May 31, 2014

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Drying Art Clay

Drying Art ClaySo 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.

If you find yourself not near a hotplate, then the next best option is to plug in your hair dryer. This is another effective and fast way dry out your piece. Be careful though to not have the air on too high, as you don’t want to blow your piece out of shape.

If you are lucky enough to own a food dehydrator, you can cook up more clay than food using this method. This is a great option to assist you in drying your art clay pieces quickly.  In addition it’s also a great way to dry out many pieces at the one time. Fantastic if you have made some smaller pieces of jewelry or small art works.

If you aren’t lucky enough to have a food dehydrator, then just your normal run-of-the-mill oven will do the trick.  Turn your oven to 200 degrees and dry out your art clay creations in 20 minutes. This option again is great for drying many smaller pieces at one time.

So you have a number of ways to dry out your masterpieces. From the easy option of air-drying to the more advanced step of using a food dehydrator. All the different approaches are equally effective, you just need to use what is available to you.  Always remember to take care around heat and flames, being cautious and safe while creating your art.

photo credit: Niels Van Eck

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May 16, 2014

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Types of Metal Clays

Types of Metal ClaysArt 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.

Art gold clay is more expensive than the other colors and also have different needs to the other two clays.  Art gold clay is 91.7% gold and 8.3% silver, and water and non-toxic binding agents. The molding and drying parts of the process are the same as silver and bronze, but art clay gold must be fired in a kiln at 1813 Fahrenheit for one hour. After this hour you will be left with 100% 22k Gold.

Art copper clay color is 90% copper, water and non-toxic binding agents. It can dried in many ways but can only be fired in a kiln 1778 Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or using a gas torch. After the firing process you may need to place your piece in a pickling compound to eliminate any oxidized layers. After firing you are left with 90% bronze.

There are many variations of clay within these colors. There are new versions being added every year. So be sure to get on the Internet and do some research, as to what product will be best for you to use.

photo credit: Marilyn Davenport

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May 2, 2014

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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?

When you are firing your creation with your blow torch or gas stove top or if you have placed the item in a kiln, the non toxic organic binders burn away and the silver particles join together in a process also known as ‘sintering’. The particles become stronger and denser and you are left with a creation that is 99.9% silver. How brilliant is that? One thing to note when firing your creation is that the burning process will actually cause your creation to shrink by 8-10%, but it will maintain its original shape.

Now if you have let your piece turn hard and you are not happy with the result, all you need to do is add some water and your piece will turn back into a lump of clay that you can then start the creative process all over again. Also if you have pieces left over from the filing or carving process or clay that wasn’t used, you can recycle, which means you have no waste. This Art Silver Clay is a magical creation.

Five Simple Steps to making Art Clay Silver:

Step 1 – Use your creativeness and mold your wet lump of clay into a brilliant creation.

Step 2 – Make sure you dry your piece completely, using one of the following; hair dryer, cup warmer, warming tray, dehydrator or in a slow oven.

Step 3-  Once it is completely dry, this is your time to refine your work.  File it so it is smooth, blemish free and perfect. You can also carve your piece and add decorations at this step.

Step 4.  Once your piece is dry and you have created the perfect piece. Time for some magic and turn your piece into silver by firing it in a kiln, with a propane gas torch, or on a gas-stove top.

Step 5 – Your piece is now ready to be polished; you can polish it with a stainless steel brush, sandpaper or burnisher.

You now have a piece that is 99.9% silver that can be hallmarked. So where does Silver Art Clay come from?

Art Clay is manufactured in Japanese company called Aida Chemical Industries. Aida Chemical Industries is a “green” company who collect metals, which already have been used, and reclaim these metals. Items such as computer circuit boards and silver from photographic supplies are processed in tremendous quantities every year.

A portion of this harvest becomes Art Clay Silver.

 Aida combines these reclaimed metals with non-toxic, organic binders. The result is a product, which can be handled safely. Every effort has been made to assure the safety of artists using the Art Clay. Even the production processes used to create Art Clay are designed to have minimal effects on the environment.

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Jun 21, 2014

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Benefits of Being Strong

Benefits of Being StrongA few days ago, I had a very enlightening conversation. I was having coffee at a local shop with a friend of mine who is a Brazilian jiu jitsu master. After bouncing from topic to topic for a while, eventually we settled on a topic that I found to be highly interesting. It was about the benefits of being strong. Not necessarily physical strength, but strength in a wide variety of areas. Anyway, to the best of my ability, I’d like to relay this conversation for you all now.

“It must be pretty great being strong enough to throw someone around,” I had said, “Should the need ever arise, you know.”

My friend laughed a little, “I don’t think that would be the first reason for enjoying jiu jitsu, but you do have a good point. Being strong is a wonderful thing.”

“How so?” I asked, knowing that my friend was looking for an opportunity to expand on what he’d said. Deep, meaningful conversations were his forte.

“For one thing,” he said, “Strength makes you better at what you do. Brazilian jiu jitsu is an art that was designed to provide advantages to a smaller fighter, but added strength is certainly an advantage. And jiu jitsu isn’t the only sport where being strong helps. You like bicycling right?”

“Yes,” I answer.

“Stronger legs mean longer bike rides, right?”

I nod, giving him a smile.

“It’s more than that though,” my friend said, “Being stronger makes you healthier, and in more ways than the obvious ones.”

“Like?” I said.

“Like a stronger core for example,” he said, “Having a stronger core makes you better able to support your spine. It gives you better posture, and can keeps you from having back problems when you’re older.”

“That makes sense,” I said, “If you think about it, the strength training itself has got to be good for you.”

My friend nodded.

“It is,” he said, “It’s why it’s such a big focus in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Strength training improves your cardio, fights obesity, and it promotes muscle gain too, of course.”

“And that added muscle makes you look a lot better too,” I said.

My friend smiled.

“No doubt. Just see how great I look.”

We both laughed a little, but he wasn’t kidding. My friend is in an excellent shape, and it’s an easy thing to notice.

“Really though,” he said, “A little extra strength goes a long way in more ways than you think. Anything that helps you to better do what you enjoy in life is a worthwhile pursuit. Being stronger makes you more attractive, healthier, and better at most anything you can imagine. I would say that it’s a key part of being successful.”

I nodded, thinking over what he had said. From here, the conversation tapered off, but days later I’m still thinking about what my friend said. I knew that strength is great if you ever needed to lift something heavy or beat some guy in an arm wrestling match, but I had never stopped to consider all the other benefits that it offered as well. Hopefully, this post keyed you in on a few of those benefits too, but for now, it’s time to hit the weight room.

photo credit: Eric Norris

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Jun 18, 2014

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The Art of Making Craft

The Art of Making CraftHere in the guild, we get a lot of great, unique orders. In fact, just getting to hear all the creative ideas from our customers is one of the best parts of our job. Recently, though, I got an order from a gentlemen that was so much fun to create that I had to share. He told me that he works at a data center as a design manager in charge of designing tasks, and that he would like for me to design him a crest of honor. After figuring out the details, I started to work. As it turned out, creating a crest of honor was a highly enjoyable process that I’d like to share with you here.

Tweaking the Design

Like I said, most of the details of this project’s design were already very well laid out for me. The customer was very meticulous and had a beautiful looking idea in his head that he did an excellent job of conveying to me. Still, there were several details that needed to be resolved. The first thing I did was sketch the design on a piece of paper to help me better visualize what the finished product was going to look like. After tweaking it, having a second conversation with the customer, and showing it to a few of my colleagues to get their opinion, it was time to refine my sketch into the final pattern that would be used to make the crest.

Crafting the Crest

As much as I enjoy the design process, (which getting to be creative is without a doubt one of the best parts) actually crafting the crest was where the real fun began. Using the pattern I had created as my guide, the first thing I needed to do was to design a basic model, which then I would carve, piece by piece. While this sounds simple enough, it’s actually a highly complex process. Any mistake in carving would show up in the finished result, meaning that I had to take extreme care to make sure that the model matched the design exactly. Once it is carved, next step is to burn the metal in kinl, the rest is upon waiting.

Finishing and Polishing the Crest

After being burned and once craft had cooled and solidified, I was finally able to get a look at the crest. I must say, I knew that it was going to be great just by the design that the customer had described, but I was floored by what a beautiful piece it had turned out to be. The final step before it was ready for him to receive was to buff and polish the crest. Once it was shining enough that I could see my reflection in it, the crest was complete.

A Satisfied Customer and an Enjoyable Project

I have to say, making this crest was one of the most fun projects that I have received in a very long time. The customer was extremely satisfied with the result, and seeing his eyes light up when he came to pick up his beautiful crest was the icing on the cake to an enjoyable and rewarding metalworking experience.

photo credit: the justified sinner

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Jun 5, 2014

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Making of Logo for the Annual Party

Making of Logo for the Annual PartyFor the past five years, has been providing business to our local community. So they decided it was time to give back to the people who have supported them, and helped their business grow. They decided to throw a huge anniversary party, and let community know that business and kindness had not gone unnoticed.

One of the standout party crowd pleasers was’s huge logo that was made up of pendants that were made from Silver Art Clay. The result was nothing short of spectacular. It looked like a royal crown, looking down over the party. It glimmered and shone up above, the lights bounced off it like rays of diamonds. It was so huge it was about the size of a small car. All night you could see people just staring at the logo in amazement of how much of a beautiful and magical creation it was. It definitely stirred up many conversations during the night. Everybody had his or her own version of how it was made. Where it had come from. And what materials were used to make such an amazing piece of art.

The company management was definitely happy with the money that they had spent on throwing a party for their customers. They were even happier about their sparkling magical logo that was floating above the crowd. It was like they were being rewarded with jewels for the hard work they had all put in over the last five years.  You could see the smiles on their face all night, big teethy smiles that never left their faces.

The logo that shone all night, showering the crowd with its shining greatness, it was a spectacle that was hard to descrive. I did some investigation about its creators and what materials were used to create such a beautiful piece of art.

The local Art Clay Guild Members were the artists behind this fantastic piece. I learnt that a group of five members were responsible for the entire project. They were given the design of the companies’ logo but they came up with the products to use and how to make it become the talking point of the party that it had become. They decided that the best product to use would be Art Clay Silver. This brilliant product actually turns into 99.9% Silver after it has dried and been fired. So the wonderful shining logo that was the crown on the party, was actually 99.9% Silver. That’s why it sprayed rays of diamonds over the crowd. The lights that were focused on the logo collided with the silver, creating a magical glow that engulfed the party.

Hands down’s party, it was a huge winner with the companies guests. The management team can be assured of another five years business from its already satisfied customers. The Art Clay Guild Members should be expecting more business as it was their brilliant design that got the most attention, well done!

photo credit: Tom Magliery

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