Thursday, March 29, 2012

How Make a cane from Metal Clay

Materials you will need:

Clay extruder and discs- this will cut the circles and also extrude your canes

Pick at least 2 clays clays you would like to use. I will be using copper, bronze and steel pearl gray metal clay ( Hadar Jacobson brand)

6, 3 and 1 card stacks

olive oil, roller, suran wrap, small razor to lift circles

Step one:

Preparing for the cane

1. Take your copper clay and roll it 6 cards thick. Using the clay extruder cut 6 circle discs and place them on your board with suran wrap on top to keep them from drying out.

2. Take the bronze clay (or white bronze or both) roll it 3 cards thick. Cut 6 circle discs and place each one on each of the copper discs. Cover with the suran wrap.

3. Lastly you will roll the pearl gray steel 1 card thick. Again, cut 6 discs and place those on top of the bronze clay discs. cover with suran wrap.

**The copper needs to be approximately two times the amount of the bronze (or white bronze) because it creates an alloy where it connects. If the copper is not dominant the bronze will take over. This may also make the detail in your piece not so crisp. 

Copper 6 cards thick
Bronze 3 cards thick
White Bronze 3 cards thick
Steel 1 card thick

Step two:

Making the cane

1. Pick the shape disc you will want your cane to be. 

If you can't find a shape you like, make your own. Take copper clay (less shrinkage) 4 to 6 cards thick and make your shape. Dry it, clean it and fire it and you are ready to go!

2. Stack all the little stacks on top of each other. Starting with copper, bronze and steel, copper bronze and steel and so on. 

3. Load the clay stack into the extruder starting with the steel and ending with the copper. 

4. Place the disc of your choice into place and screw the top on.

5. Start to extrude. I make my canes about 3 inches long. I find any bigger they start to get distorted.

6.  Set each one to the side and cover while you make more.

7. Save all your left overs. it makes a great mix for backings or even just to add swirls of color to a plain piece you are making.

8. Store what ever you are not using in a sealed contain that you stick in the freezer. It keeps indefinately. When you are ready to use it again just pull it out. By the time I start slicing pieces off it already is softening.

Next blog post will be about creating a piece with your cane slices and creating mokume-gane.

Visit me on Etsy at DaVoria and my Blog

Canes from Metal Clay part 2

This is how you turn your clay canes into patterned pieces.

1. Lay your cane out straight

2. Slice it down the middle to check out your design

3. Keep making slices throughout the whole cane

4. Place the sliced pieces in your mold patterned side down.

peeking on the other side to make sure you like how it is coming a long

5. Lay it on the cup warming plate making sure it's protected by sticks or something so the mold doesn't melt. The piece will loosen and fall out of the mold when its dry.

6. This is how it comes out of the mold

7. There are some cracks so I start my sanding in circular eight  motion with 150 grit sand paper. sometimes the sanding makes the cracks disappear, sometimes it doesn't. I am showing you 2 different pieces. One has just been sanded and the other has been filled in and is ready to resand.

8. Continue the sanding. I go from 150 to 220 to 400. I stop when I'm happy with the piece. And I don't forget the sides. Adds such a cool touch to the piece. Once this is done I will add some sort of bail. (not shown here)

9. The last step before firing, when your piece is exactly how you want it, you will burnish it. Burnishing condenses the clay and makes sure the metals you are  joining are in fact joined.

Once this piece is fired and I'm sure it has sintered, I will clean it off with radial discs. If There are any cracks I will fill them and refire, unless I think the cracks are fitting to the piece. 

****This ring has cracks that need to be repaired. I will fill in the cracks and then just do the second phase of firing. Any uneven spots after it is fired I will sand and grind until it's smooth.

When my piece is as I like it, I buff it to a shine with 800 grid polishing paper and then 1200 grid. Then I treat it with Baldwins Patina which brings out the colors in the metals and shows the beautiful patterns that the canes have made.

Visit me on Etsy at DaVoria and my Blog

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Our Geometric's Challenge Results Are Here!

We challenged our team members on creating a Geometric design with movement and received five amazing entries. Here are the results:

By Popular Vote:
1. Silver Spinner Necklace II -- MyBrownWren with 29 votes
2. Umbrella Ring Copper Silver Spinner Wrap -- YorkAvenueStudio with 12 votes
3 . Silver Spinner Chocolate Pearl Pendant from Envydesignsjewelry with 9 votes

By Technical Vote:
1. Silver Spinner Necklace II -- MyBrownWren with 10 votes
2. Silver Spinner Chocolate Pearl Pendant from Envydesignsjewelry with 1 vote
2. Teardrop Unusual Unique Triangle Silver Ring -- Somethingxtraspecial with 1 vote

Overall (based on percentage recalculation of the two above):
1. Silver Spinner Necklace II -- MyBrownWren (55%/83%)
2 . Silver Spinner Chocolate Pearl Pendant from Envydesignsjewelry (17%/8%)
3. Umbrella Ring Copper Silver Spinner Wrap -- YorkAvenueStudio (23%/0%)
4. Teardrop Unusual Unique Triangle Silver Ring -- Somethingxtraspecial (6%/8%)

Congrats to Tammi of MyBrownWren! Her Silver Spinner Necklace II is absolutely outstanding and won both categories in flying colors! Thanks for all the MCHs who participated, and thanks to YOU who voted! Tammi will pick our next challenge theme this coming May.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rich Men Don't Buy Chips (why you need to know who buys what)

If you are looking for a rich husband you wouldn't go to the local chip shop to find him would you? Where would you go? How would you dress? What would you say? ... and that really sums up why you need to know your target buyer!  
I know it sounds really dull, but actually it is the crux of everything you do, and if you don't have a clear vision you will waste a lot of very valuable time.
Well to start this off, it would seem that the place to begin is getting to know your demographic. Seriously, if you don't know your demographic target you will waste a lot of energy trying to sell to the wrong people.
When I started I thought 'but it's everyone', and yes it is open to everyone but there is a good, really good reason why you need to hone it down a little.
I don't know if it's my teacher's mind or my journalism mind but always it comes back to the questions - the who? what? why? where? when? and how?  If you try and answer these for most things you will find things an awful lot clearer.
Here's a couple of examples of how it can go right and how it can go so wrong:
Tiffany’s key demographic is high-net-worth females ages 28-54, with a strong interest in fashion, shopping and luxury products.
and sales are up 7%
Emma Moore, a lifelong shopper from Lewisham, said: “I have been a shopper all my life but not at M&S. Because I find the clothes really old-fashioned and hideous. Because I find the food very expensive compared to other supermarkets and because my local branch isn’t really any good anyway. BUT MAINLY JUST BECAUSE I HATE THE BLOODY PATRONISING ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS WHICH HAVE NO RELEVANCE TO ME OR MY FAMILY.”
Some very interesting reading about how Britain's high street supermarkets target their buyers
So you see, the big companies do it, we need to as well. Why?  Well once you know who you are selling to, it makes choosing the language you use to describe your beautiful piece a lot easier, it makes knowing where to advertise a lot easier, it also makes knowing where to sell a lot easier.
Sit down with a piece of paper, a coffee and twenty minutes to spare and think about who has bought your stuff.  Who wears it?  Is it old ladies - who like fiddly pieces that will last a lifetime? is it young girls who will maybe only wear it twice and hope if costs pennies?  Slowly you will get an idea of who likes your stuff, who you are making for. If all else fails, think who has bought your stuff so far and see if there is a trend.
I know (in my mind) who I am making for, what social group she mixes in, where she shops, how old her kids are (if she has any) what job she does (or had), whether she is married or not, how much disposable income she has and what she wears (in my minds eye I even know her hairstyle ;-).  You see how once you know that it is easier to title and describe your stuff?
'Funky bad asse bling to kill for' as opposed to ' delicate quality jewellery that will last a lifetime'.
So you now have the who.  And that has probably helped with the what (although that is probably 'I make what I like and I am inspired to make' - if you are like me, but you probably have a style in any case, if you have made more than 5 or 6 peices, it starts becoming clear your direction)
So why.  Why do you need to know? because it helps you decide (with that person in your mind) where you will try and sell, in a fine jewellery show or a county fayre? in the local nail bar or the old people's home shop, online on a young website or a well established web site.  It will help you know how you should package your stuff, bright green tissue and organza bag or classy black boxes (etc), how to price and how to describe.
When - when are they going to buy? any time? as a present? to treat themselves or will they need to save up for ages - this can be deduced by their age group from above, and you then market accordingly.
And once it comes down to the marketing, once you have your target, you will know where they look.  Not quite so likely the much older lady looking on twitter or Facebook, she is much more likely to want to see it in the flesh so to speak, and probably doesn't trust buying off the net, jewellery parties and craft fayres would be more her style.
The 20 - 30 year old probably spends an hour a day or so on Facebook and twitter (and whatever the latest place for that age is, so that would be a good place to advertise to her (or him), they generally feel quite comfortable buying online.
If you think of all the words that you use to describe your jewellery, you'll find many of them are age related, have a  look at the following list and see if you can decide which your granny would use and which your teenager would use (if any).
silver/ shiny / glistening / fancy / funky / fiddly / chunky / weighty / delicate / fine / hand crafted / hand made / unique / one of a kind.

1: classic silver textured band
2: hammered silver stacker ring

With a bit of luck, if you can’t think of the right words, you will know someone in that group you are trying to appeal to and you can ask them to describe what they see, and take a note of their adjectives for future use.
So hopefully you now have some idea of who you are selling to, you will need to title it, describe it and tag it.
That's another post!
(There are some more online ideas here 
I am certainly no guru,  but I do read a lot ;-) these are just things I have picked up on the way and hope they help)

My name is Sue, I'm a metalclayhead and I run:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Geometric's Challenge

Drum roll please! Our geometric's challenge is here! We've amazing entries this time from five very talented MCHs. You can see from their submissions that they're eager to take their metal clay skills to the next level. Our technique requirement this time is "movement." Here they're:

Umbrella Ring Copper Silver Spinner Wrap from YorkAvenueStudio

Adorable little umbrella ring that wraps around your finger. I make the umbrella top with fine silver (.999) and the design is carved by hand. The ring band is the umbrella handle that wraps as an adjustable ring made from heavy copper wire. The Umbrella spins, perfect for those who like to fidget with their fingers, fun!

Teardrop Unusual Unique Triangle Silver Ring from Somethingxtraspecial

This beautiful and unusual shaped tear drop ring is perfect for the fiddler! A different design (one embossed, one etched) on each side of the disc, giving the wearer the option of two rings in one!

Drifting Fine Silver Pendant from Jewelflyt

...drift away...across a dreamy sky...

This handcrafted pendant is made from precious metal clay - fine silver. Crafted in the shape of a hot air balloon, 'drifting' is a lovely, whimsical pendant.

Silver Spinner Necklace II from MyBrownWren

This is a spinner necklace. It has four wings that are perpendicular to the central core, which is an extruded square tube. The central core and the wings are all hand carved, as well as the matching bottom bead. This piece hangs from a 24" oxidized sterling silver chain.

Silver Spinner Chocolate Pearl Pendant from Envydesignsjewelry

A fun paisley patterned domed open circle pendant with a spinner disc affixed to the front with a chocolate pearl. Handmade from recycled fine silver (.999). The disc on the bottom of the pendant is set with a yellow sapphire, and yes it spins!

The public poll on the right is open for two weeks. The technical poll, also open for two weeks, is restricted to MCHs team members only. Enjoy and don't forget to vote! Please cast your vote on the right column; and if you post a comment, you will be automatically entered into our December blog giveaway. Polls will be close on March 25th.

If you post a comment, you will be entered into our next blog giveaway!