Gallery Exhibit

As a member of the Artisans of the South Carolina Cotton Trail, some of my work will be featured in our exhibit at the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC during January.  Most of my show pieces for this exhibit are made with cotton pearls, made from compressed cotton and coated with a lacquer finish.  Come join us at our opening reception on January 10, 2014.image

New Kiln, Big Batch

With the new kiln, a Paragon SC2, I’ve been stock piling my bronze pieces so I could fire one large load. Somewhat a success, but I did loose two pieces, both of which seemed to pull apart/break at a narrow point. Maybe due to shrinkage factor.

This batch was made with Fast Fire Bronzclay. The focus was on getting the firing schedule right. There were a variety of thicknesses, shapes, and designs.  All pieces were air dried for three days and fired in the SC2 kiln. I did a full ramp to 1525, held for 2 hours and 25 minutes and left to cool over night. It was not fully cooled by early morning so I carefully removed them to a water bath.  I used a lid on the stainless container and used Magic Carbon.

I’ve discovered with earlier firings, that the bronze has a distinct ring when if fully sintered, as it hits the counter. All pieces except two had that ring. I’m not sure if it is because they are not solid pieces or if the thickness where clay overlaps has not sintered. I plan to fire them again to be sure they are ready.

You can see the pieces that separated or broke on the far right.  Next step is polishing and cleaning.

I’m thinking there were three big mistakes.  1) firing with lid on container; 2) prolonged cool period; 3) order items were placed in container.  Will be seeking other’s advice.

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At the bench again!

imageSo now I’ve finished my second lentil bead and now I’m thinking the polishing, buffing and finishing is the most challenging. I ended up doing a lot of filing, sanding and more sanding on the finished piece. It isn’t perfect but I like where I’m going with this style bead.

Inspired by Laura Bracken’s blog in which she chronicles her experiences with metal clay, both the good and the ugly, I’ve decided to keep track of my next metal clay project.  I’m more motivated now that I have my new kiln but, also, a little intimidated. That digital programming stuff!

For my next project, I’m planning to work the greenware until it is PERFECT, as everything I read says that is the easiest way. Another lentil in the making.

To stir things up a bit, I spent Saturday in a metal clay class with Karen Simmons and now I love silver clay more, again! Learned lots about which stones I can fire and some really cool techniques for setting cz in silver clay. Mastered the ring sizing, well at least until I see if this next project fits. There are all sorts of shrinkage issues depending on clay and you have to allow for that. Karen’s method gets you really close and with the tapping to enlarge or refiring for a “little” more shrink, I can get pretty close.

What I have realized is that bronze clay, though easy to form, mold, carve and shape, it is much more difficult to work with during the firing phase, but I still love the rich heavy feel of bronze.

Week-end Clay Warrior

Finally finished forming, firing, and cleaning several pieces that I made with bronze clay.  Still trying to decide which bronze clay I prefer.  Hadar’s Quick Fire Bronze just feels good; easy to shape, carve, and form in the wet or dry state.  Firing… I haven’t mastered that yet and this piece I’m dreading to fire…so afraid I’ll miss on the right temp.  My Speedfire Mini Electric kiln is hard to regulate….


The other FastFire Bronzclay, dries quicker, a little less easy to work with before firing, but fires easily in the Speedfire Mini.   When I get time, I’m doing another test fire with the Hadar’s clay and firing away on the ring!  If it doesn’t sinter or overfires, well, it is easy to make with Hadar’s clay and I’ll just make it again.  These are the results of the “clay play” for this week-end.

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Getting Ready For Fall

When it gets so hot out, I like to cool off by making plans for fall and winter shows.  My first thoughts are about the colors that everyone will be buying in the fall.  The Pantone Color Chart  is a big help and the most universal system directing the upcoming trends. Using the Pantone forecast, I then identify possible gemstones that will coordinate.  This guides me in coordinating my jewelry with the fashion world.

These are the top 10 Colors for Fall 2013.  The fun part is pairing up gemstones with the season’s color chart and this one from an article at Jewelry Making Daily  is a great beginning.  My additions are added in Red … feel free to add others you would suggest In the comments below.

Grayed Jade: This one is easy, it does look like jade–but shades of chalcedony and larimar could also work, along with faceted apatite and fluorite. Aquamarine in this slightly greenish shade is my favorite color for that gem.  Amazonite, bowenite- in the  serpentine family
Tender Shoots: For this springy green, peridot comes to mind right away, along with grossular, tsavorite, and demantoid garnets. Some turquoise works here, Chrysoprase, Phrenite Rutile, some jades.
Emerald: Even though it’s called emerald, this color looks a little more blue-green than emerald-green to me. Chrome diopside is another rich green option, but apatite and tourmaline will give you that hint of blue.  Malachite, Beryl
Dusk Blue: Lovely sapphire and spinel as well as topaz and aquamarine could serve as this color in your gemstone creations, along with certain shades of chalcedony and larimar.  Blue Mist Chalcedony, Peruvian Blue Opal, Zircon
Monaco Blue: This blue could also be served with sapphire and spinel, as well as lapis lazuli, iolite, sodalite, and possibly even very fine tanzanite.  I can’t add to this right now… my favorite colors.
African Violet: Kunzite, fluorite, and amethyst have just the lovely shades of purple to match this color. Some tanzanite, charoite,ametrine, 
Nectarine: Fire opals, as well as spessartite, mandarin, and hessonite garnets, match up with this juicy color, along with citrine. Red Adventurine – a lighter shade, peach stone, peach moonstone, peach calcite, peach agate, peach colored adventurine, fire agate and carnelian.
Lemon Zest: Lemon quartz is a good match for this one, along with yellow sapphire, tourmaline, chrysoberyl, yellow beryl, and topaz. Also look for Mali garnet, some citrine, and some members of the grossular garnet family. Mmmm…can’t top this list either. However, I do love the New Yellow Jade Nephrite.
Poppy Red: Even though rubies are a little more blue-red than this red, rubies certain fall in this area, as do spinel. Pyrope and other garnets can be this color, as can dark fire opals.  Red Jasper can work here, red coral, orange jade.
Linen: This pretty color immediately makes me think of pearls (surprised? ha!), but rose quartz and morganite might be a better match. Mother of Pearl, bone, several jaspers, rutilated quartz.

If you’re a jewelry maker you might want to display your work with a lovely fabric in each of the colors.  This photo is from an earlier exhibit at The Gift Gallery in Tappahannock, VA and it really shows off the jewelry.  A few matted covers from magazines with the latest styles helps customers make up their minds, especially if you use shots of current styles in local stores such as Chicos, Ann Taylor, etc.


More, more, metal clay!

Saturday was great!  I spent the day with Carrie Story at Ain’t Miss Bead Haven in Mooresville, learning everything scientific and mathematical about metal clay. I also got to visit with Laura and Kim…my beading buddies from Charlotte.  Of course, Laura has opened this fabulous store and I highly recommend you check it out.  Kim is there, also, teaching classes.  What a great place to be!

After five months experimenting with metal clays including silver, copper, and bronze, I discovered so many things that I did wrong and so many that I did right.  My greatest discoveries were baby wipes, how to use my slats with texture plates, and to never, ever throw away straws!  Now, it’s time to practice, practice, practice certain techniques such as pinch bails and stone setting… looking forward to new projects with metal clay.

This is my first “bail” project which was totally off center.  I decided to add on the grapes and vine to balance but it just isn’t where I want it yet.  Lot’s to learn on the finishing, as well.








Here are my other class projects … thanks Carrie!

12206b5a-9011-4570-83be-f0484405195c_zps03b24d7c Fine Silver - pendant