Wednesday, June 11, 2014
The Beginning of My Metal Clay Ring Testing
Got two firings in today. I think I’ll save up for another kiln if I start teaching on a regular basis.
The first batch was leftover Friendly Bronze. Here’s what came out of the kiln (only a quick radial brushing on the textured pieces).
The ring was a failed experiment that I’m salvaging because it should still suit my purposes. Since I think rings take a lot of abuse, compared with other pieces of jewelry, I plan to make rings out of several different clays and test them out.
I’m pretty confident with bronze and copper (and silver) already, but I’d like to test out White Satin and Steel since those are two of my favorite metals for rings. My concern? The fact that in order to achieve a white metal color without adding nickel to the mixture (thank you thank you thank you!!!), the steel and steel alloys (White Satin and the various Hadar Steels) are not stainless. So I’d like to see if normal wear produces any rust and/or if coating the rings (lacquer) makes a difference.
My initial testing revealed no rusting to a ring that had no coating. But I want to do more intense and measured testing now.
Oh, so back to this ring. First off, this week I’m mostly using up old clays that have already been mixed and sometimes when I’m down to the bottom of the barrel, so to speak, I get a bit silly with what I’m making. I don’t really care if it’s a masterpiece or even practical or functional. It’s a great time to experiment.
I made that bronze ring way too thin (3 cards thick) and inevitably it cracked in the firing. But rather than toss it or repair it, I decided that since it would have been too big for me to wear for testing anyway (I have no idea what I was thinking when I selected the size), I just curled the broken ends around and now I have a ring that is adjustable (and fancy… ha ha ha). I’ll polish it tomorrow and then start wearing it.
The other clays I have mixed up (and have been for months) that I need to use are:
LS Steel XT
Dark Champagne Bronze
Pearl Grey Steel XT
Gosh, maybe it would have been easier for me to list the clays I DON’T have mixed up.
Oh, and then there’s a bag of “mixed clay”… y’know, like the remains of extruded canes.
One things I’ve learned (the hard way) is to not believe “I’ll remember what that clay was”. As soon as I’m done working, I wrap it in saran wrap then put it in a Ziploc bag with a label stating what clay it is. Same thing for finished but not yet fired pieces. They go into a compartmentalized tray with labels stating what clay is in the pieces.
Everything in its place.
Wanna see why I hesitate to work in silver or gold? My method of working with clay is using my hands as a palette. If that were silver I'd have like $20 worth of it on my hands after each session.
Oh, here is Mom's gladiola. At least, I think it's a gladiola (thanks Nohline... apparently it's an Amaryllis). The deer knocked it over on their way to eating Mom's geranium so we had to relocate it to the vegetable garden yesterday.