Monday, June 28, 2010

Meet our Members: Silver Blueberry

Silver Blueberry:

My name is Esmeralda, I am Dutch living in Sweden with my Swedish boyfriend and two cats. My science career brought me to Sweden, where I obviously got stuck. We live in a small house in a rural suburb just outside Stockholm and our garden is frequently visited by deer, foxes, hares, and moose. Nature is so important here in Sweden and it's my biggest inspiration. I am also a vegetarian and I have a deep concern for the environment.

I am still a full time scientist but I discovered metal clay just over a year ago and was hooked right away. Since then I have also discovered the joys of metalsmithing and try now to combine the two techniques to the best of my abilities. My dream is to make jewelry fulltime, keep goats and chickens and live a quiet life.

Note to our members, if  you would like your mini-bio on the blog but haven't submitted it yet, convo it to Lisa at willowandme.  Thanks!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Meet our Members: Artisan Silver

Artisan Silver:

My name is Traceyann and I live on the beautiful Isle of Wight in England. I have a lovely husband called Lee and we have been together since I was 15 and he was 17. I've had lots of jobs including decorative artist, portrait painter, healer/complementary therapist, lecturer and medical secretary. Over a year ago I took up jewellery making as rehab for a hand injury (I dropped a stone slab on it whilst trying to save 12 teeny weeny ducklings stuck down a hole! The ducklings went on to live happy content lives). In the past year I've gone from beading to silversmithing and finally to PMC. I am a total PMC addict!

Who's afraid of the BIG, BAD Torch?

Good morning, Metal Clay Heads!

We're going to talk about something today that scares the crud out of even the most seasoned of Metal Clay Heads. THE TORCH. There are a lot of professional metal clayers who will tell you the torch doesn't work. It doesn't sinter the clay properly. It's just ..... not ...... good enough. You "must" have a kiln to be a "real" metal clayer.

In my humble opinion, hogwash.

As long as you're not trying to fire a foot-tall scale model of the Eiffel Tower, you'll be just fine. (If you're THAT good, WHY are you reading MY article, anyway??) ;P As long as the pieces you are firing are under 25 grams of clay and less than 1.5" (3.8 cm) around (for the Americans, that's about the size of a half dollar), your pieces should sinter just fine.

Let's talk torch for a minute - it's lightweight, it's small, it's inexpensive, and you can store it anywhere. Just make sure little fingers can't get to it - little ones have an uncanny ability to make "childproof" items work just fine. You can buy the butane fuel canisters for your torch easily - Wal-Mart and Lowe's carry them. I tried my local hardware store, but they didn't carry the ones I need, but yours might. Give them a try, as well. One thing I did find out this winter - if you fuel your torch outside (I do, for safety reasons), you need to wait about 30 minutes before firing for the fuel to come up to room temperature. My dear husband had to point that one out for me. *blushes* Filling the torch is fairly easy, although all canister nozzles are not made the same. They may or not fit perfectly into the fill nozzle on your torch. If you're careful, this won't be much of a problem. You fit the nozzles together and push down on the can. When the fuel sputters, your torch is full. Let the torch rest for five minutes after fueling. *NOTE* The can will get quite cold during fueling.

Most (or all) torches will have a child safety lock - when you're ready to fire, push this down. Press the button above the safety to get your flame. Off to the left is a continuous flame button - press this button in (and LET GO!) so your hands will be relaxed during firing. When you start firing your (completely dry!) piece, it will smoke. It will smoke and THEN it will catch on fire. Yes, that's normal, and no, you don't need to panic. Those are the binders in the clay burning off. Don't drop your torch and scream. After it's done burning, you're beginning to sinter the piece. Sintering is defined as heating to a coherent mass without melting. Remember that - you're NOT melting your piece. That's bad. During the firing process, you will maintain a peach or salmon color in the piece. If it starts to bubble or turn silver, you are wayyyyyy too close - back off a little. The flame has two "cones" - one is hard to see unless you're in a dark room, and the other is blue. Don't use the blue part of the flame - it's the hottest and it will melt your silver.
Here's a firing schedule for torch firing silver clay:

5 grams or less - 1 - 1.5 minutes

6 - 15 grams - 1.5 - 2.5 minutes

16 - 25 grams - 2.5 to 5 minutes
Large pieces need a little more time under the torch, but I will tell you, so far, I've NEVER had a torched piece break because of improper sintering. Matter of fact, Patricia Kimle - my personal metal clay hero - torch fires ALL of her pieces.

Now, I'm not putting down kilners. If I had $700 and a place to put one, I'd get one! I want to try some of the other clays - BRONZclay and COPPRclay have to be kiln fired. However, I'm still playing with the limits I can push with the torch. Plus, it's just more practical right now. I have kids, limited space, and not enough production to require a kiln.
I guess my point is this - don't let not having a kiln stop you. There are some amazing things you can do with a torch and a little bit of precious metal clay.

Happy claying, Metal Clay Heads!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Meet our Members: Heartsabustin


Okay, my name is Erin. I'm in Wilmington, NC, near Seavbeach, and I am married with two boys and two dogs. I just started working with ArtClay Silver this past January, and I LOVE it. Totally addicted. I torch fire, and I've done almost every stupid thing imaginable, so if you need help, lemme know. LOL I'm not anything cool - I have no certifications or anything like that. I'm just a SAHM that LOVES to create and Etsy is my way of making money to support my various hobbies.

If you see a crazy lady named 1mADwoman come on here with a purse for an avatar, that's me, too. I pop in and out both ways, so you can call me mad or hearts or Erin - I really don't care. ROFLOL

Note to our members, if  you would like your mini-bio on the blog but haven't submitted it yet, convo it to Lisa at willowandme.  Thanks!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Meet our Members: Andyjusty


I live in Melbourne, Australia. I am married with 2 children and 3 Burmese cats. I used to be an obstetrician but the hours were lousy, so now I teach in medical school, so that helps fund my metal clay addiction :)

Note to our members, if  you would like your mini-bio on the blog but haven't submitted it yet, convo it to Lisa at willowandme.  Thanks!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Meet our Members: PomegranateAndEye


My name is Anush. I live in Sunland, CA. Life's busy. My daughter just got engaged so there's a party in the works. I have a day job (groan!!) marketing commercial property insurance...seriously. How I got there, I still ask myself everyday. But there's a mortgage to be paid. Anyways, I've been working with metal clay for about 3 years now. Mostly I make silver pomegranates. My site has pomegranates and eye bead jewelry. I've been on Etsy since 11/07.

Note to our members, if  you would like your mini-bio on the blog but haven't submitted it yet, convo it to Lisa at willowandme.  Thanks!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Meet our Members: SimplySu


My name's Sue. I live in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. Beautiful part of Great Britain. Have two daugthers, one lives with me and the other in supported living back in Kent where we used to live. My elder daughter lives with me, our two dogs and two cats. I've always felt I was creative but lacked confidence in my abilities. Am very new to making jewellery, but love coming up with ideas and seeing whether they work or not. Have recently discovered PMC and am loving using it. Don't want to make too many mistakes so am practising with sculpy clay. Joined Etsy back in February.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Meet our Members: SeavBeach


My name is Anise and I live in a small coastal town in North Carolina. My parents were Artists in different ways, mom a painter, dad a musician, stepfather a carpenter. I've been making jewelry since I was 8. When I was 21 it helped me fund a trip to Great Britain and I spent 4 glorious months travelling. This is currently my only job, but I'm looking for a daytime job so I can splurge on more clay! I have 4 dogs and a cat (the cat is more like a dog) Oh, I am very new to Metal Clay... I absolutely LOVE it!!

Note to our members, if  you would like your mini-bio on the blog but haven't submitted it yet, convo it to Lisa at willowandme.  Thanks!

What is Metal Clay?

“Metal Clay” is a broad term used to describe various forms of a very exciting artistic medium. Metal clays currently available on the market include silver, gold, copper, steel, and bronze and are available from several different companies. Microscopic metal particles are suspended in a small amount of water and some variety of organic binder. Fresh from the package, the metal clay is soft and malleable and can be molded, formed, and shaped with nearly any tool you have available. Once the pieces are dry and hard they enter the “greenware” state. Filing, sawing, and gluing greenware pieces is one more way the project can achieve dimension and detail. When exposed to high heat, the water and binder are burned away and the metal particles fuse together, creating a solid metal object. The piece can then be finished with traditional metalsmithing techniques to bring out its true beauty.

The inherent flexibility of the product has made it a favorite for both traditional projects and those that incorporate metal clay into multi-medial works of art. No matter what your creative vision, metal clay is sure to add a new dimension to your work. Before long you’ll be a full-fledged Metal Clay Head…and now you have a home with us!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Meet our Members: FishBoneSilver

Fishbone Silver:

I'm new to the team :) I have a wonderful husband, a grown daughter, 2 Golden Retrievers, 4 horses and 2 donkeys. I discovered PMC a year and a half ago, I have never made jewelry before that, except some beading with a loom back in high school. I live on the east coast of central Florida and also have property in north Florida. I have a daytime job that is 4 days a week and I'm now trying to cut down to 3 so I can make more stuff. I hope to one day achieve the level that some of you are at, this is a really talented bunch!


Note to our members, if you would like your mini-bio on the blog but haven't submitted it yet, convo it to Lisa at willowandme.  Thanks!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Meet our Members: Envy Designs

Envy Designs Jewelry:

I am Jennifer, I live in Troutdale, Oregon, about 30 min. from Portland. I am married with 1 dog: Phoenix, and 1 cat: the fabulous Stella, both rescues. I have made jewelry since high school, had my first class with ArtClay about 3 years ago, just finished my senior certification last month. I work mostly with gemstones and wire, but metal clay is kind of taking over. I am also an esthetician by day. I am huge into animal rights and the environment.

Note to our members, if  you would like your mini-bio on the blog but haven't submitted it yet, convo it to Lisa at willowandme.  Thanks!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Meet our Members: Roberta Wa

Welcome to the first in a series of little mini-bios of our members.  They will appear in the order that they are received.  Hope you enjoy getting to know all of us!


My background is in fine art and graphic design.

Since I began working in metal a few years ago it has become my favorite medium to work in. I love the feel and the structure of the metal. I love watching it change with heat, saw or hammer.

Lately I have been working almost exclusively in Metal Clay and am absolutely smitten with it. It has enhanced my creativity in ways that working in sheet never did. I was always trying to figure out how to solder everything together. With the clay I don’t have to worry about that and I can just enjoy the process of “design”.

In my day job, I design Social Studies textbooks for Pearson Education.

Note to our members, if  you would like your mini-bio on the blog but haven't submitted it yet, convo it to Lisa at willowandme.  Thanks!

Meet our Members: GS Creations

GS Creations:

My name is Ghislaine (pronounced Gui, like guitar, len).  Iit's French and causes me a lot of issues down here in Virginia. I was born in Lebanon and lived in Montreal, Canada, for 21 years before moving to Virginia three years ago. I moved because of a man, a wonderful man, that I married two years ago on July 19. We have an 8 month old son who is the light of my life and a pug named Rowdy. He certainly lives up to his name. I started beading 10 years ago as a hobby and now I have a room full of beads. I only recently started working with metal clay, in April, and I'm totally hooked. I joined etsy in March '08. I have a day job as a Systems Librarian. That means I take care of all things IT at a Federal Library in DC.

Note to our members, if  you would like your mini-bio on the blog but haven't submitted it yet, convo it to Lisa at willowandme.  Thanks!

Monday, June 7, 2010

We Have a Winner!

The results of the voting for our challenge piece are in! We had a whopping 126 votes and the winner was  The Tooth by Life Art Designs.  Janie will be issuing our next challenge and her piece will appear in our banner until then.  Congratulations to Janie and good work to all who entered the challenge!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Congratulations to Tiffany of Twin Mermaids Studio!

Tiffany has won the Silver Medal in the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' 2010 Jewelry-Making Contest - Metal Clay, Metal Beads, Wirework and Chain Category for her Firepod Earrings.  Click here for Fire Mountain's Profile of Tiffany.  We are all very happy for Tiffany and proud to have her as part of our team!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

We need your vote!

Every month or so we MetalClayHeads have a challenge  This one was issued by Liz of Lizards Jewelry:  To create a piece in which we incorporated a found object.  The entries are:

Can You Hear Me Grow by SeavBeach:

Dogwood Blossom Necklace by HeartsaBustin:

Glass of Sorrow by SilverBlueberry:

Rustic Tie Tack by WillowandMe:

The Tooth by LifeArtDesigns:

Vintage Button Pendant by AbellaBlue:

Please vote to the right.  Voting will be open until June 6th at midnight, EST.  The winner gets bragging rights and the chance to issue the next challenge.  Oh, and I forgot.  A picture of their piece(s) on our banner for the month.