Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Silver clay - part 4

This will be the last post for a while about silver clay.  Sorry for the delay, but I was working all weekend to finish the challenge piece I've been talking about.  I'll post pictures of it tomorrow.  I wanted to finish off this topic first.

My Mother-in-law asked in a comment from my last blog post about how long I've been making jewelry and how long it takes to make the silver clay pieces.  Instead of answering in a comment, I thought I'd post here.

I'm not sure how long I've been making jewelry.  Maybe 15 years, on and off?  I've been way more involved now that I live up here and hang out with the Loose Bead Society folk.  It's peer pressure, I'm sure of it.  Good peer pressure.  My pieces have improved quite a bit, and last night I was told (good naturedly, I hope!) that it's irritating that my challenge piece was so good for someone who has been doing this type of beading for such a short time.  I actually get frustrated when it takes me too long to figure a stitch out.  I have been crocheting for years, and I did a lot of crewel and embroidery when I was younger.  But then I always did get frustrated when I didn't "get" something right away.

Anyway - how long do silver clay pieces take?  That's hard to answer.  There are so many different steps, with the time each takes depending on what type of clay is used, how intricate the design is, etc...

The most important thing is to know what you want to do ahead of time.  Dithering and thinking while the clay is out of the package is not wise.  You have some time to work with it, but it does dry somewhat quickly.

Let me see if I can sum it up:

Design:  ??  Up to you how long it takes.
Prep: 10 minutes or so?  You want all of your tools ready before taking the clay out.
Working with the wet clay:  10-15 minutes for the Art Clay brand, maybe up to 20 minutes for PMC3.  I don't know why, but I seem to have a lot better luck with PMC3.
Drying the wet clay: 24 hours if left alone, but it could take about 20-30 minutes if you use an oven or warming plate.
Filing the dry piece to remove any burrs or sharp edges:  Could be as little as 0 minutes or perhaps 10-15 minutes.  I usually don't need to file too much.
Firing the piece:  About 5 minutes a piece - maybe a little less.  If you have a bunch of little pieces (like the hearts I used for the wedding invitations and my jewelry), you can do more than one at a time if you're careful.  I don't know how long it would take in a kiln.
Cooling the piece:  0.2 seconds if dropped in water.  :)
Cleaning the piece with a wire brush:  It depends on how intricate it is.  Something flat will take a few minutes.  The scribbly wire pendant took considerably longer than that.
Applying liver of sulfur to darken impressions:  Around 5 minutes.
Burnishing/polishing:  Around 10 minutes or so.

Wow.  That is a lot of steps, and it does take quite a while to get a piece done.  I always make more than one at once so I can keep the time down and so I can use all of the clay.

Okay - here are the last few pieces I'll show you until I get more done.  The first is a pin I made to match the pattern of the purse I was using at the time.  It's kind of a quilted pattern, and I used a toothpick to mimic it.  I had drawn it out ahead of time so I could work quickly.  I included holes for dangly bits (that's my favorite phrase lately):

In hindsight, I would have used wrapped loops instead of plain loops - every one of those dangly bits came off.  The pin is on my shelf waiting for me to make new ones.

This pin was made in a silver clay class I took at Artist & Display - a very neat art store near home.  I took the class so I could meet people, but while everyone was friendly, none of them became friends.  I got a very nice pin, though!  The teacher had a large number of molds, and this was the first time I'd used one.  I chose the cat, of course.  She said we had to embellish the piece and not just use the mold as is, so I added a little ball for a Carl Malden nose, I drew a heart on it, and I added another tail so it would have some more dimension.  I had some leftover clay, so I made it kind of a cloud for the kitty to sit on.  The clay had started to dry, so it looks kind of rough.

I like the finished product.  It's such a cute kitty!

I hope you have liked this series on silver clay.  If you decide to try it, please send me pictures of your work.  I'd love to see it!

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