Friday, 20 August 2010

Finished Crochet Blanket

Well after too many months to count and a few design / use changes along the way I have finally finished the project I started on the "A Granny A Day" initiative. I've made a blanket for my baby's pram.

I've still got another 6 weeks baby cooking (assuming no early or late arrivals) so teddy has stepped in to model the blanket in the new pram.
He looks nice and snuggly...

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Metal Clay Info

Thank you for the kind words about my Metal Clay jewellery. I’m rather pleased with these myself but need a lot of practice to make these more professional.

The process really is very easy. Here is a step-by-step guide, although please remember I’ve only done one course on this so this really is the basics.

There are 2 brands of metal clay - Precious Metal Clay (PMC) and Art Clay Silver (ACS), I understand these are essentially the same, but I’m sure that aficionados will have a preference. Silver, Gold and Bronze is available.

The material is made from the precious metal, an organic binder (a secret recipe I understand) and water. It is these last 2 materials which are removed to leave you with a shiny piece of lovely silver, gold or bronze depending on the metal you are working with.

Stage 1 – shaping
When you open the packet the clay is really just that – clay. It is a grey squidgy material which can be moulded into any shape and size. I advise you have a design practiced in bluetac or another playdough type material as once you start to handle the metal clay it starts to dry out and you need to be quick.
Remember to put any pieces of clay you aren’t using into a air tight container to retain the moisture…this is a precious metal after all and you don’t want to waste a speck.

Stage 2 – drying
The first of the clay materials to be removed is water. Drying your shaped piece on a radiator over night or on a VERY low oven heat will achieve this. The piece will be firm at the end of this and look a little like fired pottery

Stage 3 – firing
The firing process burns off the second of the clay materials Рthe organic binder. You can fire in a kiln or use a blow torch (the sort you toast the top of cr̬me brulees with is fine).
The piece will go through a number of stages during firing, including bursting into flames which can be a little alarming….but ultimately it will glow a delicate orange and you must keep it at this point for 2.5minutes (critical if you are using a torch, not so critical if you using a kiln as will pop in there for an hour or so).

Due to the removal of the binder pieces shrink approximately 10% during this stage, obviously important to consider if you are making a ring!

Stage 4 – polishing
Once the piece has cooled you will be left with a solid piece of metal which will look white. Now the hard work starts…..get out your wire brush and start to scrub….it is quite amazing as the sparkly silver is revealed…you can then polish with various papers and creams to reach the level of shine you want.

Hope this helps a little. It really is quite quick to have a go at, but the materials aren’t exactly cheap…you are buying silver afterall.
Let me know if you have a go at this and please share the results you achieve.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Metal Clay Class

Well I've had a great weekend, hope you had a good one too.
The jewellery class on Saturday was a great success, I might actually be hooked. Here are new sparkly pieces which are all my own design....

I worked with Metal Clay which is dried and fired. Then once buffed and polished reveals a solid silver treat.

Firstly I modelled my pieces in polymer clay (like playdough) until I was happy with the design. Below is a polymer and a Metal Clay piece
Then after a little elbow grease (and a trip to the polishing barrel for some pieces which is a magical lazy option) I walked away from the class with some earrings, a ring and of course my leaf and stone set pendant...I am rather pleased with myself. Thoroughly recommend the day...
I still have an awful lot to learn but will be practicing at home as this really doesn't need any specialist equipment....I've got a table, radiator and a creme brulee torch...silver treats here I come

Friday, 6 August 2010

What to do...

It's that time of the year again.

It's time to decide whether to submit to the Discerning Eye competition. This is open to art in any media from any artist. The pieces are selected from those submitted by art critics and celebrities and are then shown at the Mall Galleries, London in November. All pieces have to be available for sale. It really is a great opportunity to have your work shown.

I submitted a couple of funky cross-stitch pictures last year. I wasnt selected :o(

But what to do this year? Pieces have to be submitted in early September so if I want to come up with something new there isnt too much time. Or I could submit the same pieces as last year as the selectors are totally different.

What to do....what to do....

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Another Month ... Another Craft Course

I do love to learn.

I get itchy feet at work if I'm not learning something new on a regular basis and I thrive on being thrown into situations where I know nothing, I'm just the same with my crafting.

You may have noticed that I'm gradually becoming a Jack of all trades and Master of none. Well that certainly isn't the plan, I do want to become a "Master Crafter" I'm just not too sure in what yet so until I decide am having fun giving everything a go.

This weekend I'm off to a Silver Metal Clay class at the London Jewellery School. I've been to a couple of classes there (see blog posts - Silver Jewellery and Button Jewellery). It's a really lovely environment to learn and I'm excited to try the Metal Clay material. Apparently its like putty which you fire and torch - then voila you end up with solid silver... intriguing.

Hoping I'll be ok in the class as I've been struggling with Carpal Tunner Syndrome in my wrists recently, a common symptom of my current 31 week pregnant state. I've been incredibly lucky in generally so mustn't grumble. Other than my pork-pie feet and sausage fingers we are both doing very well, but I am having difficulty holding an embroidery needle or crochet hook for any length of time ... projects are taking a little longer to complete than planned.