Thursday, January 22, 2015

You're really growing on me!

I can’t believe it’s been a fortnight since my last post. Where has the time gone??? A lot of it has been spent playing with my bronze clay. I didn’t realise that I’ve spent 2 weeks working out firing schedules and coming up with new ideas, so this is pretty much all I have to talk about this week.

To start, an update on the pieces I made 2 weeks ago. If you follow me on Facebook, you may have already seen that I cracked the firing schedule, and managed to successfully sinter the lentil beads and hare pendant.

It took 4 days of constant firing and adjusting, but I’m now confident that my creations will stay in one piece.

A good tip I picked up while researching, was that the majority of problems with pieces not sintering properly is to do with the first part of the firing and burning off the binder rather than the top temperature. Once I’d discovered that, I altered the schedule and it worked. It was a happy day! 

The lentils didn’t work brilliantly, they turned in to bronze with no problems, but they warped as they were fired and one cracked, I wonder if bronze clay is similar to ceramic clay in that it will warp if dried too quickly? A test for the future! 

I didn’t have anything to polish the insides with so you can’t make out the designs too well, and unfortunately the CZ clouded, but it’s all lessons learned (and the opportunity for shopping!)

One thing I really like about this brand of clay (Goldie hard) is that it’s really easy to fix. As I said, one of the lentils cracked, so I packed in some wet clay, left it to dry and ran through the schedule again. It filled the crack perfectly!

Once I had a couple of firings under my belt, I tried some more complex designs. Another hare, this time with an embedded bronze setting and some leaves and flower vines.

And then finally on to an idea that has been sitting in my head for a long time… making bezels. 

I rolled thick pieces of clay and carved out the inside with an undercut around the inner edge to set a tiny sculpture. 

I really like the variation of effects and colours you can get with this bronze. When first fired, it's rough with a grainy texture, but once polished, it's lovely and shiny and can range from bright and yellow to a warm gold.

Originally, I wanted to fill it with ceramic clay, but the firing temperatures are too different and trying to work out the shrinkage would have been a nightmare, so I created the design in polymer clay which was carved and baked in place. (I didn't realise how mucky I'd got it, I should have washed my hands properly after the polishing!)

Once cured, I painted it with acrylics.

I have some sealant on the way to finish this off and make it more durable, but I’m really pleased with how it’s looking so far (although I think his eye needs a bit more colour) and have a hundred and one ideas for more!

Metal clay, I owe you an apology, you’re not that bad after all!


  1. Sometimes if you re-fire the pieces in carbon with CZ they will come clear. But CZ are not always recommended for high temperature firings - rather use Synthetic Spinels or Corundums. Sometimes it's the clay that have them react. Ask Waldo where he'd get the synthetic stones to add to Goldie!

    And yes, bronze coming out of the kiln is like magic. Unfortunately it won't stay "forever"... But what a nice view!

    1. These are fire safe stones and I just assumed they would work. I'll find out which are specifically for bronze and try re-firing these. Thanks for the advice!

  2. I am love with your hare with the vines! So glad you decided to give the bronze a chance.

  3. Wow, I love them, all of them, but that last one is a stunner! What a beautiful little piece of wearable art! Amazing!

  4. I love the way you painted the bunny, so cute!

  5. Your pieces are wonderful. I would love to have any of them.

  6. Caroline,

    What a wonderful post!

    I am grateful to read about your process. I love that you remind us that ALL artists have learning curves, and that most mistakes can be fixed.

    I am in love with the first, simple bunny head. The lentils are so splendid. And what you did with the bunny "bezel" and polymer has a fantastic future!

  7. Wow! You are on a roll with these!

  8. Hi Caroline, Your bezeled hare is wonderful and so are the rest of your pieces. Kudos to you for figuring out the bronze firing schedule. I am doing the same with fused glass.

  9. How beautiful! I love these hares! (crack?, what crack?). My favorite is still that very first one! Awesome!

  10. I know I am bias but I still love all the pieces!! The lentils speak to me as well as the bunnies! I can not wait to see your next venture!

  11. Gorgeous Rabbit piece! Beautiful craftsmanship!

  12. Amazing pieces Caroline, I love every one of them!!


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