Not long after, I made a purchase of Precious Metal Clay (PMC for short, though that is both a brand name, and a generic term for the many metal clays on the market).
Metal Clay has changed my entire art world. It is magic. Pure magic!
For those who are unfamiliar with this product, it is a moldable base that is comprised of a an organic material and tiny particles of metal (silver, gold, copper, bronze). It works as pretty much any clay in that you can manipulate it into a variety of forms, apply textures, use molds to create uniform shapes, even put it on a pottery wheel and throw a cup. After allowing it to completely dry, it is placed in a kiln and fired. This process burns out the vegetable binder, and allows the metal particles to fully sinter together leaving you with a solid metal object.
I have how-to books for metal clay. I have watched dozens of videos. I still did not fully believe it until I was removing my first silver pieces from the kiln and I accidentally dropped one and it made a distinctive metallic tink-tink-tink as it clattered across the floor.
Pure magic. And I have to say this has absolutely opened up a whole new artistic field to me and I am loving it! Below you can see the first two pendants I made from silver (Art Clay was the brand). (Silver clay is pricey, but it is easier to work with than base metals such as bronze or copper, so it is typically recommended for those starting out.) After these two items I got overly ambitious and attempted a silver and ruby ring, which crumbled while in the greenware state because I was a bit to aggressive cleaning it up before firing it. Later I made another silver/ruby ring that fired beautifully, even though the work itself is clumsy and less than aesthetically pleasing.
I did have one brooch fail to sinter (I fired them separately just in case), but it was easy to make a replacement. I tried to roll out clay to make a pin, but also had issues with that so I purchased bronze wire and hammered and sanded and heated and drove myself nuts, but eventually successfully made the pins for them. (Metal work is completely foreign to me, so I was unaware that bronze is such a pain to deal with or I might just have used copper instead.)
Last month I finally had some more time and I prepared a Saxon girdle hanger as well. The pieces have not yet been fired though, as I accidentally broke one while sanding them down in the greenware (dry, but unfired) state. I have made a repair and should fire them in a couple of weeks.
Below you can see the three pieces I am quite pleased with. All three came out pretty much as I envisioned, and the setting for the sapphire in the top one is much cleaner than the ruby I tried this summer. These pieces have all over-fired though, and you can see the bubbles in the large annulet on the right side (all of these pieces have the bubbles on the back side). I am now running test pieces to properly dial in the temperature.
My mother got me a tumbler for Christmas, so I no longer need to hand polish pieces after firing. I can drop them in the barrel and come back half an hour later to collect my shiny metal items.
And speaking of glass, my amazing boyfriend has purchased an oxygen concentrator for me! That means I will be stepping away from a hothead torch soon, and stepping up to duel fuel and some serious melting potential.
I hope that 2020 is full of amazing explorations of art!