Be sure to check out the slide show! Then take the time to vote for one of these incredible Metal Clay artists. Visit http://metalclaytoday.com/ to cast your vote.
Sharing tips and experiences can be one of the best ways for artists to improve in a relatively new medium like metal clay. I have a tip for pre-fire finishing pieces with baby wipes that I hope many readers will try and find helpful.
Pre-fire finishing with files and sandpaper is the most common approach for smoothing edges, flattening surfaces, refining shapes, and removing imperfections. Filing and sanding takes a fair bit of skill, especially if beginner mistakes of scarring the finish or breaking a delicate piece are to be avoided.
In Meredith Arnold’s class in Tucson, I learned a new technique that was easier, faster, and saved me the trouble of trying to find the right size file to fit into those tiny, little spaces. When I sat down at Meredith’s table, she laid out all of the supplies and out popped baby wipes! I couldn’t imagine what we would be doing with those, but I was hopeful it wasn’t for their namesake purpose. She explained that we would use them to wipe the dried clay and smooth the edges. Wow! What an idea!
This is how you do it. Let your piece dry. You can use the baby wipe in the moist condition that it comes out of the original packaging, or my preference is to allow the baby wipes to dry a bit before using. You may add water to any dry baby wipe to get your desired level of moistness. Any brand of baby wipes works, but I prefer the thicker sheets. I’ve never experienced pieces cracking during the firing phase as a result of wiping them with a moistened baby wipe.
Wrap the baby wipe around readily available items like shaping tools or, my favorite, your finger to achieve the desired filing shape. Smooth the edges of the piece first, and leave the focal surfaces until the end. This allows imperfections on the most important surfaces to be cleaned up last. A simple back-and-forth rubbing motion works great. Be aware, as the clay absorbs the moisture from the baby wipe, more clay will be removed faster. Very little pressure is required to smooth the piece, which reduces the risk of breakage. As you would take care with a file or sandpaper, make sure you don’t remove the artistry of your texture or design features by being over-zealous with the baby wipes. The piece should be allowed to dry completely before firing. The end result after firing will be a finish on your piece as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
In addition to being easy and producing a great finish, the baby wipe technique has the healthy benefit of creating no airborne metal dust to breathe. I like to use the baby wipes to clean the metal clay residue and dust from my fingernails, hands, work surfaces and tools. Baby wipes can be reused and recycled.
Adding the baby wipe technique to your repertoire will allow you to select the pre-fire finishing method that best suits your project. Learning new skills has been the key to my ever-increasing enjoyment of metal clay. This has been true since my first metal clay class three years ago with Cindy Pankopf who inspired me to sculpt with passion. I hope others find this helpful, and I’d like to thank Metal Clay Today for providing an excellent forum for the community to share ideas.
Benefits of baby wipe pre-fire finishing
Easy to perform
Low risk of breakage
Creates a very smooth surface
By Carrie Story -Divine Ornaments
We are so excited to announce the winners of MCT’s Fall “Coming Unhinged” Challenge.
Our Second Place winner is “threshold” by Kimberly Nogueria. What a fabulous piece! Congratulations! Kimberly has won a set of 5 Hadar Jacobson’s clays and one of her books. I cannot wait to see what she will do with them!
The votes were very close and all of our artists deserve a big congratulation! Here are all of the entries with the artist’s names. Remember we had a blind vote. Please leave comments to tell the artists how wonderful their work is, they deserve it for all their hard work!
Written by: Marthe Le Van
Lark Jewelry and Beading 2011
Reviewed by Lori Phillips
Are you interested in a book that is purely fun to look through? This is it! Marthe Le Van has compiled pictures of over 700 fantastic pictures from the Ring A Day Challenge that took place on the internet in 2010. The Challenge was for any jewelry artists to make one ring a day for an entire year, from any materials, giving freedom to create with no parameters. I myself had considered doing it but as picture after picture was posted on Flickr, I decided I was not quite that ready to be so prolific!
I admire Marthe for being able to pair down thousands of entry pictures to 700 of the best examples of insane creativity! She was able to capture the uniqueness of 44 different artists. There were few metal clay artist’s names I did recognize such as, Lorena Angulo (Our Featured Artist March 2010) , Lora Hart and Angela Baduel-Crispin.
This book is completely a treat to the eyes and a boost for some marvelous creative motivation! These artist shattered the norms and created with everything from Maria Apostolou’s Pencil Shavings to Lora Hart’s melted plastic spoon. I am absolutely enthralled with how on page 83, Kathern Riechert bends flatware into the coolest rings! Lorena Angulo never seizes to amaze me with her creativity from a gorgeous metal clay Tree of Life ring (pg.60) to a ring created with fruits and veggies! (pg.64) What goes on in the minds of these artists? I love that the artists also took into account the 2010 holidays when they created as well. Nina Dinoff’s marshmallow Bunny ring gave me a good giggle! Check it out on page 69!
If I have gotten anything out of this book, it is that I need to stop limiting myself into thinking that I can’t be creative just because I don’t have certain supplies. Angela Baduel-Crispin’s words in the Introduction captured best what I have gleaned from this book, “But this challenge pushed me to look at everything around me in a different light and imagine that absolutely anything could go on a finger while also expressing that particular day like a sketch in a dairy.” Do take the time to read the Introduction because Marthe has been able to capture the thought of all the contributing artists and I believe you will be inspired!
Marthe, you have a fantastic book here! I recommend it to every jewelry artist! It is small enough to keep handy to grab whenever you need a bit of inspiration. If these artists can create with rubber bands or tape, just because you don’t have some metal clay handy doesn’t mean you can’t create! Broaden your horizons! And maybe next year all of us will join in on the next internet challenge!
First of all, I tried something new. Logic. Every cuff I’ve ever had, had some flexibility. This doesn’t seem to be an option. Flexibility makes it ease to tighten the cuff or loosen it or even put it on. Someone kindly tells me you can put your cuff on sideways with a smaller opening and turn it. OK. I’ll bite. I have a copper cuff forming thing and I put some clingy wrap around it as I am advised to do and then I shape the cuff on my cutting board and then gently lift it to put around the forming thing. It falls apart in slow motion and I am silently cursing like a truck-driver. OK, not all truck-drivers curse, but I’m just sayin…I tell my story of woe to the various groups online and someone says, build the cuff on the mould. Alright. I start doing that, forgetting the clingy wrap and it’s falling off and I am patching it up until it looks like a quilt made by the Amish who were raised in New York City. This doesn’t work. I try two more times, at this point I cannot remember how I tried….one breaks in greenware. It’ a clean break. Yipee. With a smooth dash of distilled water (yes, everyone insists on distilled water) I make a light swoosh on the crack and squidge the two pieces together and start to pray. Then I turn into my mother. I start talking to them. “If you two can’t stay together nicely, you’ll just see what I’ll do. It’s not supposed to be that hard. All of my friends’ cuffs behave nicely so don’t give me any more problems.”
Yes, I dialogue with my pieces. Sometimes I pretend they are part of the mob and I’m a cop and tell them I have ways to make them stick, etc…Call me crazy. It won’t be the first time or the last. The cuff will not stay. I try paste made properly with the oil…No luck. Now I have too beautifully sanded arches and by golly, I am not going to let them go to waste. I never say “golly” by the way. I can’t write what I really say. I fire them. I take them out. I use some epoxy and stagger them together and make a long necklace. My daughter, the fashion expert comes into town and says, “I have to have that.” If she only knew the karma behind all of this, she would have smudged the room with sage and cleansed herself at a sweat lodge. She took it anyway. She wears it and she’s happy. My daughter is happy. I’m happy. However, I haven’t given up.
It so happens that I have a whole whack of steel clay from about 7 months ago and it’s starting to oxidize before my very eyes. I roll it all out. I texture it with a wavy stamp and put it again on the cuff mold. I have some clay left over and now I am really going to town because at this point I’m just don’t care…what else can happen? I gently lift it and put it around the mould and if I tell you it stays on would you believe me? No? You’re right. It start’s cracking here and there and so I start misting there and here and with that leftover clay I whip out the extruder, thank you Wanaree Tanner for the video, and squeeze out some spaghetti lines and apply them on top of the cuff, figuring that this may be an architectural fix. Clearly I am not of sound mind. I plan on leaving the cuff on the mould for a month. ( I can’t find a dehydrator if my life depended on it, but that’s another story.) The next day, the adorned steel cuff it’s cracking and the little pieces of tubing design come apart if you just look at it. Again, I mist it. Again, I missed it. See the irony?
As I write this, the ugly steel thing is across the hall in my studio is laughing at me. What he doesn’t know, (yes, it’s a he) I’m counting on ugly turning into funky. One day I will make cuffs and bracelets and arm bands until those broken pieces are ashamed of themselves.
What DOES it take to make one of these. I see them on covers of metal clay magazines everywhere. I’ve figured it out. Photoshop. Now, that’s not fair.
Maybe I’m a little biased, but I’ve found artists to be some incredibly generous human beings. There’s no argument that we’ve entered into a down period for anyone who’s trying to make a full-time living off their art. Goodness, even just making enough to cover the cost of our art “habit” is an unsure venture at best. Yet the generosity hasn’t diminished.
Two months ago I joined Tonya Davidson’s Whole Lotta Whimsy Sunday Social Circle. It quite a title, but this is quite a group of artists. It’s made up of all skill levels of glass workers, metal artists, metal clay fanatics, polymer clay enthusiasts and many other mediums. These artists come from all walks of life, from every corner of the globe. I think it took less than three weeks for one of these lovely people to suggest we may consider contributing to a cause. In this case the Joplin Relief Fund.
I live in Illinois across the Mississippi River from Missouri. I do quite a few art show around the tri-state region, and I know artists living in Joplin. I have to confess, it wasn’t my idea to benefit Joplin, not even close. Somehow, I found this, arguable, random community of artists wanting to come together for a place they had no connection to incredibly moving.
The call went out, Tracey Edwards and Brooke Durham promptly took the reigns and turned this spark into a real collaborative effort. With so many mediums represented in the group, creating charms seemed almost intuitive. Soon, Brooke became flooded with contributions from all over the world, and two bracelets turned into an entire project we like to call Collaborative Charms for Charity. Brooke created six beautiful charm bracelets. These aren’t your grandmother’s charm bracelets either, nope, her answer to the unique pool of artistry were six one-of-a-kind bracelets, as different from each other as you could hope for art jewelry to be.
Here’s the link to the first charm bracelet we’ve listed for auction: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260828357579#ht_500wt_1204
100% of this auction f will be donated the Joplin Relief Fund through the Catholic Charities of St. Louis, MO. Over the next few weeks we’ll be unveiling each unique bracelet and auctioning it through Ebay.
I suppose it was inevitable. Tonya started the group with the theme Create+Connect+Collaborate, it’s our call sign and emblem. When people come together in this spirit of open sharing and growth, the soil become fertile with a genuine heart-felt potential, it’s bound to over flow to the global community that we are all an important part of.The world becomes a smaller place and everyone is your neighbor. Wanaree
Here at Metal Clay Today, we feel the same way! There has been many tragic circumstances that have plagued our world lately and as artists we feel the impact very deeply. Artists are also a generous and caring community, we manage to always figure out a creative way to give. Be it charms, spreading the word or bidding on Ebay, our hats off to those who stepped up to help!!!!! Now Go forth and Bid! ( ps…. I know more charms can be donated) Lori
The Metal Clay World Conference was one the foremost conferences I have ever attended! I have gone to several quilting conferences and countless retreats, but none of them inspired my artistic abilities so profoundly as this one! I was surrounded by artists of the highest caliber and all of them were willing to share! Jackie Truty, Katie Baum and the entire Art Clay World team treated us to a phenomenal time! I was extremely impressed with the professional was it was run! The conference center was perfect as well as the accommodations! The breakfast and lunch that was provided for us was excellent and it kept us from having to worry about meals as we made our transitions each day!
I almost forgot to mention the opening night’s meet and greet plus charm exchange. The food was exceptional and I had a blast exchanging charms with some of the most talented artists I have ever met. I had about 50 charms to pass out and I received close to that back. I loved the fact that most of them were attached to the business card of the trader. This allowed me to go through them later and recall the artist. This also allowed me to reconnect with these artists once I got back on-line to Facebook. Not to mention I have two awesome charm bracelets to wear!
I unfortunately was not able to attend any of the classes that were offer prior to the conference, yet I came away with my brain filled to the brim with inspiration and information! Each day we were able to chose from several teachers sharing with us valuable knowledge . Some did demonstrations, some lectured with Powerpoint, and all were extraordinary artists! We were able to pick their brains with questions and answers after each presentation, thus cementing all the information in our brains! ( I tend to learn better by asking questions) Each lecture was wisely offered several times throughout the three days, giving us the opportunity to not miss out!
I am sure next time I will take a class or two prior to the actual conference, but I came away from this one with my mind in overload, I don’t think I could have packed one more thing in it. I also was able to connect with people I only know from Facebook. I had a ton of fun actually meeting them and I tried to eat at least one meal with several of them. I was able to connect with several of our artists from the covers of our magazine. I was able to finally meet Michela Verani, Joy Funnell, Wanaree Tanner, Cindy Pankopf, and many more. Actually, I have met Cindy before but we had never been able to hang out. I was privileged enough to be at Michela’s table when she was given many awards including 3rd place for the North American Design Competition, what a great thing! I was also pleasantly surprised to see Wanaree Tanner take First Place!!!! Yippee for them both! I was so excited for them, I missed who took second.
I almost forgot, there was an open forum bouncing around the idea of an international, brand neutral metal clay guild. Be sure to watch our blog, other’s blogs and the Yahoo Metal Clay Group for more information. I have posted a questionnaire on our Facebook Fan Page if you have an opinion. It is going to take all hands on deck to make this come about!
I truly recommend if you can possibly go to the next one in 2013, start saving now!! I am looking forward to the PMC Conference in 2012. I think it will be worth every penny as well!
I’ve just noticed that this whole metal clay thing can become a business. How did I find out? People bought stuff from me. I found it a bit ridiculous at my stage of the game, though there were a couple of pieces that could pass the muster. (always wanted to use that phrase).
From the ridiculous to the sublime (no, I’m not dyslexic), an acquaintance came over one day and noticed a painting I had done of my daughter, Amanda.
My friend loved it and asked who painted it. I told him I did but I’m really into making jewelry these days, wearing like three rings and a necklace I made.
He said, “My wife and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary June whatever…do you think you could paint her portrait and make a set of jewelry, earrings and a necklace. Of course I’ll pay you, x amount of money.” My jaw would have dropped had I not propped it up at the piano. “Sure, that’s good, when do you need this all for?”
Here’s the essence of what I had to do. The input from the client was almost minimal. The “wife” is athletic, sexy and elegant”. He gave me a photo.
In the pit of my belly, part of the jewelry design just came to me. The portrait painting scared me half to death. NOBODY likes the way they look in a painting. Not at first anyway.
For five weeks I spread my time from my shop to a painting studio. Every time I changed something on the portrait, I changed something on the jewelry design.
I think I lived on adrenaline for a good 3 weeks. When I would get home in the evening from painting I was exhausted. Working on the jewelry all day, the next day, I was exhausted at night.
As a jeweller and a painter (and especially you hairdressers out there) you have to learn when it’s time to walk away. I re-did the background of the painting no less than three times. I used a lot of paint. I re-designed part of the jewelry set many more times. I had it in mind to make dangling heart earrings. I went blank every time I sat down. Why” I had made copper, bronze and silver chains. The technique would be the same. I couldn’t figure it out for the life of me. Now I have so many fired-up hearts in my studio, send your friends to me for Valentine’s day if they need something.
The deal is this. When adrenaline is pumping you can be creative good or creative bad. If it’s the latter, you have to chalk it up to experience (hate that phrase, too)..and use more supplies to do something new. Not so much adrenaline is left. Now you just have to practical and fit the bill. Oh, and pray the client likes your works. This is what I thought, at first.
When it came down to the silver clay necklace, I made a profile of a woman, full body. I decided that hearts around her would symbolize her children and her marriage. Those hearts came very easily. It was when I couldn’t make the dangling earring hearts, for the love of G0D, not even WITH a template, I knew I needed an alternate idea. Seeing the profile came out well, I made a set of earrings in profile, one facing west, the other facing east.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a photo take with the earrings, or maybe I did and have it hidden away in some file folder in my computer.
Now, the rest of the painting. People suggested I paint the necklace on her in the portrait. Can you imaging if she hated the portrait AND the necklace? No, this was Certification 12th level or higher, in both metal clays. Oh and really, I should have taken an intensive course in the study of Monet. Yes, “monet” is involved and there’s that to consider. I won’t say how much he paid me but it was enough for me to act nonchalantly very cool and say, “Yeah, that’s good.” In the meantime I am dancing inside and almost in a state of disbelief. Like a good dream. (Just a little flashback, there…)
It came time to solder on those hearts to the profile and I’m not the soldering type, yet, if ever, though of course, I bought the thing-a-ma-jigs online to be able to do it correctly.
As an aside (when my husband brought home a small tank of oxygen it was almost bittersweet. I had to carry around a tank of oxygen 3 years ago, so I could breathe.) And look at me now, wheeling and dealing in paintings and jewelry…I wasn’t proud. I was grateful for all the advice, encouragement, kindness I received from everyone in this online jewelry designers, much the same as for the people who helped me through my lung transplant. It all seemed surreal at one point.
I digress. In the end, I ordered a product that could do this for you without solder. Unfortunately, my pieces were too thin for my husband to work with so he soldered everything. I love my husband. A LOT.
Now the jewelry was all done; anded, tumbled and shined. It was not perfect. But who’s heart is perfect anyway? There are always nicks and scratches. OK, that was just a line I thought up should the client point that out. Always be prepared.
Finally the painting. I sweated gallons on this and had to pick the frame. I was told about the pathology of someone looking at their portrait for the first time. My art teacher said, “You know she won’t like it.” What? “Nobody likes their portrait at first but then it grows on them, etc.” I felt doomed. Finally I let go and let G0D and after that, it was out of my hands.
Here’s one of those blurry camera phone photos I am notorious for.
You can check out the wonderful entries in our slideshow. Then after you have admired the eye candy cast your vote! Vote once for the extremely talented artist of your choice! http://metalclaytoday.com/