Big, Bold Jewelry Designs at Synergy

I am finally home after nearly three weeks in Europe.  Past of the reason for the trip was to attend the EuroSynergy Conference in Bordeaux.   I rekindled many friendships, made some new friends, attended fabulous programs and mostly tried to keep my head from exploding with all the artistic influences, new products, wonderful people and the inspiring and informative program the conference offered.

One of the highlights for me, however, was meeting Jude Parker and seeing her big, bold, colorful jewelry.  Jude,  who  was attending Synergy with her mother Ann Parker is from Sanderstead, England just south of London where Ann has a business selling craft supplies called Monkey Ann. Visit the web site here.

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Jude’s work is large, colorful and light because  it is composed of hollow forms. It is big and bold and she carries  off the look  beautifully.    Here she is modeling some of her creations.

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This neck piece has a fabric-like feeling to it , but it is all cane work and  deceptively light because it is hollow.  I love the limited palate.  Jude made the findings because she will never find ready-made clasps for the scale of jewelry she creates.

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You can see Jude wearing the neck piece in the above picture.  Below are some close ups of her jewelry.

 I will write more about Synergy in the weeks to come.  Tomorrow I am head to Connecticut  for Clay ConneCTion 2016

What’s Cooking in Jeri’s Workshop

After a stint in Paris and wonderful time at EuroSynergy 2016 in Bordeaux, I find myself in Amsterdam taking in the sites, taking in Rijsttafel, and taking in the museums.  I will be posting about all of this in the coming weeks.  For now, here are some pictures from Beading Yoda (Jeri Schatz) showing some of her most recent designs.  Enjoy!

Shooting the Breeze in Jefferson Square

Chandlier1If I had a yard with a big tree, I would hang a chandelier on it like this!

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Some children somewhere must have loved these toys very much.  And here they sit waiting for someone to take them home.

Here are some more pictures from a beautiful afternoon at a flea market in Jefferson Square in South Philadelphia

Product Review: Prometheus Clay

Prometheus clay has been around for a while, but I decided to try it after achieving some nice results with Hadar Jacobson’s Quick Fire Bronze  and Copper Clay.

Prometheus  Clay’s  attractive feature is that you can torch fire it.  One of the least desirable things about working with non-precious metal clay is the need to fire it in charcoal or a similar medium  to keep the surface from oxidizing during the firing process. You don’t have this problem with fine silver because it does not contain the copper that causes the oxidization.  (I have not worked with Sterling Silver clay  and am not familiar with how it is fired)

The Hadar’s clay that I worked with needed two step firing.  First, you had to bring the clay to a certain temperature to burn off the binder material in the clay and then you have to let the kiln cool to room temperature.  Only then could you start refiring the clay to the sintering point where the  remaining materials  would fuse and give you metal.  Needless to say, this takes a long time.  It’s really a two-day job.

My experience with torch firing the Prometheus clay was mixed. It is not as easy is it looks but with practice, I think it is viable alternative  to kiln-fired metal clay.    I  am confining my experiments to Bronze clay because I think it’s rich looking and attractive.  I work with the  copper i metal sheet and wire and really like it but I do not think that the results you can achieve with copper clay are worth the time and effort.  That is just a personal opinion.

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. The Prometheus Clay was workable out of the package although conditioning is recommended.  For a video showing how to condition the clay, press here.  I formed a pendant shape and two smaller shapes to suspend on ear wires for earrings

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I used  rubber  stamps to impress the designs into the clay and then let the pieces air dry for a couple of days.

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They recommend you torch fire the dried clay on a screen for seven minutes which you start counting after you have burned off the binder.  Here I am torch firing two  earring pieces.  I learned the process after watching this video.  I am using an EZ Torch.

 

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At the conclusion of the firing, you drop the pieces into water and the oxidation starts to peel off.  You  have to clean off the remaining oxidation by hand using a brass brush.

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I was able to clean off the oxidation but I lost the spiral pattern I had impressed into the wet clay initially.  See top picture. The pieces withstood hammering and a trip through the rolling mill (which I used to try to put a new pattern on the metal) but the latter revealed that the pieces were not completely sintered.  You can tell from looking at the edges in the above photograph.

I don’t have any process pictures for the pendant, but it turned out much better.  While it was larger in diameter (the size of a large guitar pick) than the two earring pieces (which were about the size of a dime), it was thinner.

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After the initial cleanup, I decided to use a swage block to give the pendant more of a shield shape.

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The pendant withstood the hammering and I achieved a shield shape without any trouble.

 

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The pendant after polishing and finishing.   I did notice minor layer separations on the sides of the pendant but I was able to tap these together with a hammer and and  smooth them out with a file.  I would guess that the metal was not completely sintered  in those spots.

What’s my verdict?   Overall,  I like Prometheus Clay. Torch firing metal clay is not as easy as it looks.  You don’t want to under or over heat and you need to keep the torch moving.  It is easier to maintain a consistent temperature in a kiln.   I suspect that the problem with the earring pieces is that they were not totally 100% bone dry.  The pendant was completely dry and sintered more completely.  The oxidization was fairly easy to clean off and the torch firing method is quicker than the kiln firing I’m used to.  On the other hand,  the designs I stamped into the clay did not remain as sharp as I would have liked.  I don’t know whether that is a by-product of the torch firing process or  my inexperience.

You can kiln fire Prometheus clay too.  I might explore that in the future but for now, I will keep experimenting with the torch firing.  You can purchase Prometheus Clay from Clayrevolution.com.  The site runs sales from time to time and contains a lot of useful information on working with metal clay.