Monthly Archives: February 2012

Leap day

I felt like I was finally bouncing back from a wicked cold today with more energy than I’ve had in a week. It was good to have the extra day to get back on my feet. I finished firing the last bit of my bronze and copper pieces, testing the limits on my third batch, with more pieces closer together in the stainless steel bowl. I increased both the binder burn off time and the sintering time and crossed my fingers. It all worked.

It took 3 different kiln loads, and a total of 12 hours (with some extra hours in between for required cool down times) to fire this many pieces of copper/bronze clay in my little kiln.

It took only 1 kiln load and 2 hours of firing for this many pieces of silver clay:

If I had to pick just one metal clay to work with it would be silver every time. But, the good news is I don’t have to choose; I just have to learn some time management. And when the bronze and copper pieces are fired and cleaned up, I wonder why I don’t work with the base metal clays more often.

What excites me about the bronze and copper clay pieces is that I have a whole selection of  patinas to use that I purchased from Shannon at  Miss Ficklemedia. I already know from some patinas I tried last summer that the combo pieces, made with both base metals, take on the patina as if they were just one type of metal.  The little two tone earring components will be used as they are. But the beads! I can’t wait to try Shannon’s russet red on some of the copper and bronze lentil beads. Picture the red color from the leaves below in the background of the raised letters and spirals in the 2 middle beads below:

(If you can’t picture it, just check back in a few days.)

The fun part about working with patina solutions is that you don’t know right away how the color  will develop. The russet red was the first heat applied patina I tried, and I really didn’t like it. (You can tell by how few red pieces there are in the batch below.) But after 2 days I really loved it.

So did one of my customers.

Before I even think of getting out the patina solutions, I have a necklace to finish with some of the silver rock beads I polished today:

Jan, if you’re reading this, thank you for your patience!

It was a tremendously successful leap day back to health. I got a whole lot done in the studio, I took a long walk, I read for an hour, I started on a piece of writing, and I’m actually going to bed before 10:30. I have been, for me, incredibly focused all day, which I attribute to enjoying the kind of alone time I get when Bruce goes to the Fishermen’s Forum in Rockland. In a few days, I’ll be relaxed, energized, caught up with creative work, and I’ll be missing my sweetie. And then he’ll come home. It’s all good!


Filed under Uncategorized

Base metal clay

taps into a different part of my brain than silver clay. I don’t know if it’s because it’s so much less expensive to work with, or less familiar, or less predictable when it comes to firing. Whatever it is, when I get out the bronze clay and the copper clay, I just sit there and go, “Huh? What was I going to do?” It’s as if I never had an idea in my life. I don’t even look for my sketch book, because I don’t remember sketching any ideas for these base metal clays, though I know I have.

Today, with a load of silver beads happily sintering away at 1650° for two hours, I got out my copper and bronze powders from Hadar Jacobson and mixed up some base metal clays.

I like the look of embedding copper pieces into the bronze. Below is a lone earring component from a previous session with bronze and copper clay. (I think the matching piece didn’t sinter properly.) I hammered this piece a bit to see what would happen. It withstood the pounding, so I know it sintered properly. I decided to work more with this idea.

Dried copper clay pieces rolled onto wet bronze clay:

Similar pieces, after drying and sanding. I’m pretty sure I sanded the piece on the right a little too aggressively. The middle circle looks blurry, probably because it was almost sanded away. The embedded copper was 3 cards thick, and the bronze clay was 6 cards thick.

Todays earring components,

and a start on some lentil beads and leaf components.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Silver rock beads continued

I was able to spend all day in the studio today, continuing my work on fine silver beads. As long as I have the precious metal clay on hand, I will work until I have a full kiln load.  I haven’t fired anything from this batch yet, but since I have been asked what the silver rock beads will look like when they are finished, I’m posting a few photos from previous firings.

Beads fresh from the kiln before being polished:

Polished silver rock beads:

Necklace of silver rock beads donated to the Ubuntu Education Fund auction for their New York City gala in 2010:


Filed under Uncategorized

I love this story

I don’t know why it pleases me so, but it does. Click on the photo for the link to the news.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Some days off-island

just feel longer than others.

Today was one of those days. It feels so good to be home by the fire. Day is done.


Filed under Uncategorized

Silver rock beads in progress

It’s really late. Actually it’s really early Monday morning and I have to get up in a few hours to spend the day off island. So here’s what I worked on today. (That would actually be yesterday, Sunday)

I gathered my silicone molds of beach rocks:

I rolled out silver PMC and pressed it into the rock half molds to make matching bead halves:

Once the clay dried enough to pop out of the mold without losing its shape, I finished drying the pieces on my cup warmers.

I made the edges smooth and flat and  fit the two bead halves together, dried them again, and drilled holes for stringing.

They will need to be fully dry before I fire them in the kiln. Then they will come out as pure silver hollow beads that are shaped like the beach rocks I love to collect.


Filed under Uncategorized

Saturday’s excuses for not getting to work in the studio

We invited friends to come for dinner tonight. I thought I would be able to find time to work after I made the bolognese sauce:

But I still had sourdough bread to bake:

I remembered to throw some garlic in the oven to roast during the second half of baking the second loaf.

And still there was the house to clean and the table to set and a pineapple almond crunch pie to make.

Now I’ve posted my blog, I’ll take a shower, make a salad, and then people will arrive. That’s it. There’s my Saturday. I can’t wait to eat, and catch up with good friends. All in all some very good reasons to miss studio work today. It will be there tomorrow and so will I. Bright and early!


Filed under Uncategorized

Back to work with metal clay and a shout out to J.Fred

It sure seems like a long time. Maybe it was before Christmas that I last worked with silver PMC.  I don’t even remember the last time I worked with bronze or copper clay.

I got ready by straightening out my tools, putting away other projects, and getting my metal clay bench in tidy shape as I figured out what I might do next. I actually had some specific earrings in mind; a pair I had made years ago and wanted to retry. The original pair were hollow, flat on the back and domed in front with an off center dip in the dome shape. I could not find the original mold I made with a plastic watercolor palette, so I tried again to get the shape.

These were not quite what I wanted, but I was not getting any closer with successive tries, so I worked with what I had.  I wanted to use 40 gauge copper foil to recreate the dome and dip shape. By having a little mold of copper, I can lay the metal clay on it and transfer it directly to my cup warmer. Using a metal form to drape and shape the metal clay is a handy little trick I learned last winter from my metal clay mentor J.Fred Woell.*  The copper foil or wire heats up quickly, so the clay dries quickly and it doesn’t stick to the metal.

Getting the foil shaped properly didn’t work as well as I had hoped, but I’ll keep at it. It may be that for this particular design I just have to wait for the dome shape to air-dry on the plastic water color palette. I have a few other tricks to try before I give up on this idea.

I also made some cone shapes out of the foil to use for shaping and quickly drying cones from PMC. I would like to use them more with multi strand sections of necklaces. I made some a while ago but they were too wide. I used this handy dandy tool I picked up at a conference to get a thin cone shape. Without the foil cones I could shape the clay directly on the plastic form, then wait and wait for it to dry, or dry it a little more quickly with a hair dryer. With three little copper cones, I can make 6 cone beads in the time it would take for one to dry enough to remove from the plastic form.

The results were more predictable this time.

*To my friend and teacher, J.Fred Woell, congratulations on your well-earned recognition from the Society of North American Goldsmiths. When you introduced me to precious metal clay in 1998 it changed my life!


Filed under Uncategorized

Then and Now

What a difference between last year and this year.

Green grass in February!



Filed under Uncategorized

More hearts,

though none of the photos were taken today. I just like to capture heart images when I come across them. The last one is the only one I created. All the others are as they appeared on the ground when I walked by.

Hover over the photo to see where they were taken.


Filed under Uncategorized