Don't get me wrong. Metal smith techniques - especially the basic ones are very useful skills to have. But metal clay is a fantastic alternative to get more complex metal jewelry designs without having to deal with cutting and forming metal sheets. Patrik Kusek's Silver Metal Clay: Adding Stones and Dimension online Craftsy Workshop, which I received for review, demonstrates why precious metal clay has so many advantages.
This workshop could also have been titled "Silver Metal Clay - Basics and Beyond" because this instructor not only covered the basics but also taught how to make a fabulous fine silver heart pendant with several bezel gemstones exposed in the folded metal design.
The seven classes for this 2 hour workshop were all meticulously planned and laid out. The instructor was an inspiration to watch for his methodical and organized way of working with clay. His experience with the medium is evident from the numerous tips he shared for the benefit of newbies as well as more seasoned users.
Lesson 1 covers the different types of available metal clay. This class uses silver clay which becomes fine silver after firing. Patrik says it is easier than other types of clays for a number of reasons and is better for beginners. The kind he uses for his class can be torch fired. While there are now economical bronze and copper metal clays available, these do require a kiln - a hefty investment. As silver metal clay is more expensive, the instructor shares specific tips throughout the class on how to save every scrap of it for reuse.
Lesson 1 also covers how he organizes his workstation and the tools he uses. Some metal smith tools and equipment can be pricey to get but the tools used for metal clay are often the same as what a polymer clay artist or baker would use and won't break the bank!
Cutting out metal shapes usually requires sawing, metal snips or some sort of disc cutter. But with metal clay, it is all about rolling out the soft clay and using either a template or something like a cookie cutter to stamp out the shape. Texturing is also very simple to accomplish with texture plates and so forth.
In Lesson 2, the instructor shows how to do it accurately and how to handle the clay so it stays at the right consistency. His solutions for keeping the clay hydrated are simple and easy to follow. He also introduces the proper way to sand the dried clay pieces so the edges are smooth. He is so right - it is easier and faster to sand clay than it is to file metal!
Again, metal clay makes it much, much easier to make bezels than in the traditional manner. Lesson 3 covers how to make not just the round bezels for the project but also bezels for other shapes like a square, pear and marquis. Perfectly formed round bezels with just a straw as a tool, too! Patrik also goes over which gemstones (natural or simulated) are suitable for torch firing.
Lesson 4 covers the 3 simple ways to make connections i.e. how to join up pieces of metal clay either in its wet or dry form. Being able to easily add thin and smaller pieces of clay on top of others or to attach components such as a bezel really shows how versatile this technique is.
This logically leads on to Lesson 5 which shows how to make a bail and attach bails.
Another fun part of this lesson was how to shape the clay for the project and drape it over the pendant like fabric folds. Fold forming with metal sheets is a lot harder, for sure!
Patrik covers troubleshooting for the different stages of metal clay work. But Lesson 6 on repairs was especially good because he shows how easy it is to rectify mistakes - like a broken piece or the inevitable little dents and gaps which sometimes occurs. He again makes the comparison with metal smith techniques where gaps are often very difficult, if not impossible, to correct.
His instructions on how to reconstitute all the little bits (dried, unfired mistakes and the particles from sanding) into new clay was awesome.
While a kiln is better for temperature control, Patrik shows it is possible to torch fire a small piece once you know what to look for and what not to do! Patrik could have stated a bit more clearly that the time required for firing will depend on the size of the piece. Some students might mistakenly think that the 3 minute firing time he used is standard. It is only for this particular piece.
The final piece is unique and simply gorgeous!
I highly recommend this class especially for those who prefer a dynamic tutorial. If you want to be able to make more complex silver designs and wish to skip learning metal smith techniques altogether, then this class is definitely for you!
True, the project here is more complex than some might find comfortable with. But remember you don't have to make exactly that design. Start with simpler designs using the excellent instructions given throughout.
Note that Craftsy classes are convenient in that you can watch it any time you want. You can also make notes and ask the instructor any questions. There are also 30 second repeat buttons and variable speeds to slow down or speed up the class as needed.
If you'd like to win Patrik Kusek's Silver Metal Clay: Adding Stones and Dimension online workshop worth $40, please make a comment below. Make sure you leave contact info below if you do not have an online shop or blog.
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This giveaway is international.
Extra entries if you become or are a blog subscriber or follower etc. If you also do shout outs about this giveaway, those will count as additional entries too! Please say so in the comments.
It ends in a week's time at 6 pm EST Monday, August 31, 2015 . I will pick the winner randomly and announce the results as soon as possible after. So be sure to leave a contact email if you don't have an online link or make sure you come back and check! Otherwise I will redraw in a week. Good luck!
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Before You Go:
- Metal Clay Artistry - Gordon Uyehara
- Awesome Beginner Metal Clay Earrings Tutorials
- Book Review - Metal Clay Fusion
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