Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New Adventure!

Hi all...it's been a while since I have blogged about anything here except my monthly COM challenges.  I have embarked on a bit of a new adventure, though and thought I would share my recent post from Art Jewelry Elements here!

If you read that blog, sorry for the duplication, but if not, a couple of weeks ago, I experimented with some PMC3?  I shared with you that working with metal clay had been a big "want to do" on my art bucket list!  I had fun playing and really liked the outcome, but I will be honest with you,  the price of the silver clay and the limitations were a huge drawback.  I didn't want to admit it at the time, but after looking at the 2 little pairs of charms, plus the very small amount of raw clay I had left out of a 16g package, I realized that if I was going to go further with this dream, I had to rethink some things.

After a lot of research, discussions with my sweet hubby, advice from my awesome, talented, knowledgeable, patient and giving teammates at AJE, I decided to purchase a kiln!  Yes! Jumping up and down, clapping hands!

Here she is!  A Paragon Caldera...perfect for metal clay, ceramics, glass fusing, and more!
The consensus in the group was that this kiln would be the versatile tool for someone like me who is still testing the waters.  While I think it will predominantly be for metal clay, I would be able to dabble in ceramics or glass.  I will probably eventually purchase the enameling collar which will enable me to play with cloisonne, and other kiln-fired enameling!

I jumped right in and bought some 3 types of metal clay...Copper, White Copper and Bronze.  I found out later that I should have probably opted for FastFire Bronze, but that will have to be another day!  After reading all the firing instructions, I decided that the copper was the most straightforward so chose to work with that first.  I'm glad I played with the PMC3 before...this was similar, but not quite as finicky, and since I was able to afford much more of it, I wasn't so scared to mess up.

I was happy to see that a lot of the tools and texturing materials I had been collecting for my polymer clay worked perfectly with the metal clay as well! I have a running list of things that I know I will be going back and getting.

My 1st batch...they haven't dried yet.
So, I get some pieces made, drying, getting ready for cleanup and think I am ready for my 1st firing! Excitedly, I post to my team and they are all.."whoa, hold your horses, have you done a test run?"  I found out that I needed to run the kiln empty to make sure it worked.  Okay, I can still get these done, just a lot later!

After a successful test, and cleanup of my dried pieces, I loaded my new kiln for the first time.  By this time it was late, so I set my alarm to get up and check on it several times!  This morning, I opened it and found my treasure!  It was a bit sad to see my shiny new firing pan was now black and ugly, but I knew that was going to happen.  I found a slotted spoon and started sifting for the buried treasure!

Another thing I knew would happen, but maybe not quite so much was how much shrinkage happened.  The little squares and circles came out really tiny!  I need to remember to compensate for that more in the future!

My pieces right out of the charcoal, before cleanup!

Here they are, cleaned up with a brass brush.
Aren't they pretty?!  Next step is to patina and make them into something!  All in all, for a first try, I think this was a success!  I think one of the hard things will be to work at finding my own style with this..I mean, there are such talented metal clay artists out there...some of the best at AJE...Kristi, Karen, and Lesley! Thanks to them for the inspiration and sharing of knowledge!

Stay tuned!

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