Working with Bronze Clay

Just back from a beautiful show in North Georgia and had good sales and lots of wonderful feedback on the collection.  I may have mentioned that one of my favorite metal clays is the FastFire Bronze Clay.  It’s texture is incredibly satisfying and it holds any kind of design I use and carve beautifully and rich with details.  While the traditional Bronze Clay still works well when I design, I find that the FastFire is just a better product.  One thing that you should be aware of with any of the metal clay is to keep it moist as you work with it.  If the clay dries too quickly you’ll lose the ability to design consistently or mold and sculpt as you want.  I use a combination of water and Cool Slip from my favorite website ( to keep clay moist.  After molding and sculpting these two bracelets and after they dried I noticed a few splits and cracks . . . these happen because either the piece is too thin or where the curve hits the design the clay is too thin and will split.  Here’s how I salvaged this problem:

First, you need to have a solid stone (not plastic, glass, or ceramic) mortar and pestle . . .


Once pieces are dry, sanding is a very important step in smoothing edges and refining the piece BEFORE it become metal, where it becomes harder to get rid of mistakes, defects are sloppy work.  Here, in my beaker, I’ve collected bronze clay fine particles from the previous pieces I sanded.  You don’t need to much to make a paste.  Paste is one way of “healing” the cracks.  I also use a product called “Paste Maker” again, you can find this at the major metal clay sites.  Just a few drops and with my palette tool I mixed and pressed until I had a thick paste consistency that was very smooth:

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After you are happy with the paste consistency, just take a brush and begin to apply in smooth strokes the paste over the cracks.  I hold my pieces up against a light to see if I’ve gotten all the cracks.  I also use my magnifier glasses–can’t do details work without them!  In this picture you can see where I applied the paste–I usually end up putting on several layers and then let dry.  Once it is dry, carefully sand down the texture to achieve a nice smooth back.


Another method I use is to actually use flattened clay and then wet it around the edges and back and apply to the cracks.  I use this method if I want my piece to remain very thick (which is important in cuffs) or if the cracks are just really big.  Just use your fingers to flatten the extra clay and smooth it down around the edges, watching for complete coverage of the cracks.  It doesn’t have to be pretty because you’ll refine it with sanding after you’ve make the repairs.


I’ve smoothed out the rough repairs with careful sanding and handling . . . while you might see some slight color variations that will go away after the firing.  Just make sure you smooth the back side professionally as this is what will rest against a client’s skin.


Well, that it’s for this post . . .I’ll post my latest experiment with Bronze Clay next time and how it really came to life with the experiment!  Another one of a kind piece from the studios of Reflections!


Rain, Bronze and Crochet?

Just a few thoughts this morning as I contemplate the fall collection.  We’ve had so much rain these past few weeks that instead of living in the deep South, maybe I’m really living in the Amazon rain forest.  But of course, if I start thinking along those lines, I start feeling some new inspiration with the new designer stones that I just got in for the fall collection.  Lot’s of rich colors, deep hues and fabulous shapes.

However, bronze clay work is taking over my workshop this week.  I’ve finally decided that I much prefer the Fast fire Bronze Clay the best as it takes textures so well.  I’m playing around with some abstract florals on one of the bracelets and on another bracelet I’ll be playing around with torching the metal for color changes.  Pictures will follow!

Today, I plan on putting up a video of how I make my enamel glass beads.  It’s a rough video as I don’t like playing around with editing, but you’ll see the process.  Enameling continues to surprise me as each bead is made.  Here’s a sample of the last set of beads in their designs:


Be sure to check out the video of the my process in making these beads.  Click on the upper tab for “Videos”.


With all the rain, and sometimes my lack of work in the workshop, I’ve picked up another hobby of mine . . . crocheting!  It has satisfied my need to work with my hands and I’ve loved making all kinds of hats and fingerless gloves . .here are some samples.  I might have to set up a booth to sell all of these by Fall!

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Well, it is not raining now, so off to the workshop to sand some bronze and make a few silver rings. 

Of Beds and Beads . . .

Well, little did I know that my current medicines were working against me and landed me in the hospital for a few days due to my kidneys not working right!  What a surreal experience, but thankful to be back on my feet and just completed a stint at the Unicoi Lodge (one of my favorite places to be) showing off enamel bead bead making.  In fact, we did a video of the process and hope to have that up soon.

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Here’s a snapshot of my work area set up at Unicoi–the torch certainly draws an audience.

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Here’s is one of my gallery pieces that specially showcases the variety of beads I can make and all the color tones that are possible.  While I am focused on my metal clay work right now, enameling has always held a special love for me.  As a designer I can truly create colors (much like an oil painter) with my torch and glass.  It is fun still to this day and I love teaching it as much as possible.

Thank you for your support and encouragement!  I’ll be preparing for the Butternut Creek Festival in Blairsville coming up on July 20-21st as well as continued bed rest . . .sigh!   I’ll work on getting the video up soon.

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