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Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Joy of Metal Clay: Art Clay Copper Tips

My Apologies to you all. I apparently failed in posting this last week. I prepped it early as I was going away for Family Weekend and thought I had set it to post. Apparently I failed to make it happen so here is last weeks post.

I recently taught an Art Clay Copper Class and it reminded me that it can be a little finicky to manage and there are tips that would make it easier.

Tip #1 - Condition the clay - When the clay comes out of the package it feels tough and I have found that conditioning it can really help. Since it comes in 50 gram packages I usually divide it in half and condition it on two sections.

How to condition it? I place the clay between two sheets of plastic (either between a cut plastic bag or between a report cover), then I will roll it flat. Once the clay is flat I paint in some water and fold the edges over then roll again. I repeat this until the clay begins to feel soft.

I will condition the clay, periodically as I create when the clay begins to crack.

Tip # 2 - Don't use too much OIL. This tip is a little tricky as you need to use something to prevent the clay from sticking but you have to be careful. I still use oil but make sure it does not pool in the texture sheets (to remedy this I will often use a toothbrush to spread the oil into the textures and I have a piece of paper towel by me to dry of any excess). If you end up too much oil to the Art Clay Copper it becomes crumbly.

Tip #3 - Make sure you pieces are stuck together well. I make paste by adding water to a bit of clay...let it get sticky...then it is ready to use. If I am attaching two dry pieces, I will dampen both pieces where I want to stick them and add the paste. I will often rub them together to make them stick and bit and hold them firmly and a little longer than I do with silver clay just to make sure they stick.

Tip #4: If you fire the clay in a kiln it will often stick to the shelf you fire it on. My first attempt I ended up picking up my piece and shelf at the same time and dunking it into a bucket. NOT a GOOD me. My fiber shelf fell apart, obviously...I kinda thought that would happen but went ahead and did it (don't ask me why...)

Solution to the sticking problem is laying down a sheet of fiber paper.

Another option is fire it in vermiculite. I have a separate batch of vermiculite that I use for my copper clay as you will get firescale bits in it.

Other notes: Apparently you can fire Art Clay Copper in carbon (Why would you want to? - to avoid the firescale). How? According to Pam East you put in in the carbon and fire at 1778F for 3.5 hours, remove when the pan cools to 200F. I have not tried this yet.

UPCOMING Level 1 Certification!

I will be teaching a level one Art Clay Certification at BeadFX March 18, 19 and 20th. This is a chance to really learn tons of tricks, tips and techniques for working with metal clay. I am passionate in teaching many tips and tricks and alternative ways of doing things. Successful completion of the workshop entitles you to a 35% discount on Art Clay Silver and you are trained to teach others metal clay.

I have blogged about the course in the past so if you want more information refer back to this post. You can also email me with questions .

Register early as I need to register registrants with Art Clay World USA and ideally I need names 2 weeks in advance!!! (some exceptions can be made).

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