Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category
We sent another batch of Patterned Wire to Jan Harrell for some enameling classes she was teaching. We got back a mountain of photos! Her and her students were able to incorporate a bunch of the wire into their enameling projects!
Each of these creations is a perfect example of thinking “outside the box” with this unique wire. Enamels and Patterned Wire work perfectly together, and open up a world of exciting design possibilities. Try out our Enamels and Patterned Wire today to make your own unique creations. Enjoy!
We sent some Patterned Wire we had sitting around the studio to our friend Terri McCarthy at Terri McCarthy Studios in Grafton, WI. Jan Harrell, an excellent enameling artist and metalsmith, was teaching an enameling class. Jan’s work is an exploration of textures and shapes, enamel and metal finishes, shiny and dull surfaces, as well as solid and see-through forms. Her and her students were able to incorporate some of the wire into their enameling projects!
The first two pieces were designed by Scott Boyd, a student in Jan’s class. Scott was able to use our 20 gauge “Maze” Copper Patterned Wire in the first piece. This piece works great with the wire, and has just the right amount of detail. His second piece features the “Leaves” Copper Wire. This piece is simple and refined and shows how versatile the Copper Wire can be.
The bottom two pieces were created by Jan. The piece on the left uses a Copper Bezel Wire in a unique way! She even was able to add a little color in the circles of the wire for a little something extra. The last piece uses our “Round Stud” Copper Wire. Not only was she able to incorporate the wire in her piece, but she even added texture using the wire to tie it all together.
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An incredible new array of Jewel Stamps has just arrived featuring intricate new designs for amazing impressions with breathtaking results.
Our new design sheets feature stamps perfect for a variety of jewelry applications. Create centerpieces, pendants, links, and connectors with a simple touch of a Cool Tools Jewel Stamp.
Jewel Stamps are crystal clear, designer images made for creating in jewelry clays of all kinds. Impress beautifully designed, laser sharp images in metal clay, polymer clay, porcelain, and other soft clays.
Jewel Stamps are made of a durable, flexible, washable polymer for years of use when handled properly. Each 4″ x 6″ Jewel Stamp set is crammed with five designs and 3 sizes. Create keep-sake jewelry with customizable designs with ease.
Shop our impressive new selection of Jewel Stamps today to add stunning images to your jewelry quickly and easily.
Create multiple ornaments in several finishes. Mix and match designs and colors to customize your creations. Make ornaments from silver, bronze, and copper clays.
Using a Cool Tools Jewelry Artist Element sheet, and few simple techniques, we’ll show you how to create simple ornaments that can be used in many ways throughout your home.
Celebrate the seasons with our impressive new collection of embossed Jewelry Artist Element design sheets.
The cross is one of the most ancient human symbols and has been used for several purposes. It is frequently a representation of the division of the world, personal faith, the four elements or cardinal points, or alternately as the union of the concepts of divinity.
Winter is known by many to be a time of reflection as the seasons change and the weather turns. Winter brings celebration with our families and friends and represents hope for the new year. These winter designs feature pine trees, stars and snowflakes which can be used in unlimited ways for jewelry making and décor designs.
Autumn is an amazing time of the year and in many parts of the world, autumn represents brilliant colors, beautiful days, rewarding harvest and a transition into winter.
Shop all 35 embossing design Jewelry Artist Element sheets today and start spreading the holiday spirit!
93 eye-catching colors of Sculpey III, Premo! and Premo! Accent clays are here offering easy workability with amazing detail.
Versatile, pliable, and simple to work with, polymer clay offers limitless design possibilities to heighten your creative potential.
Polymer clay is also a wonderful way to explore designs without risking your precious metal clay. Work out your designs in this clay before executing in metal clay. Bake and use as a mold. Use with your metal clay to brighten up your designs.
Add Polymer Clay to your jewelry projects and express yourself with a wonderful rainbow of colors.
Check out Liz Hall’s Jewelry Design Gallery page for some inspiration on how to make amazing jewelry using polymer clay!
After May 31st, the winners will be selected. Three winners will be chosen based on Creativity, Design Quality and Imagination! We are looking for designs that use our molds in a new and exciting way.
1st – $500 Gift Certificate
2nd – $200 Gift Certificate
3rd – $100 Gift Certificate
Contest runs the entire month of May
Good Luck and Happy Designing!
Cool Tools Facebook Contest runs from 5/1 – 5/31. Entries must be submitted on our Facebook page to qualify. Submissions are unlimited. At least 1 Antique Mold must be used in your design. Winners agree to send us their piece for professional photography, and they will be returned with a disc containing the images. Winners will be selected by Cool Tools and announced on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and our blog in June.
Even though I’ve pioneered co-firing diamonds in metal clay, I was not sure my big diamond would succeed because it was not the best quality stone.
The color was G (which doesn’t really matter), but the clarity was I1, which means that there were inclusions that are easily visible with the unaided eye. It had a carbon crystal (black speck) and a ton of feather inclusions (cracks). I didn’t know if the stone would fracture completely or if the carbon crystal would blow up or what the heck might happen. The fact is, in the world of diamonds it was a crappy stone and a big risk to fire.
Diamonds are harder than any other gemstone* and only a diamond can scratch a diamond, but firing tests that were done years ago revealed that they have a habit of vaporizing or crazing when heated in a kiln. That may seem odd, but as a classically trained jeweler I know that diamonds can be heated directly with a torch for a few seconds without damaging them. What they can’t take is a long heating. So to me, putting a diamond in the kiln for the 30-minute burnout cycle would be insane.
In order to fire the diamond safely, I had to skip the burn-out firing, which I don’t think is necessary anyway. I ignited the greenware with a flame, allowed it to burn away, cooled it, and then fired in activated carbon for 2 hours. The stone was totally undamaged, but it shifted in the setting during firing and is a little cattywompus, which is no big deal for me to fix. What I was concerned with was if a low quality stone would survive. And the answer is yes. My stone was unharmed.
Tips for Strong Jewelry in PMC STERLING
One of the things I’ve learned about PMC STERLING is the same thing I know about all the other types of metal clay, the longer it’s fired, the more dense and the stronger it is.
For items where strength is not an issue, fire for the least amount of time. 1 hour is sufficient for most earrings and necklaces. For rings, bracelets and delicate items (things with fine parts and tendrils), fire for 2 hours and you’ll have amazingly strong jewelry….just like cast sterling.
Even in an unfired greenware state, PMC STERLING is super strong. To make the prongs for the diamond ring I cut out a tiny ring of clay, cut the ring in quarters and let it dry. To place the prongs, I picked each one up with diamond tweezers and dipped one end in water and then held it in place for a few seconds on the ring. I guess I held one prong too tight and it broke in half. I was in a time crunch so I just put a tiny bit of water on the pieces and held those together. I can’t tell which prong I repaired, and I’ve hammered on all of them.
What is important when firing PMC STERLING is using a reliable kiln with a temperature that can be held accurately for the duration. PMC STERLING is sintered at a temperature that is just a few degrees away from its melting point. If you try to use a tiny kiln that does not have a digital controller, you cannot be sure that your work is properly sintered or melt your work by going over temperature. The Ultra-Lite Beehive kiln, the Amaco Trinkit kiln and other tiny kilns with pyrometers for temperature control are not appropriate for PMC STERLING firing. You must be able to accurately gauge the temperature for the duration of the firing.
Recommended kilns: Any of the kilns we offer with a digital controller are perfect for PMC STERLING firing such as the Paragon SC series, Caldera, Digital Firefly, Home Artist and E Series kilns. The Evenheat Kingpin 88 series and Olympic Jewelry Artist are also great choices. You’ll also need a firing vessel and activated carbon to contain your work during firing. Click here to learn more about kilns.
*Diamonds are no longer the hardest substance known to man. There are man-made nanoparticles that are harder than diamonds, but some years ago 2 substances, wurtzite boron nitride and the mineral londaleite were discovered that can handle 18% and 58% more stress respectively than a diamond.
I’m still all aglow in the excitement of working with PMC STERLING. To me, this is the holy grail of jewelry clays. It’s affordable, it’s easy to work with, easy to fire, strong and most importantly, I’m working directly in a metal that is desirable all over the world.
According to the insert for PMC STERLING, a double firing is required to transform it from powdered to solid metal. The first firing is supposed to be on an open kiln shelf for 30 minutes at 1000F and then another 30 minute firing at 1500F buried in carbon. Since I’m lazy and since the open air firing sounded too slow, I decided to speed it up.
Skip the First Firing
I found that I can ignite the binder with a torch and skip the entire first firing, saving both time and energy. Here’s how I do it: Turn the lights down. Make a soft, bushy flame with the torch and light the greenware on fire. Watch as the flame eats through the whole piece. If you can’t tell if it’s all burned out, light it again. Then cool and embed in coconut carbon and fire at 1500F for at least 30 minutes.
Co-Firing Findings & Settings
Any item of sterling silver, as long as it does not contain solder can be embedded and fired in place. If something has solder, it could fall apart or be seriously weakened during firing. Wire, laser-welded and die-struck settings can safely be fired in place. I highly recommend torch burnout if you plan to co-fire sterling silver parts to avoid heating copper in the open air. When copper is heated above 1200F for more than 30 minutes, it becomes incredibly brittle. Heating to 1000F is going to cause deep fire scale that can be avoided by not heating unprotected for so long. And though it might not be 1200F, it’s still going to weaken the metal, and that’s unacceptable for jewelry. Carbon firing, on the other hand, protects sterling silver from the combined damage of heat and oxygen.
Using Paste as Solder
PMC STERLING dust makes fabulous paste that can be used to attach greenware to greenware, sterling to greenware, or any combination of unfired, burned out, or fired clay. I add a little water to make a thick paste and then glue parts together. Prime the places that will be bonded by painting them with thinned paste. Dry and then apply the thick paste to the primed areas. This helps it stick better.
Whatever paste you don’t use, spread it thin so it’s easy to rehydrate. To rehydrate, add water a bit at a time until you reach the desired consistency. It rehydrates beautifully over and over again.
Use my Gemstones in Metal Clay guide to find which stones are safe in carbon. If they are safe in carbon, they are most likely safe for torch burnout because the temperature is so low and it’s so quick. What damages stones is the oxygen and heat combination for long periods of time.
You’ll have to set glass after firing since it can’t handle a carbon firing.
30 minutes is the minimum firing time for PMC STERLING. Firing time can be extended for extra strength. Pieces that were pasted on low dome wire and fired only 30 minutes broke off when I formed it on a mandrel. After re-pasting and re-firing for 2 hours, the pieces were as good as soldered on.
PMC STERLING is no different to solder than any other sterling silver. Use the type of solder that you are comfortable working with. Pickle and polish like any other sterling silver.
How Far Does it Go?
This photo represents everything I’ve made so far with one 25 gram package, and I still have some left. What you see in the photo is as follows, from left to right:
…and I still have about 5 more grams plus a bunch of dust and paste.
That’s a nice pile of jewelry out of one package of clay. It’s going a lot further because I know it’s strong so I can make pieces more delicate and thinner, and that saves a lot of material.
Stay tuned for the results of the big diamond ring firing experiment!