Tag Archives: copper clay

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!


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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.


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Kiln back in action

At last! It’s not like I’ve been waiting for a repair, or anything like that. Summer is just so full of good things that there is hardly room to work or breath. But, I’ve managed to do both lately.

While firing a batch of silver clay pieces, I got out the bronze and copper clay for the first time since June. With the current high price of silver clay, I felt less constrained with the base metals. My goal this week, with all three kinds of clay, was to come up with some birds for a little show on Sunday at the home of my sister-in-law Karen and her husband Hugh. Birds play a big part in our lives and it’s going to be fun to see what several friends have made for “Island Birds,” at the Smallwood’s house on Sunday, August 8 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome to come and the various birds will be for sale. Jim Bright has bird carvings, Karen and Hugh have paintings, Rick Alley has paintings, Joy Sprague has photographs, Jeri Spurling has bird-inspired floor cloths, and I will have some birdy beads on necklaces and earrings. This could be the year I start my Christmas shopping early!

Silver pieces out of the kiln and headed for the tumbler:

Bronze and copper pieces ready for the kiln. It’s such a different firing process from silver. Everything above went easily into one load. Whereas the pieces below required two loads. My fingers are crossed that the first batch wasn’t too crowded, and will have sintered properly.


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Bronze and copper cuffs

After the bread making, beach combing, and silicone mold making, we got out some bronze and copper clay. Below is a beautiful bronze cuff bracelet made by Angie Karst. We decided to try making more cuffs with copper and bronze.

I made my cuff from copper clay. We used Hadar’s powders, which I had used previously in the original form. The quick fire formula is much smoother and very nice to work with. Why have I been waiting so long to retry base metal clay?

Notice there’s a crack in the bracelet (near my thumb). This appeared as the bracelet was drying. I used bronze clay to patch it and to test how the bronze clay would react on top of the copper clay.


We had our fingers crossed that all three bracelets would sinter;  that they weren’t too crowded.

Post firing, everything seemed to have sintered successfully.

I can think of some new things to try next time. But for a first attempt, I’m happy that this cuff fired successfully and withstood the hammering I did to work harden it.



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