Friday, October 16, 2015

'Petals' Experiment in Silver ClayTechniques


'Petals"  finished pendant

Experimenting with different metal clays involves risk, creativity and knowledge.  The risk is about the price of silver and not wanting to waste it.  The creativity is about an idea and the knowledge comes from experience.  

In this project, I wanted to used fine silver bezel wire to hold a unique cabochon and I wanted to use FYI clay.  I knew from experience how to cut tabs in the bezel wire so that some tabs go into the clay and some are perpendicular and lay flat on the clay.  When the clay fires the wire and silver clay setting become one.  What I did not know was what the higher shrinkage rate of the FYI clay backing would do with the bezel wire.  Would it all come apart (I've had that happen) or would it shrink with so much curvature that the stone would not fit? Typically I use the  Art Clay brand of silver clay that does not have so much shrinkage.  This time I wanted to use the FYI clay because it is much less expensive and new to me.  I decided take the risk.

First I measured the bezel wire to fit the large stone; then tabbed the wire and used PMC oil paste the connect the two ends of the wire and fired it in the kiln.  I placed the bezel in a sheet of clay, cut the shape I wanted and painted clay petals similar to the ones in the stone.  Since the stone was large and a bit heavy, I made the surround of clay smaller to compensate for weight.  I also cut a shape out of the back to lighten the weight, cut down on the amount of silver clay and show the back of the stone. Lisa Barth taught this technique in a class I took and has written a great book  about it Designing From the Stone.

Fiber Paper cut to fit in the bezel  with an investment, Satin Cast 20,  to keep the bezel from shrinking became the place holder for the stone.

Investment to hold the space for the stone
 I fired the piece at 1635 degrees F for 90 minutes and was pleased that the bezel stayed intact, the setting did not curve too much, and the stone would fit.  But... there were a few places that the bezel tabs could be seen on the back and a few places that needed to be filled where the bezel and setting met. I added silver clay and some paste, let it dry and put it back in the kiln.  After the 2nd firing all but one tiny place showed on the back and I decided to leave it!  Everything else was fine.

After firing I removed the investment and polished.  
After the 2nd firing you can see the place on the right that could be repaired.  I decided to leave it.



After polishing, using a patina, and adding the stone.  Pretty pleased with it.

Next time I'd recommend a smaller stone and anticipating some repair and yes I was happy with the new FYI Silver Clay!

Friday, October 16, 2015

'Petals' Experiment in Silver ClayTechniques


'Petals"  finished pendant

Experimenting with different metal clays involves risk, creativity and knowledge.  The risk is about the price of silver and not wanting to waste it.  The creativity is about an idea and the knowledge comes from experience.  

In this project, I wanted to used fine silver bezel wire to hold a unique cabochon and I wanted to use FYI clay.  I knew from experience how to cut tabs in the bezel wire so that some tabs go into the clay and some are perpendicular and lay flat on the clay.  When the clay fires the wire and silver clay setting become one.  What I did not know was what the higher shrinkage rate of the FYI clay backing would do with the bezel wire.  Would it all come apart (I've had that happen) or would it shrink with so much curvature that the stone would not fit? Typically I use the  Art Clay brand of silver clay that does not have so much shrinkage.  This time I wanted to use the FYI clay because it is much less expensive and new to me.  I decided take the risk.

First I measured the bezel wire to fit the large stone; then tabbed the wire and used PMC oil paste the connect the two ends of the wire and fired it in the kiln.  I placed the bezel in a sheet of clay, cut the shape I wanted and painted clay petals similar to the ones in the stone.  Since the stone was large and a bit heavy, I made the surround of clay smaller to compensate for weight.  I also cut a shape out of the back to lighten the weight, cut down on the amount of silver clay and show the back of the stone. Lisa Barth taught this technique in a class I took and has written a great book  about it Designing From the Stone.

Fiber Paper cut to fit in the bezel  with an investment, Satin Cast 20,  to keep the bezel from shrinking became the place holder for the stone.

Investment to hold the space for the stone
 I fired the piece at 1635 degrees F for 90 minutes and was pleased that the bezel stayed intact, the setting did not curve too much, and the stone would fit.  But... there were a few places that the bezel tabs could be seen on the back and a few places that needed to be filled where the bezel and setting met. I added silver clay and some paste, let it dry and put it back in the kiln.  After the 2nd firing all but one tiny place showed on the back and I decided to leave it!  Everything else was fine.

After firing I removed the investment and polished.  
After the 2nd firing you can see the place on the right that could be repaired.  I decided to leave it.



After polishing, using a patina, and adding the stone.  Pretty pleased with it.

Next time I'd recommend a smaller stone and anticipating some repair and yes I was happy with the new FYI Silver Clay!