Monday, March 22, 2010

A Day to Play with Copper Clay

Here's Torrey and Debbie in my dining room yesterday as we gathered to share our first opportunity to work with copper clay.  Debbie's main thing is making beautiful lampwork beads and jewelry, but she does some metal clay work also. (Click on the photo to enlarge and you can see her gorgeous necklace she made.) Torrey was a student in my last Jewelry Making with Precious Metal Clay class. She's got a good eye for design and will be exhibiting and selling her jewelry at her first craft show next weekend. I don't think any of us had pre-concieved notions about copper clay, so we just dug in and made things based on the knowledge we had of silver clay, the package directions and things we read online. Debbie brought her giant box of textures and shape cutters and it was fun to be able to use different things. I had tools and equipment that we shared. I found the material a joy to work with. It's very smooth, and the slip made out of it looks like chocolate frosting. (DON'T eat it!) When it's dry, it carves like a dream. I only had one mishap - a bail that I pasted on with slip popped off when I was wire brushing it. Could be that the clay requres a different technique that we don't yet know about. No worries, though, I'll just drill a hole in it. We made LOTS of stuff! It's so inexpensive compared to silver clay that we felt like we could experiment as much as we wanted without wasting money. I fired everything this morning with great anticipation. The photo below shows Debbie and Torrey's pieces fresh out of the kiln.

Below are the ones that I made, after a light workout with a brass brush.

And next, my pieces after being tumbled with steel shot. I tumble silver pieces for an hour and decided to check these copper pieces after a half-hour. It must be because copper is softer than silver - they were nice and shiny in half the time.

When the firing was done, and the kiln cooled off, I opened the door to find quite a mess from the activated carbon. There was black dust all over the inside of the kiln and the stainless steel pan had turned black. The hose attachment on the vacuum cleaner took care of that.

I just love the warmth of the copper. You'll notice that both Debbie and I made pieces with recessed areas. That's because we have already decided that our next play date project will be to fill those recesses with tiny objects and resin.

We took a break a couple of hours into it for a really nice lunch. (Thanks to Debbie for bringing Taco Soup.) Not only did we make some great pieces, but we had a lot of fun visiting and catching up with each other. It's amazing what can happen when creative people get together. I can't count how many times I heard "That's a good idea!" and "I want to try that." Thanks to both Debbie and Torrey for sharing these discoveries with me.

1 comment:

Lore said...

Very Nice !!!!
I do not use slip with any of the clays. I always use more fresh clay to add pieces together.
It has work fine like that in all my work.
Can not way to see your Resin Play day! ;-)