Tag Archives: PMC

Home from Haystack

Last week at this time I was busy in the metals studio at Haystack learning a bunch of cool new things from Chris Darway,  like how to use an oxygen reduction flame to fuse 22 karat metal clay slip (PMC Aura 22) onto copper, and how to mix up “super pickle” to etch that copper piece to make the gold stand out even more. The demo of making bezel settings on stones by dipping them in PMC 3 slip, was genius! So is the whole idea of using Elmer’s Glue and flattened toothpicks to provide a handle to work with dried PMC pieces before firing in the kiln. There are so many ideas and images going through my head that I don’t know where to start.



I’ve not been back in my studio yet and I have to be okay with that. I am an introvert who has  just spent a whole week among people with almost no time alone to recharge. Ideally, I need at least an hour alone  to balance an hour of stimulation from being with people. Simply put, extroverts gain energy from interacting with others and introverts lose energy. It doesn’t mean we don’t want to be around people or go out in the world, it just means we have to find ways to reboot the system after we’ve been there, even among friends.

At Haystack it is ALL FRIENDS and ALL CREATIVITY all the time! It was a blast and I am so glad I spent the week there. My introvert/people energy may still need to be recharged, but my creative energy is brimming, spilling over into my quiet time in the form of sketches, poetry, and remembered images. When I make my way to my studio it will be with a smile on my face and a feeling of coming home to an adventure.

I’ll be posting an album of Haystack photos on my FaceBook page. If you want to see all of them just send me a friend request (if we’re not FB friends already). If you’re not into FB, that’s okay too. I’m going to post some of my favorites right here.

Our cabin: IMGP6711 IMGP6699

The metals studio awaits:IMGP6832


Demo of PMC slip bezels and Chuck’s version of the slip bezel setting:

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Copper clay is still not my favorite medium, but it was at least humorous…IMGP6725 IMGP6731

Random class photos:

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And one of my favorite additions to this time at Haystack: Holly Kellogg and I went for a 20 minute swim every single day we were there, at this sweet little beach. (It only looks warm. The water was still about 63º just like home.)

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Good bye until next time Haystack! IMGP6835 IMGP6720

It’s time to plant myself back in my own studio, and grow.


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960 sterling metal clay

(Yes, I’m still hopping to read all of the bead soup blogs. I have about 50 to go. If you’re still hopping too and are looking for my post about bead soup, click here.)



Way back in February, Celie Fago introduced a new  alloy of sterling PMC.  (Click link to read her blog post about it.) One reason I had never jumped on the PMC sterling bandwagon is that I really don’t like the mess of firing in carbon. (Sterling silver, by definition, is an alloy of  92.5% fine silver and 7.5% copper or germanium in the case of Argentium™ sterling silver.) PMC sterling has just enough copper in it to require the carbon firing that one must use with other base metal clays like copper and bronze. I use carbon firing for those because I have to, not because I like it. When it comes to precious metal clay, my favorite version is PMC+, which is 99% fine silver. It can be fired on an open shelf, which means I can fire many more pieces at one time.  The only drawback to fine silver is that it is soft. It can be work hardened, but it still won’t have the strength of sterling silver. For some components  I make, it would be great to have the strength of sterling with the ease of firing without carbon.

When Tim McCreight wondered what would happen if PMC sterling were enriched with more fine silver, Celie decided to give it a try. The result was an enriched sterling clay that could be fired on an open shelf. Look Ma, no charcoal! Thank you Celie! The new sterling clay is creating quite a buzz in the metal clay community and I knew I wanted to give it a try too.
I started by making some simple toggle clasps using rolled “snakes” of clay, some washer shapes to use in multi-strand necklaces, some cone ends, and a bangle. I also wondered about firing synthetic stones in place. (The suggested temperature for using these in fine silver clay is lower than the 1500º needed to fire the enriched sterling clay.) And, I made a few of my usual “rock” beads to see if I noticed any difference in them with the 960 sterling clay. Results after firing:
The stones I tried withstood the temperature, and everything else seemed to have fired well. A few of the pieces have added details made from PMC sheet. There was no problem using that on top of the 960 clay.
I did run into a little trouble with cracking on the bangle and with the seam on one of my “rock” beads.
I have never made a bangle with fine silver clay, so I’m not sure if this was a design flaw on my part. I wanted to test the strength of the 960 clay by making this type of bracelet.  I may have over supported it by dropping it into a pile of investment rather than putting it flat on a tile to fire it. (I use investment to support my pieces in the kiln rather than vermiculite.) I think the investment prevented some of the shrinkage as the piece fired, causing cracks and stress spots.
The bead is a different story, and something I learned while trying the 960. When I put two pieces of unfired PMC together, I do not use slip. I use water on each edge and squidge them together. This technique has worked well for me. However, the 960 does not seem quite as able to make enough of its own slip on the surface to work like this when putting two pieces together. I would definitely try using slip instead of water, next time, or I would go over the seams with another smudge of clay and then sand it down when dry. Below, one of the rings for the toggle that did not bond like I had hoped when using water along the seam.
Another indication that the bangle was affected by the investment is that it is slightly wider at the bottom.
I figured I had nothing to lose by trying to reshape  this on a mandrel. The bracelet seemed to take the hammering okay. It had the sound of a work-hardened piece of silver. But, when I tried to squeeze it a little bit, to see just how hard it was, it cracked and broke. It became a good test piece at that point, and this is how many stress points there were:
I will have to try this again, firing flat on a tile, to see if it happens again.  I really don’t think it’s the fault of the clay. The pieces were all sintered, and I could not snap the smaller pieces. Even the seam of the bracelet did not break, though it was starting to crack.
I hammered the heck out of this one piece just to see what it would do to the look of the PMC sheet triangles on the surface. I kind of like the effect.
PMC+ (on the left) and 960 PMC (on the right) look a little different when they come out of the kiln. Actually, these pieces have also been in the tumbler and you can still see the difference.
But, after applying liver of sulphur, tumbling and then buffing, I see no difference in their appearance.
All in all it felt like a good first experiment with 960. There are a lot of other things I would like to try with it, including carving before firing. Right now I’m giving the unused portion of the 960 a test to see how it well it stores in a plastic container while I am busy using the components I made in pieces I’m finishing up for galleries this summer. Stay tuned!


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Work in progress

Necklace sections, soon to be assembled.

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Islesford beach rocks, English sea glass (Seaham Beach), handmade fine silver beads, 3mm sterling silver round beads, polymer clay, lampworked glass beads…



Holly, I couldn’t reply to your comment with a photo, so I’ll edit the post. I’ll use these groupings to make some necklaces similar to this one:IMGP7976


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8 new pieces listed on Etsy today

including these:

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More tomorrow.


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Job done, time for bed

So, I had a great visit with Mom today after running around Ellsworth doing errands. After dinner I added 6 pairs of earrings to my Etsy Shop. That’s a lot for me since I usually just crash and relax after a day off island.

Here are the earrings I put in the shop tonight. Some are old standbys and some are newer designs.













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Bound for Dorchester in (less than) one week!

I’ve been invited to participate in a holiday trunk show next Monday in Dorchester, Massachusetts.  A friend (Susan Fenton) of a college friend of mine (Noreen Reilly) said she would be happy to have people get a chance to see (and buy) my jewelry, along with an eclectic offering of items from 18 other people and businesses.


Holiday Trunk Party


7:00PM – 9:00PM






ARBONNE – Michelle Lenaghan


BARBARA S. FERNALD JEWELRY – Barbara Fernald      (You are here)

CIGAR FACTORY – Marcia Weaver      

THE GOLD MAN – Tom will buy your unwanted Gold 

FROM THE HEART – Chris Nardone     

HOIST AWAY BAGS – Laura Cleminson    (Yay! Another Mainer!)



MaRKet – Jennifer Allen


MICHELLE’S TREATS – Michelle Foley

STELLA & DOT – Gina Wahlberg

STITCH HOUSE – Annissa George

THIRTY-ONE GIFTS – Nina Rayfield Tate

TOP IT OFF – Elizabeth Hoenscheid


I’ve added links to the web sites I could find to give you an idea of the great group of people I am going to meet. Just click on any of the underlined names.

After some successful sales at the craft fair on Friday and Saturday, I need to head to the studio today to work on some new pieces to boost my inventory.

To my friends in the Boston area I pose a question: Doesn’t this venue sound like a great way to shop? Even if your shopping is finished, you could stop by and say hi and enjoy a glass of wine. (You can even have my glass!)

Fine silver hollow "rocks."

Fine silver saucer bead earrings.

Pod Necklace. Fine silver, glass, freshwater pearls.

Patinated copper with silver.

Sea glass, fine silver, sterling silver chain.

Patina-ted brass, sterling silver.

Sterling silver.

Fine silver, sterling silver posts.

Oh baby! It’s going to be a good time!


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Pretty light inside too

Not only is November light beautiful at the beach in the afternoon, it looks pretty good inside my studio, too. Just look at the shadows cast by tiny beads on my bench, calling me to sit down, be creative, and enjoy.

And that’s just what I’ve been doing. Enjoying my work. Making that final push before the holidays and feeling more energized by the deadlines than frazzled. I don’t know if I will still feel this way after Thanksgiving, but for now, I’ll take it.

My focus has been on beach rock and sea glass necklaces. Today I sent 8 of them to the Center for Maine Craft in Gardiner, Maine. Just in time too as they have a big promotion going on in the gallery for “Black Friday “and “Small Business Saturday.”

Events: Mark your Calendar!


Black Friday: November 23rd 9am-8pm
After a long, early morning of shopping come by the Center and “Grab a Hug & get a discount”!  The Center staff will have a bowl of Hershey Hugs marked with discounts – 5%, 10%, 15%, or 20%.  Grab a Hug and get a discount off your whole purchase. *

*Can not be combined with any other discounts or sales.
Small Business Saturday: November 24th

Small Biz Sat

Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses nationwide. Last year,

over one hundred million people came together to Shop Small® in
their communities on Small Business Saturday®.

Come support the Center for Maine Craft and its over 300 current artists with work on display.  Put your name in a RAFFLE for a Center Gift Certificate!  Also, don’t forget a purchase receipt gives you a discount coupon for local businesses in downtown Gardiner!  A double benefit for going small and going local!

If you are traveling up or down interstate 95 or 295 in Maine after Thanksgiving, this stop is right on your way. It’s the only place I know of where you can get gas for your car, pee, get something to eat, and shop for some great craft work made by my fellow Maine artisans. Sounds like a wacky combination, but it’s really a great idea, and it’s a beautiful gallery.

I photographed the work I sent, but after it was in the mail and I checked my photos, I questioned the backgrounds I used in my haste to get to the Post Office before the mail went out at 11 a.m.


This combination of sea glass and beach rocks also includes some of Sue Kennedy‘s beads. I really love the way her etched beads compliment the rough sea glass. (If you want any of Sue’s shiny beads etched, you can just ask her and she’ll be happy to do it for you.) Can you spot them below? There’s a sweet disc with frit (bumps of glass) along the edge on the right side of the photo. (It’s right next to a cream and caramel colored bead that I actually made myself in a class 2 years ago. Yes, I wish I had the time and set up to delve into glass bead making, but it’s not to be right now. Good thing Sue makes such beautiful beads!) The white egg shaped bead with the dots is also one of Sue’s.


I hang on to most of the wacky beads I’ve made myself because I never know when they might come in handy. Like this experiment with translucent polymer clay covering a copper bead. (It’s the center bead.)


I like to use this necklace design with the smaller pebbles and handmade fine silver beads:


That is sterling silver-plated Beadalon cable between the pebbles.



Oy! Time to leave this nasty background color behind. What was I thinking??  Here’s a longer (37″) necklace combining the beach stones, some sterling chain, freshwater pearls, and some flat disc fine silver beads I made.


A more symmetrical piece with beach rocks and fine silver:


My favorite thing to do is to combine the fine silver beads I’ve made, with the beach rocks I drill and the handmade beads of others. Below, two ceramic beads made by Keith O’Connor really work with the granite pebble and the lines in the silver beads: (I buy Keith’s beads at Beadin’ Path in Freeport.)


More examples of sea glass, silver, and Sue beads:


When I have all my beads spread out in a mess on my workbench, I sometimes see combinations that would not have occurred to me. Here are fine silver PMC beads with a copper clay bead that I have patina-ted.



I’m ready to go back to work in the studio after a walk with my sweetie. I have a show on the last day of November and the first of December in Bar Harbor, and another show on December 10 in Boston.  I still hope to get my Etsy shop up and running again…But more about those later. Time to capture the last of the afternoon light.


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A few of the pieces I dropped off…

…yesterday at Winters Work.



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Necklaces for West Gardiner

Where can you pull off an interstate highway, get gas for your car, get something to eat, make a comfort stop, AND shop in an amazing gallery of fine crafts?

The service plaza in West Gardiner, Maine of course. It’s where I 295, I 95, and the Maine Turnpike converge. You can be going south or going north and it’s still easily accessible from the highway. Just inside the building, among the usual suspects in the food court, is the Center for Maine Craft featuring juried work from many members of the Maine Crafts Association.

I’ve had some of my jewelry there since the beginning of May and I’m happy to say they need more necklaces. These are from the batch I mailed out today:

All 7 of the flame worked beads below are by Susan Kennedy of SueBeads.

I wondered when I would get around to using these translucent polymer clay discs that I made while fooling around in April with my friend Holly. They just seemed to fit right in with the recycled Indonesian glass and the English sea glass. Old, new, and renewed; linked together by their matte finishes.


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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:


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