Sunday, January 30, 2011

"My Favorite Place" Challenge Winner is ...

Mother and Child Pendant by Ghislaine of GS Creations with 56 votes.

Palette Necklace by Dawn of DaVoria Jewelry came in second with 53 votes.

And Harp Necklace by Jennifer of Envy Designs Jewelry came in third with 31 votes.

Congrats to Ghislaine! Thanks to everyone who voted. The ones who posted a comment will be entered in to our February blog giveaway featuring Kristan of SilverWishes.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

January Challenge: My Favorite Place

Every other month we Metal Clay Heads do a challenge and the winner of a challenge sets the next.  This challenge is:  My Favorite Place, which was set by Jennifer of Envy Designs Jewelry.  Our entries for the My Favorite Place challenge are below.  Please vote for your favorite at the poll on the right side of the blog.  Voting will end on January 29th.

Paris Earrings by Evelyn of Evelyn Pelati Jewelry:  I wanted to go to Paris my whole life, and in 2008 I finally did! It was a dream trip and I loved it as much as I thought I would. I made these earrings featuring a tiny map of Paris in honor of that time.

Palette Necklace by Dawn of DaVoria Jewelry:   For some reason when I see a painters palette it makes me feel so serene. It brings me to a place I love to be. It could be painting, drawing, quilting, giving a haircut accented with outstanding hilites, or, as of late, making jewelry with metal clay. To me the painters palette represents my creativity.

Mother and Child Pendant by Ghislaine of GS Creations:   My favorite place is not a country nor a city, it is not a building nor is it a garden. My favorite place is wherever I can be with my son, especially snuggled up in the morning as he drinks his bottle. There, all my worries fade away and a certain calmness reigns over me. It is where I am the happiest and feel at peace with the world.

Sew Perfect Charm by Anise of SeavBeach Designs:  My favorite place when I was a child was my mom's sewing box. It had many mysterious things inside. Bobbins, spools of thread, buttons, needles, vintage skeleton keys that went to locks in another land.

Fern Necklace by Esmerelda of SilverBlueberry:   My favorite place is the forest and the garden, so I made two overlapping fern leaves soldered to a neck wire (clasp behind one leaf) and below hangs a beautiful idocrase drop cabochon, cut by Rod from FoxCabochons.

Pavillion with Persian Illumination by Laura of Zoeowyn:  My favorite place is "far far away." I don't have a favorite physical location, it always tends to be "some place else" and definitely someplace ideal and perfect and exotic.

Mardi Gras Mask Pendant by Kathy of York Avenue Studio:  My favorite place is New Orleans! There isn’t anywhere in the world that I would rather be than visiting the French Quarter. There are festivals almost daily for music, art, food, fun, history, etc Steering clear of Bourbon Street, I spend most of my visits there browsing unique shops that sell candles, art, perfume, jewelry and treats! There are so many amazing people that work and live there and I will never get bored of the jazzy sounds, the spicy smells of Cajun food, the Pecan Prailines, the Coffee Shops, the lush green foliage, even the muggy heat!

My Favorite Place Necklace by Lisa of Willow and Me Jewelry:  When the challenge was set, I had just returned from a short family vacation at a beach in Alabama, that is one of my favorite places in the whole world. It has gorgeous white beaches, which are not packed with people, and warm Gulf of Mexico water. During this last trip, the beach was full of Portugese Man of Wars (Men of War?).  Using a shell I found on this beach, I made a mold from which I made the base of this piece. Using texture, I tried to duplicate the look of a beach with shells, starfish and even a Portugese Man of War, made from a sapphire cabochon. The bottom portion of the pendant has been covered with resin to emulate the surf rolling in.

In the Garden Necklace by Erin of heartsabustin:   In the dead of winter, I dream of my garden in the spring. The daffodils, the hydrangeas, and the lilies are all very special to me.

Harp Necklace by Jennifer of Envy Designs Jewelry:   My favorite place is Ireland, where I spent my honeymoon, and returned to 7 years later. I fell in love with the people, the beauty, the music and the rich history Ireland is known for.  The Harp is an ancient instrument that was used by the Bards of Ireland, whose history and stories were told with the accompaniment of beautiful harp music.

Bronze Flower Garden Pendant by Deb of Prairie Mud Studio:  My favorite place has always been my family's farm - and this piece represents my mom's flower gardens and my dad's cornfields.

St. John Passion Pendant by Mary Lou of Sweetleaf Sisterz:   The image on this pendant reminds me of St. John in the US Virgin Islands. It is one of my favorite places in the world. Sitting on the beach at night with rolling waves and the stars bright in the sky, there is no other place like it.   This pendant of fine silver illustrates that vision. The surf is rolling below stars brilliant in the nighttime sky. 

Please cast your vote on the right column; and if you post a comment, you will be automatically entered into our February blog giveaway.

How Cool is This!

Thanks to Betty from Faccia Felice for her eagle eye!  She found us as Blog of the Month in Beads and Beyond Magazine.  This is so exciting!  This blog is a team effort so we should all be very proud of ourselves!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Introducing: 14k Rose Gold Clay!!!!

Exciting Precious Metal Clay Product of 2011

New Metal Clay Heads member, Michelle Glaeser, of mfglaeser has recently introduced 14k Rose Gold Clay to the Metal Clay community! We’ve asked her to provide some information of this exciting new product!

Why Rose Gold Clay? Why you?
There is silver clay, gold clay, bronze clay, copper clay, white bronze clay, steel clay, and stainless steel clay…where’s the rose gold?? I’ve never been a girly girl, but my pink skin-tone happens to lend itself well to the look of pink metals. I was excited with the introduction of copper clay to the market, but have had awful problems getting it to sinter properly! New copper clays have come out to solve this problem, but working with copper is still like playing with pennies! The finished copper product can even turn you green; the clay turns black if it isn’t wrapped up properly…too many problems! By having this gold product, you get the beautiful pink color, but none of the oxidation issues or greening of your skin!

Adding rose gold is always an option using traditional metalsmithing methods. But, I’ve found that traditional metal work is very difficult; takes a lot of strength and patience. Metal clay is clay. When I file it to shape, I use very little pressure and get significant results. When I took my first wire-working class, my instructor had to remind me that I was working with solid metal. Apparently delicately filing was not doing anything! Yellow gold clay has been on the market for a while, so why not Rose Gold Clay? I thought I could convince someone to make me Rose Gold Clay….

Luckily, Master Muse Donna Penoyer is in my local chapter of the PMC Guild, Metal Clay Western PA. She got us a few Rio Certification classes in 2010 with Tim McCreight! Since he is a consultant for Mitsubishi Materials, the makers of PMC products, I inquired about Rose Gold clay. It turns out there isn’t a market for it, so Mitsubishi has no interest in developing it. When Tim said it wouldn’t be happening, I started experimenting. I was so convinced I could do it,--that I built myself a PMC3 ring and stamped 999 and 14k inside! After a year of testing, I finally finished that ring!

Since I’m a small shop (and want it for my use), I think I can support the miniscule market that might exist! Etsy makes it easy to have the product available as well. If no one else interested, I didn’t invest my life savings into it! If there is a bigger market than Mitsubishi expects, then I’ll something to invest into advertising!

Are you worried others will copy your product?
To an extent I am, but honestly I just wanted someone else to make it for me. If it’s out there, I have no reason to go out and be the mad scientist. I have my formula carefully measured and constructed to be 14k Rose Gold. I’ve tried every mix of different products on the market, and have found that one manufacturer does not offer all the resources to create a successful Rose Gold Clay. While anyone can mix clays, the year of development I have put into the product takes away worries. It sinters fully, shines beautifully, and is 14k Rose Gold! Early tests were unsuccessful with firing. Getting little lava balls was not fun! Running them through pickle didn’t help because the craters were on the inside too! Firing in the carbon is successful, and doesn’t require pickling following firing. At the end of the day, I have my recipe that works and if someone wants to take over distribution, I am willing to let that happen. For now, it will remain a trade secret!

Does the Rose Gold Clay work like other clays? Can I fire the Rose Gold Clay with other clays at the same time?

Like other copper clays, it does need to be fired in carbon to prevent firescale. It’s also best to have a dedicated tool kit. I offer the whole set (clay, tools, firing vessel, and carbon) on my Etsy shop, so there is no worry about the right carbon or extra tools! When firing with other clays, I typically do them in separate steps, unless working with PMC PRO (which can be fired in the same step with slight modification to its firing schedule). The binders in silver and gold clays need to be fired in oxygen to get proper burn off of those binders. The Rose Gold Clay has essential oil in it to aid in joining to other fired clay (it also gives it a lovely scent). Tests have shown successful binding to PMC silver and PRO products! Since I do not typically work in Art Clay, I have not tested this combination yet, but do not expect adverse results.

Left: Rose Gold Clay with PMC Pro Clay before firing. Right: After kiln-fired, the Rose Gold Clay really shines!

How about shrinkage?

The shrinkage of the Rose Gold Clay is approximately 15% which is more than PMC+, PMC3, and many of the Art Clay products, but less than PMC PRO. This is another good reason to fire them in two separate steps. Since the cost of running a kiln is nearly equivalent to a hair drier (I believe Paragon has a formula to calculate your cost of firing), why not go the safe route?

What kinds of gemstones can I fire with the Rose Gold Clay?

Because it has to fire in carbon, Rose Gold Clay lends itself to be fired with diamonds! You might think diamonds are expensive to add to your jewelry, but you can get beautiful teeny ones for around $4! The diamond below was set with a traditional jeweler method, after firing. It is 1-point and difficult to work with! Smashing it in the clay and running it through the kiln is a much easier method than looking at it through a loupe! The 22k yellow gold clay must be fired in open air, so you do have a chance to lose your diamond. Rio Grande had done some tests previously where diamonds “disappeared” during firing. I’ve had excellent luck with diamonds in carbon. The 5-point diamond above has gone through the kiln, but was not fired in place. Other kiln safe gems are likely acceptable to use with Rose Gold Clay, but I haven’t done the extensive testing like those in the last issue (December 2010) of Metal Clay Artist Magazine. Stay tuned!

Do you have the slip form available? And how do you polish the Rose Gold Clay after firing?
You can thin the lump clay with distilled water to create a Rose Gold slip. I’m no pro with slip painting…but I’ll be taking a workshop in April! I can’t wait to paint with Rose Gold!
Out of the kiln, Rose Gold Clay has a flat, brownish-red tone, like the 22k yellow gold has a flat, brownish-yellow tone. It shines right up to a beautiful pink with tumbling or traditional polishing methods. The pieces photographed were polished with a rotary tool and Flitz polishing compound.

What package size of Rose Gold is available? How is the clay packaged?

The metal weight of the clay is 1.7g; this keeps the price at $100 and is enough to get several accent pieces. My first batch of 1.7g has created the two rings, three failed pieces a similar size, and I still have enough material left for another two pieces. Of course, if you absolutely fall in love with Rose Gold Clay, larger orders are always welcome with attractive discounts available!

How do I keep the Rose Gold Clay moist and how do I rejuvenate it?
I’ve found that plastic wrap works very well to keep metal clay moist. The first 5-years I worked with metal clay, I was in Albuquerque. It was very dry and I had great luck with a film canister and plastic wrap. This little lump looks sad in a film canister, so it is neatly packaged inside a little tub. This lends itself as a good container for mixing and moistening the clay with the spatula tool the kit comes with.

I’ve allowed the clay to dry fully and easily rejuvenated it with distilled water. To prevent loss of material (like the grinders might cause), I just add a few drops and let it sit for a few days. This clay does not blacken like the copper clay products. I have also over-hydrated it (slip consistency instead of clay), and had no problem leaving it exposed to let the water evaporate. It took time in humid PA, but there was still no oxidation of the clay!

Are there any instruction coming with the package?
The Rose Gold Clay comes with firing instructions and “Tips” sheet. It honestly isn’t any different that working with the other metal clays, so it should be easy to add to your work! I don’t want to disappoint anyone, so the kit comes with all the tools you need (minus the kiln) to get positive results. I’m happy to share my product with other metal clay artists, but originally developed it for my own use. Now that I know the formula that works beautifully, I’ll keep making it!