Friday, October 15, 2010

Maple Keys

I've been working on these maple keys for quite some time now. The girls and I collected a huge bag of them from the soccer field near our house. 

These are made from reclaimed metal clay made into paste. You can certainly buy paste, but if you've been working with metal clay for an extended period of time, you tend to accumulate a lot. Scrap bits of clay, projects that didn't work out as planned, silver dust from working - All of this can be saved up.

To make your own paste, break down your clay into small bits, and use an empty paste jar, or a baby food jar works well too if you have a lot. Add some water, and let it sit for a while, stir it up, add more water. Keep repeating until you have the consistency you want. Be careful when stirring, and try not to incorporate too many bubbles. These are difficult to get rid of.  The smaller your bits of dried clay, the faster this process is!

When painting a leaf, or maple key in this case your first layer of paste should be quite thin. You want to get as much detail from the leaf as possible. If your paste is too thick, the detail will be lost.

I usually make my first two layers thin, and then the remaining layers with very thick paste. After each layer you paint on, let it dry completely before you add the next layer. Your first couple of layers will dry much more quickly.

Another tip - when painting a leaf, be careful to only paint the one side (do not let any paste wrap around to the other side), otherwise, you will have to spend quite a bit of time filing down the sharp rim it creates. You know I speak from experience here :-)

Please excuse the terrible photo above. The wire you see sticking out of the top of the key is a 1 1/2" or so piece of fine silver wire. In the top picture, you can see where I have wrapped the wire to finish it into a pendant.


Fine Silver Girl said...

Another great way to make paste is to grind up your clay in a coffee grinder and then strain it through a tea ball (to get out the lumps) then mix.

I have found this is a great way to get a smooth paste...otherwise mine is lumpy.

Oh you can knock the bottle like you would a cake pan on the counter several tims to get the bubbles to come to the top.


Anonymous said...

Since both sides of a key are well textured, what about applying layers of paste to both sides of the key then burning out the organic matter?


Kait said...

It looks as though you've actually done exactly what Redstarcafe suggested, and painted both sides of the key, is that right? how does this work, do need to leave a place for ventilation for the key inside to burn out?

jen said...

Painting both sides doesn't work very well if you want to keep the texture. The fine veining doesn't show on the painted side - only the side against the leaf.