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Archive for the ‘Product Spotlight’ Category

May
7

Presenting our inspiring new selection of Bumblebee Jasper, Montana Agate, Ocean Jasper, and Rainbow Moonstone full of all new colors, patterns, shapes and cuts!

New Natural Gemstones

Bumblebee Jasper has been known only since the late 1990s. It is named for its alternating yellow, orange, and black layers that resemble the coloration of certain bees. Bumblebee Jasper has been found only on the Indonesian island Java. Bumblebee Jasper is not true jasper because it does not consist primarily of microcrystalline quartz. It is technically a sedimentary rock that contains varying amounts of sulfur and manganese oxides. It forms in volcanic fumarole environments and is a porous, layered, multicolored rock that is cemented together by carbonate minerals. Its yellow layers are due to sulfur, orange to arsenic sulfide minerals, and the black to manganese oxides. Bumblebee Jasper has a Mohs hardness of about 4.0. The Montana agate is usually a creamy light yellow to almost clear color with embedded moss structures in varying shades of brownish red to black. Most of these Montana agates are found in gravel deposits from the Pleistocene age in the area of the Yellowstone River and its tributaries. Montana Agate is believed by some to help you balance emotions and is a powerful emotional healer. Rainbow Moonstone varies in color depending on the angle of the light. As you move and rotate your stone, brilliant blues, peaches, and reds will shimmer through this translucent stone. The beautiful colors often will give the illusion that the stone is glowing. Each stone catches your eye and stands out as the centerpiece of your design. Folklore says Moonstone acts as a prism, diffusing energy throughout the aura. It provides psychic protection, clearing the mind and senses, and aids in lucid dreaming and calm sleep. It is said if you give your lover a moonstone necklace when the moon is full you will always have passion with each other. Ocean Jasper, also called Orbicular Jasper, is unusual jasper found only at a remote location on the coast of Madagascar that can only be mined at low tide! The colors vary widely, including white, green, pink, red, black, blue. The wild polka dots, wavy lines, and multi-colored floret patterns of Ocean Jasper make this a gorgeous and exciting stone.

These beautiful gemstones offer a unique and sophisticated look; find freeform cabs, matched pairs, drilled pendants and calibrated shapes. These gemstones will not last. Get these new stones now and discover their natural beauty.

Aug
20

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.

These are four great examples 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.

Enameled Piece by Scott Boyd - 2

Enameled Piece by Scott Boyd - 1

Enameled Piece by Jan Harrell -2Enameled Piece by Jan Harrell -1

Jun
6

Have you tried Magic Carbon? If you want a more simple firing process, this carbon is for you!

Magic CarbonNot all carbons are the same. Some carbons will not work at all for firing metal clay. Others will give you a handful of good firings before they are spent. Some will work for one kind or brand of clay and not for another. Magic Carbon is pre-tested for all brands of bronze, copper and silver clays and fires any thickness in a 2 hour schedule in most kilns (some kilns will require additional hold time). Magic Carbon also has the advantage of firing at a lower temperature. The faster firing and the lower temperature puts less demand on the heating elements, giving your elements a longer life than other carbons.

Magic Carbon produces an antique patina on bronze and copper clays, which eliminates the need for additional patination. If color is desired, you can remove the kiln patina with a steel brush or 3M Bristle Discs and apply a heat patina by heating the piece gently with a torch.

Magic Carbon will fire all silver clay. This will allow you to fire heat-sensitive stones with no damage or color change. Any stone that is listed on our Gemstones in Metal Clay firing chart as fireable can be safely fired in Magic Carbon. If a gem is listed as “no fire”, such as Turquoise or Opal, it cannot be fired in any carbon or kiln. The nature of these types of stones do not allow them to be heated. Only stones that are listed as Low Fire or High Fire will survive kiln heating. Magic Carbon protects the gem from oxygen, preserving it’s color. No pre-burnout is needed to fire silver clay. This is a unique feature of Magic Carbon and it does not apply to any other carbon.

Make your firing process simple with help from Magic Carbon, available in both 1lb and 5 lb sizes.

May
1

Try a variety and pick your favorite! The Cool Tools Carbon Sampler Pack is perfect for every jewelry artist.

Featuring Magic, Coal, and Coconut carbons, the Sampler Pack has everything you need to fire any creation. Each type of carbon offers something unique and comes in a 1/2lb bag. That’s a 1/2lb of coal, 1/2lb of coconut and 1/2lb magic carbon! With the Cool Tools Carbon Sampler Pack, you will get the finish you desire and will never be without the carbon you need.

 Carbon Sampler PackMagic Carbon

Magic Carbon is a wonderfully versatile carbon. Magic Carbon is pre-tested for all brands of bronze, copper and silver clays and fires any thickness in a 2 hour schedule in most kilns. Magic Carbon has the advantage of firing at a lower temperature. The faster firing and the lower temperature puts less demand on the heating elements, giving your elements a longer life than other carbons. Magic Carbon produces an antique patina on bronze and copper clays, which eliminates the need for additional patination.

Coal Carbon

Our Coal Carbon is a coal-based activated carbon firing media. Coal Carbon is specifically designed for use with bronze and brass clays. This carbon will produce a rainbow patina on fired BRONZclay. The patina is unpredictable, but fairly durable. If undesired, it can be burnished and polished to a high shine. Not for use with copper clays.

Coconut Carbon

Coconut Carbon is a coconut-based activated carbon firing media that is formulated for firing bronze, copper, brass and all other types of metal clays. This carbon will produce a clean, satin finish which is fairly durable. Coconut Carbon can also be polished to a high shine or desired finish.

Apr
18

Who says you can’t have it all?!

The new Art Clay Silver formula provides you the best of all your favorite clays and is available in lump form, syringe, and paste.

This new formula features something from each previous type of clay in the Art Clay family including Art Clay Original, Low Fire and Slow Dry!

The features of the new Art Clay Silver Formula include better workability compared to original formula and 650 formulas and longer working time than original, 650, and 650 Slow Dry formulas.

The new formula only has 8-9% shrinkage, with similar drying times as original and 650 formulas when using applied heat (such as a hair dryer, warmer, or dehydrator).

Take advantage of easier carving and filing in the dry stage. It also offers quicker and simpler reconstitution from dried clay; new formula clay is meant to absorb moisture well.

Reviews are flying in on the new formula and customers have been loving it!

“Love, love, love. I really love the new formula! Will be ordering more this week! It doesn’t dry as quickly and seems to take texture better than the original slow dry formula.

I used my new texture plate I got from Cool Tools on a piece and love the results.”

If you are curious or intrigued, you should try the new formula today. You might be surprised at how easy it is to use.

Apr
10

Natural Gemstones are a sure way to bring sensational color, beauty and radiance to your unique jewelry designs. A natural gem offers a level a sophistication that no other stone can. Wonderfully shaped, polished and colored, these gems are perfect for creating fine jewelry. Discover the story behind the gem.

Lapis Lazuli

Lapis Lazuli is a bright blue metamorphic rock consisting largely of lazurite. Its name comes from the Persian word ‘Lazur’ meaning ‘blue stone’. Lapis Lazuli is an ancient gem, and as such, has a storied history. Egyptian cultures made a practice of burying a Lapis Lazuli scarab with their dead, and believed it to offer protection. The very earliest cultures valued Lapis Lazuli more highly than gold.

Lapis lazuli is regarded by many people around the world as the stone of friendship and truth. The blue stone is said to encourage harmony in relationships and help its wearer to be authentic and give his or her opinion openly.

Mustard Jasper

Mustard Jasper is somewhat uncommon as it is currently mined only in Indonesia from the top of an active volcano, making it a special find! It often is black or gray on the outer layers progressing to a rich mustard yellow on its inner layers.

Mustard Jasper, when refined, features beautiful and bright yellow colors with bands of white and silver. Mustard Jasper, like all Jaspers, is a supportive stone that has grounding and balancing energy, which helps one to maintain a realistic attitude during any personal evolution. In general, Jasper is known as the “supreme nurturer”. It sustains and supports during times of stress, and brings tranquility and wholeness. Used in healing, Jasper unifies all aspects of your life.

Tiger Eye

All Tiger Eye crystals are stones of protection and were traditionally carried to protect against curses and ill wishes. Tiger Eye is said to promote a positive attitude and to increase feelings of self-worth. It is believed to help you to discover, and have confidence in, your own abilities, helping to enhance your personal power and self-confidence. Tiger Eye is also said to bring good luck and prosperity.

Red Tiger Eye, as seen here, features brilliant deep red hues along with stunning patterns. Red Tiger Eye is a stimulating stone that is said to increase motivation and to help overcome lethargy.

Cool Tools also carries Yellow Tiger Eye, a golden-brown stone with a silky luster, as well as Blue Tiger Eye, a very calming crystal that it is said to release stress to soothe anxiety and to help cool a quick temper. Tiger Eye is most commonly found in South Africa and East Asia.

Orange Spiny Oyster Shell

Spiny Oyster Shell, scientifically called Spondylus, has been used in Native American jewelry for centuries.

Spondylus is Latin, for spines on its back, which says it all.  The shells, which are covered with intimidating spines, come in an array of bright colors ranging from purple to orange, red and yellow. Spiny oyster shells were carved and traded far and wide from as early as 10,000 years ago.

Spiny oyster shells are found in the Gulf of California, the Pacific coast, and to the south in the warm waters of South America.  It is very difficult to harvest and polish and is much sought after by collectors.

Check out all of our Natural Gemstones here.

Apr
3

Anyone you ask who has used these Steel-Backed Photopolymer Plates will tell you they are the best! Steel-Backed Plates come in 8-1/4″ x 11-3/4 sheets and can be cut and customized to fit most any project. Plates can be scored or marked on the back with permanent marker and cut with metal shears. Get the exact size you need.

Steel-Backed Photopolymer Plates offer more support and stability than liquid packs. These plates make it easy to get the textured plate you have always wanted. Steel-Backed Photopolymer Plates are used with the same negative papers as liquid photopolymer, and can be used with photopolymer frames or an acrylic worksurface.

How to use Steel-Back Photopolymer Plates:

Mark and cut down your Photopolymer plate to your desired size. Remove the protective plastic UV covering on the plate before proceeding. Place your photo-negative transparency ink side down on top of your photopolymer plate and place between the frame back and acrylic top.

Exposure:

Exposure time for Steel-Backed Photopolymer Plates can vary depending on depth, design and details. For higher contrast black& white photo-negative designs, expose the plate for 15 minutes to your UV light. For a more detailed or grey-scale, more exposure (2-3 hours) may be required.

Washing Steel-Backed Photopolymer Plates:

After exposure is complete, use a sink or dishpan to wash your design. Using water and a soft brush hold the plate under the water and brush your design. The unexposed polymers will wash away. Continue to brush your design until the plate feels clean and the metal is exposed. Let your plate dry.

Try them out today to get your custom texture!

Apr
6

Learning the essentials of using a torch can help you make the jewelry you have always dreamed of. Butane torches are an inexpensive way to perform many small to medium tasks from firing metal clay to small soldering operations. Learn which fuel is right to keep your torch in top working condition, how to properly fill and operate all of the torch models offered at www.cooltools.us, and more.

Metal clay firing torches (all of our large flame torches) are perfect for torch firing fine silver and copper clay pieces up to 25 grams. Smaller torches, like the Spitfire, Stingray and Hot Shot models are perfect for small soldering tasks. Use these torches to ball wire, make head pins, solder jump rings closed, and more.

Please note that while we highly recommend Blazer Triple Refine Butane, which is designed for butane torches, we do not offer this product on our website. Butane is a highly flammable material and carries a hazardous surcharge for shipping. Source your butane locally, but be sure to demand triple refined for best performance and longest torch life.

Here you will learn about properly filling the torch, choosing the right fuel, adjusting the flame for various projects and tasks, choosing the right torch for the job at hand, how to determine if the torch is functioning properly, and so much more. Torches are safe to use, easy to operate, and are the perfect tool for your next jewelry project.

Check out our ever-expanding selection of Tool Demo videos available right here in the Video Library. From Jewelry Shape Templates and Jewel Stamp techniques, to Gilders Paste and Carbon Sifting, you will learn the tips and tricks you need to use innovative jewelry making tools.

Dec
15

Introducing new kiln colors – just in time for our Annual Kiln Sale!

Our Evenheat Kingpin 88 kilns are now available in new colors including Silver Vein, Gold Rush, Copper Mine, Envy, Salsa, Empire, Mancini and Bone.

Order yours today at the sale price and get the color you’ve always dreamed of!

Nov
30

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.

Here are some more tips for working with PMC STERLING.

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.

Co-Firing Gemstones

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.

Make sure you get the table level when you set stones. Crooked stones have a better chance of being ejected during firing.

You’ll have to set glass after firing since it can’t handle a carbon firing.

Firing Time

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.

Soldering

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:

  1. A ring shank in 3 pieces that I broke on the way to the kiln. (tragedy!) This is what the clay looks like after burning out the binder with a torch.
  2. A cuff bracelet with blue sapphires. The sapphires elements were fired in place and bonded to low dome sterling wire. The first firing was too short and was not strong enough. Re-fired for 2 hours.
  3. Blue sapphires bonded onto sterling links. Made with leftovers.
  4. Squiggle earrings with yellow diamonds. Diamonds fired in place. Posts attached using hard paste solder.
  5. Unfired egg earrings with gypsy set yellow sapphires. I used a traditional gypsy setting technique to set these stones in the unfired clay. The dry clay is really strong. The stones snapped into their settings with a click.
  6. Unfired ring top with 1.03 carat cushion cut diamond. I’m not sure how I want the prongs yet. Shank not shown.
  7. Yellow sapphire ring (with replaced shank). I dropped this ring on the way to the kiln and had to replace the shank. The idea behind this ring was to see how strong a ring could be with a very small area where the parts join. To be sure of the strength, I fired this for 2 hours and then rounded it on a ring mandrel.

…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!

-Mardel