Oct 30 2009

Stainless Steel Clay

[Edit: The information in this posting is obsolete. Stainless Steel Clay is no longer manufactured or supported.]

I have arrived at a more or less reliable firing schedule for the steel clay I was discussing in my previous posting. This schedule works for different thicknesses and sizes, and I will post it soon. In answer to your questions, it was not stainless, and yes, it will rust. To those of you who do not like the corrosion effect, there are ways to seal the steel before you sell it, and ways for the customer to protect it further from corrosion. These ways include bluing, tempering, oiling, and waxing, and I will dedicate a separate posting to this topic.

I did make stainless steel clay. This time the clay is shiny silver in color.

Again, I used a mold that I had made before and pressed the clay against it.

I trimmed off the excess clay,

added a bail,

made test pieces, 4, 6, and 8 cards thick, and started to experiment with the firing schedule.

To avoid oxidation, I fired in carbon, using 2 phases. The first phase was the same as for copper and bronze clay. As for the second phase, at 2100°F (1150°C), test pieces 4 and 6 cards thick sintered, but the 8-card test piece and the pieces I demonstrated above did not sinter completely.

I fired the same pieces for 2 more hours and nothing changed. One thing that I have learned from these experimentations is that re-firing unsintered clay, at least steel clay, does not make any difference.

On a different firing, at 2200°F (1205°C), the steel started to swell and lose details (like blistering on bronze). I guess the next step is to go back to firing at 2100°F, but for more than 3 hours.

Before I do that, though, I’d like to pursue the regular steel. There are two main reasons for this: first, the firing temperature for regular steel is lower than that of stainless steel, although still higher than that of copper and bronze clay, and the firing time is the same. Second, steel clay is cheaper than bronze and copper clay, whereas stainless steel is significantly more expensive. The cost and the long firing hours at high temperatures may make stainless steel nearly as expensive as working with silver clay.

In my next posting I will discuss the firing schedule for steel clay, along with some suggestions for protecting the kiln while firing.

Oct 27 2009

Toolkit for my Workshops

For anyone who has signed up for my workshops this year in: San Diego (CA); Phoenix (AZ); Brighton (MI); Los Angeles (CA); Grand Junction (CO); San Antonio (TX); East Yorkshire (UK) and other places,

Please download the file “Personal Toolkit for Mixed Metal Workshops” from the right-hand pane of my blog. It is highly important that you have these tools with you in order to complete the projects planned for the workshop. If you have any questions regarding a specific tool, please feel free to contact me personally at hadar@pacbell.net. For availability of equipment in the classroom, please contact the hosting venue.

Oct 24 2009

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Oct 24 2009

Steel Clay

It may be too early to tell, since there is a lot of experimentation to be done yet, but it seems that my first try at steel clay was a success.

Here is what I did: I prepared it more or less the same way I make my copper and bronze clay powder. The clay is shiny black, smooth and creamy. I pressed it against a polymer clay mold that I had made. (You can click on the photo to enlarge).

Then I cut a circle out of the steel clay and dried. Like bronze clay, it shrank about 10% while drying, and I had to flip it over from side to side to keep it from warping.

To keep it simple I drilled a hole at the top.

It was fired in carbon. I am still testing the firing schedule, so I will post my results later. It came out black from the kiln, as if I’d already oxidized it with liver of sulfur. I buffed it with a coarse mini-fiber wheel. The shrinkage was like that of bronze – about 25% for flat pieces.

It is very strong, and surprisingly light.

To test joints I made another piece with a bail on the back. The dry bail easily attached to the dry circle and the joint was very strong after firing.

I also made a steel rock, and fired it half full of carbon.

As you can see in the photo, this time the shrinkage rate was much smaller.

After sanding and matting it to a satin finish (which was harder than sanding silver), I took a photo of the steel rock next to a silver rock. The steel rock is somewhat darker.

Oct 19 2009

My Book Has Arrived!

My Third book: Mixed Metal Jewelry from Metal Clay is now available and can be ordered here.

The book includes 41 step-by-step projects for silver, bronze, and copper clay. It is 128 pages, full color, soft cover, spiral bound.

For a full description please read the Introduction to the book.

All pre-orders are currently being shipped. Please contact me if you have not received your pre-order within a week (two weeks for orders outside the U.S.).

Oct 18 2009

Free Project: Tricky Balled-up Ear Wires


This project is for everybody, but is specially dedicated to the brave girls in Sydney who took my two evening classes on balling up a wire at both ends. How fun was that? Here is another thing you can do with this technique, although it’s a little more tricky. You may have to do this a few times until you succeed. I suggest practicing with scrap wire. Seriously, if you manage to do this one, you can consider yourself an expert on balling up wire.

Here are three solid rods from silver, copper, and bronze clay, with a side hole in each. (You can click on the photos to enlarge.)

Step 1

Step 1

Cut a piece of fine silver or Argentium wire, 0.7-0.8mm (22 gauge), 8 cm (3″) long.

Step 2

Step 2

Bend the wire into a U shape.

Step 3

Step 3

Cut another piece of wire of the same thickness and thread it through the side holes. Let it stick out by about 1 cm (0.75″) on each side.

Step 4

Step 4

Overlap the ends of the U-shaped wire with the end of the horizontal piece of wire, as shown in the photo.

Step 5

Step 5

Twist one end of the U-shaped wire with one end of the horizontal wire. Repeat with the other end.

Step 6

Step 6

Cut off the twist to about a 5 mm length on each end.

Step 7

Step 7

Hold the earring with cross-lock tweezers with one twisted end held vertically down.

Step 8

Step 8

Using a propane/oxygen torch, ball up the twisted end. This is the tricky part, since you need to remove the flame on time, as soon as the twist is balled-up, or the wire will melt and the connection will open up.

Step 9

Step 9

Repeat this step with the other twisted end.

Good luck!

Oct 14 2009

Back from Australia

First, a practical note: the first 3-day workshop scheduled for June 25-27 in the UK is full, and reservations are currently being taken for a second back-to-back workshop, starting on June 28. Please contact Tracey, at:

Mobile number 07961 883115
(Outside the UK: +44 7961 883115)
Or email: tracey@craftworx.co.uk

For the past two days I’ve been recovering from jet lag after coming back from teaching in Australia. It was an intense, wonderful two weeks which I will never forget, and I’d like to thank Roz Eberhard-Swan of The Eclectic Studio and the PMC Guild for making it possible. Meeting you and working with you all in Sydney and Melbourne was a pleasurable, enriching experience. I was really sorry to leave and hope to meet with you again some day. Please remember what I’ve already told you: you tend to think that you are behind because you are so far away, but that is not the case. I was amazed by your high level of artistry, craftsmanship, and the courage to jump into new adventures. In terms of physical distance most of us are all far away, even inside the United States; but in fact we are only as far as our own bench and the Internet. Keep up the good work, and please stay in touch!

The workshop in Melbourne was held at Maggie Berman’s studio, but Maggie could not be there so unfortunately I didn’t get to meet her. However, just being there, working in her space, shopping for food where she does, and seeing her beautiful jewelry, made me feel that I knew her a little bit. Thank you, Maggie, for letting us work at your studio!

I’d like to share here some beautiful artwork made by someone prior to the workshop. Susan Brown, who flew in from New Zealand, showed me a piece she had made that was inspired by a project published in one of my books.

Can you blame me for feeling happy and proud?