Friday, March 7, 2014

The Saga of My Copper Paperweight

Hadar's Friendly Copper Paperweight
For the last two weeks I've been experimenting with a copper paperweight that I started making in Hadar’s class.  My last post explained base metal clay and I showed you some of my successful jewelry projects.  (While this post might be a little technical for those of you not working in metal clay, it does illustrate my tenacity or perhaps just my stubbornness.)  And perhaps you will enjoy the pictures.

This paperweight actually started out as a possible pendant.  The basic hexagonal box was made with Hadar’s Friendly Copper clay.  I rolled the bottom layer 4 cards thick (that’s playing cards) and added the 6 sides after the bottom dried.  Since I was going to put on a top, I needed supports.  The supports were to be placed less than ½” apart.  I think I made mine a little too close but I did not take a picture of each step.  I wish I had.  The supports dried and I placed the top on my 2”+ box. 
The next step was to texture 1 card thick clay and put the texture on the box.  My original idea was to texture each side a little differently.  I used a terrific circle texture plate for the top of the piece. The top hexagonal was thicker than 1 card to press the design into the clay.  I dried everything and sanded and was ready to fire the piece in carbon. 

Hadar's Mold - Organic Mechanics with the detached top of the paperweight


I ran out of time in class and decided to finish the piece at home.  It also became clear that it would be a paperweight instead of a pendant!
Since it was a large piece and heavy, I was to fire it in my kiln for 2 hours after slowly getting the temperature of the kiln to 1800 degrees F.  (I ramped the kiln for 1000 degrees per hour). 
I was expecting a sintered all metal piece when I opened the kiln and that is NOT what I found. 

Fired piece showing where the clay did not sinter
The piece had not sintered and there were several places to repair.  Also the top circle had detached from the box.   I expect some cracks and know how to add clay and fire the piece again.  That often happens with base metal clay.  I decided to fire the detached top separately from the box.  That worked and the top will become another piece of jewelry. That is the piece shown above with the mold.

The next 3 times I fired the box I still had repairs to do. 


I don’t give up easily.  Finally I emailed Hadar Jacobson and Lyle Rayfield, explained the problem, sent pictures and waited for a reply.  We went through all the stages and Hadar thought perhaps oxidation was taking place and I should cover the entire piece again and fire it.  I did that and when I took it out of the kiln it looked like it had never been fired.  I sanded off the clay and changed the carbon to new and fired it a last time.  I must have fired this box 6 times.  And it still had one gaping hole in it. 


 I have no real idea why this did not work correctly and someday I will try another large heavy piece.  In the meantime, I allowed aleatoricism (my new word for this week) into my creation.   That’s the incorporation of chance into the process of creation.  I decided to see what I had in my stash that might come out of my copper box.  Fool’s Gold seemed so right!



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Friday, March 7, 2014

The Saga of My Copper Paperweight

Hadar's Friendly Copper Paperweight
For the last two weeks I've been experimenting with a copper paperweight that I started making in Hadar’s class.  My last post explained base metal clay and I showed you some of my successful jewelry projects.  (While this post might be a little technical for those of you not working in metal clay, it does illustrate my tenacity or perhaps just my stubbornness.)  And perhaps you will enjoy the pictures.

This paperweight actually started out as a possible pendant.  The basic hexagonal box was made with Hadar’s Friendly Copper clay.  I rolled the bottom layer 4 cards thick (that’s playing cards) and added the 6 sides after the bottom dried.  Since I was going to put on a top, I needed supports.  The supports were to be placed less than ½” apart.  I think I made mine a little too close but I did not take a picture of each step.  I wish I had.  The supports dried and I placed the top on my 2”+ box. 
The next step was to texture 1 card thick clay and put the texture on the box.  My original idea was to texture each side a little differently.  I used a terrific circle texture plate for the top of the piece. The top hexagonal was thicker than 1 card to press the design into the clay.  I dried everything and sanded and was ready to fire the piece in carbon. 

Hadar's Mold - Organic Mechanics with the detached top of the paperweight


I ran out of time in class and decided to finish the piece at home.  It also became clear that it would be a paperweight instead of a pendant!
Since it was a large piece and heavy, I was to fire it in my kiln for 2 hours after slowly getting the temperature of the kiln to 1800 degrees F.  (I ramped the kiln for 1000 degrees per hour). 
I was expecting a sintered all metal piece when I opened the kiln and that is NOT what I found. 

Fired piece showing where the clay did not sinter
The piece had not sintered and there were several places to repair.  Also the top circle had detached from the box.   I expect some cracks and know how to add clay and fire the piece again.  That often happens with base metal clay.  I decided to fire the detached top separately from the box.  That worked and the top will become another piece of jewelry. That is the piece shown above with the mold.

The next 3 times I fired the box I still had repairs to do. 


I don’t give up easily.  Finally I emailed Hadar Jacobson and Lyle Rayfield, explained the problem, sent pictures and waited for a reply.  We went through all the stages and Hadar thought perhaps oxidation was taking place and I should cover the entire piece again and fire it.  I did that and when I took it out of the kiln it looked like it had never been fired.  I sanded off the clay and changed the carbon to new and fired it a last time.  I must have fired this box 6 times.  And it still had one gaping hole in it. 


 I have no real idea why this did not work correctly and someday I will try another large heavy piece.  In the meantime, I allowed aleatoricism (my new word for this week) into my creation.   That’s the incorporation of chance into the process of creation.  I decided to see what I had in my stash that might come out of my copper box.  Fool’s Gold seemed so right!



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Post a Comment