Friday, December 28, 2012

Metal Clay Heads Your Style Challenge Results

We challenged our team members on creating a design with the theme "Your Style" with any technique of their choice and received seven amazing entries. Here are the results:

By Popular Vote:
1. Bronze Star Anise Spice Jewelry - SeavBeach with 9 votes
2. Dolphin Necklace - Lifeartdesigns with 4 votes
3. Amethyst stone cage necklace cats - AnnaSiivonen with 2 votes
3. Crescent Moon Pendant in Fine Silver - PartsbyNC with 2 votes
3. Jasmine silver ring botanical imprint - StuckOnSilver with 2 votes
3. Silver Tree of Life Necklace - Lynn Cobb with 2 votes.

By Technical Vote:
1. Amethyst stone cage necklace cats - AnnaSiivonen with 2 votes
2. Bronze Star Anise Spice Jewelry - SeavBeach with 1 vote
2. Celtic Tree of Life Pendant - Mcbisco with 1 vote
2. Dolphin Necklace - Lifeartdesigns with 1 vote
2. Silver Tree of Life Necklace - Lynn Cobb with 1 vote

Overall (based on percentage recalculation of the two above):
1. Bronze Star Anise Spice Jewelry - SeavBeach (43%/17%)
2. 
Amethyst stone cage necklace cats - AnnaSiivonen (10%/33%)
3. 
Dolphin Necklace - Lifeartdesigns (19%/17%)

Congrats to Anise of Seavbeach who won our Your Style Challenge this time! Our next challenge will be mid-February of 2013. Thanks to all who entered and voted! Without your support we're no where near where we're now!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Metal Clay Heads Your Style Challenge

Our theme this time is ”your style”. Make a production piece that could be reproduced efficiently after it has sold. Something that looks intricate but is less work than it looks. The first one, the one you enter for the contest probably is a lot of work, but you should be able to reproduce it easily. Use your own textures/molds and make a piece that is very you. Here are the amazing entries:

Amethyst stone cage necklace cats by AnnaSiivonen



Rustic, cool and unusual cat necklace. A bronze cage with two sculptured cat heads in each end hold a tumbled purple amethyst. Comes with an adjustable brass chain. The first one I made, you get the one pictured. I don't have other amethyst stones like this at the moment. Amethyst is the birthstone of February.

Bronze Star Anise Spice Jewelry by SeavBeach



Very delicate, this bronze star anise spice seed is made of bronze and silver color bronze. The twig is a silver color bronze and the star is bronze. The chain is .925 sterling.

Crescent Moon Pendant in Fine Silver by PartsbyNC



I made this Crescent Moon Pendant out of Metal Clay, which consists of reclaimed silver particle in an organic binder that can be formed, shaped and sanded just like normal clay and once it's fired in a kiln becomes .999 Fine Silver. After the piece is fired, finished, and polished, the last step is to add the blue inlay using a wax paste that once it dries it's very durable.

Celtic Tree of Life Pendant by Mcbisco



This Gaelic inspired bronze pendant is my original design. I have two available in bronze for purchase at this time.The first version was made in silver Precious Metal Clay. (Silver version is NOT for sale, but pictured to show the original) This bronze version was created from a mold of the original design. After making an impression in the bronze clay, I dried it and carved in the details. The details are slightly different if you look carefully. The high points are burnished and polished after firing.

Jasmine silver ring botanical imprint by StuckOnSilver



Jasmine silver ring--a sprig of Jasmine from my garden is reproduced on this one of a kind ring. It's .999 fine silver. The fine silver includes recycled silver. 

Dolphin Necklace by Lifeartdesigns



This is one of my handcrafted pure silver dolphin necklaces. It hangs on a teal beaded necklace. The silver dolphin pendant was made from .999 pure fine silver metal clay. I sculpted the dolphin and then added it to a larger oval base of fine silver. I applied a texture to the base of the dolphin pendant with a stamp of ocean waves. I rolled the top of the base around to the back of the Dolphin pendant to create a self contained bail for the beaded cord to slide through. The dolphin was kiln fired at the appropriate temperatures and tumble polished afterwards.

Silver Tree of Life Necklace by Lynn Cobb



This Made in America, silver tree of life necklace is impressive in fine silver, the pendant was made from a mold that was hand carved by me, I call it my pine bough series. This one has a dark patina to really show off the carving, but I also make these without any patina at all and they just glisten in bright .999 pure silver. This one hangs from a "liquid silver" sterling chain which really enhances
the flowing design of the pendant itself. 

Please cast your vote at the right hand column. The poll will be closed two weeks from posting and results will be announced after closing. Technical poll is limited to members of the Metal Clay Heads Team only.

Your Style Challenge Technical Poll

The Technical Poll is limited to Metal Clay Heads members only!

Cast your vote here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Who won the Peas in a Pod Charm from Sue?

Drum roll! It's Katy! Congratulations!

Katy will receive the very adorable Peas in a Pod Silver Charm from Sue of SomethingXtraSpecial.


Thanks to Sue who support our team by doing this feature and giveaway. Thanks to everyone who entered the blog giveaway!

Katy, please contact Sue or me directly with your address so Sue can keep in touch with you.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I just love playing with ‘pretty’ things! -- Sue

And metal clay art is serious fun for Sue of Somethingxtraspecial! She creates the very pretty and iconic peapod charms jewelry (or jewellery in British English). Sue fell in love with handmade jewelry when she received a handmade gift from her father at six - a deep ruby red glass ring! Sue was trained in traditional silversmithing but once discovered metal clay, there is no returning. Please enjoy the following feature on our very lovely British metalclayhead Sue from Southsea, England.

Peapod Ring by Somethingxtraspecial
 
Why did you pick the name Somethingxtraspecial ?
That's a silly one.. I was in a cafe with my boyfriend and was saying 'I want to call it something 'special' and he said well why not then call it somethingspecial, of course I went home and checked online and there were loads of entries like that, so tried with extra in still a few entries, so took out the 'e'. And that was where that name came from. If I had my time over I would certainly not have anything quite so long, people remember it but then spell it wrong or whatever, so I'd like something like blii or plo or one of those silly 4 letter names that mean nothing. When you look at the biggies like ebay, etsy, google, yahoo, moo none of them mean anything but they are all really easy to remember.

What inspires you?
Generally staring into space or being too busy, that is when all my best ideas seem to come. I'll be looking at something, while in the middle of something else and think 'I wonder if that would work in...'

Half Moon Cuff Links in Silver with Gold Accent by Somethingxtraspecial

What are the major challenges when creating metal clay jewellery?
Well I know I should say time or being quick or something like that, but to be completely honest I'd say the cost. When I first started using clay, it was a bit of a luxury but it was a totally acceptable cost, then the huge price hike of 240% of last year hit, that took some getting used to. Being from the UK our costs are already high so trying to compete in an international market place is really not so easy when you compare costs and what our cousins can sell for compared to what we over here can charge. Therefore you are always conscious of this when making something new, and for me I feel quite stymied by this. I see all the amazing huge things that the 'stars' make and wonder who can afford a -- to buy it and b -- to make stuff like this, and then I just go green with envy!

What do you enjoy most about working in Metal Clay?
I trained as a silversmith, I left it on the back burner for many years, then when I discovered clay I found that I could do some of the things that would take forever and probably need some very expensive tools or chemicals to do in sheet metal, in clay quite easily. I love that.

Padlock Hoop Earrings in Silver by Somethingxtraspecial

What is the biggest mistake you've ever made? What did you learn from it?
When I started I believed what the makers said about firing and finishing without realising that it was probably just a marketing tool. I then discovered that precious metal clay (silver) needs firing for a minimum of 2 hours in a kiln and then work hardened to make it as strong as it could be. Since I discovered this (from the adorable Kate McKinnon) I have found I can now make things that just would not have worked before (and refired all of the stuff I still had from before).

Sue is going to giveaway a peapod charm for a lucky winner. If you leave a comment on why you love the peapod charm, you're in for the giveaway.

Other ways to enter are:
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

But you must post a comment to let us know or you will miss out! Winner will be announced December 7th. Enter now!

Peas in a Pod Silver Charm by Somethingxtraspecial

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Congrats to Vickie!

Who won our October blog giveaway! Vickie will receive the Textured Teardrop Hoop Earrings from Pennee Parker of All Wired Up Jewelry Designs.Sincere gratitude to our featured artist Pennee who give such beautiful metal clay earrings as prize. Thanks to all of you who entered the giveaway! We will have one more blog giveaway before the holidays come. Please stay tuned!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Colors in Nature -- Pennee Parker

Our featured artist of the month is Pennee Parker of All Wired Up Jewelry Designs. Pennee loves to try any and all techniques. She has never met a stone she didn't adore. Her number one inspiration for a design concept is the colors in nature. She loves bright rich hues coupled with smooth lines bringing out the beauty in both.  

What is the biggest mistake you've ever made? What did you learn from it?

The biggest  mistake- pictures attached! I have made pendants using classic metalsmithing techniques. I wanted to try it with metal clay. I really wanted to have a super pendant with both sides textured. I read Lisa Barth's "Designing from the Stone" and was inspired! I read PMC Technïque", I thought I could solve all problems associated with shrinkage and setting a stone after firing. How wrong could any one artist be?? As you can see from the pictures this was no small mistake. So much sterling metal clay went into that pendant and it was a disaster! With loads of ideas and assistance from my metal clay groups, I was able to salvage the pendant so that it wasn't a total disaster. Also, the pendant wasn't one I would ever sell. I kept it to  remind myself to go slow and really think out each step and that not only was I able to save it but I liked the end result.


When did you first become interested in Metal Clay? How long have you been designing jewelry using Metal Clay?

I became interested in metal clay when I started selling on Etsy. When I did searches looking at various artists work, I was drawn to all the beautiful patterns and textures I saw being done in clay. I took one class at my local community college and I was hooked. That was 4 years ago, now I can't wait to take a Rio certification class to get to the next level.

What inspires you?

What inspires me? I don't think I am very different from any other artist when it comes to inspiration. I love to travel and I am always drawn to the wonderful architecture I see in foreign countries. I love all things involving nature, flowers, plants and trees. Everything around me seems to produce another texture, shape or style variation.

Sterling Leaves and Vines Vineyard Bracelet by All Wired Up Jewelry Designs
Would you tell us your creative process?

My creative process is not one I would recommend to anyone. I can't draw worth a lick. I am so envious of artists that can put something on paper and then produce it in metal. I see my idea vividly in my mind. With clay, if what I see isn't what's coming out, I either roll it back into a ball and start over or look at it from a different perspective and I may make something entirely different from my original idea but one that was lurking there possibly waiting for another day. I will say, I am very focused. Once I begin work it's really hard to distract me from the flow. My family will tell you I am the master of 20 minute meals. When they finally distract me long enough to demand food!

Why did you pick the name All Wired Up Jewelry Designs?

All Wired Up Jewelry Designs is probably not very original, but I started as a wire artist and continued to use wire in metal work. Many people would say I have a Type A personality, I pretty much stay wired up for most of the day. So to me the name suits me. I'm not sure my shop name always fits my style of jewelry, but so many customers know the name that it would be hard to change it even if I wanted to.

"Everything around me seems to produce another texture, shape or style variation." -- Pennee Parker

Why did you design the giveaway piece? What is special about your giveaway piece?

I love earrings! Depending on my mood, I just can't have enough pairs to pick and choose from. I got some new textures and decided I wanted to do a line of new earrings. Hoop style in different sizes and patterns to add to my shop. Because they are new to my shop, light weight and easy to wear, I thought they would make a great give away for our blog. Visit Pennee here

Textured Teardrop Hoop Earrings by All Wired Up Jewelry Designs
What are the major challenges when creating metal clay jewelry?

My vision with clay is setting stones in amazing 3-dimensional shapes and forms. I find this so difficult with faceted stones since shrinkage is such a major factor. The stone looks perfect when the clay dries- table level, lots of sparkle, just the right amount of clay to hold the stone or stones in place. Then I fire and sometimes the clay fairy smiles on me and sometimes she laughs and tilts my stone to some weird, absolutely inappropriate angle and I sigh and start again!

To enter our blog giveaway please follow these rules:

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 under this feature 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 October 30th. Good luck! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Susan Won Our September Blog Giveaway!

Congrats to Susan who will receive the beautiful Scalloped PMC Pendant created by Harriet of HGWjewelrydesigns. The Scalloped PMC Pendant has an intricate pattern and is adorned with a 3mm CZ in the middle.


Thanks to Harriet who giveaway one of her amazing work! Thanks to all your support and don't forget to follow us to get the inside scope of metal clay!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Metal Clay Heads Winged Flight Challenge Results

Our Winged Flight Challenge Results Are Here!
We challenged our team members on creating a design with the theme "Winged Flight" with any technique of their choice and received eight amazing entries. Here are the results:

By Popular Vote:
1. Winged Steampunk Escutcheon Necklace - Zoeowyn with 11 votes
2. Conjoined Twin Cat & Dog Bronze Pendant - AnnaSiivonen with 10 votes
3. Fairy Wing Necklace with Rainbow Spinel & Sapphire - Envydesignsjewelry with 9 votes

By Technical Vote:
1. Conjoined Twin Cat & Dog Bronze Pendant - AnnaSiivonen with 3 votes
2. Fairy Wing Necklace with Rainbow Spinel & Sapphire - Envydesignsjewelry with 2 votes
2. Winged Steampunk Escutcheon Necklace - Zoeowyn with 2 votes

Overall (based on percentage recalculation of the two above):
1. Conjoined Twin Cat & Dog Bronze Pendant - AnnaSiivonen (26%/38%)
2.
Winged Steampunk Escutcheon Necklace - Zoeowyn (29%/25%)
3.
Fairy Wing Necklace with Rainbow Spinel & Sapphire - Envydesignsjewelry (24%/25%)

AnnaSiivonen won our Winged Flight Challenge by wining the technical category! Zoeowyn's work is amazing and won the well-deserved popular poll. Congrats to both of them!



Thanks for all the MCHs who participated, and thanks to YOU who voted! Our next challenge will be mid-November. In the meantime, don't forget to enter our blog giveaway here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The possibilities with Metal Clay are endless - Harriet

Our blog feature artist for September is Harriet from HGWjewelrydesigns. Harriet enjoys working with a variety of materials, including gemstones, pearls, wire, copper and brass. She uses fine and sterling silver to create her unique jewelry. Harriet is interested in making bold pieces with sophisticated and natural shapes. Her preferred medium is metal clay, with its endless possibilities!

Black and Yellow Geometric Design Enamel Pendant by Harriet

When did you first become interested in Metal Clay? How long have you been designing jewelry using Metal Clay?

When I was laid off from my position as curator of American art at our local museum, I wanted to find something I could do that would still be art related. I began taking classes in metalsmithing and Metal Clay. I do both, but prefer Metal Clay, because the possibilities with this medium are endless. I have been designing Metal Clay jewelry for three years.

What was your first piece of Metal Clay jewelry?

The first piece I created in Metal Clay was a simple pendant with a hole in the top for a jump ring. There were no stones or other intricate work, just easy so we could see how the medium worked.

Double Teardrop Silver Enamel Pendant with Large Dichoric Glass Stone by Harriet
 
What inspires you?

I am inspired by my background as an art historian. I love all periods of art. I take inspiration from classical and abstract art. I know this sounds like opposite ends of the spectrum, but you would be surprised how much abstraction is in classical art.

What are the major challenges when creating Metal Clay jewelry?

Making rings is my most challenging Metal Clay activity. Because of the shrinkage I am never certain the size I want will be the size I obtain even though I use inserts and follow instructions. Sometimes I create the ring flat and fire it in the kiln or with a torch and then mold it to the size I want. This process works very well with band rings.


PMC Silver Dichroic Glass Cabochon Pendant by Harriet

 What do you enjoy most about working in Metal Clay?

I enjoy the manipulation of the clay. The freedom it gives me to make changes, additions and corrections. I can actually explore the design while creating it, along with changing and reinventing as I go along.

What is the biggest mistake you ever made? What did you learn from it?

I have made this mistake several times before realizing what I was doing wrong. I was setting dichroic glass into my Metal Clay pendants, firing them at the correct lower temperature and ending up with a very nice pendant. But when I used a flexshaft on the silver to polish it I cracked the glass. The first time I thought the glass cracked in the kiln, but the second time I was very careful to check the glass and only noticed the crack after using the shaft. I learned not to use a flexshaft anywhere near dichroic glass jewelry. The vibrations can cause the glass to crack.

Harriet is giving away a Scalloped PMC Pendant with an intricate pattern adorned with a 3mm CZ in the middle. The pendant is generous in size of 1 1/4 inches in diameter! Talk about bold!



To enter our blog giveaway please follow these rules:

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 under this feature 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 October 2nd. Good luck!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

MCHs Winged Flight Challenge

Our quarterly challenge is back, cast your vote NOW!

This quarter we challenged our Metal Clay Heads to create an art piece with the theme "Winged Flight," with any technique that is best for creating the work. Here comes the amazing work from our talented members!

Silver Wings Earrings with Garnet by YorkAvenueStudio

 



Genuine Garnet gemstone earrings shaped like wings. This design style is organic and natural and each pair is made to order fresh just for you. Wings have so much personal meaning and I hope these earrings will give you inspiration. Comfortable and lightweight, these wings can be worn everyday.

Collector's Flight Pick Monument by Mcbisco

 


The Flight Pick Monument includes this beautiful display case, The Flight Pick Necklace, one thin Flight Pick and one thick Flight Pick. The Pick Monument can sit on a table or hang on the wall. The picks sit in a bamboo pedestal, making them easily to pick up and use. The necklace can be removed by lifting up the roof. The Flight Picks are part of a limited edition of 25 picks. (number one and number 2) The picks are made with Bronze Metal Clay.

Winged Steampunk Escutcheon Necklace by Zoeowyn

 


This handmade copper necklace features a pendant with gears, and dial and winged Victorian styled escutcheon. The necklace chain is highlighted with small gears, and the lobster clasp is part of the design up front.

Conjoined Twin Cat & Dog Bronze Pendant  by AnnaSiivonen

 

Siamese cat & dog twins with bat wings. This started outh with me thinking it was a fun ideá to make a cat and a dog share a body, but the conjoined cat and dog pendant didn´t hang right and I felt it needed "more umph", and what could be better to umph it up with than bat wings.

Silver Wing Pendant, flight by Jewelflyt

 

This beautiful fine silver pendant features a unique feather texture. A wing shaped flight of fancy, created from an original hand-drawn texture.

flight has been given a soft brushed silver finish, with selected areas polished to a high shine to enhance the texture.

Night Flight by Satorydesigns

 


A beautiful swallow with a lovely peridot set in, flying around a circle with 3 black diamonds. Flying thru the night on a delicate chain 16 or 18" in length. One available in this combination of Peridot and Black Diamonds.

Fairy Wing Necklace with Rainbow Spinel & Sapphire by Envydesignsjewelry

 


This fairy wing pendant, I made with recycled fine silver. Hanging from a handmade chain of sparkling rainbow spinel and sunny yellow sapphires. The gemstones are wrapped with sterling silver wire. Dropped off the bottom of the fairy's wing is a mystic Imperial topaz briolette.

Moonbat I Necklace by ElementsArtifacts 

 


Bats are lucifugous little creatures, often associated with the night, Halloween, and vampires. The folklore on these creatures is vast, including the belief that bats taking wing in the evening are departed spirits coming to visit the living, or that after death the spirit of the departed hovers near his or her body as a bat.

Vote Now!

Please cast your vote using the Public Poll at the right.  Voting will be open for two weeks and will close September 25th. The Winner of the Challenge will be announced shortly after. (The Technical Poll is for MCHs team members only.)

Please leave a comment below to be automatically entered into the next Jewelry Giveaway Drawing held soon!

Winged Flight Challenge Technical Poll

This technical poll is open to MCHs team members only, all other entries will be deleted. Thank you!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Yes, Sandra! You Won!

Congrats to Sandra who won our August blog giveaway! Sandra will receive the beautiful Mars Exploration jewelry set created by Kathy of Mostly Stoneware. The Mars Exploration set "was inspired by the recent exploration of Mars" and Kathy's vision of "how Mars might look" if she was able to see the surface.


Thanks for all of you who have entered and don't miss our next blog giveaway scheduled mid-September by following us! Thanks to Kathy who participated and giveaway such an amazing jewelry set. Our September challenge will be up pretty soon as well!

Happy Labor Day to you!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I like to let the material tell me what it wants to become -- Kathy

Kathy of Mostly Stoneware never hesitates to share her expertise on clay-related technicalities, be it the firing schedule, or the special components of certain clay or clay tool reviews. Today, she opens up and talks about her clay, her life as an artist and her inspirations.

Why did you pick the name Mostly Stoneware/Mostly Silver?
I picked the name Mostly Stoneware for my shop because my “full time” job is creating functional pottery from stoneware and porcelain.

I briefly ventured into opening a second Etsy shop for my jewelry and thought I would stay consistent with my 2 shop titles. At the present time I do not have much listed there as I am busy making fall wholesale orders but I do plan to develop an inventory for that store (Mostly Silver) sometime later this year.

When did you first become interested in Metal Clay? How long have you been designing jewelry using Metal Clay?
I first became interested in trying metal clay when I saw an ad in a pottery periodical called Ceramics monthly about 15 years ago.  It was intriguing to think clay could fire into pure silver.  I ordered it directly from the manufacturer in Japan and all of the instructions were in Japanese.  Thank  goodness the material was much less expensive then, as there was a lot of trial and error.


Fine Silver Leaf Necklace by Mostly Stoneware


What was your first piece of Metal Clay jewelry?

My first piece of metal clay jewelry was a goddess pendant featuring all kinds of coils and curls, and a sculpted face. I think it was almost 50 g of clay, unthinkable for me now.

Would you tell us your creative process?
My creative process usually starts with porcelain clay, and I make the prototype for the metal clay piece I want to make.  I love to experiment with texture and the porcelain gives me a really good idea of the scale and proportion of the texture or carving on the finished metal clay piece.

Years ago the forms were quite complex and involved techniques that I had learned from sculpture or hand building. As the material became more and more expensive I must admit my designs became simpler and more “saleable”. I live in a small Canadian prairie city where most people prefer to buy their jewelry from larger chain stores so I have to be careful with the amount of material I use in each piece unless it’s for a very special person or a custom order.

I think it is that magical connection of human hand, earth, and fire that has been entrancing people for centuries that draws me to the process and keeps me wanting to learn more and more. -- Kathy


What inspires you?
I love the rustic and natural. I like to let the material tell me what it wants to become.

I am inspired by the fabulous work I see others create.  I love natural forms and I love textures.  Often you will find me on a walk with a piece of wet clay in a baggie so that I can take an imprint of that texture to use in my designs.

I’m in awe of those people who take the time to learn and experiment with complex forms, I can do them in my pottery work, but translating them into the tiny forms that are metal clay is quite a complex process.

Pottery Utensil Holder by Mostly Stoneware


What are the major challenges when creating metal clay jewelry?
My major challenge at the present time is deciding where to focus my efforts.  I need to work on skill development to make more complex forms. Cost of my preferred material, silver, makes it necessary for me to explore combinations of working with sheet silver and metalsmithing techniques.

What do you enjoy most about working in Metal Clay?
I love the immediacy.  With the pottery I have to wait until I have about 100 pieces of pottery to fire before I can get any feedback about my process. With the metal clays I can see the fruits of my labour in hours.

What is the biggest mistake you've ever made? What did you learn from it?
I’ve made lots of mistakes over the years, the first was not knowing a firing temperature for the material.  I have a kiln shelf that still sits in my studio with little blobs of molten silver stuck to it to remind me I’m very human and very fallible.

Why did you design the giveaway piece? What is special about your giveaway piece?
I designed the giveaway piece as an experiment to see how copper metal clay would stand up to the enamel process, it was inspired by the recent exploration of Mars and my vision of how Mars might look if I were able to see the surface.

Mars Exploration Jewelry Set by Mostly Stoneware

A lucky person will win the beautiful Mars Exploration jewelry set. To enter our blog giveaway, please follow these rules:

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 under this feature 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 September 1st. Good luck!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Congrats to Tammi!

Who won our July blog giveaway! She will receive the Dogwood Earrings in Silver from Erin of Heartsabustin. Our next blog feature and giveaway will start mid-August, please stay tuned! Winning is easy and you could be the next winner!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

I really, really love what I do - Erin

Metalclayheads blog feature and giveaway - July 2012

Our featured Metal Clay artist this time is Erin of Heartsabustin, who grew up in the Smoky Mountains where Organic shapes and textures fascinate her. Her devotion to nature is expressed through many of her precious metal clay artwork. 

Why did you pick the name Heartsabustin?
Hearts-a-bustin' is a wildflower that grows in the mountains where I am from. It was my great-grandmother's favorite flower, and when my mom and I were looking for a name for our then-joint shop, we hit on heartsabustin.

When did you first become interested in Metal Clay? How long have you been designing jewelry using Metal Clay?
I was first intrigued by the fact that you could SO many things with metal clay about five years ago. I started actually working in metal clay about three years ago.

Sunflower Necklace by Heartsabustin

What was your first piece of Metal Clay jewelry?
A heart charm - I still wear it as one of my personal pieces.

Would you tell us your creative process?

I'll get an idea - I may or may not draw it out, although I find it helpful to do so. Then I go through the steps in my head of how I would complete the project - I try to work out the potential trouble spots ahead of time. This is merely academic - everyone knows that things pop up that you could never anticipate in the course of a project. I always learn something new from a project, whether it comes out the way I wanted it to or not!

What inspires you?
It may sound cliche, but I love nature. I grew up in the Smoky Mountains, and you can not grow up in an environment like that without it affecting you in some way. Organic shapes and textures fascinate me.

Why did you design the giveaway piece? What is special about your giveaway piece?
I love dogwoods - they are harbingers of spring in the mountains, and our property was covered with them when I was a kid. This was my first design with soldered ear wires, which I considered a huge step for me in my journey of jewelry making.

Dogwood Earrings by Heartsabustin

What are the major challenges when creating metal clay jewelry?
Most of the time, the clay doesn't do what I want it to. It can be very frustrating and enlightening all at the same time.

What do you enjoy most about working in Metal Clay?
The ability to create beautiful things out of silver without having to have a traditional casting set-up.

What is your greatest ambition as a Metal Clay artist?
To keep learning - I'll never know everything, but I'm going to try.

What is the biggest mistake you've ever made? What did you learn from it?
Not believing in myself. If I lose my belief in myself, I've lost everything else.

Basketweave Texture Necklace by Heartsabustin
Erin is giving away the Dogwood Earrings in Silver for a lucky winner! To win these beautiful, nature-inspired earrings, please follow these rules:

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 under this feature 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 3rd. Good luck!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Metal Clay Heads Threaded Vessel Challenge Results

Our Threaded Vessel Challenge Results Are Here!
We challenged our team members on creating a threaded vessel design with the theme "1920s ~1930s" and received four stunning entries. Here are the results:

By Popular Vote:
1. Silver Perfume Bottle -- Envydesignsjewelry with 20 votes
2. Pagoda -- SeavBeach with 7 votes
3. Petite Bottle -- WillowandMe with 3 votes

By Technical Vote:
1. Silver Perfume Bottle -- Envydesignsjewelry with 6 votes
2. Pagoda -- SeavBeach with 4 votes
3. Petite Bottle -- WillowandMe with 1 vote

Overall (based on percentage recalculation of the two above):
1. Silver Perfume Bottle -- Envydesignsjewelry (66%/55%)
2. Pagoda -- SeavBeach (23%/36%)
3. Petite Bottle -- WillowandMe (1%/9%)




Congrats to Jennifer of Envydesignsjewelry! Her Silver Perfume Bottle won! Thanks for all the MCHs who participated, and thanks to YOU who voted! Our next challenge will be due mid-September. Please check back for our upcoming Featured Artist + blog giveaway!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Threaded Vessel Challenge



Presenting The 2012 Second Quarter Metal Clay Design Challenge by Etsy’s Metal Clay Heads Team. 

Entrants were posed with the challenge of designing a metal clay original work under the theme “1920s-1930s Era” including the technical requirement for each of the entries to be a threaded vessel.  Talk about a true Challenge!

Each Quarter, the Metal Clay Heads team members embrace the task of incorporating new skills and techniques to gain personal growth as designers and artists.  Sharing ideas, learning from each other, the highs and lows of successes and failures, each member is encouraged and supported along the adventure.

This Challenge was particularly difficult with several failed attempts and crossed-fingers, prayers whispered in anticipation and plenty of recycling!

Before revealing the entries, there is one very notable effort worthy of a spotlight:

Laura of ZOEOWYN, Art Jewelry Adornment designed a beautifully crafted threaded vessel. 




These photos are examples of the degree of difficulty and gorgeous artwork that come from these Challenges.  Although her vessel is still a work in progress, her design is duly noted and just a taste of what wonderful designs were entered by truly talented metal clay artists.



And now  for the entries submitted for voting in the 2012 Second Quarter Metal Clay Design Challenge!  In alphabetical order by Etsy shop name, here are the 4 entries, each and every one deserving of recognition for successfully conquering the Threaded Vessel Challenge!  Please feel free to click on the photos for more details of each entry.

Silver Perfume Bottle, handmade fine silver Art Nouveau bottle necklace-OOAK by Jennifer of Envydesignsjewelry




A beautiful Art Nouveau style perfume bottle pendant in pure (.999) silver. Made entirely by hand, by me from recycled silver, this is a definite statement piece, featuring a raised iris design, and a screw on lid, with a carved leaf crown. There is a different texture on the back.
I added the bail on the back to hang the bottle from an 18" sterling silver snake chain.
I gave the bottle a rainbow patina, then buffed the raised design, to bring out the highlights.
This pendant is 2 3/8 inches long or 87.5mm x 16mm x 15mm. (more)


Pagoda  By Anise of SeavBeach



 This is an entry to a challenge in a wonderful group that I'm a part of. The design challenge was jewelry from the 1920's and 30's. I researched jewelry from that era and found the thing that intrigued me the most were the perfume bottles that were made during this time. Very intricate bottles were made to hold the finest perfumes from around the world. In reading about the jewelry from that period I found out that Asia influenced a wave of Art Deco jewelry. This is just one piece. The pendant. The top being a roof of a pagoda. It will fit into a built pagoda which will later become the bottle holder. (more)


Hagar's Threaded Vessel Pendant in Fine Silver by Bev of StuckOnSilver



Hagar's threaded vessel pendant in fine silver by Bev of StuckOnSilver
The dynasty created by Hagar's and Abraham's marriage included her land (from modern-day Libya and Egypt to Canaan) and his (from Iran and Iraq to Yemen) --a huge expanse of the known world. The leaves on the pendant represent the shrub that shaded their son Ishmael in the desert.
This pendant includes recycled silver and weigh approx. 4 grams. Vessel and top measure approx. 20 mm in length. A retro leaf motif adorns the vessel and top. Sleek square vessel has a circular screw-on top--both are hollow and might hold solid perfume or a mini-scroll with the name of a loved one on it (not included.) Wire holding the top is solid low-tarnish Argentium sterling silver for low-maintenance ease. (more)

Petite Bottle by Lisa of WillowandMe



Constructed with COPPRclay, the vessel sides and threaded connections were formed separately and assembled together to form this triangular Art Nouveau inspired bottle.  I reserved the extra pieces cut from the vessel sides to place inverted which gives the vessel a unique bottle shape with angular sides.  The top is also constructed using the pieces trimmed from the triangle bottoms, giving continuity of design throughout the entire piece.  The bright red CZ is secured with prongs made from cut pieces of clay and set pre-firing.  Fully sintered after three firings, this vessel measures about 1 ¼ inches tall.


Vote Now!
Please cast your vote using the Public Poll at the right.  Voting will be open for two weeks and will close July 9th.  The Winner of the Challenge will be announced shortly after.  (The Technical Poll is for MCHs team members only.)

Please leave a comment below to be automatically entered into the next Jewelry Giveaway Drawing held soon!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Code Breaking - QR codes and why you need them.


A year or so ago, I saw these and tried to click it with my phone and nada, rien, nothing, so I gave up.  However, recently I was talking to a Polish lady, who was showing me her English magazine, with fab articles and all over the place were these codes again.  When you scanned the code, hey presto you were taken to a link that had an mp3 with a listening that went with the text.  Suddenly they had my attention again.
If you have never heard of them, if you haven't seen them, you are so missing out.
If I said to you, here is a link you can print anywhere you feel like, that will take anyone straight to your etsy shop, who wouldn't love that?  Well that's what it is.  
It suddenly starts making a bit more sense why you keep seeing them everywhere now doesn't it?
So in simple terms it's a bar code effectively, a bar code that takes you to a web link. You scan it with an app on your (smart) phone and once it has focused and processed - it will give you the URL and take you to the page.  Obviously, not really much point in putting it on your website, just put an ordinary hyperlink, but ... and here is the big BUT, how about on your business card? or on your banner when you do a show, or your invoice that you send with all your goodies?  If you are slightly web wise, you could have it linking to promo codes, or new items or discounts or competitions, or maps to your show venue, or or or - the possibilities are immense.
Smart phones are the key of course, but the upturn of smart phone shopping is a hugely important thing to take account of.  (If you are in any doubt check on traffic sources on your google analytics to see where a lot of your visitors come from, mine is about 20% from phones).
If you want the app just go to your app market and look for a bar code scanner - they are usually free.






The one above is for the metalclayheads blog site, I just put it there for fun and so you can see.  But imagine it was for who ever lights your candle's web page, and you really wanted to follow them, you were out and about and saw their poster in the local shopping mall with their QR code beneath, simple, you just whip out your phone, scan as quick as you like and that link is now stored on your phone internet browser.  If it took you to their show dates with a promo code even better!
So the point is, today it is hard trying to keep up with all the latest, whether it's how to use twitter, or work out etsy's tag and relevancy search, or google analytics new interface, those things may take a bit of figuring out, but this one looks funky, looks a bit techy and you can do it in a jiff.  Look how cool and up to date you look, what does that say about you?  Cutting edge cool dude that's what.
How to get a code

So, have a search on google for QR code generator (I have used  - http://qrcode.kaywa.com/) put your URL in their QR-Code Generator box, add your etsy shop url (for instance) and save the produced image to your computer.  (Either right click and save the image or copy and paste the code they generate) Then paste the little blighter wherever you like.  Don't reduce it too small, about 3/4 inch seems to be the minimum size I can get it to still work with my phone.  Next time you update your business cards do think about adding it, or on the little messages you send out with your goodies.

Good luck and happy QRing!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Metal Clay Syringe Holder

Hi Metal Clay fans! I am Jennifer, a Metal Clay Head, and I will be bringing you reviews of metal clay tools and gadgets! 


I wanted to start with some of my favorite tools first. So I bring you Linda's Lid.






A fantastic tool for those of you who, like me, have to have several syringes available at all times. This particular tool was invented to keep your syringes moist and available by Linda Stiles Smith, a fantastic pioneer in the metal clay world.. I can't thank her enough.


I was turned on to this wonderful gadget by the woman who taught and certified me in ArtClay, Lisa Kwaske.


The cup holds up to 4 syringes at a time, so you can have all the available sizes handy. When not using all 4 holes, there are these little cork stoppers to prevent water evaporation. You fill the container with distilled water up to the bottom of the syringe tip, to keep your syringes from drying out.


The only con, that I can think of, is that if you do not use your syringes all the time, they can wick some water up into your syringes. This is easily remedied however, by pushing out said water into your slip jar until you start the flow of metal clay. 


Sold right on Etsy by Linda herself, this product is incredibly affordable at $15.95! You can also purchase this (and other fun tools) from Linda on her naturescapesstudio.com


Thank you and happy claying! More reviews coming soon.....


Stop by and see me on Etsy,
Jennifer

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Inspiration, Imitation and Copying : Trends and the Evolution of a Personal Style.

This post will be part 1 of 2 parts


Part 1.....
Metal clay as a material has limitless possibilities for design and innovation, its only limitation seems to be its expense. I’ve seen so many gorgeous examples of work here on the internet that inspire me and that often leads to a flight of design ideas and new possibilities.  Why don’t those come to fruition?  I’m afraid to be accused of “copying”.  How can I use this wealth of inspiration I see here on the internet to develop a style that is truly my own.

I suspect I'm approaching the topic as an art historian might.

Early 20th century artists and craftspeople have shared skills and worked in smaller groups, guilds and geographical locations and, as such, they could train/imitate/copy and still keep one another accountable. Forgery was frowned upon and could get someone booted out of their "school", guild, or even lose their apprenticeship.


A totally ruined career unless you were:
a :) talented enough to get a bunch of others to defect with you or
b :) could afford to move to another country and set up shop.
Mass commercial enterprise and the "net" have totally changed the rules of the art and craft world.

Everything is fair game and people are trying to "copyright" age old processes and designs in order to make their mark.

A whole industry has evolved to share information and I contend that it leads to a kind of stagnancy when we come to developing our own creative processes and style. Pictures, published materials and experts running workshops set the trends. Seeing the beautiful work is inspiring and can give rise to new and innovative designs and material use. More often, I think, we flock like sheep to copy the latest trend.

I’m guilty!!!

I’ve wondered whether jumping on these trendy bandwagons might be really inhibiting my own evolution of a personal style.

Most alarming is the trend for big off shore manufacturers to "steal” and use imagery, usually that of a craftsperson who makes each item by hand, only then to reproduce inferior quality items to sell huge volumes of these items. That`s new. It makes us all throw up our hands and mutter, ”Why even bother?”  if someone’s just going to rip it off.

Is it wrong to copy or imitate?.... and how is it fair that someone can take “your” idea and execute it, promote it and sometimes become much more successful than you were?

These quotes about imitation are cliché but they underline the fact that this issue has been around for a long time:

“Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery - it's the sincerest form of learning.”
― George Bernard Shaw


“Parrots mimic their owners. Their owners consider that a sign of intelligence.”
― Marty Rubin



Our inspirations are the sum of our parts, our physical and genetic makeup, where we live and where we have traveled; how we view the world and its beauty, its underbelly and all the wonderful natural idiosyncrasies. Originality is the stock and trade of most artists.  Some artistic visions are truly revolutionary, many are original but few exist without studying or at least having been exposed to other artists’ work.  It’s a pretty difficult pill to swallow when you’ve worked really hard to evolve a particular design and technique, perfect it and then see that same design mass produced or replicated.  With the advent of internet selling the problem becomes exponential. So many artists scrambling to have their work rank high on the almighty Google search criterion.

Ideas and trends evolve via inspiration, imitation, and sometimes outright copying. I think in the fashion industry it is somewhat expected.  There are thousands of books, CD’s, tutorials, and
industry publications.  Being published and selling one’s methods is often a big or bigger money generator than selling one’s creations.  We should not be surprised when people copy our work when the environment that surrounds us has a business model that promotes and encourages this.  Trends are highlighted, hot selling items and people are “featured”, magazines encourage DIY and expect artists to publish their process.

Historically, artists considered imitation to be a sign of respect.  I suspect many of those who teach and publish books subscribe to this view of imitation.  I think learning is really important.  One of the people I most admire is my grandmother, known for her fabulous recipes and baking; her motto was, “I’ll tell you the basics, and how hot the oven has to be but the rest you have to figure out on your own”.
She was an inspiration. No tutorials, just her voice in my memory and her handwriting in the margins of cookbooks I inherited.  I’ll never make cakes that look or taste the same as hers did, but she inspired me to learn.


Here are a few web based perspectives on this issue:

http://www.squidoo.com/inspiration-vs-imitation

http://www.tekniskamuseet.se/1/313_en.html
http://prettyshinysparkly.com/fbff-when-is-flattery-by-imitation-just-downright-copying/

http://udis-tmc.blogspot.ca/2012/02/inspiration-vs-imitation.html

I’m hoping this is enough info for us to have a bit of a discussion and entertain any comments on the subject then move to the next part in this series that will focus on where we can “find” inspiration and innovative creative processes.

Kathy



Visit Kathy on etsy at MostlySilver and MostlyStoneware