Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nameless virgins and hot box's!

I've had my lovely little, itsey, bitsey blue kiln for a few months now and besides being totally busy with other things, I have not found the 'braves' to fire it. I've been wishing desperately for someone who knows what the hell they are doing to help with its virgin firing!

As I write this I am very aware of the fact that my little blue baby doesn't have a name, OMG how could I have overlooked such an important step in bringing this little baby into the family! So, guys a name is needed. Will happily take any name suggestions under consideration.

After a week of subtle and not so subtle hints, my brother helped me, in his typical Aussie male, 'she'll be right', 'just give it a go' style, he poked the control panel, while half heartedly reading the instruction manual and whoola...she was firing!

The first fired pieces...just simple little test pieces that it seems have been fired successfully!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Smokin hot, smokey!

Thought I'd share this little blog post from our 'A thousand Midwest flowers' of this lovely silver clay piece I started 
making while hanging out with Kate Mckinnon!

After wrecking my brand spanking new electric bead reamer, I hand drilled this lovely smokey quartz bead to fit the wide shaft of my silver clay ring to finally complete this lovely flower ring that Kate showed us, what seems a life time ago now! I particularly love the contrast of the patina and non-patina pieces together!

Thanks Kate, I love it, it hasn't left my hand since I finished it!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Thousand Midwest Flowers: Kate Mckinnon and Silver Metal Clay. YAH!

For those of you who didn't know....A fellow clayer and all round awesome chick, 
Debbie Crothers and I had an amazing journey planned to America to up skill 
ourselves for an upcoming Community Development Project happening next year 
in the Midwest. I unfortunately had to come home after 4 days due my father getting critically ill but.....but... I did get to have 3 amazing days with the lovely Kate Mckinnon. Here is the post from our first day with Kate....and you can check out the blog to see the rest of our time with Kate and Debbie's Polymer clay adventures with some 'shit hot' American artists!

I'm sitting here trying to think of what to tell you about today...and seriously 
I'm struggling to find the words!
Meeting Kate was like meeting up with an old friend! Kate is an amazing,funny,intelligent and clear woman who lives very admirably within her own integrity! 
She has such an incredible understanding of the Silver Clay medium and within 
the first few hours I learnt of lot of really simple and effective techniques. Kate 
has such a great way of bringing everything back to basics and I'm finding things 
that previously seemed challenging are now logical and totally accessible. Thank 
you Kate!

Kate with some of her divine pieces!

We started the day by going over the basics and creating a basic 
palate of silver clay/fine silver components that we will use to 
create our pieces, such as bead caps and head pins. Alot of this 
info is in Kate's book, Structural Metal Clay which I would highly 

Click here to see the rest of the blog :A thousand midwest flowers

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

bent, buckeled and basicly f@*ked, woohoo, I cant believe my luck!

Can I be a princess, for one brief moment, Please??

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! I dont wanna play anymore...three days of work, placed carefully in the kiln with the expectations of all sorts of happiness when the kiln door is finally opened!

The song lyrics come marching into my head...'A waist of days and waist nights'...which I find myself signing with gusto to releave me from my own self imposed hell of disapointment and failure!

So as I ignoring the pile of bent and busted up silver and consoling myself with crumpets and lemon butter! seriously have you ever tried it..I am totally i love with this new discovery and the only thing I want to be making right now is a big old pot of lemon butter! Bring it on!

I found the post above, sitting in the draft section from some time ago and it has inspired me to now attempt to fix some of these busted arss pieces! So watch this space to see if we can celebrate a revival of some kind!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rings and Bling

Sifting through the half finished pieces from my workshops with Pam 
and I found this little ring base that just needed a polish and a stone here it is! 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Recycle & reconstitute!

What a very satisfying little exercise this was......!

left overs, buggered up bits, wanna be 's, got no chance of being jewellry, 
dry crsusty clay!

Cut up any big bits, then grind them up in a morter and pessel or a coffee grinder.

Pam sift the clay particals to ensure no big bits have snuck through without 
getting a good grinding.

Slowly add distilled water and mix...I had it explained to me as the same as making a white sauce, a little at a time...unless of course your like me who just goes the whole hog, pour a bucket load of milk in and hope that after some serious simmering it will all bind itself into a lovely lump-less sauce!

You want the clay to come away form the bowl in one lovely lump...if its too wet you will need to leave it for a bit to lose a bit of moisture.

oil up two sheets of plastic...(Pam uses a plastic A4 folder) and roll out the clay and then fold it back up on itself and do this several times to get a good consistancy.

Roll the clay up in some glad wrap and let sit for several hours or overnight before you use your newly reconsitutied clay!

I've been collecting my little jar of discarded clay and sanding's for months...and in the last few days contributed several ugly attempts at hollow beads...all of this ground up and reconsituted weighed a wopping 89 grams...and for those clayers out' know that is a wooping lot of clay...worth around $200. OMG!

Can I just say again how satisfying this exerscie almost like grinding up all those wasted hours and disapointing failures into somethings usable and valuable! Love it

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bend me, bake me anyway you wanna shape me!

So today Pam and I are using Bend and bake polymer clay to make our own texture 
mats. We foraged around in the garden to find some shapes and textures that could 
push into our clay to create the mats.

After rolling the polymer flat through the pasta machine, we push and rolled our 
textures in the clay, and then baked is as directed on the clay packet....and yeah
our own unique texture plates!

We also used tools we had handy to create basic texture mats.

..and obviously its called bake and bend for a reason, once baked its extra 
flexible, which means its awesome for texture plates and mould making!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lay your cards on the table!

Every thing you do in silver clay is measured in cards! Yes, you heard me playing cards. When rolling out clay you use playing cards stacked in even amounts on either side of the clay. You use the cards to ensure you roll the clay at an even thickness and it is also used to control the thickness of the clay.

So when you read clay project instructions will also refer to a card thickness...such as..roll a 5cm long strip 3 cards thick. 

...and with the expense of the clay its helpful to keep an eye on things.

I often find that while I'm thinking (staring out the window day dreaming) my hands automaticly start shuffling.....a sign of one too many friday nights in the neighbours shed playing Black Jack.

Although the cards are a very useful tool they are sometimes restrictive and frustrating...when you are rolling a piece of clay longer than the stretch of the card, you either have to stop mid roll and move the cards or you can try to butt two stacks of cards together and hope they stay together while you roll but generally you end up with a dip where the cards don't meet.....sends me batty!

So, now with all that hoo har background info let me intoduce you to my new 'non-stop rollin baby'!

The roller comes with these little groves in each end and a selection of different sized rubber rings, guessed it, are measured in card thickness. Red for two cards, Blue for 3 cards etc. You place the desired bands into the groves and then you roll the desired card height! 

Woohoo!  No rolling off the end of the card, no issues with rolling in the opposite direction...just roll away baby!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down!

My fab little houses! I love them! 

Thanks to Kate Mckinnon and her wonderful instruction!

 We used the PMC Pro (supposedly a stronger version of Silver Clay that contains 10% copper) for the bands and PMC3 for the we would have lovely strong ring bands...but alas I fear we did something wrong with the firing, as the bands have formed cracks and feel as though a bit of wear and tear would have them break :-(  

Should have listen to you Kate! Its PMC3 all round for me next time!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Awesomeness thats Green baby, Green!

Yes, its green! Art Clay & Precious Metal Clay (PMC) are recycled products which reclaim a variety of different metals. 

Art Clay is manufactured in Japan by Aida Chemical Industries. Aida Chemical Industries is a family owned company that recycles and reclaims metals, including the precious metals gold and silver. Aida Chemical Industries is a "green" company, it collects metals which already have been used and reclaims these metals. Such items as computer circuit boards and silver from photographic supplies are processed in tremendous quantities every year. A portion of this harvest becomes Art Clay Silver and Art Clay Gold. Aida combines these reclaimed metals with non-toxic, organic binders. The result is a product which can be handled safely. Every effort has been made to assure the safety of artists using Art Clay. Even the production processes used to create Art Clay are designed to have minimal effects on the environment. (yah, we love you Art Clay!)  

Precious Metal Clay, PMC, is produced by Mitsubishi Materials of Japan. Microscopic particles of silver are mixed with a moist binder to create a material that has the feel and working properties of modeling clay. Unlike Art Clay is seems PMC is not 100% reclaimed and/or recycled and I'm finding it hard to find info on the exact make up of reclaimed materials for PMC.

I'll keep researching and if any one out there has any hard facts, I'd love to hear them!
For more info, check out these link

Friday, September 2, 2011

Dreams aint all they are cracked up to be!

On my first night here this week with Pam I dreamt of this gerogoeos huge cage like pendant that filled the expanse of my was one of those dreams that stuck with me all day, not allowing the image to leave my mind until I had attempted to draw it ...but as always the 2D world lets me down....I've always been much better in 3D let me make it from clay, I 'll do that vison justice. 

Or so you think Rachel!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Busted A-holes (and dreams to boot!)

It seems this second stint of workshops with Pam has been full of patience testing lessons!

A combination of clay that was a little too thin and a bezels that were pushed in a 
little too far...saw these pieces that when placed in the kiln were filled with 
potential and promises of beauty, emerge from the kiln with busted bums and less 
than desirable undercarriages!

Apparently I can attempt to fix these by covering them with wet clay, letting it 
dry and then re-fire them....but that, I think, can wait for another time when 
I am a little less swamped with disappointment and can rekindle a bit more Enthusiasm.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Teflon coat me!

Check this little baby! A teflon work mat. 

So no need to worry about always oiling or over-oiling your work surface, 
this little sucker is non-stick!

But dont cut on me!

Its a bit hard to see in this pic but with in seconds i buggered my mat
by cutting on it! Good work McKenzie! Luckily the matt has two sides...imagine that!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Not all silver is created equal!

I recently got asked 'what is the difference between fine silver and sterling silver?'

Silver metal clay is Fine silver! 

Fine Silver is pure silver (0.999 or 99.9% pure). Sterling silver is 92.5% silver, to which other metals, primarily copper is added. These added metals make the sterling harder than fine silver. The added metals mean that sterling silver tarnishes faster than fine silver.

Sterling silver needs to be fired at a lower temp than fine silver otherwise the copper oxidises making the fired pieces fragile. So if you are adding sterling silver findings to your pieces you need to be sure to fire them at a lower temp. 

I will soon be looking into the kiln firing process for silver clay and sterling silver, so once I have half a clue I'll fill you all in.

As always if anyone has any handy tips or info re: firing silver clay...please feel free to share your comments! 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cut from the same mould - sexy texture plates!

Very happy with my sexy new texture plate!

This lovely mould/texture plate is awesome with its flexibility, curvy lines and promise of great creations to come...but as seductive as this is, its mass produced and unfortunalty I'm sure I'm not the only one in love with this sexy little baby! 

Monday, July 18, 2011

The ring that didn't fit (These big hands!)

I have big hands....seriously lets get real! I have really big hands. And now that I sitting here looking at them, I'm wondering how it is that they manage to do the really little fiddly things that I have them do...and dear hands I must say that you do them so well, mostly you execute that which my mind dreams up with relative ease! In fact I'll take this moment to thank and pay homage to my hands! Hard working appendages that so often get taken for granted.

Arrr yes, the ring that didn't fit! Not that this is such a big deal really, rings NEVER fit me...and even when I try to get them sized I'm often told that the little silver band just cant do it, it just wont stretch that far...sorry love! 

Well hoo har to that I say, let make some big arss rings that can adorn these hands! And so with much excitement I set about making was one of the first things I wanted Pam to teach me.

Teach how to make rings, rings, please lets do rings!

..and so the ring making begins...I do the measuring, then taking the shrinkage into account, I made it two sizes bigger, I used a correctly sized investment and still after all of this.....the little beauty doesn't fit...Waaaaaaaaaa!

You know that dog like creature from the dark crystal... called fizgig? when he cries,his mouth, in fact his whole head opens up to let out a wail...I'm doing that right now!


Friday, July 8, 2011

To invest or not to invest?

So the question is invest or not to invest?

Why is this even something to question, I hear you ask? Clearly the Investment has many benefits; your stone 'will' indeed fit into the house you have made for it, and the ring will 'mostly' fit the finger it is made for, so what is the problem?

The problem is that casting investment is made from a blend of gypsum and crystobilite.  The little research I have done into this product recommend wearing a suitable dust mask to avoid inhalation as well as stating that studies have shown that silica-bearing products can cause lung irritation and silicosis over time if breathed repeatedly without protection.

So even with protection, what are the risks? 

Yes girls we have all heard the stories about the protection that was not protection enough, some of us may even be living proof of this. lol! 

But seriously, I would love any info, feedback or comments about the safety of this type of casting investment.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Don't discard the doodle!

Yes, gals, I know that its tough out there and we have all at one stage or another vowed to pack it in, give up on the men and some have even gone as far to consider batting for the other team.....but I'm here to tell you don't discard the doodle so quickly!  ...get your minds out of the gutter, I am not here to talk about men's anatomy!

I'm talking about doodles, you know the ones we do unconsciously when we are gas bagging on the phone, in a boring meeting or if your like me whenever you have a pen in your hand. Often there is gold in these unconscious creative scribbles.

Today we are making photopolymer plates using our own drawings to ultimately make texture plates to use on the silver clay. Being put on the spot my brain hurts as I search through my internal archives for an image to with writing blocks, I find the best way to deal with creative blocks is to just put felt tip to paper and go for I did, and out came the doodles. The same little shapes that always come from me, my munted paisleys came out.

...check out the sequence from doodle to awesome patterned silver. Woohoo!

Some quality doodle!!

The doodles are reduced and printed onto a clear film like accetate 
and placed onto of the special light sensitive plate.

After making a test plate to get the timing right, the plate and 
design on the clear sheeting are placed in a little light machine
(the same machine used to set acrylic nails infact) exposed to 
the light, then the plate is washed with warm water and a soft 
bristle brush to wash out to parts of the plate that did not get 
exposed to the light. You will then see your design in 3D on 
the plate. Woohoo!

The final result, I've used the finished photopolmer plate 
and pushed into this piece to create the pattern.

Woohoo I am loving the potential of this process!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Creating an investment.

As with all metal clay, silver metal clay shrinks when its fired and the organic binder burns away, depending on the type and brand of clay the shrinkage varies from 8% - 30%. So obviously this is something that needs to be considered, especially when making rings or bezels (out of paper clay sheeting). One way to ensure the bezel or ring does not shrink beyond the size required is to create a replica stone out of a casting investment.  

  • Firstly you need to make a mould of the stone or for rings you can buy purpose made moulds for the size of ring you require.
  • As above this can be done by pushing the stones into polymer clay.
  • Remove the stone and then bake the polymer clay.

  • The powdered Investment is mixed with water to create a paste.
  • The paste is poured into the mould and allowed to dry.

  • Then the investment in removed from the mould and placed into the dried silver clay piece that is ready to be fired.
  • Once the piece is fired and cooled, the investment can be removed by dissolving it in water.
  • Now, in theory, the bezel or ring should be the required size.

The investment and ring after firing!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bezels # 2 - Creating an appropriate house for my beloved stones!

Another way to create a bezel to use with silver clay is to use Silver clay paper sheet.
Silver clay paper sheet comes in a thin sheet of clay, which is flexible and allows you to fold, form and weave with it. 

1. Measure the circumference of the stone/bead and measure and mark your paper clay to size
2. Cut the paper sheet using a sharp blade
3. You will need to cut two strips the same size
4. Now this is the tricky bit, you need to wet one of the strips on one side with a brush, then you need to line the sheets up and stick them together, so you have one strip the right length that is double thickness.
5. The piece then needs to be left to dry
6. Once fully dry the piece needs to be fired in either the kiln of by torch
7. Then once fired the paper sheet can be used as normal bezel wire, shaped, joined, fired then set into its final setting

Fix it, mend it, fudge it!
After firing my bezel, when I began to shape it around my stone the two pieces came apart. The pieces had not fused together properly, so using a clay slip I had to rejoin the section coming apart and then re-fire it.

How dam cute is this tiny peg??? I laughed so hard when Pam produced this to hold my pieces together! Yes, I know...small things amuse small minds! lol!