Oct 24 2013

Instruction Manual Update and Workshop

First, I will be teaching a 3-day workshop in Tuscon, AZ, during the gem show. The dates are February 14-16. Please contact Lyle Rayfield at: bdangled@dakotacom.net. The topic of the workshop is “Patterns of Colors in Hollow Forms.”

Here are a few samples:




Half the Rock

Second, the Instruction Manual for Hadar’s Clay has been updated and is marked October 25, 2013.

For your convenience, the changes are highlighted in yellow.

Here are the main changes:

1. The firing schedule and programing instructions for firing two phases in one uninterrupted session have been added. This schedule lasts around 6 hours and includes the cooling time. It is best for overnight continuous firing and for firing at 2-5 day workshops.

2. The firing temperature for the first phase of firing has been lowered to 1000°F/538°C.

3. Pearl Grey Steel XT is now recommended for color patterns (mokume-gane) fired at mid-fire schedule. Low Shrinkage Steel XT is recommended for structural purposes, fired at high-fire schedule.

Oct 18 2013

Hadar’s Molds – Inlay in Empty Circles, Mirror Image, and Mokume-Gane

Empty Circles

Last week I showed how to use inlay technique with the Empty Spaces mold. This time I will show how to empty the spaces out and add an embellishment, such as a gemstone. For the demonstration I will use the Empty Circles mold.

Empty Circles

This used to be another “project from Hell.” I first made it with tubes made around multiple straws, bundled together into a cane, then by cutting out slices. The problem was that you could never tell what was going on in the invisible part of the cane, tubes were not well connected, and a lot of repair was required. It’s much simpler with the mold.

1. Press clay into the mold.

Press clay into mold

2. Release the clay. As you can see in the photo, the result has a backing layer.

Release the clay

3. Trim the excess clay from around the shape.

Trim to shape

You have two options now: empty out the holes when the earrings are wet, or wait until they are dry.

4a. Before drying: Use different sized straws to cut out the holes.

Cut holes using straws

4b. After drying: Drill a hole in each empty circle. Then use diamond burrs mounted on a rotary tool or a battery operated bead reamer to enlarge the holes.

Drill holes and enlarge

5. Pick a natural gemstone and a matching bezel cup, or just a fireable stone.

Gemstone and bezel cup

6. Take a thick patty of clay and flatten it with your fingers.

Flatten the clay

7. Press the bezel cup halfway into the patty. If you use a fireable stone – a cabochon should be pressed halfway into the patty; a faceted stone should be pressed all the way down until it is flush with the clay.

Press halfway down

8. Pick a tube or a straw slightly larger than the bezel or the stone. Center the tube around the bezel and cut. Centering the tube may take some trial and error. My advice: use a short tube or cut the straw shorter. Dry the setting.

Cut around the bezel

9. Attach the setting to the inside of the biggest hole with wet clay. Dry, and reinforce with more clay on the back of the earring.

Attach, dry, reinforce

10. After firing and finishing, set the natural stone.

Copper and peridot

Silver and tourmalines


Inlay in Mirror Image

Mirror image 4

All seven mirror image molds are earrings size. You can use then with or without the frame around them. They are all suitable for inlay. However, if you use copper and bronze, it’s best to inlay bronze in copper and not the other way around!

1. Press copper clay into the mold. Dry thoroughly.

Press copper into mold

2. Press bronze (Quick-fire or Brilliant) into the indentation, covering the whole surface. If after drying you still see the traces of the lines, add more bronze.

Inlay bronze

3. Sand off the surface until the pattern reappears. Do not over sand!


4. Insert a bronze eyelet at the top of the earring.

Insert eyelet

5. Fire at mid-fire schedule. Follow the finishing instructions in the document entitled “Finishing Fired Metal Clay.”

Inlay Mirror Image Earrings

Inlay in Mokume-Gane

Last week I did say that the mokume-gane molds are not suitable for inlay. Because of the fine lines, some of the inlay may be lost. However, some of them have bigger gaps, that could be used for inlay, for enameling, or for setting stones. These are mokume gane 1, 2, and 8

1. Press the clay into the mold.

Press clay into mold

2. Cut the clay into the desired shape. (I placed the template on the clay so there is a hole on top for a jump ring.) Dry.

Cut to shape

3. Fill some of the holes with another type of clay. You can fill up the hole, or trace a line around the inlay with a pin.


4. Fill as many empty spaces as you like. After drying, sand the inlay only as far as can be done without wiping off the fine line of the mokume-gane pattern.

Dry and sand lightly

5. Drill the top hole and fire.

Inlay in mokume-gane

Oct 10 2013

Hadar’s Molds – Inlay

Which of the molds are good for inlay? In general, only molds that have deep, relatively wide indentations. The mokume-gane molds will not show good results with inlay. If you want more than one metal in a mokume gane pattern, the best way is to follow the projects in my books Patterns of Color in Metal Clay and Metal Clay Practice. I have only made molds for those patterns that I didn’t see a point in teaching, since they involve losing big amounts of clay and requiring many re-firings.

Here are examples of molds that work well with inlay:

Kandinsky Squares

Kandinsky Squares

1. Press a lumpy chunk of clay into the mold. Press hard with your fingers to get a good impression. The chunk will become thinner. Remove the clay from the mold and check your results. Cut it to the desired size or use the whole mold. Dry thoroughly.

Press clay

2. Paint-brush the piece with some water, and press another, compatible clay, as deep as possible into the indentations.

Press another clay

3. Make sure the whole piece is filled and covered and none of the original clay shows. Dry completely.

Cover the whole piece

4. Sand off the surface until the original pattern reappears. Do not over-sand or you will wipe off the inlay!


5. Roll out a layer of copper, slightly textured, 6 cards thick. Lay the inlay piece over it. (Use copper backing even if you made step 1 with bronze).

Backing layer

6. Trim the copper layer to the desired size. Dry.


7. Drill two holes on the top of each side.

Drill holes

8. Fire at mid-fire schedule. The uninterrupted schedule that I posted a few days ago works every time. In my brick kiln it takes 11-12 hours – a single overnight firing. Keep in mind that the majority of the time the kiln is not even on – just cooling.

9. Finish the piece following the instructions in the document entitled “Finishing Fired Metal Clay“.


Here are earrings made with this mold with no inlay:

Kandinsky Earrings

Empty Spaces

I have considered including the project for these earring several times in my books, and each time decided against it. Over the years, this project has rightfully earned the name “The Project from Hell” among my students. Hence the mold.

Empty spaces

When you press the clay into the mold, you get a solid piece, with indentations, but no empty spaces:

Press clay into mold

After drying, fill the spaces with another, compatible clay, as in step 2 above.


Sand off the inlay until the pattern re-emerges.


Fire and finish as described above in steps 8 and 9.

Inlay earrings

Next time I will show you how to empty out the spaces, in another project that my students have dubbed “Another Project from Hell.”

Oct 7 2013

Firing Two Phases in One Uninterrupted Session

Yes, this means you can start firing before you go to bed at night, and in the morning the second phase will be over.

This not only makes the firing process simpler; it also makes 2-day workshops feasible.

Why didn’t I think of this before? I don’t know. Why didn’t kiln manufacturers tell us that? I only thought of it because I got an email from a customer whose workshop is far from her house and it’s a hassle for her to go there a second time to start the second phase. So thank you for asking me this question – you know who you are!

In this PDF file you will find instructions for programing the kiln to fire 2 phases in one firing session. The instructions are both for the Sentry Xpress controller and for the Bartlett controller. Choose the instructions that apply to your controller.

Here is a short explanation:

You program the kiln to fire the first phase.
After doing this, the kiln will ask “rA2”, which means “At what speed would you like me to ramp the second time around?” Usually we say 0:00, which makes the kiln stop asking questions and start firing.
This time we say “Full,” and the kiln will keep asking questions. Next question is “At what temperature would you like me to fire the second time around?” Say 100ºF/50ºC.

The kiln will then ask: “How long would you like me to hold the second time around?” Say 0:00. No hold.
What we just did is tell the kiln to cool to 100ºF/50ºC.

The kiln will then ask: “At what speed would you like me to ramp the third time around?” We say Full or 1400ºF, depending on the kiln.
The kiln will ask: “At what temperature would you like me to fire the third time around?” We tell it our temperature for mid-fire schedule.

We just told the kiln to start phase 2 after it has reached 100ºF/50ºC. You entered 3 consecutive programs.

It will ask you: “At what speed would you like me to ramp the fourth time around?” Now you say 0:00 to shut it up.

Bartlett controllers work a little differently. They ask you at the outset how many programs you want to enter by the question “SEG” (number of segments). You tell it 3, and it won’t ask you for the fourth time around.

We can’t make the kiln cool faster than it would naturally do; we can only make it cool slower (which is important in the case of glass), but this is not what we want. If you are not firing overnight, you can open the kiln to cool it faster. Just don’t forget to close it when it starts phase 2.

Oct 3 2013

Hadar’s Molds – Exploring the Donut

This posting is a bit long, but covers quite a few possibilities.There is so much that can be done with a simple donut shape. The simpler type starts with a circle cut from a layer of clay, and another, smaller circle cut inside the first circle.

Cut a big circle

From this point on, you can change the shape of the donut just with a slight touch of your finger. You can elongate it:


Or you can dent it:


You can also cut the smaller circle off center:

Off center to the top left

Off center to the top left

With gentle manipulation of the shape the donut turns into a bean.

Bean shape

Here it’s done with a texturing mold. I used Mokume-Gane 9. I took a big chunk of clay and pressed it into the mold. I did not mind having it very thick, since fired steel clay is so light-weight.

Donu with Mokume-Gane 9

While the bean was still wet, I inserted eyelets on both sides. If you use Low Shrinkage Steel XT, use nickel chromium wire (also called “high temp wire” or “nichrome”) to make the eyelets. This wire is available from PMC Connection

Instructions for making the eyelets can be found in my book The Handbook of Metal Clay: Textures and Forms, second edition, p. 45.


Low-Shrinkage Steel XT is best suited for structural purposes and the easiest clay to fire. Just cover with carbon and fire 2 hours at 1750°F/955°C (brick kiln); 1830°F/999°C (muffle kiln). If you happen to have the Mini 1800 just set it to the highest setting and come back after 2 hours. One phase firing.

Fired bean

A Clasp

A toggle clasp is also a donut of sorts. Using the same texture, I started with a circular donut.

Circular donut

Then changed the shape with my fingers and dried.

Change shape

The toggle bar needs to stick out of the donut about a quarter inch to each side. What if the texturing mold is not long enough?

Roll a fat snake, bend it into a half circle, and press it into the mold.

Press half-circle into mold

Remove the snake from the mold.

Remove from mold

Gently straighten it out.


Then cut to size.


Lay the bar on top of the donut to dry. Let the middle part slump inside the donut.

Wavy bar

Now make another donut, 6 cards thick, with very small circles (for example, use two straws of different sizes). Let’s call it a washer.


Cut the washer in half and dry.

Cut in half

Attach one half washer to the top left of the donut, and the other to the center back of the bar.

Attach half washers

Fire as described above.

Toggle Clasp

Have the patience for one more? This is going to be a long weekend.

I wanted to use the same shape as the toggle’s, but as a frame, not flat. For this I had to make a template and use 6 mm thick foam sheet, preferably white, which you can get at Michael’s and JoAnn Fabrics (Foamies).


A variety of lovely shapes can be found on the first four templates at PMC Connection.

Cut the template on top of the foam and trace it with a pencil.


If you want to make earrings, turn the template over and trace it again to make the mirror image. If you choose to use a plastic template, turn it over and trace the inside contour line.

Mirror image

Cut the shapes out of the foam with scissors. To make it into a clean shape, I like to cut a 6 mm strip out of a postcard, wrap it around the foam, and tape.

Cut a strip of clay 6 cards thick, 6 mm wide, and wrap it around the foam shape. This is the frame.

Wrap strip around shape

Once dry, seal the joint if necessary, and dry again.

Seal joint

Place the frame on top of the texturing mold. Wet the inside of the frame, and press a chunk of clay into it, filling about half of the space inside the frame.

Press clay inside the frame

Remove from the mold.

Remove from mold

With a knife, cut the top part on the inlaid chunk to a shape that pleases your eye.

Shape top of chunk

After drying, turn the piece over and add more clay until the back is flush and the joints disappear. Dry and fire as described above.