Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My inspiration? Creative process? Challenges? Ambitions?

August Featured Artist Lynn Cobb

Welcome to Metal Clay Heads Team Blog Feature and Giveaway! This time we have well-known and talented metal clay artist Lynn Cobb talking about her inspirations, her creative process, her challenges and ambitions on metal clay art. 

My  challenge, overwhelming at times,  is to remain fresh and creative. I feel best about my work when it feels really authentic to me. Something that has welled up from within my psyche.

A question that artists often consider, "Is this original?" raises so many others. Most of us probably agree that since women started painting the walls of the caves at Lascaux over 17,000 years ago (yes, recently, archeologists have determined that the hands pressed on the walls were female) that there have been millions of men and women artists who may have designed just about anything and everything the human mind can imagine. And, so, by calling a piece of art an original design, an artist may be saying that the piece is their own interpretation of a style or representation that most probably has been interpreted by many others over the millennia.

Silver flower statement ring with gold accent by Lynn Cobb

My flower necklaces and rings are a good example of this. They are certainly not the first flowers created in metal and worn to adorn the body. And, yet for me, they felt very authentic in that they were a culmination of my use of simple leaves as design elements, my admiration of Georgia O'Keeffe and Judy Chicago as strong women artists and my own feminist sensibility.

Those flowers came together after I had accumulated a dozen or so leaves using metal clay paste. Just playing with them, unfired, I realized that I could make them into flowers. Oh, that all designing could be so organic!  Frequently, I find myself with an idea, and having a pen and paper at hand, I will often either just make a note or a very rough sketch so that I remember. At the bench, later, I may begin to build on that idea.

Taking an idea  into a solid piece of jewelry leads me to think about how to execute it. This inevitably brings me to the work of others, and how I want to emulate the skills that I admire in others' work.
  • I see the production work of very successful metal clay artists and business women and men, and I admire their ability to see their creations as a job, a way to make a good living working with their hands and to be able to make more creative pieces during "off time."
  • I see the work of others who make exquisite classic designs, fine jewelry, by anyone's standards. I admire their perfection in fabrication and stone setting.
  • I see the work of still others, driven by culture, and other iconic symbols, to develop complex pieces from their own drawings, but that bring together those deep psychic connections that many find relevant.

These are just a few of the skills that I want to bring to my work, in equal parts:  Marketability, Perfection, Meaningfulness. And, add these:  beautiful, unusual, cost-effective, humorous, personal, prolific, dynamic...and a hundred other adjectives that I would like to apply to my work.  Such a mountain I have placed in front of myself!

Tribal shield silver necklace with purple and yellow enamel by Lynn Cobb

All of this brings me to today. STUCK! I am still jotting down ideas and sketches, but being drawn to the bench to execute those ideas is currently alluding me. I hope to pull all of this together, make an exciting piece, enter it in Saul Bell, or send it off for publication, but not sure of when, what, or how that inspiration will return.

I do enjoy using natural elements, leaves, shells, plants...molding them, sometimes adding stones, gold or enamel. These are not pieces that I consider particularly creative, but, they can be pretty, and others do seem to like them. And, I use abstract textures from my own polymer carvings to mold the clay. The immediacy of metal clay makes these kinds of pieces fairly easy to make and they aren't too costly.

One of the best things about metal clay is its universally accessible process. Although I love the silver the most, and it is expensive, it requires few tools to get started, keeping it available for many to try. It drew me in, and, like many, I didn't have a ton of money to invest in major equipment in order to begin. I was able to add tools, a kiln, more tools, oh, and more tools, and some more, over the years and I believe many of us who love metal clay have found this to be one of its greatest equalizers...we are able to make beautiful metal jewelry, sometimes from the very first day.

Tree of life pendant by Lynn Cobb

Which, brings me to my giveaway piece. This is a simple pendant, and, it is a copy of  the very first piece that I ever made! (It is a little thicker...that first one was not very evenly rolled. And, the patina is more interesting, took awhile to learn that variations in temperature and additions of salt and ammonia could ramp up the colors.)  The design is my own, a carving that I made in polymer clay and have executed in polymer both with texture and using mica shift, and in silver.  While trying to figure out a tag to use on etsy, I came up with "tree of life" which seems to fit it, although, this one is more wintery, having lost its leaves. And, it has a bit of feminine symbology as well. Over the years, it has been one of my most popular designs. I hope you like it.

So here are the rules to enter the MCHs blog giveaway:

Every person is eligible to enter the blog giveaway with up to FOUR (4) entries. How can you get an entry? You can do any of the following and then let us know that by leaving a comment here so we can keep track.


  1. Follow our blog = 1 entry
  2. Check out featured artist and post favorite piece on the blog = 1 entry
  3. Heart featured artist’s shop = 1 entry
  4. Follow featured artist on Facebook = 1 entry
  5. Make a purchase = 2 entries
  6. Refer a friend = 1 entry
  7. Tweet about the giveaway using key word metalclayheads = 1 entry
  8. Share the Metal Clay Heads blog giveaway link on FB (Go to http://www.facebook.com/MetalClayHeadTeam and click Share) = 1 entry
  9. If you voted and commented on our last challenge = 1 entry

The giveaway will run for two weeks. We will announce the winner on August 28th. Good luck!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Artist Carrie Michael Feature + Blog Giveaway Result is here!

And the winner is ...

Barbara!!!!!

Congrats to Barbara! She won the Copper English style ocarina pendant with an included purple sapphire beautifully handmade by Carrie Michael.


Big thanks to Carrie who devoted her precious time for the interview and giveaway. Thank you for your support and time to read the blog feature and to enter the giveaway. Please stay tuned on our next blog feature!

Monday, June 16, 2014

It Feels Like Magic Every Time! June Featured Artist Carrie Michael

Our featured artist of June is Carrie Michael from Kalamazoo, MI. Carrie has extensive creative experience with polymer clay and has perfecting her skills on metal clay since 2012. Her work is whimsical and dreamy! Carrie is giving away a copper metal clay english style ocarina pendant to a lucky reader. Read on to learn how to enter the giveaway and win a piece of her amazing art!

Why did you pick your shop name Carrie Michael?
I picked my own name so that it was easy to find me!

When did you first become interested in Metal Clay? How long have you been designing jewelry using Metal Clay?
Metal Clay called to me the first time I heard of it, but I didn’t have the available funds to work with it at the time. I sold polymer clay jewelry until I built up enough profit to buy my own kiln and fine silver supplies. Metal Clay has been a part of my life since June of 2012, and I am amazed every time a piece of “clay” goes into the kiln and comes out solid metal, it feels like magic every time, I adore it!




Fairy fine silver ear cuff holding amethyst cubic zirconia DTPD by Carrie Michael

Would you tell us your creative process?
For my detailed pieces I normally start by making a digital drawing. Once I am happy with it, I scale the drawing down to size, print it, and trace the drawing onto dry metal clay. After carving, detailing and engraving, I finish the piece in the kiln. Burnish, tumble, polish, and then make a mold so that more of the same design can be completed faster to keep prices affordable! The entire process for the giveaway piece is too long to answer here, but there is a tutorial on my blog: carriemichael.blogspot.com/2014/06/metal-clay-ocarina-tutorial.html

What inspires you?
The beauty and magic of our natural world.
Copper english style ocarina pendant with an included purple sapphire by Carrie Michael

Why did you design the giveaway piece? What is special about your giveaway piece?
Logging in to etsy to read the Metal Clay Heads Team blog, I noticed other recommended groups to join. One of them was for handmade ocarinas. I didn’t join the group, but it got me thinking, I bet I could do that out of metal! My husband is an ocarina player, and a nice sturdy ocarina that he couldn’t drop and break would be a welcome gift. It took quite a bit of trial and error as well as research online to figure out how to make one from metal clay, but I think I have a process that works well. My husband helps me tune them to make sure that they function properly as a musical instrument in addition to being a piece of jewelry. My notes on construction are on my blog so that other metal clay artists can make their own if they wish.

I decided to give away a copper ocarina pendant because it is a unique item that can’t be found anywhere else. This one is the 5th that I made, and since I was still perfecting my design there will never be another exactly like it! It has both copper and white copper (*contains nickel) on the front, and an included purple sapphire for fun.

What are the major challenges when creating metal clay jewelry?
In relation to this piece specifically, metal clay can’t be worked in the same way as ceramic clay, which is traditionally used for making ocarinas. That makes it extra difficult to get the voicing carved and lined up properly, as well as to get the tuning right. Concert tuning would be a nightmare, so this piece is simply “in tune with itself.”

Fairy Dragon fine silver pendant or charm with purple sapphire DTPD by Carrie Michael

What do you enjoy most about working in Metal Clay?
Permanence and sparkle! Every medium has it’s benefits, but a finished metal clay piece should last for generations. It brings me great joy to know that my silver pieces will continue to glitter long after I am gone.

What is your greatest ambition as a Metal Clay artist?
To quit my day job and spend every day making art for people to enjoy!

What is the biggest mistake you've ever made? What did you learn from it?
Making complex detailed pieces and then moving to the next step without doing a test sample first, sometimes leading to irreparable harm to days worth of work. I do this in every media I ever use. Learning the hard way to do test samples is something that has taken years to sink in.


So here are the rules to enter the MCHs blog giveaway:

Every person is eligible to enter the blog giveaway with up to FOUR (4) entries. How can you get an entry? You can do any of the following and then let us know that by leaving a comment here so we can keep track.


  1. Follow our blog = 1 entry
  2. Check out featured artist and post favorite piece on the blog = 1 entry
  3. Heart featured artist’s shop = 1 entry
  4. Follow featured artist on Facebook = 1 entry
  5. Make a purchase = 2 entries
  6. Refer a friend = 1 entry
  7. Tweet about the giveaway using key word metalclayheads = 1 entry
  8. Share the Metal Clay Heads blog giveaway link on FB (Go to http://www.facebook.com/MetalClayHeadTeam and click Share) = 1 entry
  9. If you voted and commented on our last challenge = 1 entry

The giveaway will run for two weeks. We will announce the winner on July 1st. Good luck!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

We Have a Winner for Our Recycle Scraps Challenge!

Congrats to .... drumroll ...Anise of SeavBeach whose Vintage Mother of Pearl Button Necklace won our challenge this time! We have a tide on the popular vote with 8 votes for both SeavBeach and Allegro Arts but SeavBeach led the technical poll by having 4 votes while Allegro Arts received 1.

Thanks to everyone who participated, including you who voted! Our next challenge will come in next quarter, please stay tuned for the new challenge theme.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

MetalClayHeads Challenge - Recycle Scraps with Bezel Set Stone

Welcome everyone! Our challenge this time is to recycle bits and pieces of leftover, rundown, or just badly fired projects. Use imagination! We have also added the technical challenge of bezel setting a stone or piece of glass into the piece.

We received three beautiful, handmade, green art pieces this time.

Mended Heart Pendant - Fine Silver by AllegroArts



The heart base started as a mistake. I was making origami hearts for a custom order, and this one turned out badly. Some air had gotten trapped between the layers and formed bubbles. So I drilled out the largest bubble and set a 4mm square cut cubic zirconia in there. A second layer of silver with a cross cut in it is layered on top to hold the gem in place and acts as a bezel. The whole left side is brightly polished.

On the right side, a random collection of silver scrap shapes was layered over the heart, and given a dark antiquing to bring out the details and contrast the left side.

Feather Palm Bracelet by YorkAvenueStudio



Goldie Bronze Peacock inspired bracelet that is designed to be worn just below the knuckles on the back of the hand. the focal "stone" is polymer clay inlay.

I used scrap twisted bronze wire for the bracelet, an old wire-wrapped feather was used for the texture in the metal clay, and polymer clay scraps to form the focal stone.

Vintage Mother of Pearl Button Necklace by SeavBeach



This Vintage Mother of Pearl hand carved button is the focal point. The handmade setting is oxidized to show the detail.

The story behind the making:
I made this necklace as a part of a challenge on my Etsy Metal clay Heads group. The challenge was to use recycled scraps that we currently had. Everything in this piece is recycled. The metal used was recycled from past projects, the bezel set was made from scrap pmc paper clay and the button of course was a vintage treasure I had on hand.

Please vote using the Poll to the right. Share this post with anyone that might not otherwise know about the Challenge. Everyone can vote, and there are so many people that would enjoy viewing the entries.Comments are welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment below this post.
As you view the entries, please click the artists' links to visit their shop and learn more about their work and see more photos.


Voting will be open for two weeks and will close February 4th. Spread the word and vote NOW!