Dust, dust, dust, and more dust . . that is the biggest observation I make every time I refine my clay pieces after they are completely dry. It is always best to spend a good amount of your work time on this stage as it is easier to correct minor flaws and to make the piece more refined and polished BEFORE it becomes hardened metal. Trust me, after it fires, it becomes quite a different matter to change anything other than hammer it and bending it.
It is also an important way to salvage the metal dust and keep it for future paste that you may need. As I designed this week I noticed that I am really going for a more sculptural look with my pieces. I’ve always loved the 3D effect of combining pieces but now I’m really playing around with themes and such. This picture shows you my latest copper piece that I made into a bib style necklace with florals . . . (dried stage)
The branch underneath it will have some leaves that I cut out and will “paste” them onto the branch for a bracelet–I just finished sanding and refining all my copper pieces for this week and yeah, the dust will be embedded in my nails and cuticles for a few showers . . .
But, I will say this again, all the dust, dirt, work, and refinement at this stage will truly pay off. I would also be sure that you are quite familiar with your kiln and how your copper and bronze pieces will fire. Many metal clay “gurus” talk about doing test strips and I agree. You don’t want all the work you just spend on molding, forming, designing, refining, etc to simply burn away. However, it is not a perfect world we live in and you will certainly run into over firing, over loading, or simply didn’t make the piece right and you end up with blistering, powder or melted away pieces. I have a special jar for these and some of them I’m thinking of hacking off the cracks and such and make a mosaic piece . . . maybe next week. This week I did several bronze pieces, and they came out of the kiln wonderfully and are now tumbling themselves to sleep tonight while my floral garden and other pieces are firing up all night tonight. I hope that tomorrow when I open the kiln and dig into the carbon that the sculpted pieces survived. You’ll see pictures, because that’s how excited I’ll be.
Finally, I have some silver pieces waiting to go next. Prepping for a fine art show in Gainesville, GA the weekend of the 9/21st and I like to have some WOW pieces for the judges! I’m afraid that the copper floral garden will be priced for the higher end customer due to the amount used.
Till next time and thanks and shout out to those of you following my blog. My goal is to share what I do so that you can learn and maybe feel inspired!