Embellish Your Work Using Fine Silver Beads, Buttons and Charms
Sherry Viktora © 2004
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Imagine being able to personalize and individualize the quilt or other handmade piece you have just created by adding original .999 pure silver beads, buttons or charms. In this article I will show you how to do just that, using Precious Metal Clay or Art Clay, a few basic tools and your imagination.
Metal Clay is a relatively new product, developed in Japan and comprised of an organic non-toxic material, microscopic bits of pure silver and water. It can be molded, rolled, impressed with designs, carved and extruded. Once it is formed and dried, it is fired or "sintered" to temperatures from 1110 degrees to 1650 degrees depending upon the type of clay and length of time fired. All of the organic base and water burns away, the silver pieces fuse together, and you then have a unique .999 silver creation.
1. Lubricate palms of hands and texturizing material with small amount of olive oil and roll out a small piece of clay between 2 stacks of playing cards from 3 cards thick to 6 cards thick. If using texture sheet, roll clay onto well oiled texture sheet then move onto Teflon baking sheet or parchment paper, otherwise roll directly on parchment paper or Teflon sheet, and press rubber stamp onto clay. (figure A and B)
2. Using a Kemper Cutter, tissue blade or craft knife, cut clay to size and shape and size desired, and using a coffee stirrer or needle hole make a hole or holes to attach silver piece. (figure C and D)
3. Let the clay dry and sand edges smooth with a nail file. (figure E)
4. Fire the silver piece(s) with a torch, hot pot or in a kiln (descriptions below). They will appear to have a white coating, but your pieces are now .999 pure silver. (figure F and G)
5. Using a brass brush, scrub the silver charm until it begins to look silver and shiny. You can also use a rock tumbler with stainless steel shot, water, a few drops of liquid dish detergent, and tumble for 20 min. to 2 hours. (figure H)
6. Oxidize if desired, by brushing solution onto piece, (follow safety instructions on bottle) then wash thoroughly with soap and water. Dry and take black off everything except the indented pattern using polishing cloth or tumbling in rock tumbler for 15-20 minutes. Wash and dry again, polish with jeweler's cloth, and attach to your quilt.
You can use many objects such as antique buttons and a 2 part silicone molding compound (the type that will remain pliable) to form your buttons or charms. Be aware of copyright issues when using someone else's forms. You can make your own design, form and fire your piece, then make a mold of that piece and then make multiple exact copies. These can be used as your "signature" when added to quilts, clothing, etc. Remember, because of the shrinkage factor, the copies made from the original mold will be 8-12% smaller than the mold. (figure M)
Firing With A Kiln:If you have access to a kiln, follow temperature and time instructions available in the PMC Clay or Art Clay package.
Firing Without A Kiln:
The methods listed below are economical alternatives to firing with a kiln. They all have limitations which are noted in the instructions mentioned below, but can be utilized for the leaf pin project, as long as the size limitations are observed. There are very complete instructions available on-line for these methods, provided by Art Clay World and PMC Connection. (See resources for information.)
Small butane torch:
Metal clay pieces can be fired easily using a small butane torch. The piece should be very dry, since any moisture in the piece will quickly turn to steam and expand, possibly causing the clay to crack or fragment. Do not try to torch fire a piece that is larger than a silver dollar or weighs more than 25 gm. A fired piece can be added to and fired over and over again, so you can fire your leaves, then attach them and re-fire just as you would if using a kiln.
Materials: butane torch, butane, firing brick or soldering block
Firing Art Clay Silver on a Gas Stove:The same limitations and instructions for torch firing apply to this method. The instructions and stainless net was developed for Art Clay; however I believe it would work just as well for PMC (Precious Metal Clay) since their firing temperatures are very similar.
I have taken the above instructions from Art Clay World's web-site and abbreviated them for this article. If you utilize this method, please read and understand their complete firing instructions.
Firing With The Hot Pot:
The hot pot was designed to be used only for firing PMC3 which is the low-fire Precious Metal Clay, carried by PMC Connection. If you purchase a Hot Pot, there are complete instructions inside. It is a small ceramic fiber 2-part pot which uses a gel-like non-toxic fuel. Put the fuel in a small flower pot in the bottom of the hot pot, place your piece on a screen in the bottom part, place the top part on and light the fuel. When the fuel has burned out (10-12 minutes) your piece is fired. You must use the low-fire clay, and follow size restrictions on Hot Pot instructions. You may fire more than one piece at a time as long as you do not exceed the total weight restriction (one package or 16 grams fired weight). Firing With The Hot Pot
PMC Connection :
Art Clay World, USA:
Sherry Viktora, Senior Instructor for PMC Connection, began working with stained glass in 1987,while practicing full-time as a Critical Care Nurse. She started teaching stained glass classes prior to becoming certified in, and teaching PMC workshops in Wis. and northern Illinois. Her enthusiasm for teaching and working with PMC, along with glass, allowed her to decide to leave nursing to pursue teaching and creating original artwork. She specializes in creating nature-inspired art from PMC, glass and copper. Her artwork is currently displayed in 3 Wisconsin and No. Illinois galleries, and can be seen at limited art shows in her area.
Sherry can be contacted by e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org, or at her home-based studio,
Out On A Limb, in Rockton, IL.
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