Friday, 15 May 2015

We're All Ears - May 2015


The, sultry, fluid, intense!  Well personally I have two left feet and am painfully uncoordinated when it comes to dancing, but I do love to watch and this month's inspiration was mesmerising.  At first I was dizzy with the gorgeous range of colours but you'll have to forgive me because in the end my earrings became rather monochrome as my attention seemed to focus on the urban backgrounds.

So...I made two pairs of light and swingy urban dangles that would accessorise all those costume changes!  For the first pair I hammered sterling silver discs to give them an industrial texture.  It just so happened that this week in my jewellery class our tutor had some gold leaf for us to try the keum boo technique so I was able to add a little bit of gold for colour contrast.  Phew, that stuff is pricey but I'm told a little goes a long way!  I gave the discs a dark patina to add to the industrial feel and make the gold pop out. 

 The second pair are silver discs that have been reticulated (melted) for texture, also with a few flakes of the gold leaf randomly placed...

I don't know about you but dangly earrings always put me in the mood for dancing!  Thank You for such an upbeat inspiration this month Erin and thanks to you too for stopping by.  To get back to Earrings Everyday click here...xx

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

My Experiments with Firing Copper Clay in Magic Carbon

Recently I have been playing around again with metal clay.  In particular, I have become very fond of art clay copper.  This has however involved spending some considerable time trying to figure out a firing schedule for my kiln that would successfully fire the copper clay in magic carbon.  The instructions in the package recommend a 30 minute firing schedule at 970 C with the pieces placed straight on to the shelf in the kiln.  I know from experience however, that this method produces a lot of oxidisation which can then result in a loss of the fine detail on the fired piece. 

Firing in magic carbon greatly reduces this oxidisation process but I couldn't find any consistent information about firing schedules.   So for my first attempt, in blissful ignorance I placed my items (yes all of them) in a steel pan filled with magic carbon and fired them at the full 970 C not realising that the carbon would make such a difference to the heat.  You can imagine my dismay when I discovered each and every one was a bubbled mess! My second attempt at a reduced temperature didn't  melt the pieces but the carbon left annoying indentations.  So trawling through the internet, the best advice I could glean was to keep doing firing tests and reduce the temperature by 15 degrees each time until you have success.  Not exactly the specific information I was hoping for but hey ho.....I finally got there (up to attempt number 5 now) by firing at 890 C and holding for two hours.

perfectly sintered!
As you can see, I cut through a thicker test piece and the copper was fully sintered but I did notice that my pieces near the back of  the kiln closest to the heating element still had very slight marks from the carbon (easily filed away) so I think it would be a good idea to leave an inch clear in your firing pan from the back and make sure that the textured side of your pieces are facing the front.  Am I making sense?   My kiln is a small ceramic paragon jewellery kiln by the way.  By firing in this way I was able to preserve the very fine detail of feather and leaf imprints as can be seen below (the earwires haven't been soldered yet which is why the one on the left has come out!).

Copper Clay Earrings

 Remember too that each kiln has it's own personality so what works for me may be a few degrees different for you.  The moral of the story is ...'TEST FIRST and don't put all your pieces in at once until you're sure it's going to work'!!  Expert information is probably freely available on a metal clay forum or in a good book somewhere but I'm a Thursdays child so my life is all about going the long way round and making things as hard as possible for myself!

Thanks for visiting  xx

Tattered Butterfly


This poor creature landed at my feet as I was hanging out the washing today.  I gently put her back amongst the flowers, she looked as though she needed a rest...xx