Friday, February 21, 2014

Learning from a Master!

In the Tucson Mountains
For months,I've been looking forward to Hadar Jacobson’s class on mokume gane using base metal clay.   I also knew this was an opportunity to learn more about her new clay. (http://hadarjacobson.com/)  Lyle Rayfield (www.lylerayfield.com) hosted the class in the Tucson Mountains.  What a beautiful setting for an intense 3 day class!  Taking a class with a master teacher like Hadar adds so many dimensions to the process.  I have all her books and now that I know some techniques first hand, it will be so much easier to follow the text.  Meeting other people interested in the same things helps make the class more fun and creative.  I have new friends I can email and share information.


I love the texture and ease of the base metal clay which makes constructing something a joy.  It’s that carbon and firing that makes me crazy.  So I’m going to focus on using Hadar’s clay for the next few months and improve my metal clay skills as well as make friends with the firing.  Stay tuned!

While explaining the process of making metal clay jewelry to a friend, I thought it might be good to share the explanation here on my blog.  Not everyone who reads this post knows the process. This is a very simplified overview.

Hadar has many kinds of base metal clay and they all come in powder form.
Adding water to the powdered clay makes it the correct consistency for forming shapes.  The clay in powder form extends its life for years!  I can mix up just what I need or make more to use later.

There are cutters and textures and forms to use.  It is always a good idea to have a picture or plan in your head before you start so the clay does not dry out.
This bead is ready to fire in the kiln
Once the piece is dried and sanded, it is ready for the kiln.  The new clays take one firing for 2 hours to become metal.  This is much easier that the ones that take 2 firings.  The binder in the clay is burned out and the metal micro filaments fuse together to become bronze, copper or steel depending on the original powder.

Beads ready for another layer of carbon and into the kiln!

Fired bead before polishing.

These two pieces have been cleaned and are ready to polish.

Polished and ready to string - copper, bronze and steel
There are many other steps and techniques used throughout the process that take practice and experimentation.  But maybe these highlights make the magic of going from powder to metal a little more understandable.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Puffed Hearts

Finished Dish of Hearts
Valentine’s Day!  Hearts, chocolates, wine, romance, silly sayings and sending love to friends! One of my favorite holidays! I’ve been thinking of making a valentine that would be fun and a little different.… something small that would remind my friends of me and let them know how much I care.  And this is what I came up with…..puffed hearts!

I've wanted to make air-filled beads for a while.  A tutorial by Page McNall  http://www.flickr.com/photos/15361297@N00/6869585142/ was clear and very helpful.  See her photos on flickr.

My Old Quilt Canes
Out came my heart cutters, my red and white quilt canes and polymer in red, white and translucent and started the conditioning.  The red was rolled to #3 and the quilt canes were cut and arranged on the red sheet.  I made spiral canes of translucent and white glitter.  The glitter made the canes very difficult to cut thin slices.  Dulls the blade rapidly!  Next time I don’t think I would use the glitter.  I also made spiral canes of translucent and pearl.  As you can see in the photos, I placed the translucent spirals over the quilt patterns and smoothed the layers. 

Cane Slices over Red Polymer
Rolled Translucent Spirals over the Quilt Canes
Following the tutorial on air-filled beads I used the larger heart shape to drape the sheet of clay into and covered with a red sheet for backing.  I had no trouble cutting the two pieces and sealing the air between.  Be sure to check for cracks in the clay and repair before you put on the back layer.
  
Back side of canes draped in the heart mold.

Heart Flipped Over Shows the Air Trapped Inside
Puffed Heart  - you can leave it like this or...
You can take a smaller heart, position it and press.
     Cutting the tiny heart was fun as the air moved inside the heart!  This was such fun!

Finished Hearts

The left over clay turned into large beads with translucent spirals.  This was a great way to use old canes and make them look different. 

  


 I can’t wait to say Happy Valentine’s Day and hand my friends a handmade heart.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Learning from a Master!

In the Tucson Mountains
For months,I've been looking forward to Hadar Jacobson’s class on mokume gane using base metal clay.   I also knew this was an opportunity to learn more about her new clay. (http://hadarjacobson.com/)  Lyle Rayfield (www.lylerayfield.com) hosted the class in the Tucson Mountains.  What a beautiful setting for an intense 3 day class!  Taking a class with a master teacher like Hadar adds so many dimensions to the process.  I have all her books and now that I know some techniques first hand, it will be so much easier to follow the text.  Meeting other people interested in the same things helps make the class more fun and creative.  I have new friends I can email and share information.


I love the texture and ease of the base metal clay which makes constructing something a joy.  It’s that carbon and firing that makes me crazy.  So I’m going to focus on using Hadar’s clay for the next few months and improve my metal clay skills as well as make friends with the firing.  Stay tuned!

While explaining the process of making metal clay jewelry to a friend, I thought it might be good to share the explanation here on my blog.  Not everyone who reads this post knows the process. This is a very simplified overview.

Hadar has many kinds of base metal clay and they all come in powder form.
Adding water to the powdered clay makes it the correct consistency for forming shapes.  The clay in powder form extends its life for years!  I can mix up just what I need or make more to use later.

There are cutters and textures and forms to use.  It is always a good idea to have a picture or plan in your head before you start so the clay does not dry out.
This bead is ready to fire in the kiln
Once the piece is dried and sanded, it is ready for the kiln.  The new clays take one firing for 2 hours to become metal.  This is much easier that the ones that take 2 firings.  The binder in the clay is burned out and the metal micro filaments fuse together to become bronze, copper or steel depending on the original powder.

Beads ready for another layer of carbon and into the kiln!

Fired bead before polishing.

These two pieces have been cleaned and are ready to polish.

Polished and ready to string - copper, bronze and steel
There are many other steps and techniques used throughout the process that take practice and experimentation.  But maybe these highlights make the magic of going from powder to metal a little more understandable.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Puffed Hearts

Finished Dish of Hearts
Valentine’s Day!  Hearts, chocolates, wine, romance, silly sayings and sending love to friends! One of my favorite holidays! I’ve been thinking of making a valentine that would be fun and a little different.… something small that would remind my friends of me and let them know how much I care.  And this is what I came up with…..puffed hearts!

I've wanted to make air-filled beads for a while.  A tutorial by Page McNall  http://www.flickr.com/photos/15361297@N00/6869585142/ was clear and very helpful.  See her photos on flickr.

My Old Quilt Canes
Out came my heart cutters, my red and white quilt canes and polymer in red, white and translucent and started the conditioning.  The red was rolled to #3 and the quilt canes were cut and arranged on the red sheet.  I made spiral canes of translucent and white glitter.  The glitter made the canes very difficult to cut thin slices.  Dulls the blade rapidly!  Next time I don’t think I would use the glitter.  I also made spiral canes of translucent and pearl.  As you can see in the photos, I placed the translucent spirals over the quilt patterns and smoothed the layers. 

Cane Slices over Red Polymer
Rolled Translucent Spirals over the Quilt Canes
Following the tutorial on air-filled beads I used the larger heart shape to drape the sheet of clay into and covered with a red sheet for backing.  I had no trouble cutting the two pieces and sealing the air between.  Be sure to check for cracks in the clay and repair before you put on the back layer.
  
Back side of canes draped in the heart mold.

Heart Flipped Over Shows the Air Trapped Inside
Puffed Heart  - you can leave it like this or...
You can take a smaller heart, position it and press.
     Cutting the tiny heart was fun as the air moved inside the heart!  This was such fun!

Finished Hearts

The left over clay turned into large beads with translucent spirals.  This was a great way to use old canes and make them look different. 

  


 I can’t wait to say Happy Valentine’s Day and hand my friends a handmade heart.