Project for the Holidays – Chip Inlay

Haven’t posted in a while. Sometimes I forget that not everyone is on Facebook. So, I’m back – after experimenting with chip inlay – with a free project for the holidays.

First, here are some photos of inlay pieces I’ve made:

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t-Square

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t-Trpezoid

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These pairs of earrings were inspired by the look of the concrete in my back yard.

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If you haven’t made chip inlay before, the following project will make it easy for you.

Rock

1. Find an actual rock that you like and make a mold out of it.

2. Press clay into the mold, and release it (for color I used Dark Champagne Bronze).

3. With the head of a stylus, mark a groove along the rock.

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4. Dry the rock. You can deepen the groove with a ball-head diamond burr.

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5. To make the rock look more authentic, I sprinkled some Low-shrinkage Steel XT and Friendly Copper on it, in powder form.

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6. Spray the rock with water to make the powder stick. Then dry again.

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7. Add a bail on the back of the rock.

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8. Fire the rock:
Ramp at full speed to 1000F (for brick kilns) or 1100F (for muffle kilns)
Hold one hour (the rock is solid and a lot of binder needs to be burned)
Ramp at full speed to 1720F (brick) or 1770F (muffle)
Hold two hours.

I find that this schedule works better than slow ramping and it does not take longer. You can program your kiln to do it all in one phase.

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9. After cleaning the rock it is ready for inlay. You don’t need to shop for crushed stones. Get some Turquoise beads and crush them with a mortar and pestle or put them on a plastic bag and hammer them against an anvil. Only a very small amount is required. Some chips will be bigger than others and you’ll get some powder that can serve as a space filler.

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10. Fill the groove with chips. Make sure to work over a Teflon sheet (the only thing the glue doesn’t stick to). Use tweezers to move the chips around.

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11. The glue that I find best for this purpose is CA glue (Cyanoacrylate). It comes in a few grades. Thin or super thin works best since they run like water and are invisible and strong. They are available from hobby and woodworking shops, and online, of course. Be sure to wear gloves and a respirator!

One drop of glue should be enough. A needle dropper will prevent it from spilling outside the groove. Tilt the Teflon paper to help the drop run along the groove. This glue dries within seconds, but I would wait five minutes before touching it.

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Have fun, and happy holidays!


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