Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bronze clay. In the beginning...

You have to start somewhere.

I have tentatively dabbled in silver clay twice. Once in a private class in San Diego over 10 years ago. The instructor was Jonna Faulkner; I was working at the Shepherdess. Then here in Delaware; my good friend Sara Teixido is a metal clay goddess, and I have used the medium under her guidance. But that's as far as I went...

Why? Price? Fear that I would love it SO there would be no turning back? My magpie-like love of all things shiny silver? Then there is the bronze, and the copper. I have had so many gorgeous pieces from my colleagues and AJE team mates. Still I hesitated. Carbon? Firing? Learning curve? Sintering?
Whee! Free rein to test out Karen's stamps! 
This Labor Day weekend a few of us from the blog gathered together for a mini "Art Camp".  With both Karen and Lesley there - Jennifer & I had masterful support to dive into bronze. This post is in no means a how-to! Just my excitement at trying... and succeeding... in a medium that I had longed to try for years.

One picture of me at work where my hands weren't a blur... LOL
First let me say - the stuff is HEAVY. you take a pinch of bronze clay, compared to a similar pinch of polymer or stoneware. Wow. Its dense and feels substantial. Working with it was as expected: lube up your hands and molds as needed. Don't dilly dally as it dried out rather quickly.
Layer after layer. Spacing things in the carbon/ 
Karen made loading the ceramic firing box make SO much sense. Totally demystified the process for me. And while things fired, we went to work with seed beads. ( I introduced them all to peyote stitch beaded bezels and bead embroidery. They may or may not be hooked! )
Cannot wait to see! 
I'M SO EXCITED. Doing a Snoopy dance in my head right now.
Freshly washed: Karen's, Jennifer's and mine all mixed together... 
Post firing? Lesley and great advice on sintering, how it sounds, how to test it...  Its worth it to try to break a piece to see if the clay sintered properly. And the metallic "ring" of your newly fired piece on the sink is music to one's ears! Again I was struck with the heft of the pieces. Sure, mine were a bit "sturdy" and could be thinner, but they feel "real". The image above shows the natural patina resulting in the firing. These were washed off, that's all!
At home now - brush and tumble... 
To tumble or not to tumble? To sand to a satin finish? To burnish high points to a high shine? How do you decide!? The goddess ( top left, below) was burnished with an agate burnisher. The group on the right was tumbled - I loved the subtle satin sheen they have now. The last two ( bottom left) were scrubbed with a brass brush. I think this batch is complete - reminding me of different finishes and possibilities.
The specifics... details and finishes. 
A perfect partnership. 
And this one? Its mine! A wee bronze charm stamped with a eucalyptus pod from San Diego - and my thumbprint apparently! This stunning cab was from Lesley, and the bead work was completed after a great weekend of friends, creativity, techniques... and wine. 

All in all, I think I love bronze. Now to try copper. I was lucky - I know one doesn't get every piece fired perfectly every time. But until next time... 
What new technique or medium are you eager to try? 


  1. Such a fun weekend but it seems so long ago al ready...I forsee great things in your metal clay future Jenny.

  2. That is so cool! My kiddo just got her first kiln so I;m beyond ready to try my hand at any of the metal clays lol I've only been able to wish before. Of course I have to let her play with her new toys first and that's hard!!

  3. So much fun to see your work in Bronze!! You had the best teachers!! Congrats on finally doing it!!


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