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Monday, April 6, 2009

The Bronze Clay Earrings

Turns out I can’t show you the curly thing in its afterlife either (the one I was going to show you before it went into the kiln but I couldn’t ‘cause the photo turned out fuzzy…heh… maybe that was an omen)… anyway, it didn’t make it through the firing process.

This is/was it. It was one of those projects in Hadar’s book on silver clay. I’ll have to figure out what I did wrong… if it was something in the connecting of the pieces, if the pieces were too thin, if I let it warp too much in the drying, etc.

One good thing, though… the bail is really on there good and tight. You have NO idea how this pleases me. As someone who is glue phobic (I’m not really afraid of the glue… I just don’t believe it ever really holds anything), soldering is barely a step in the right direction. I’m sure proper soldering is pretty strong, but over the years I’ve dealt with a lot of “improper” (aka: mass produced imports) soldering jobs and it’s heartbreaking on many levels. You WANT to trust them… but then they let you down regardless of your faith in them. Sigh…

Oh, so yeah… this bail rocks! I was going to do what Hadar suggested in the book (cut a small sheet and roll it around a straw with the ends just meeting), but I panicked at the last second and continued winding the sheet until it had bypassed the seam it was supposed to meet up with. I then cut it so it was about a ¼ inch (or so) overlay. From there, I smoothed the overlapping piece down onto the first part. I let it dry on the straw (actually, I used a paint brush handle ‘cause my straws were too fat) then took it off, let it dry more on the drying rack… er, I mean the griddle, then I pasted it good and tight to the pendant… really slathered on a big helping of clay and worked it into a smoothness.

So, even though the whole pendant is kaput, I can use the pieces to experiment on for my finishing techniques (that I pretty much have nothing of yet… although I bought a dremel two years ago… haven’t used it yet… sound familiar?).

I had a total laugh this morning when I found what came out of my kiln. I finally started using a colander to make sure I found all my pieces and … tada! I found two pieces from a previous firing! Yay! Since they were from that grouping that disintegrated, when I couldn’t find them I assumed they had… disintegrated.

And look, there they are! That’s the good news. The bad news is that I had made them to go with three fabulous enamel findings from ArtBeads. So I was kind of crushed to see the project I’d had in mind wouldn’t be.

BTW, although I’m not an “orange” person, per se, I was immediately attracted to this vibrant component. I thought it would look really neat among some organic bronze pieces. The up side is that it seems like a very high-quality piece, and I can’t be sure but I’d swear there’s a coating of some sort… like a varnish… maybe to keep people from turning green from the copper beneath the enamel. The down side is that they’re $15 each. I don’t know that that’s such an outrageous price… I’ve spent more than that on jewelry components… but I think right now some of us are more frugal with our spending.

Speaking of ArtBeads, I want to show you this item. I strained my brain trying to justify getting one ‘cause it seemed way too cute to pass up. Ha ha ha!

Anyway, about the orange enamel findings… I didn’t want to wait until I figured out how to do bronze clay in order to use them, so I made these earrings with some of the pieces that I made at Hadar’s class (that were GOING to be a bracelet on their own until one of the six pieces got a tiny crack… remember?).

And… speaking of “remember”… remember this mess?

Here’s a close-up of stuff that isn’t completed bronze pieces and isn’t charcoal. It’s apparently what you end up with if your pieces don’t sinter. It’s just a pile of brown powder… and it was probably that fish that is in the center of the previous photo, but I put those pieces in a baggie to show Hadar and today I pulled out the baggie and the fish had powderized.

It’s late now and I’m tired. I’d like to thank everyone who’s commented on my blog, in here and in private. It encourages me to continue posting pictures and stuff… sometimes I think, “Who wants to see this stuff?!”

Oh, tomorrow I MUST pick up a nail brush. The clay gets under my fingernails (which are really short to begin with) and I look like I’ve been playing in mud.

And on that note… TTYL!


  1. Oh good grief Laura what on earth causes your work to just become so much sand? I know that anything you take on and work with is done with great thought and care so I truly can't imagine what happened.

    The pieces that didn't become as small tiny grains of something are wonderful. I am so interested to hear what allows such a thing to happen.