After listening to all the chatter, then deliberating for a while, I finally bit the bullet and decided to take a metal clay workshop at BeadFX. What the heck have I been waiting for? I thoroughly enjoyed my Holiday Gifts workshop with Liz Reynolds, last Sunday, and I’m afraid that this just might lead to yet another addiction!!
According to Wikipedia: “Metal clay is a crafting medium consisting of very small particles of metal such as silver, gold, bronze, or copper, mixed with an organic binder and water for use in making jewelry, beads and small sculptures. Originating in Japan in 1990, metal clay can be shaped just like any soft clay, by hand or using molds. After drying, the clay can be fired in a variety of ways such as in a kiln, with a handheld gas torch, or on a gas stove, depending on the type of clay and the metal in it. The binder burns away, leaving the pure sintered metal. Shrinkage of between 8% and 30% occurs (depending on the product used). Alloys such as bronze, sterling silver, and steel also are available.”
We were given the choice of working with clays manufactured by either Hadar’s or Prometheus. Hadar’s is packaged in a powder form, and needs water added, but Prometheus is ready-to-use. I settled on Prometheus, and in my over-achiever fashion, purchased a 100-gram package of White Bronze, and a second of Sunny Bronze. It was obvious that I wasn’t going to be able to use all of this in one class, so I decided to reserve the Sunny Bronze for another day, and then tore right into the White Bronze package instead! It was lovely and soft, and to my surprise, not that much different than some of the other clays that I’ve worked with in the past. At the beginning stages, all clays seem fairly equal, but you do need to consider that different metal clays, might have quirks, and require special handling (like my White Bronze, for example). No problem for us chickens though, as our instructor handles all the kiln firing!
I wish that I had a photo of the pieces I sent off for firing, but although I brought my trusty Canon along, I forgot to take photos, before the pieces were all wrapped up, and ready for their journey into the fire! I did take photos of our messy worktable though! I also took some of the students and instructor, but I’m not sure that they’d thank me, for posting them on the blog. LOL! Here’s a couple of before and after photos, that I grabbed from Google images, to give you a visual reference. The first is how the pieces looked, after drying them on a warm griddle (that will obviously never be used for pancakes again!). The second, after firing and finishing (different pieces).
Out of my 100-gram package, I ended up making three pairs of earrings (including one fairly large pair), and three pendants (with enough clay left for a couple more pieces). Fingers crossed that they’ll all make it out of the kiln in one piece! I was a good girl, and tried to follow the program! Okay, my last two pendants were a little more free-form, but what did you expect (okay, one of the geese should have been swimming backwards, but they just weren’t co-operating)?
Learning new things is so much fun! We rolled, we textured, we cut, and eventually sanded! Now we wait!!! I promise to show you my pieces next week. There’s something for everyone at BeadFX, including a very nice variety of metal clay classes and instructors, to help enable our addictions! Also, did you know that they also provide a metal clay firing service?