Image

Prometheus, the Golden Boy of Clay

Prometheus Clay is manufactured in Turkey, and until just recently, wasn’t sold in the US, although it has been around for a few years.  The golden boy of clay has come home!

It comes in bronze and copper, both of which can be torch fired or kiln fired, with or without the charcoal.  I love bronze but I do not love the mess that comes with the charcoal needed to fire it so I am very excited to have a chance to test with Prometheus.

My first piece was a bronze oval medallion, rolled to a 4 card thickness and textured with a pretty deep texture sheet, making it closer to 3 or 2 cards thick in places.  The oval was then cut along with two smaller ovals on each end.

imageThis was kiln fired directly on a mesh wire at 1500°, a FULL ramp and HOLD for 20 minutes.  The piece came out of the kiln warped and a bit distorted, along with a break.  Immediately after firing, it was quenched in water which removed most of the fire scale.  The break was on the narrow strip between one of the smaller ovals and the outer edge.  I will assume, at this point, the break happened because it shrank and pulled apart at a weak place in the clay.  After quenching, it was still “pink” so before going in the pickle, I chose to use my brass brush.  It cleaned up beautifully, giving the piece a nice antique bronze color.  I put my leather mallet to it and was able to flatten out the piece.  Nice job!   With the exception of the break and warping, I am very pleased with this piece.   I know, the break ruined it, but it was the first firing.

The second attempt was the same oval shape, along with small holes on the ends and a little further in from the outer edge.  This piece was rolled to a 4 card thickness, thinking this would deter the warping.  After a bit of research, I discovered others had determined the high temperature could cause the warp.  Also, I wanted to experiment with another firing technique, the wrapped method.  I wrapped the piece three times in a paper towel, embedded it in a firing blanket and carefully pinched the edges together to prevent any air from hitting it.  I placed in a cold kiln,with a fast ramp to 1500, held for 30 minutes, this piece was bigger and thicker.  Once again, quenching as soon as it is removed from the kiln, and while it is very, very hot (be careful) and all of the fire scale popped off.  Still pink and a much smaller amount of warping, which straightened out with the leather mallet.  I think I’m on to something!  Of course, the brass brushing is a must if you expect to see that beautiful bronze, golden color.

image

Oh,  and did I say that the price of Prometheus clay is a lot less than the cost of Fine Silver?  Yeah, I can afford to play and experiment with this.

This morning, I did a third firing with three different pieces.  Using the same firing technique, well,  it has worked so far, but used three difference thicknesses,  a lower temperature, and a longer fire time.  I fired these at 1450°, preheated, Full ramp and HOLD for 40 minutes.m

imageOK, call me dumb, but I decided to put a CZ in a quarter sized round disc which was very thin at a 3 card roll with added texture, so it was really 2 cards thick in places.  The second piece was a four card roll with a molded imprint of a sage leaf, yielding a pretty thick piece, and the third a smaller oval, 2 card rolled piece with a mold imprint.

The round disc ruffled from the heat and the CZ melted – pretty neat but not so pretty.  The small oval with the imprint, remained flat but blistered.

image

 

And the larger piece, with a four card thickness was perfect!  Unfortunately, I fell asleep during the firing  and when I pulled the pieces from the kiln, they had cooled so the fire scale did not come off.  These had to be pickled, which did the trick but left the pink residue.  After, a bath in the Super Pickle, and a good brass brushing, the bronze color returned.

image

 

Advertisements

Bronze Split Pea Soup

During our recent vacation week at the beach, I chose to, lazily, experiment with a couple of projects for the metal clay Masters Registry program even though I haven’t registered yet.  I’m now thinking a few more classes and experiences under the belt should be required.  It seems everything I made last week has flopped when it hit the kiln.  So, last week I made lentils; bronze lentils, copper lentils, silver lentils, round lentils, oval lentils, enough lentils  for lentil soup.  Although, I have made beautiful lentil beads and focal pieces in the past, it seems this project, with a thousand graduated lentils, wasn’t meant to happen right now.  My, oh so beautiful, copper lentils pancaked out after being fired.  The shape was nice, the texture beautiful, but no hollow lentil bead.  And these were a challenge because they were ovals.  I’m thinking that they collapsed because they were laying flat on the charcoal.  I just wish I had fired only one to begin with…two lessons learned!   So what can I do with flat, hollow, copper beads?   Push aside and move on.

Last night I fired my bronze lentils and tried only two in the first firing. (FFB, SC2, Fired @ 1550 for 2 hours.)  They kept their shape but one came out with a small crack.  They were quenched in water but not put in the pickle because I could tell by the “table thud” that they were not fully sintered.   Having worked a lot with bronze, I will often fire it two times.  Don’t know why but that works better and I get a lovely heat patina which I sometimes keep.   It also helps remove some of the oxidation.   So back into the fire box with a couple of new lentils.  The second load was fired using the same schedule, and when I took this load out and the beads being fired for the second time were lovely and sintered.  The new ones looked fine until I quenched them and they exploded!  Of course, I couldn’t believe that happened with the first one so I quenched the second one and it exploded, also.  My lentil saga!  I’m going back to the bench with more bronze, because they are ver lovely.  But first, I’m doing a little research to see what happened with the FF Bronze.

On a positive note, here are some success stories, I just can’t get more than one at a time!

Dragonfly Lentil

Dragonfly Bronze Lentil

 

Fine Silver Clay Lentil pendant, texture plates

Fine Silver lentil focal bead.

Deviled eggs?

While relaxing by the beach during our spring break, I’ve started to develop some of my ideas/designs that I’ve been planning for the Masters Registry project.  Even with my notebook full of plans, details all drawn out, I’m reminded of the snags and uh ohs you run into when you actually start a project. When details really matters, I prefer to start with a mockup version.  My first project is very time consuming but will be quite lovely if all goes well.  The mock up project will be in copper and the final project in fine silver.  Maybe, depends on how this turns out, copper can be gorgeous.  The project is a necklace made with graduated hollow beads, A7.  My first snag was not being prepared, I am not at home, with proper oval shapes for drying the beads.  I’ve picked up a deviled egg dish, it is Easter and they are everywhere.  This worked fine for the super large beads.  I tried  a grapefruit spoon, a teaspoon, and a soup spoon.  I have confidence they will turn out fine.  Today was roll and shape, tomorrow, form, file and carve and then pack away until I get home for firing.  In between, I’m trying out an idea for a sleeve container pendant,  A5.  Love being at the beach!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.

image image