Friday, 14 October 2016

Changing seasons, changing colours - experiments with bronze

Up until now, I've always worked only in silver clay but for a long time I've had a hankering after the beautiful golden tones of other metals. I started experimenting about a year ago with bronze and copper clays but couldn't get them to fire properly in the kiln. This can be a bit tricky and I'm not the only one who has trouble getting the firing schedule right at the beginning. Luckily, I was only firing test strips and hadn't spent hours working on pieces only to see them break before my very eyes!

This was just some of the failures along the way! Some were more metallic than others - some looked good until you tried to bend them and then they just snapped. I know I don't intent for my jewellery to be bent but it's important to know that a piece is fully sintered.

After reading just about every article and blog on the internet and much messing about with kiln temperatures and ramp times I finally found a schedule that works for me! It's only taken over a year (although to be fair I have done a lot of other things in between trials!)

Wooo Hoooo! My first successful firing tests - strips that can be bent in half with pliers and rods that can be bent when hammered in a vice without braking, splitting or tearing! Now...on to actually try a design - where better to start with than my favourite leaves whose autumn colours inspired this detour into bronze in the first place.

Here are the first leaves - they all look different because I've now been experimenting with how best to finish them. Some have been polished up to a shine and others have been left with a more satin finish. I like them both and the contrast between the two. Now I'm going to leave them sitting around for a while a see how the appearance changes over time as natural patinas occur in the air.

And now I've got it to work - it must be time to make some more! I'm looking forward to combining colours in my work in the future. 

N.B. The clays I was experimenting with were Prometheus Bronze and Goldie Bronze - I think the leaves were all from Prometheus because that's what I had the most of. It will be interesting to see the colour difference (and shrinkage rates)  when I do some with the Goldie Bronze. I noticed that my test strips were quite different colour straight out of the kiln.

Metal-clayers out there - did you have as much trouble getting base metals to fire initially and do you notice colour differences between brands?

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Virtual Meetings

It's been a while since I've updated this blog - somehow there's always something else that has to be done by yesterday. But this week I've been inspired to pick up my virtual pen again by Mossy from Silver Moss Jewellery. A while ago she asked me to take part in a interview about my work for her blog and it's now gone live, so if you care to have a read then please pop over and have a look HERE.

What I love about taking part in things like this is that you get to 'meet' people from all over the place that you wouldn't otherwise get to talk to and to have a look at how other artists work. Somehow it seems to make the world seem a little bit smaller, in the best way - it can be quite solitary in the workshop by yourself!

So do go over and have a look, and while you're there have a look at some of Mossy's work too!

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Has it Really Been That Long?

Has it REALLY been THAT long since I last blogged?!?

Well, what can I say? I've been rather busy since last, er, March.

What HAVE I been doing? Well, making, making and more making of course, keeping my stock up in my Folksy Shop and in Gloucestershire Arts and Crafts Centre and Taurus Crafts in Lydney. I attended some fabulous Christmas markets at Nature in Art and Gloucester Cathedral and I ran several classes at the Arts and Crafts Centre (including one using silver clay)! I also started experimenting with new techniques, which I am still refining and getting really excited about - including wax mould carving, photopolymer stamps and using copper and bronze clays - all things I fully intend to blog about over the coming months. In between all that Little Miss MoonRiver grew up a bit more and went off to secondary school (sob) and I studied a bit of theology (as you do)! SO all in all it has been a busy and crazy 2015.

And so, new year 2016 was a time to reassess and take stock. I have decided that from the end of January, I will no longer sell my jewellery at Gloucestershire Arts and Crafts Centre. I'm rather sad about this as I have loved my time there and made some fabulous friends, but I am simply not getting enough time in the workshop to develop all the new ideas I'm so excited about. I still have classes booked there each month though (for full details see attached poster) so I'm not disappearing entirely!

Right now, I'm itching to jump into all the half finished projects and ideas I have lying around but I really must be disciplined and attend to some less glamorous tasks like tidying up websites, shops and, yes, blogs. On that note, I hope it won't be so long until I post again!