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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Jun 18, 2014

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The Art of Making Craft

The Art of Making Craft

Here 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.

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Dec 16, 2014

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Being a Better Human

Being a Better HumanStudying the humanities like law, literature, art, history and the like can be a rewarding experience rife with opportunities to learn more about your own culture as well as those of other people around you and elsewhere in the world. If you ask me, knowing people and how to deal with them is one of the most useful skills you can pick up in life. However, all that time spent working a desk or with your nose buried in a book can be bad for your body if you don’t complement it with times of high activity. Getting an education is important, yes, but being a better human requires keeping your body healthy as well.

There are many benefits to better physical health and being fit in general. For starters, if you cut back on the amount of food you eat every day and lose weight because of it, you’re actually doing yourself two favors. First, you get lighter, but second, that’s one meal or snack fewer which needs to be driven around the country, or flown or boated across the world. It seems like small stuff for one person, but imagine if the whole population of the United States, well over 300 million people, was to cut one snack out of its daily routine. We’re talking millions of pounds that doesn’t ship and massive savings on fuel.

That’s not to say everyone is going to start being more responsible just because you do. But if you can affect a couple people in your life and then they can affect a couple people in their lives and so on, you’ve started something special there. Just like you can do this by eating less, you can also do it by exercising more. There’s no need for a gym membership or anything like that either – you can get fit at home using a power rack system to work out various parts of your body, all with the same machine. If you’re unsure how this would make you a better human in general, then keep reading.

With stronger muscles and a more defined body, you will invariably find yourself dealing less often with the typical aches and pains of being overweight, like osteoarthritis and other pains in the joints, an aching lower back and so on. You might even get away without hitting your favorite kind of NSAID, now that you aren’t feeling those pains. A week or two of that and you’ve saved a whole bottle. Medicine ships just like food, and just like getting healthy helps up above, it also helps in the same way here.

So far, I’ve only talked about the weight of other things and how this affects processes like shipping. You have a weight too – all people do. The heavier you are, the more fuel you need just to drive to work and back home every day. Again, it sounds like small potatoes, but when you consider the impact of this over 250 to 260 days a year (and that’s if you don’t drive at all on the weekends) then it is apparent how getting fit can help use less fuel and make you a better human.

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Dec 4, 2014

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Art Clay Gift Guide

Art Clay Gift Guide

When people think of art clay, they generally think of pendants for necklaces and earrings,but art clay can be so much more than that. And with the start of the holiday season, this is the perfect opportunity to give the gift of objects and presents that are perfect for gift giving this year by listing the top five projects to try out this year. Here’s oping one of them can help to cut down on your shopping this season.

1. Jewellery

Of course, Jewellery is the standard go-to for metallic art clay. It’s practically a no brainer. And, there are luckily many ideas and projects already online for making charms, bracelets, earrings and necklaces and everything else you can imagine for women and girls of all ages and with all senses of style, But, art clay doesn’t just have to be for women. Molding cufflinks or even the head of a tie pin can be a great project for those special men in your life.

2. A Laptop Carrying Bag

Okay, this one isn’t all made out of art clay, but it is perfect for the techie on the list. For this project, they idea is to make the decorations and fastenings, like buttons, with metallic art clay and to sew the rest of the bag. This will require you or a friend to have some sewing skills, of course, but it is a good project for beginners as the seams are very simple. You will need strong fabric, but the pattern and design is really up to you. A good tip is that using a serger can make the project easier and even allow you to quilt the bag or add decorative stitching to the bag easily.

3. Christmas Ornaments

What is a better Christmas gift than an ornament for the tree. This may require a litte more clay, but it is worth it. Small bells are especially popular with art clay, but the sky is really the limit when it comes to ideas. For those who do not want to make large ornaments, another option is to make a set of small ornaments for a little Advent tree.

4. Chanukah Dreidels

Jewish crafters and friends will appreciate a tiny Chanukah top, or dreidel, which is an iconic part of the Jewish holiday. This can be a fun thing to make, and is fairly simple in shape. But, the important part of making a dreidel is in making sure that it has the proper balance to spin properly. This may take some time and practice, so remember that when planning and shopping for supplies.

5. Keychains

These are great stocking stuffers or Secret Santa gifts because they can be easily personalized to the tastes of the person getting the present. Making these takes a similar amount of clay as the ornaments, and also requires obtaining extra pieces like the rings and chain, but they can be memorable and useful gifts for everyone ad even kids can use them for their bicycle and locker keys.

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Nov 29, 2014

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Making Metal Clay Pieces With Enameling

Making Metal Clay Pieces With Enameling

The artists had a new order for an enameled pendant. The client wanted a multicolored enamel pendant to go with the new outfit she had got for her graduation day. She showed the color of her nails, which had some intricate art work done on them, so we could understand the color and design she wanted. Enameling is something every clay artist enjoys to do. The enameling is done after the metal clay is sintered.

Metal clay is a malleable form that can take on any texture or shape. It is just like ordinary clay initially before the sintering. Once sintering is done, the metal clay can be used for different types of enameling methods. Sintering is a type of evaporation method that involves firing the clay at high temperatures by placing it in a kiln. The elevated temperature removes the water and binder from the clay and compresses the metal particles, so they from a solid metal shape. The object takes on a pure gold or silver form based on the metal used and the enameling is started on it.

Metal clay has the advantage of being molded into any shape you want. There is absolutely no wasted material here as any scrap can be collected and reused in some way or the other. There is no need of soldering or etching. Since there is no copper present to oxidize, the metal clay can be used without worries about fire scale issues.

The precious metal clay is available in paste, lumps, and sheet and syringe forms. The new form of PMC available in paper model can be folded just like an Origami sheet. It sticks together, when you apply water to it. Artists usually prefer PMC models that have less shrinkage and short sintering time.

The pendants, pins, earrings or other such light stress requiring objects can be done with the basic PMC forms.  In contrast to the fabricated metal forms the basic PMC has a favorable shrinkage of 25 percent to 30 percent that helps in adding better detail. For bracelets or rings, using PMC with 10 percent to 12 percent shrinkage is a better choice as this gives a dense metal that is more durable.

Once the sintering is done, the next decision to be made is finishing the surface so enameling can be done. The surface can be left with the natural finish of sintered metal or you can brass brush the surface to get a satin finish. This can be burnished to get a shining and polished look. Burnishing the raised parts only gives more depth to the piece.

Using transparent enamels will give you different shades of a single color based on the finished silver surface and the light reflection effect. As mentioned before the color differs based on the valleys and ridges present and the surface polish. The client was happy with the way the enamel pendant had formed. She said that she had just completed her nail technician training, and that she was hoping to start a nail salon soon.

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Nov 28, 2014

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Various Different Categories of Art Clay

Various Different Categories of Art Clay

Recently we had a client- a hunting range owner who wanted to make silver clay medallions for a competition in his range. He gave us the design he wanted to have and during the course of the work we became quiet friendly. It was partly due to my interest in hunting and the equipment used. Seeing my interest in hunting, he told me about the new rangefinder devices used and various other new hunting methods he had planned on in his range. He also confessed that he had a secret passion to create designs in art clay on his own. He had been inspired by one of the art clay works that was gifted to him. I gave him a rundown on the different art clay forms used.

Clay is a malleable product, which can be used to create effective three dimensional models. The unique properties of the clay enable its use in several different applications.

Clay with water base

This is a natural form of clay that is taken from the ground. It is mixed with water and used for sculpting. The water based type of clay is available in different consistencies and colors. The commonly available colors are red, brown and gray. Cream is also found sometimes. The consistency also varies with some forms being grittier than the rest. The clay is easy to use and can be kept moist to retain its pliability. The clay is used mostly in pottery and in terracotta work. The clay needs to be fired to get the finished product.

However intricate details cannot be added to the clay as the water base makes it a challenging job. The clay need to be dried for some time, before you add details.

Clay with oil base

This is available in different forms and consistencies. The natural clay is added with wax and oil for better malleability and increased working time. The clay need not be moistened continuously. The clay can be softened in an over or a microwave. But this cannot be fired to form a permanent structure.

Polymer Clay

Polymer clay or synthetic clay is available in all colors. You can harden it in your oven at a very low temperature. The clay is best for home projects like jewelry making and other ornaments creation. It is expensive.

PMC

Precious Metal Clay or PMC is used in jewelry creation and is a versatile material. You can add as many details as you can. The medals we created for our client were done in this type of clay. It is easy and convenient to work on and a simple hand torch is sufficient for firing it. You can also use desktop kiln that is available for jewelry making. The price is affordable too. This is available in bronze, silver and gold.

The client was impressed and I promised to show him how the metal clay is used for making the various gorgeous and intricate pieces of jewelry, medallions and other small, but exquisite items that we had done work on.

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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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