May 2, 2014

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What is Art Clay Silver?

What is Art Clay Silver?

Art Clay silver is pliable water based clay that is easily transformed into Silver, just by heating it.  Art Silver Clay is like any other clay when purchased and unpackaged, just a slightly moistly lumped. This clay is a little different, as it is made up of 1-20 micron sized silver particles, organic non-toxic binders and water. Note that there are few types of Metal Claying, though in this article we will discuss Silver Clay, as being most popular amongst artists.

Just like your normal clay,you can mold and shape this lump of clay into any shape, creation and even jewelry.  Once your creation whatever you have designed, has dried, it will become hard as plaster. Ways to dry your piece are a hair dryer, warming tray, heat gun, food dehydrator or a slow oven.  Once it’s hard you can engrave it, file it or carve it until its perfect. Then its perfect time to fire it, this can be done in numerous ways such as on a gas-stove top, a kiln, or a propane gas torch. So how does it become silver?

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May 16, 2014

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Types of Metal Clays

Types of Metal Clays

Art clay also known as metal clay is a wonderful creation that has opened up many creative pathways. This user-friendly clay has a range of three colors: silver, gold and bronze.  It is made up of silver, gold or bronze powder, mixed with water and a non-toxic organic binder.  There are a few differences between the three colors so lets take a look at these.

Silver clay is made up of 1-20 micron silver particles and non-toxic binder and water. Silver art clay can be fired in many ways and after the firing process has shrinkage of 8-10%. You will be left with 99.9% pure silver.

Bronze metal clay was released in July of 2008 and is much cheaper than silver and gold art clay and also come in bigger bags of up to 300 grams. It is made up of 11% tin, 89% copper, water and non-toxic binding materials.  It has different firing requirements; it has to be fired in a kiln for 30 minutes. Some say that you can use a handheld torch on bronze clay. After the firing process you will be left a density of 90% of cast bronze. Bronze clay has shrinkage of fewer than 10% after the firing process and also requires a warm pickling solution after the firing process, to remove residual fire scale.

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May 31, 2014

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Drying Art Clay

Drying Art Clay

So you have created your masterpiece from art clay Silver and it’s time for the piece to be dried out.  Now there are many ways to dry your art clay masterpiece.  Below we will look at the most common ways in which to dry your art clay works of art.

The easiest and most available way to dry your art clay masterpiece is by simply and easily by air-drying.  To do this all you need to do is leave your piece in a warm room for 24 hours. Then just like magic, your art clay piece will be dry and ready for the next step in the creation of your work.

Now if you find yourself in a rush and the need to dry your pieces quickly, or maybe you’re a teacher and your standing in front of your class and need to demonstrate the drying process quickly.  Then the gas hot plate drying method is perfect for you. With this method, you dry your piece over the flame/heat of a gas-stove top.  With this method of drying, make sure to turn your piece over and over making sure the heat gets all sides and crevices of your work.  When you do this you need to be mindful of drying your piece evenly, or you may find that your masterpiece can warp out of shape or curl where it’s not meant too.

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Oct 23, 2014

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Making of a Piano Pendant for a Friend

Making of a Piano Pendant for a Friend

I have a dear friend whose daughter in ten years old and has been learning to play the piano for four years. She is already amazing at it despite her young age, and she is the only child I have ever met who actually practices every day. Her piano teacher must love her, and her parents recently even went so far as to buy her a beautiful, new digital piano so that she would be motivated to keep practicing. Anyway, she has a recital coming up and they invited me to come to see her perform. I got to thinking that maybe I should bring her a little memento so that she can remember the occasion. Of course, it is no surprise that the first thing I thought of to give her was an art clay piece

My friend has raised a very responsible little girl, and I think she is old enough to have a nice piece of jewelry of her own. So, I decided to make her a pendant that she can wear on a colored satin ribbon. I used silver art clay because of its low cost and because I thought that it would look the nicest with my design. I also chose to use lump clay because of  how easy it is to use and its nice consistency.

The design that I chose to make was a heart with piano keys going vertically across it on one side and her initials carved into the other side in a cursive-looking script. I admit that it might not be the most creative idea I have ever come up with, but it is pretty cute and I think it was a good design choice to give to someone who is only ten. The design was pretty simple to figure out and accomplish though I had to take some time to get the lettering to have the right proportions and look good. It looked great after it was fired and was quite easy to polish and finish up. I am very happy with it.

I haven’t chosen a ribbon yet because I want to ask her mother what her favorite color is first. I also need to find a little gift box to put it in and some appropriate wrapping paper. I still have a little time before the recital to finish these little details, but I would like to put it all together as soon as I know what color of ribbon to use so that I don’t have to worry about it after that.

It is my first time ever hearing my friend’s daughter play in a formal situation. She has performed in recitals before, of course, but I am sure that she is still nervous and excited anyway. I have heard her practicing once or twice though, so I know she will do great. I really hope she likes the necklace I am making, because it was a joy to do for her.

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Oct 17, 2014

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Our Work Showcase at Independent Arts Exhibition

Our Work Showcase at Independent Arts Exhibition

We, the Art Clay Guild, had the fantastic pleasure of showing the public videos and photographs of several art clay work. On our way traveling to the Independent Arts Exhibition, we carried all of the materials necessary to make our work showcase a success. Besides the actual photography and videography, we made sure to bring our trusty portable projector.

For those of you who do not know what the Art Clay Guild is, it is a group of creative thinkers who enjoy turning their dreams into reality. We love to research and make new things to share with the world in various fields such as history, religion, and technology. With our knowledge and determination, the Art Clay Guild tackle numerous topics and inform the curious minds of the world. One topic we have been working on pertains to art clay.

Art clay is a versatile material used for modeling. It can be turned into a fine-textured clay to work with, and after being fired, transforms into unadulterated, hardened 22 carat gold or silver. Actually, this type of clay comes in silver, gold, and bronze. The clay is gold or silver powder coalesced with water and an organic, non-toxic binding agent. Our goal for the work showcase at the Independent Arts Exhibition was to share our findings as well as the great things that can be made with art clay, also known as metal clay.

Pendants, dog tags and other great pieces of art can be made from this type of clay. The Art Clay Guild was hopeful in showing the public the many uses of art clay. On the Art Clay Guild website, we expatiate on the differences between silver, gold, and bronze art clay as well as how to produce a fine product with this special material.

Aside from pictures and video recordings, we discussed some helpful tips while using art clay in the presentation. One helpful tip is having everything you need before working with the clay. Have a sketch of the design you want to create and the tools you will use. Keep clay covered with plastic wrap to avoid drying and cracking. Use a bit of water to keep in the moisture.

We made sure we were prepared to present to the visitors. We also included additional light bulbs. Why? Because you never know if the projector light bulb fizzles out. One little thing can have a huge impact, and would have messed up our chance to share the knowledge of art clay and how it can be used. Funny thing is, the projector lamp did die.

I was on my way to test out the portable projector when I noticed for some reason, the lamp would not illuminate. Luckily, I was able to switch out the bulb in time to find out that it was finally working. Our presentation was a huge success as I predicted and we had so much fun at the art exhibition. Everything fell into place for the Art Clay Guild.

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Oct 11, 2014

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5 Useful Tips On Working With Metal Clay

5 Useful Tips On Working With Metal Clay

Metal clay is an excellent material to work with. This is because it is an effective blend of the best characteristics of metal and clay. Ever since I started working on metal clay, I’ve become addicted to the material. You can create any shape, size or object from it easily, provided you have a suitable model to work from.

I start my metal clay work early in the morning, when I’m fresh with ideas and not disturbed by the routine tasks. I wear my nicer shoes to keep me comfortable and with all the necessary tools and equipment, the work is done fast and accurately too.

One of our new recruits in the artist guild wanted some guidance on working with metal clay. Here are some tips on working efficiently with the clay.

  • You need to have all the things needed ready at hand, before you start working on the clay. Since metal clay dries up very fast, you need to be quick, especially if you’ve worked with polymer clay. The pace and working style should be adjusted to get the desired result. You should have a precise sketch of the design well before you start. Keep the supplies you need and the tools ready, before you open the metal clay package.
  • The clay should be kept covered, when you work with a plastic wrap, so it does not get dried up easily. You can also keep it moist by dabbing some water continuously, when you work on the clay.
  • The firing instructions are present in the clay package itself. But in general the higher and longer the firing is done, you get a high strength finish. If the desired temperature and time is not maintained the sintering or fusing of clay will not be done properly, resulting in the finished product becoming brittle and easy to break. I usually fire at 1650 degrees Fahrenheit for a period of about two hours to get a strong and good metal finish.
  • When you work with different brands or formulations, using the highest recommended temperature and the longest time will ensure uniform firing and better fusion of the metal particles.
  • The stones you use for decoration should be chosen carefully. Use only stones that are kiln safe. Also ensure that the stones used can withstand the temperature you fire the clay at. Almost all the synthetic and lab grown gemstones can be used safely in kiln. Even natural stones like garnet and peridot can be used as they can tolerate high temperatures. Buying the stones from a reliable supplier will ensure that they remain unharmed during the firing process.

I can stand all day working on the clay thanks to reliable shoes. I’ve created many new and fresh designs from correcting the errors alone. Metal clay has the biggest advantage in being able to correct any errors you make, while creating your design. The cracks formed can be filled and fired again. If there are some faults that cannot be corrected in this way, you can embellish the design to create an entirely new model. This is the precise reason I love working with metal clay.

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Oct 10, 2014

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Versatile And Beautiful Metal Clay Art

Versatile And Beautiful Metal Clay Art

The best thing about metal clay that lured me into taking it up full time is its extraordinary characteristics. You can create innumerable number of designs from it. Designers and jewelers find it a very versatile material from which they can create any type of design they have in mind. Further even amateurs can have a dab at showing their creativity with the metal easily.

Easy to manipulate

Metal clay has very find silver or gold metal particles, water and organic binder in it. When you fire it at the right temperature, the binder and water are burnt up and the metal fuses or is sintered together. The metal you get in this manner is very pure and it is .999 pure silver or fine silver as opposed to sterling silver, which is just .925 pure. If it is gold metal you’re using, the resultant metal is 22K gold.

You can mold the metal just like the clay using the same cutting and molding tools. You can shape it by hand too other than using the molds and it can be cut, rolled or extruded as needed. After firing, the metal can be brought to a fine finish by filing, sanding and stamping or embellishing with liver of sulfur patinas or other similar patinas. The first model I tried out after learning the method was creating a boot. I used one of my durable trekking boots as model for the work.

Art clay types

There are two main metal clay types’ namely precious metal clay and art clay. These are available in four different categories.

  • Lump clay is the basic type that metal clay is available in commonly. The consistency is like that of polymer clay, but unlike the polymer variety you can use it right out of the package, instead of having to knead it to make it pliant.
  • Paste form clay is the lump clay that is thinned using water to get a smooth, creamy and thick consistency. This is applied using a paintbrush and used for fusing two unfired clay pieces together or for adding clay layers over objects like leaves, twigs, cereal puffs or cork clay, which burn away when fired. Though you can always create your own paste from the lump clay, it is not as smooth and uniform as the readymade form available.
  • Syringe clay is also a type of lump clay, which is of thinned consistency, so it extrudes easily, but is not as thin as you get in the paste form. This is available in syringes as non-refillable packs. Intricate details in clay work like decorations and lacy beads or for protecting gemstones while firing are some of the main uses of the syringe clay type. When you use this clay, the tip should be kept moist by immersing it in water to prevent the clay from drying and clogging the tip.
  • Paper clay is made of fine silver and can be cut with paper punches or knife to add embellishments to your clay work or just wrapped around the lump clay.

There are also a few other types other than these four major categories like art clay silver oil paste which are used in clay art designs.

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Oct 9, 2014

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The History Of Ceramic Art

The History Of Ceramic Art

Ceramic art has become quite a popular one in recent times. The increase in the number of people interested in acquiring the ceramic art crafts is sure proof of this. A few days back we had an order from a client to make motorcycle boots like these. He had been to a museum where a pair of cowboy boots made of ceramic caught his fancy. Since he was a motorcycle enthusiast, he wanted to recreate the same in ceramic.

He was also interested about how we created the models and the history behind clay art. The world of clay art is a fascinating one that has a very ancient history that dates back to many centuries. Man has been familiar with clay for several centuries and it is one of the first materials he started to work on.

Clay has been used all around the world by people to make pottery and other objects. It is made of earth and water. The clay is molded into different shapes and heated at very high temperatures to harden it, and you can create different kinds of ceramics based on the clay type used.

There are different types of clay based on the ingredients or minerals present like iron oxide and silicon. It is the constituent minerals that make the clay moldable and determine its softness. The minerals also influence the heating temperature required for the clay to harden.

Early man used earthenware clay mostly, as it required only a low temperature to harden and the clay was also readily available. The other clay materials used include stoneware and porcelain.

When heated to high temperatures, the clay becomes smooth and fine. The heating source used initially include fire or heating in the sun. But later on the potters used heated devices named kilns which controlled the firing conditions appropriately.

The evolution of ceramics has brought about a big change in world history, as it is these objects which made it possible for early cultures to make pots and pans that could hold water, cook food and do other essential things. In a sense, the enhanced food production due to the pottery led to survival of large populations.

Pottery started as a means to meet with the daily life requirements, but later developed into an art form.

Ceramics, given their ancient history are considered important by archaeologists and historians. They help in finding about how ancient cultures existed. Since the ceramics stay intact for several thousands of years, they serve as a mirror for the past.

Clay was formed in different ways. Initially it was shaped by hand. The containers used in the beginning were just pressed by hand to get the bowl shape. Slab construction is another form that used thin clay rolls placed one on top of the other and connected to give the container form. The wheel form was used later. A ball of clay was placed in the center of the wheel shaped device and the clay is molded as the wheel turns. This method called as wheel throwing, helped in making the pieces fast, but needs great amount of skill.

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Sep 24, 2014

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Making of Longboard Pendant

Making of Longboard Pendant

From surfing and cruising to dancing there’s nothing you cannot accomplish with a longboard.  Longboarding is almost fifty years old and has certainly developed into a popular sport. Everyone is familiar with it. Though many people compare it to skateboarding, when you use a longboard you’ll know that it is completely different from a skateboard. For one it is stable, easy to turn in and spacier too. And you get various sub disciplines in it.

The reason why I’m talking about longboarding is because one of my guild members got an order for creating a longboard pendant from (obviously) some longboard enthusiasts.  They had ordered the pendant so that is looks like this longboard. This is how we made the pendant.

The material used for the longboard pendant is called PMC or precious metal clay. It is very good to use as the ingredients in it, silver particles blended with organic binder in a clay form, make it very workable.  You can use it just like clay with 30% less shrinkage. When you fire the clay in a kiln, the piece you get has very pure silver of .999purity.

The materials needed include a small PVC pipe or a tube or jar to use as roller, cooking spray, rubber stamps, razor blade or a tissue blade, two cardboards of 1/8”x1x5 in thickness, width and length, PMC, wire brush, safety glasses, pliers, vinyl mat and fine metal file.

Here are the steps:

  • First spray your hands and the vinyl surface with cooking spray, so the PMC doesn’t stick to your fingers
  • Cut the PMC to make three pieces. Take a piece to work on and keep the other two wrapped, so the material doesn’t dry out.
  • Use the cooking spray to lubricate the PVC pipe.
  • Place the cardboard strips on the vinyl surface with the rubber stamp in between to separate the boards. The cardboard strips help in guiding with the right thickness.
  • Place PMC in between the strips and roll it out. The PVC or roller you use should move smoothly.
  • After you’ve finished rolling, remove the cardboard and spray the rubber stamp with cooking spray.
  • Press the stamp on the PMC and remove it, so you get the stamp impression in it.
  • Now trim the PMC with the razor taking care not to leave any rough edges.
  • To make the pendant, you need to drill a hole in the PMC when it is still pliant. Make a 1/8” hole, as it will shrink on firing.
  • Now gather the scraps and add it to the remaining PMC you’ve kept wrapped.
  • The PMC should be left to dry for a whole night and after it is completely dry, you can fire it in a kiln at 1650 degrees and let it cool down slowly.
  • You get a white residue on the pendant after firing. Clean this with the wire brush. Use safety glasses, while you use the wire brush and also hold the pendant with pliers, as it gets hot when you brush vigorously.
  • Use the file to smooth the edges.

The pendant was finished in time and the clients were very happy with it. The art clay guild, after completing the job, decided to take a try of riding some of best longboard brand longboard, for example these.

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Sep 11, 2014

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Metal Clay tips and Tricks

Metal Clay tips and Tricks

I find metal clay one of the easiest to work with because I’ve had quite a good many years of practice in working with it. There are certain tips and tricks that make the process more simple and fast. Here are some of these which I’ve used and found very effective.

For precise and clean cuts

Applying clay mate, oil, balm or silk to the cutting edges of the tissue blade before you start cutting. This will prevent the clay from sticking to the cutting edge and you get a neat cut.

Better posture

The entire designing and clay art will come out beautifully only when you exert the right control. Using a movable surface, so you can tilt and turn at your will, instead of you doing the movements will make the work more precise and put less strain on you. Making craft is a rewarding process, if you do it with the right posture and skill.

Even Clay texture

When you press the clay to get the right texture you can find some areas are higher or more rounded than what you want. These areas may damage the beauty of the piece. To even out the rounded areas, use snake maker made of acrylic. This will also give an even depth all over. The clay will get a roller printed appearance. If you find this hard to do, you need to try out first with polymer clay and when you get familiar with the technique, you can start on the clay art metal.

Texturing clay

When you texture the clay, avoid using materials like paper, shells, wood or other such porous materials which can absorb moisture easily. This makes the clay stick to the material and you stand to lose precious clay material because of this.  But you can use porous materials, if they are sealed first. You need to apply a coat of latex paint or use three to four coats of waterproof sealant and let it dry fully. Now you should mist the sealed layer with CoolSlip, before you press the metal clay to get a clean design release.

Humidifier storage

To keep the clay in proper storage temperature, a humidifier storage unit is necessary. Take a small plastic bowl or container with lid, and stick cosmetic sponge to it with E6000 glue and let it dry. When needed water can be poured into the container, so the sponge is wet all over and then poured out. The humidifier is ready. You can use it to cover the wet metal clay by keeping the clay on a flat surface, or if the container has a lid, keep the clay inside with a plastic wrap covering it and place the lid.

Branding your work

When you have your work signed or use a logo, it will look more valuable for customers. Even if your name is not well known, a signature will bring on added value and will be easy to track, if you become a successful. There are hard projects like creation of pendant logo, which can appeal to many people. For creating a signature or logo or trademark you can just use your initials, or the whole signature. To do this you need to first form a mold with signature or initials. Use a polymer clay slab of two cards thick. The slab should be made on Tuff Card, so it is stable and then baking should be done.

A ball burnisher of medium range can be used for signing your name. When you sign, the bits can get displaced. Use snake maker to press the bits down. Initially, start with a light touch, and if needed go for more depth later.  For cutting the signature tag, use an oval shaped cutter. After removing the excess, bake the clay. This can be used as master and a mold made with MegaMold. Now press metal clay in the mold, and you can create as many replicas as you want. This can be stored and used for signature tags whenever needed.

Creative use of leftovers

There are different types of metal clay that you can use in a project. Whatever type of clay you use, it is common to get tiny bits of clay as leftovers however carefully you do the project. One way to use the bits is to add them to a fresh piece of clay, if it is present. I usually create tiny design pieces with the bits, which I can use in my future projects.

Paint brush selection

There are a few tips you can follow in handling the paint brush to get an effective result.

  • Using inexpensive brushes can ruin your entire work. So select good quality brushes.
  • When you’re applying paste with the brush, wet it before using. Moisture in the clay will be absorbed, if you use a dry brush. The paste will also stick to the brush and make the bristles stick out. By wetting it first, you keep the brush working effectively.
  • The brush should not be dipped fully in the paste. It should only be hallway into the paste. Ensuring this will keep the brush in good working condition.
  • When a work session is over, you need to clean the brush thoroughly. Remove all the metal clay bits that are clinging to the bristles and reform the shape of bristles and dry the brush.

Getting skilled with needle tools

The tiny needle tools used in art clay have very minute shanks, which are quite hard to grasp on. When you want to drill a hole or use bur tip on the clay, it is difficult to hold the shanks. For such tiny tools you need to create customer handles using JettSett. Use hot water to heat the JettSett and make a ball. Plunge the shank into the melted ball and mold it firmly. Let it cool for five minutes or so. Now you can grip the tool easily.

Of all the metal types used in art clay, I think art clay silver is the best. It looks great when finished and polished. For very fine silver wire used in the work, you can harden the wire by tumbling them in vibratory tumbler or a rotary for minimum one hour, so they stiffen up and retain their shape.

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Sep 10, 2014

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Making Metal Clay Dog Tag for Our New Furry Friend

Making Metal Clay Dog Tag for Our New Furry Friend

Metal art clay is indeed a wonderful invention. It has made possible for creating exquisite pieces of art that can be done right at home easily. I’d done a metal clay dog tag for my new pet as a sign of welcoming him to our home.

The tag is easy to make and I did some excellent carving and finishing work on it, so my new pet would look adoring and majestic wearing it. I found him wounded, while I was on one of my morning walks in the nearby park. He was so endearing and small that I took him in and healed him. I had great help from mobile pet grooming services of a lady who took care of the dog’s appearance and now he has a completely changed appearance.

Metal clay is basically a moldable form that is made up of mainly water and metal. When you fire the clay, the water evaporates with only the metal left behind as a dense mass. You get metal clay in different forms like bronze, copper, gold and silver. Silver is my favorite, as it is easy to use it to create the simplified metal tags that I love to make.

Here is how I made the metal tag for my pet.

  • First you should decide on the thickness needed for the metal tag. Use playing cards stack of the same thickness, which will be about six or seven cards and keep two such stacks for the two ends of the clay roller.
  • Now place the cards on either side of the metal art clay. A nonstick type of surface is best for this.
  • Place a plastic wrap on the clay, so it doesn’t stick to the roller. You can also use cooking oil on the roller, if you don’t have a plastic wrap.
  • The clay should now be rolled gently. The cards placed on either side will help to give the right thickness of the clay. Ensure that the surface is even. A steady roll will keep the surface smooth and even.
  • Now use exacto knife to cut the desired shape in the clay. For the shape, you can create a template out of cardboard beforehand and keep it ready, if a free hand cutting does not appeal to you.
  • For the hole in the tag, you should punch at the top portion using a straw preferably a thin one.
  • For the design, you should use decorative stamps or letter stamps on the carved tag surface.
  • The drying and firing time instructed in the package of the metal clay should be followed correctly. Gas torch, gas stove top or a kiln can be used for the firing.
  • Polish the tag using sandpaper. This removes crystallized outer layer and gives the silvery shine to the surface.

If the clay dries while you are doing the design, you can use a spray bottle to wet the clay. Any unused clay can be kept in an airtight bag after getting it out of the original packing. The new dog tag looked good on my furry friend and with all the grooming- you can read more info regarding dog pampering- and TLC I’d showered on him, he certainly looked ecstatic.

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