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Monday, June 29, 2009

Pricing Calculator Version 2, Collaboration, Etsy, Great Expectations, Metal Clay, My First Foray Into Silver Land


Yes, it’s true… anomaly though it may be, I learned Bronze and Copper clay before ever even TRYING silver clay.

I have a friend that I want to make something for… big hole bead caps. So I tried yesterday, finally opening my silver and making, oh about a dozen or so. Two different sizes, three different patterns.

That’s my set up for drying them. The largest spheres I have are some massive Quartz beads. But they roll!!! It was a lightbulb moment when I noticed a tray of Alex beads sitting on my coffee table. Ah, perfect set up to hold my Quartz beads still. Then I just laid the wet clay bead caps on top of the Quartz spheres and let them dry. (Once they were dry like this, I moved them to the candle warmer.)

I looked up on the internet, and not taking it from ONE source alone, determined that I’d try a firing schedule of 1650 degrees for two hours. Almost all the websites said this was best. I’m talkin’ PMC3 here. Yeah, I know… the insert-recommended firing schedule is something more like 1250 for 30 minutes. But I swear, there were a million websites that said PMC3 should be fired at 1650 for two hours. Wwwwwwaaaa!

Darn… just remembered that my kiln supposedly runs hot. Argh!

Got up this morning, opened the kiln, and actually thought at first that my bead caps had evaporated. But no, they’d merely sunk into the aluminum hydrate (the stuff you use if you don’t want your silver to slump during firing… helps it hold its shape).

Everyone said silver comes out of the kiln white, so don’t be startled. Um… mine came out black. Or at least dark gray.

Please don’t laugh… here’s my disastrous results.

Okay, seven flat out broke. Three were intact (one is off camera), one of which has a gnarly edge and can’t be used… the other… meh.

Here’s the one I think is salvageable. I didn’t tumble it because it wasn’t ever white. Shrug. I did, however, LOS it a bit, then buffed it. I like the two-tone look.

My thinking is: either that firing schedule is really NOT appropriate for PMC3… or my kiln runs hot and I need to lower that a bit… or I just made my pieces too dang thin (I was idiotically trying to make my silver last).

Not all my pieces fit into the bowl of aluminum hydrate, so now I need to know…

Can my five leftover, non-fired caps be reconstituted?

Can anything be done with my icky, but fine silver busted bead caps?

Oh, now here’s something interesting. As I sit here and type this, I pause and pick up the quilted pendant. I turn it over and notice pitting.

But then it hits me! The back of this pendant is copper; copper isn’t supposed to pit. And then… I get an idea. I grab the photo I took before firing… the photo of the bits of binder in this piece. I make the photos match in size and I lay them one on top of the other. Then I make the top one translucent and start rotating it. There! I’d say those binder bits match up pretty well with the pits. Wouldn’t you? (The white dots are the binder; the dark dots are the pits.)

Oh, and great news! Monica’s pendant is selling tonight. Whoohoo!!!


Finally got it listed, in eBay, Etsy, ArtFire, and my website.


Saw Great Expectations the other night. The one with Gwenyth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke. What was up with all the green? Personally, I found it to be overkill. The point (whatever the point was) could have been made without hitting the audience over the head with green overload. Subtlety works too.


Is it possible for me to go one day without voicing a single opinion? I’m considering this and may expound upon it at a later time.


Watched an interesting thing on Etsy just now (which was last night). I listed a piece of jewelry, then went to the main page, clicked on BUY, then CATEGORY, then JEWELRY. Then I watched… and refreshed every few seconds. Within five minutes my listing went straight from oblivion to… the second page. Ha ha ha! It never even got on the front page… not of jewelry anyway. It did last a few seconds on the front page of the subcategory of necklace at least.


Here’s a sneak peak of a bracelet Mon and I collaborated on. She made the bronze clay pieces and I put the bracelet together.


Cindy Gimbrone:
Thanks for sharing your bronze and copper clay journey in such rich detail, Laura. The mandala is beautiful! I don't doubt you'll sell many of those!

I love LOL cats! Sometimes I feel like I'm the staring contest :-)

Keep doin' whatcha do! It's all lovely!


Thank YOU for reading my blog. Y’know, I go back to my posts all the time when I need to refer to something I’ve done or a setting I’ve used. It’s nice to think that anyone else reads about my metal education.

I agree with you about Alex’s mandala. She’s going to let me use it when I post the tutorial listing. Yay!

BTW, your most recent blog post comes on the heels of someone chastising me for having a blog with no focus. Ha ha ha! I’m supposed to have one “jewelry” blog and one “personal crap” blog, I guess. Far be it from me to ever do anything I’m supposed to, though. Besides, my jewelry IS me… I can’t separate them. Everything I do in my life is connected to everything else I do in my life. It’s all intertwined and would be really hard to pigeon-hole things into separate compartments.

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1 comment:

  1. The person I buy my PMC3 from says this:

    I fire at 1300 for 45 minutes to an hour. I usually use a lower firing temp. because a lot of times I have czs or fused glass set into the clay. You definitely need to hold the temp for a length of time. A lot of people feel you need to fire at 1600 for 2 hours, but I think that's more than necessary. My pieces are plenty strong at my firing schedule.


    IMHO the bead caps sunk in the h.alumina and were thereby allowed to warp. If you can have someone make you some saggers (small unglazed high fired "bowls" )
    and line those with a little h.alumina and let the concave space support the bead caps. I loaned my ceramic kiln out and the person totally wrecked it (UNBELIEVABLE coils shot and glaze melted totally on the bottom of the kiln, shelves... she left it off to be "fixed" and never picked it up grrr).... but if I ever find someone to fire clay for me locally... I am going to make like a tray with half dome "dents" to support bead caps and the like.
    The bottom line I guess is ... if it is something like a bead cap, maybe a "light" firing schedule might do it. Bead caps do not take a beating like perhaps a ring does.

    As far as the scraps go ... try whacking them with a jewelers hammer into a freeform, then melt a little, quench, whack some more... I bet you'd get some interesting effects and any little bits can be melted into fine silver granules which you can then fuse or solder onto other future projects.