Customizing your own high quality fine silver jewelry is possible if you use the metal clay technique. The one good thing about this technique is you don't need expensive tools unlike metal smithing. You can torch fire small pieces but for larger and more complex ones, the only way to go is to use a kiln.
Cindy Pankopf's Kiln Fired Silver Metal Clay Craftsy class which I received for review covers both the making of the clay pieces as well as the kiln firing process.
This seasoned instructor has made the learning process easier for learners in a number of ways. Firstly, she divides up the process into different lessons.
She also does not overwhelm in the video part of the class. Instead the detailed instructions for the exact firing schedules and large detailed diagrams are provided in the downloadable course materials. This is useful because students can go over the information in a visual form. Rereading is a good thing to make sure one understands how to use the kiln properly for the different types of clay.
Like all Craftsy classes, once enrolled, you can watch in whenever you want and as many times needed to understand the techniques being taught.
This is the course overview and general introduction.
Cindy explains what metal clay is. She also goes over what the two main metal clay manufacturers offer in terms of different forms of clay. For example, silver clay oil paste is a very good for joining fired pieces. She also mentions in latter lessons which clay type to use for specific projects. For example, some clays can have a greater shrinkage range than others,
She also goes over the kind of set up you need. It is a simple one. You can gather up a number of tools from around the house or from the hardware store. I would use a hockey puck instead of a rubber block as the raised base for sanding greenware as Cindy does!
Cindy offers a great introduction into the types of kilns you can buy including the entry level, less expensive models. There are pros and cons to each type. Safety considerations are also covered.
Foundation skills are covered in this basic earrings project. As I have said before, every instructor has their own tips. So even if you are somewhat experienced in metal clay work, it's worth the listen.
This is the only lesson where she actually torch fired the project earrings. That is because she can't show the sintering process inside the kiln. The advantage of kilns is the ability to fire several pairs of earrings all at once whereas torch firing can only do 1 piece at a time. Kilns can take "furniture" - risers and shelves to accommodate multiple pieces.
Cindy shows how to set stones and add bails to pendants in this lesson. She used an acrylic stamp for the texture - a different approach to the rubber texture plate she used in Lesson 3.
She also explains the kind of cubic zirconia crystals available for metal clay use - these can survive the high temperatures.
This lesson is excellent because she covers 4 different types of stone settings - clay set, syringe, prong and tongue settings. Clay set is when a straw is used to create the bezel. Straws are the most common tools but Cindy uses a biopsy punch!
Syringe clay bezels are tricky (believe me I've tried!) but this instructor has a wonderful way of showing how it can be done well. From extruding clay as below :
To this result :
Cindy worked on more than 1 pendant example here. So she switched pieces to and for to demonstrate the different kinds of stone settings - this might be confusing to some.
Metal clay artists work with pieces of paper to help collect every scrap of metal clay dust during the sanding process. The instructor mentioned this but did not actually show it because of time constraints. But it should be done!
Cleaning stones before firing is an important step. Otherwise little dust specks will make the stones look cloudy. So this lesson covers how to properly clean them.
The instructor also deals with how to set stones in the fine silver prongs after firing. These prongs were previously embedded and baked in the clay. Prong and tongue settings are the way to go if you are using gemstones which cannot survive the kiln firing. Adding them afterwards solves the problem.
Lesson 6 -7
The featured project for these lessons is the Entwined Pendant which explains how fused glass can be combined with metal clay to create one of a kind pieces. You are not limited to cubic zirconia! But there are lots of considerations when firing both metal clay and glass together. One of the most important is how to anneal the glass - controlled cooling so the glass does not crack.
Great tip on how to make perfect snakes. These were used to make the unique bail and design element.
As you can see from the examples below, fused glass really adds color and flair to metal clay pendants.
This is a fascinating series on how to use cork clay to form a foundation piece. Metal clay can thus be applied to cover the cork. During the firing process, the cork burns off leaving a hollow bead or an open work piece. Hollow beads are a great way to save on silver metal clay and will also make the jewelry lighter to wear!
This was my favorite section where she shows you how to make your own textures by carving into baked sheets of polymer clay. A less expensive option than using traditional linoleum for carving!
This custom texture method was used for the making of hollow beads. But it can also be used for ordinary metal clay pieces.
She also mentions some great tips on kiln safety when burning off the internal cork clay!
This very useful lesson covers how to patinate the metal clay pieces after firing and finishing. I particularly enjoyed seeing how she achieved rainbow patina, spot patina, patina masking and the reverse gel patina method. The rainbow and reverse gel patina result in beautiful colors! She also shows how you can quickly get rid of a patina if you didn't like what you did!
The all important troubleshooting when things don't go right! Some good tips on dealing with greenware breaks or post firing breaks.
This is an incredibly long class - almost 7 hours long. So it is best viewed in chunks with plenty of extra time reading the class resource notes carefully.
All the basics for making metal clay jewelry are covered with many tips and tricks thrown in. But the approach is different from the other metal clay classes on Craftsy (see below). Besides covering the kiln firing process, the instructor introduced many really creative ideas for metal clay work.
If you wish to progress beyond torch fired metal clay, this class is for you.
Note today is the last day for Craftsy's special sale where every class is under $17.99!
SEE ALL MY PAST CRAFTSY REVIEWS ON PINTEREST
If you want a chance to win a free access to Cindy's Kiln-Fired Metal Clay jewelry (and ask her any question), please make a comment below. Make sure you leave contact info below if you do not have an online shop or blog. The class is currently on sale too.
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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. (The exception is Facebook - just like/comment on the giveaway status there!!)
It ends in a week's time at 6 pm EST Monday, December 5, 2016. 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!
I do receive a small fee for any products purchased through affiliate links. This goes towards the support of this blog and to provide resource information to readers. The opinions expressed are solely my own. They would be the same whether or not I receive any compensation.
Before You Go:
- Patrik Kusek's Silver Metal Clay : Adding Stones and Dimensions Craftsy Class Review
- Jenny Vestal's Torch Fired Precious Metal Clay Craftsy Class Review
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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