Monday, February 25, 2008

The Jury's Still Out on This

So I took another class this weekend, this time to learn how to use Art Clay Silver. If you aren't familiar with this, it is an organic clay polymer in which silver particles are embedded. The clay is manipulated into the desired shape, then fired in a kiln, where the organic binder burns off, leaving fine silver (99.9% silver).

When starting, the clay is grayish white, an pliable. We rolled out it flat, like cookie dough, and then used cookie cutters to form it into the desired shape. The class project was a pendant, and I chose to make a starfish. Before we cut the shape out, we stamped the clay with a textured rubber stamp, to impart some texture to the finished design. I later found out how important this texture can be to the finished product!
A small caliber drinking straw was used to cut the hole for the bail.

After the shape is cut out, the clay has to completely dry before being placed in the kiln. We placed the cut-out shapes on mug warmers to speed the drying process.

After drying, there is a lot of sanding, to smooth out rough edges. The piece is then fired for a short time, and then there is a lot more sanding. The piece is then dipped in liver of sulfate, to impart patina. At this time, the piece is very dark in appearance.

The piece is then polished again, which removes the patina from the surface, and leaves it embedded in the crevices of the textured surface.

That's my finished starfish pendant to the right. The texture is a little flat around the top arm of the starfish, because my big ole thumb contacted the surface during the sanding process, when I didn't realize the clay was still soft. The fingerprint ridges are hidden by the texture I stamped into the clay, which is why beginners stamp textures into the clay - to hide these boo-boos!

This was a very interesting process, with a lot of variations, and infinite possibilities. The clay itself is very pricey, and the whole process is extremely stuff-intensive, as I call it. There is so much equipment involved that start-up costs could be prohibitive. I'm scheduled to take another class, and we'll see if I fall in love with it. So far, the jury's out.


Dancing Monkey Jewelry said...

Your starfish looked great. As I'm always told when I point the flaws in my jewelry "If you don't point it out - people won't notice." However I'm all about full disclosure and just can't follow that piece of advice.

I took a PMC class - and love it. For me it was so easy and because itw was an all day class I was fortunate to be able to make a lot of charms.I felt like a Rock Star by the end of the day.

There's a web site: that has great prices on starting kits for PMC and/or ArtClay. You get a lot for your money.

For me the cost of the clay is prohibitive. I'll only get to indulge in my PMC desires when I start making some money selling my earrings.

UniqueNurseGranny said...

Very interesting and informative.Like your creation also.

Infinite Cosmos said...

how awesome! first of all, gorgeous pendant, i would totally wear that! Secondly, it's so funny that i came upon this post because my husband was JUST YESTERDAY talking about this silver polymer clay and i just could not even picture what he was talking about. Thank you for walking me through the process, it looks so fun and now i know! Great work....

Sweet Freedom said...

Thanks for the feedback, everybody, and you're totally welcome, infinite cosmos!

DFly said...

Here I am with my "snarky" comment. All I can say is... It's about time you got away from that bead-weaving and tried something with some personality :)

See you at the next class - if the jury finishes deliberation.

Sweet Freedom said...

Well, I guess I won't be bringing an apple to class next time, Ms. Dfly :)