Jun 25 2012

Two Files Added to My Blog – Instruction Manual Updated

As promised, the presentation I gave at the PMC Conference, entitled “Introduction to Mixed Metal Clay,” is now available on my blog. To access it, click on “Intro to Mixed Metal Clay” in the right-hand pane of my blog, under “Presentations.”

The previous posting: “What Clay to Use?” is also available as a PDF file for easy access. To access it at any time, click on “Posting Reprint: What Clay to Use” in the right-hand pane, under “Other Information.”

By the way, the Instruction Manual for Hadar’s Clay has been updated with a few small changes and additions. The new version features the dateline “June 2012” on the title page, and the new or changed sections are highlighted in yellow. To save paper, you can simply print out the pages that contain yellow highlighted text – you don’t have to print the entire document if you don’t want to.

The Instruction Manual can be accessed by clicking the link above, or from the right-hand pane of this blog.


Jun 12 2012

What Clay to Use?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what clays to use. I admit it’s getting confusing with so many types of clay, but there is an answer to that. I will try to make it as simple as possible.

What Steel to Use and When

Steel on Its Own

If you are just starting your experience with base metal clay, I would suggest using Low Shrinkage Steel XT. It is friendly and easy to use. Most of the projects that are introduced in my first book: The Handbook of Metal Clay: Textures and Forms (2nd edition), originally written for silver, can be easily done with Low Shrinkage Steel XT.

Room on a View

Steel Bricks

Miro

Circle Pendant

Grout

Steel

Steel Combined with Other Metals

1. Mokume Gane Patterns

Any of the steels works well with these patterns if it is used in small amounts.

Mokume Gane

Flower with No Twist

Layered

2. Gradients

All steels work well with gradient surfaces. Only Pearl Grey Steel (not XT) works with gradient from steel to White Bronze!

Bird

3. All Other Designs

Low-shrinkage Steel XT is recommended.

If you use it in combination with Quick fire bronze, you will have to fire the steel part first at its high temperature, then add bronze and re-fire at a lower temperature.

Spinner Flared

If you use it in combination with Quick-fire Bronze XT, you can fire them together once, at high temperature.

Skyline

Oval

2 rings

What Bronze to Use and When

Bronze on Its Own

I suggest Quick-fire bronze, since it is fired at a lower temperature and therefore shrinks less.

Bronze CircleHollow Form Earrings

Bronze House

Bronze with Copper

If you are a beginner but want to explore mixed metals, I suggest starting with Quick-fire copper and Quick-fire bronze (not XT). You will find lots of projects in my book: Mixed Metal Jewelry from Metal Clay.. Many of the projects in The Handbook of Metal Clay are “translated” in the second edition to a combination of Quick-fire copper and bronze.

Agates

Collage Mixed Metals

Hinged House

Collage

Bronze with Steel or with Copper and Steel

This is the same as “Steel combined with other Metals” above, with one difference:

In mokume gane patterns, if you use Quick-fire bronze and fire at a low temperature, the color of steel will be black (right earring below). If you use Bronze XT and fire at high temperature the color of steel will be blue (left earring below).

The Pair.

It’s a matter of choice: if you like sharp contrast, use quick-fire bronze and steel (in small amounts) and fire at a low temperature. If you like subtle contrast, use Bronze XT and steel (you can use big amounts) and fire at a higher temperature.

In about a week, A file called “Introduction to Mixed Metal Claywill be available is now available on my blog. It will expand on the firing temperatures when combining different metals.


Jun 11 2012

Low Shrinkage Steel XT Now Available

Low Shrinkage Steel XT

Low Shrinkage Quick-fire Steel XT is now available on my online store.

Low Shrinkage Quick-fire Steel XT shrinks only 10%, like Quick-fire copper. This makes it easy to work with on its own, as well as in combination with other metals. While drying it behaves like copper, with hardly any need to flip it over to avoid warping. Working with multiple layers is easy, since the difference in shrinkage between dry and wet layers is minimal. This is also the case with pieces which require complex construction.

I have always recommended using copper or mixed (scrap) clay as a backing layer when working with more than one clay. This is because their shrinkage rate is lowest. If we use bronze as a backing layer, flat pieces will curve backwards because of the higher shrinkage of bronze. Now Low-shrinkage Steel XT can also be used as a backing layer, whether we use just one clay or more. This expands our possibilities, since copper is not necessarily out aesthetic choice when it comes to designing the major part of a piece.

For example: My choice of copper as a backing layer in the piece below was dictated by its lowest shrinkage.

Houses sun and ocean

Now that I have more freedom of choice, I can use steel instead, as in this locket:

Locket

Back

The locket was made with Low Shrinkage Steel XT as the backing layer, with accents of copper and Bronze XT. It was fired at the high firing schedule of steel.

Both high- and low-shrinkage steel work well in mokume gane patterns.

On another note: My second book: Silver and Bronze Clay: Movement and Mechanisms is now out of print. Being busy with other projects, I have currently no plans for printing a second edition. If you would like a copy of the book, you may still be able to find it at my distributors.

Book 2 cover

And finally, here is a project for a belt ring. If you make it with low shrinkage Quick-fire Steel XT, account for 2 sizes shrinkage (rings don’t shrink like flat pieces).