bronze and copper and that it worked for you too. I feel like I am just entering a “stronger” phase of metal clay, making pieces a little thicker and definitely firing them for the full 2 hours. It doen’t seem so long after firing the copper and bronze for some of those cuckoo start and stop programs, when it would be in the kiln for like 3 hours!!!
      Are you guys signing up for Purdue Conference at the end of July? Holly sounds like she might go, but has some family trip to Poland just after the Purdue weekend, so she’s not sure she can do both. (But she better go!) I hope you guys will be there.
      I really like the work you are both doing.
      It was wonderful to find your site again. I would love to keep in touch more. (Yeah, I know I dropped the ball the last time)
      Do you and Angie ever get to Maine? If you do, I’ll make you a divine grilled cheese sandwich!


  3. Hi again Barb!
    Yes, we are planning to go to Purdue! And are so hoping to see BOTH you and Holly and there! Wouldn’t be the same without Holly. Besides she can’t leave the naming of HK2 to us now, can she? We continue to be inspired by both of you! It’s always a treat to read your blogs and to see what beautiful pieces you are creating! Thanks so much for sharing your expertise and your experiences with us!
    We are off to Santa Fe next week to meander in the galleries and to make some “bodacious bangles” and learn more about cold connections at the Santa Fe BeadFest. Very exciting!
    Angie and I would love to visit Maine someday and the added bonus of visiting you AND being treated to a divine grilled cheese sandwich makes the concept… completely irresistible! Conversely, if you’ve ever stayed awake at night wondering whether the grilled sandwich thing could work on an international level, there is a Canadian test kitchen just waiting for you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s