Category Archives: Creativity

Artist Project Series: Nesting Ring by Tracey Spurgin

Cool Tools is proud to continue our support for the Artist Project Series with Creative Fire.  UK Jewelry Artist, Tracey Spurgin has created this detailed, stunning Nesting Ring using EZ960® Sterling Silver Metal Clay. 

Because EZ960 is a sterling silver alloy, one of its best attributes is its post firing strength. This inherent strength makes EZ960 the perfect choice for jewelry that takes lots of abuse, such as rings and bracelets.

The design of this ring allows you to wear each of the two rings individually as a stand alone, or simply nest them together to make one statement cocktail ring. A two for one ring, how awesome is that!?

Follow along and learn Tracey’s process step by step for making this piece, including how to fit the two rings together, here.

MCAS 2018

Donna Penoyer in action teaching her Whistle Pendant Workshop.

Metal Clay Artists Symposium • August 23-26, 2018

This exciting 4-day event, at the Sawtooth School for Visual Art (SSVA), features the most innovative workshop leaders in a creative environment, sharing inspiration, techniques, and cutting-edge technology with the metal clay community through hands-on workshops, breakout sessions, free Technique Discovery Workshops, Meet and Greet opportunities, a month-long metal clay exhibit and more!

MCAS Badge

Cool Tools is proud to have supported this event and occur as a Badge Sponsor. Not to mention, doesn’t our logo look great with the Sawtooth School for Visual Art logo

I really had a blast at MCAS! During both class days, my classes were with Donna Penoyer. Donna is a fantastic teacher, full of knowledge and tips on working with metal clay. Her classes were both a little challenging, but fun nevertheless. Donna Penoyer is known for her whistle creations, including creations of whistles hidden within her pieces. Sometimes you wouldn’t even know a piece whistled unless she showed you! I’m happy to say that the whistle I created DOES whistle with a nice pitch to it. As always, there are lessons to be made in every class you take. My personal lesson was that I need to be more thorough in creating both sides of a hollow form to ensure that both sides match up evenly. Below is a picture of a whistle created by Donna Penoyer.

Whistle Pendant created by Donna Penoyer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also learned how to create a celtic knot using flexible metal clay. I was so impressed with what Donna had come up with for us to learn this process. While the process is a test for one’s patience, it is certainly satisfactory and I look forward to create more celtic knots in the future. Below is the celtic knot I created. As I said before, taking classes is all about learning, and with this particular piece I learned to be more cognizant of my application of the paste. This piece requires a lot of paste in order to hold together, and because of this, too much paste can cause a loss of texture. I did not plan to have a center for my piece; however, I created one to off set the loss of texture in the middle from pasting the pieces together.

 

MCAS is a wonderful place to get to know other metal clay artists and their passions, thoughts and ideas. It’s also a great pleasure as a Cool Tools employee to interact with and meet Cool Tools customers. We love our customers! I encourage any metal clay artist to join MCAS next year, you will not be disappointed!

Creating with Antique Molds by Karen Trexler

While Cool Tools Antique Molds are great for making satisfying charms and pendants by firing exactly what you pull from the molds, they also offer opportunity to create unique pieces by manipulating the clay once it has been removed from the mold. I made both pieces by beginning with the Wild Child Antique Mold with EZ960® Sterling Silver Clay. In both pieces I thought it would be nice to remove the background, and cut away the silver clay in the background with my Ultra Clay Pick while the clay was still soft.

For the piece pictured on the right, I also pressed clay into the Sunshine and Lace Antique Mold and decided I wanted to work with mostly the ends. I gently placed the Wild Child piece on top of the Sunshine and Lace piece and scribed a line to follow and cut away the middle so the pieces from The Sunshine and Lace Piece will line up perfectly with the edges of the Wild Child piece. Once I cut away the excess from the Sunshine and Lace piece, I gently dampened the edges that met with a small amount of distilled water on a brush before adding just a touch of EZ960 Sterling Silver Paste from a syringe to the edge and pressing them together. I used the brush to run over the seam to smooth it out before allowing the piece to dry and refining the edges of the piece as a whole by sanding it while it was in its greenware stage. I fired the clay piece before soldering a pin back to the back so it may be worn as a brooch.

I created the piece on the left in a similar way, only I was only working with only the Wild Child Antique Mold. I pressed clay into just the flower portion of the mold (located in her hair) and made small flowers that I attached to the main piece with paste. Once I was happy with my design, I allowed the piece to dry before cleaning it up, firing it, and soldering on a pin back as I did in the first piece.

I hope this inspires you to put your own spin on an Antique Mold, the possibilities are endless with so many to choose from!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cool Tools Antique Molds are made from 100% silicone mold material that does not stick to metal clay, or any other type of clay, so no release is needed. Molds are reusable and can be placed on a heat source to dry clay. Safe to 500°F. Use molds to create a pendant, earrings or a focal point on a cuff.

EZ960® Sterling Silver Clay Rose Necklace by Karen Trexler

Check out this beautifully hand crafted necklace by Cool Tools’ resident artist, Karen Trexler! What I personally love about this piece is how you can see her fingerprints, creating a soft texture for the petals. Karen explains her process for creating this piece out of EZ960 Sterling Silver Clay below:

I started this necklace with EZ960 rolled to 2 cards thick. Immediately after rolling the clay, while it was still still fresh and soft, I cut half round sections to pinch into petals. The clay was a dream to work with, making tight bends for the rose petals without ripping. I attached the petals together to form the flowers simply by pressing them together before attaching all the flowers together with EZ960 Sterling Silver Paste from the syringe (EZS-010-S). I used a brush with distilled water to clean up and smooth out the paste connections. Finally, I pressed silver embeddable eyelets (FND-909) into the end flowers so that the piece could be worn as a necklace before drying and firing the clay. I concluded this piece by using the embedded eyelets to attach the rose pendant to the chain (CHN-260).

Bead & Button Show Classes

Backyard Birdhouse by Dianne Dieter

Aphrodite Pendant by Dianne Dieter

Every year, the Bead & Button Show is put on in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Milwaukee is only an hour away from Jefferson, Wisconsin, where Cool Tools is located. Classes are offered at the Bead & Button Show with a huge variety of techniques and skill levels. Rhonda and Dianne, employees of Cool Tools took some classes to keep up their knowledge in the jewelry artist world. Each teacher was wonderful to work with and an inspiration to learn from.

 

Classes included (from the first to last picture):

Backyard Birdhouse in Silver Clay with Lyle Rayfield

Aphrodite Pendant with Kaska & Katherine Firor

Kiln-Fired Enamel Earrings with Sherie Gage

Spinner Ring with Robyn Corelius

 

We both learned a great deal of technique and instruction at these classes and can’t wait to take more next year!

Kiln-Fired Enamel Earrings by Rhonda Rein

Spinner Ring by Rhonda Rein

Artist Project Series: Creating a FS999™ Vessel Pendant By Janet Harriman

Our second featured artist for the Artist Project Series with Creative Fire is Janet Harriman. Janet has been working with metal clay for almost 14 years, and has been making jewelry and winning awards for over 40 years. She teaches workshops on metal clay, metalworking and enameling. For the Artist Project Series, Janet has created this unique Vessel Pendant out of FS999 Fine Silver Clay.

In the article found below, Janet takes you through her process step by step. Her process is particularly interesting because of a failure she experiences during firing, which leads her to an inventive fix.

To view Janet’s process and to learn more about her, please click here.

 

Artist Project Series: FS999™ Dino Bracelet by Gordon K. Uyehara

We are delighted to support and introduce “The Artist Project Series” by Creative Fire with FS999 Fine Silver Clay. After so many beautiful and creative pieces during this series with EZ960® Sterling Silver Clay, we are so excited to see what comes next with FS999! This series will feature 12 artists over the next year or so. Each artist will let us observe into their studio while they create a piece of art using FS999 Fine Silver Clay. 

The first featured artist is Gordon Uyehara from Honolulu, Hawaii. Gordon has created a beautiful and intricate Dino Bracelet, while showing his process step by step.

To view this process beginning from Gordon’s sketches, please click here.

EZ960® Rings : METALCLAYSTUDIO

Both of these beautiful rings were made with EZ960 Sterling Silver Clay by Master Elena Chistova, from Nizhniy Novgorod city in Russia. Her wonderful instructor is Alexander Kraft, who teaches metal clay and enameling at the METALCLAYSTUDIO.

 

The flower ring stuns with its beautiful coloring by using our Cool Tools Patina Gel. How awesome is that!?

 

If you are interested in the METALCLAYSTUDIO and their classes offered please click here.

Cupid’s Bow and Arrow Brooch by Annie Kilborn

Back of Brooch with the sample “trial and error” piece I made out of brass.

What is Valentines Day without Cupid and his bow and arrow? ( See below for materials and tools used)

I began this project with a quick simple sketch to work out the ideal size and shape of “Cupid’s Bow and Arrow” Brooch. I knew that getting the bends in the sterling silver patterned wire “Dotted” would be a little tricky, because the bends would need to occur where the wire was the thickest. Before I attempted to bend the sterling wire, I made a sample in brass, a cheaper material for trial and error.

 

I marked the center, and where I wanted the two main bends to be on the wire. I used a 4mm jump ring maker mandrel in a vise to bend the metal. I bent the two outer bends in the bow to create a U shape with the wire. The metal needed to be annealed a couple times to get the desired bends. I did not initially worry about the bend in the middle, because I removed material with a saw making it much easier to bend after the two main bends were in the wire. I then repeated the process in the silver wire. Then I removed material to create a slight tapper on both ends leaving just the dot on the ends. I also added a tapper toward the middle bend. Once I got the desired shape for the bow, I filed, sanded and polished the tappers and smoothed out the bends. I soldered the pin henge and catch to the back of the bow with hard solder.

Next, I started constructing the arrow by taking 18 gauge sterling silver wire and making 10 pieces that were approximately 3/4” long with a 90° bend in the middle to make the fletching. I lined the pieces up so that they fit snuggly together. I cut the tubing to a 3” length, and removed part of the tubing on a 1/2” area at the end of the tubing exposing the inside. Then I flowed hard solder in the exposed inside of the tubing and pickled it. After pickling, I placed it on top of the 18 gauge wire pieces, and reflowed the solder to attach the pieces. Next, I soldered the other end of the arrow to the middle of the bow leaving enough space to solder the stone setting to the end of the tubing. Next, I soldered on the stone setting completing the arrow.

I took 7” of the the sterling silver patterned wire “Rope #2”, bent it in the middle, and soldered it to the back of the fletching with medium solder. After it was soldered, I took the ends of the “Rope #2” wire and wrapped them around the ends of the bow so that the wire nested into the niches that were made around the dot. I wrapped the wire around itself to create a tide rope effect, cutting of the excess wire so that the end is in the back of the piece. I took the remaining 5” of the rope wire, placed the middle of it behind the bow where the arrow attached, and wrapped it around the bow.

I did all my final sanding and polishing then raised the fine silver. The last few details were setting the cubic zirconia, and put the pin stem on. I put a bend in the pin stem so that it hid behind the bow. I finished of the piece by brass brushing it to create a soft finish on the silver.

MATERIALS USED: 

CUBIC ZIRCONIA – FIRE OPAL – TRIANGLE 10mm

STERLING SILVER 10MM ROUND SNAP-SET – 6 PRONG SETTING – SET/2

STERLING SILVER TUBE – .089″ OD, .009″ WALL

PATTERNED WIRE – STERLING SILVER – DOTTED 12 GAUGE DEAD SOFT – 6″

PATTERNED WIRE – STERLING SILVER ROPE #2 – 16 GAUGE DEAD SOFT – 6” (x2)

WIRE- STERLING SILVER – 18 GAUGE HALF HARD – 1 FOOT

STERLING SILVER PIN FINDING – 2”

TOOLS:

KNEW CONCEPT HAND SAW WITH CAM-LEVER TENSION AND SWIVEL BLADE CLAMPS – 5”

HALF ROUND RING FILE WITH WOOD HANDLE – CUT 4

HAMMER – NYLON

FRETZ PLANISHING HAMMER

ECONOMY TABLETOP SWIVEL VISE

JUMP RING MAKER – SMALL 4MM – 8MM

PLIERS – LINDSTROM EX SERIES – SIDE CUTTER

PLIERS – LINDSTROM EX SERIES – FLAT NOSE

PLIERS – FLAT NOSE

FOREDOM® SR-2220 FLEXIBLE SHAFT KIT – #20 QUICK CHANGE HANDPIECE

SANDING DISCS – ADALOX SNAP ON – 7/8″ MEDIUM

MINIATURE MANDREL – SNAP ON 3/32″ SHANK

SILICONE POLISHER – BLACK BARREL SET – SET OF 4

SMITH® SILVERSMITH™ ACETYLENE AND AIR TORCH KIT WITHOUT TANK 

360° ROTATING SOLDERING PAN WITH PUMICE – 12″ DIAMETER

SOLDERING BLOCK – MAGNESIA

HANDY FLUX 8 OZ

CAMEL HAIR ECONOMY BRUSH – SIZE 3

SILVER SOLDER WIRE- HARD & MEDIUM

Antique Mold Charm Bracelet by Annie Kilborn

The “Antique Mold Charm Bracelet” is a great project for beginners. The simple techniques make a wonderful bracelet, which looks very complex due to all the wonderful elements made from our Antique Molds. We have a huge selection of Antique Molds, with over 800 offered. You can choose to use all of the mold, or just a fragment of it. One of the great things about a charm bracelet is that you get to pick and choose the elements that appeal to you. The individualized compilation of the charms tells a unique story.

After you have chosen the Antique Molds and clay(s), you are ready to begin the project. I chose to work with Hadar’s Clay One-fire High-fire Clays.  Any clay(s) would work well for this project. It would look amazing in FS999 or EZ960 with our new Nano Gems embedded in the charms or set as charms on their own.

I began with Hadar’s Clay One-Fire Copper Clay. I hadn’t had experience with firing copper wire into base metal clays, so I made the seahorse and rose charm with the copper jump  ring embedded into the clay as test samples. After I molded, dehydrated and finished the edges of the forms, I carved out a groove in the back where I wanted the jump ring to nestle. It is important that the jump ring rests below the surface of the backside. After a good fit is found for the jump ring, secure it into place with some paste and clay. Dry out the clay, do any final clean up and fire. I used the recommend firing schedule for Hadar’s Clay One-Fire Copper Clay. The jump rings fired into the clay well. I continued this process for the remainder twelve molds using the other six Hadar’s Clay One-Fire High-Fire Clays. I fired all of these clays together using Hadar’s recommend firing schedule for combined firing.

Once all the charms were fired, I attached them to the “Patterned Wire Chain Bracelet” created for a previous blog. The bracelet was patinated with Patina Gel, buffed with a brass brush and tumbled. After tumbling I did a final polishing with the Ultra Polishing Pads.

I did have some issues with the jump rings dislodging from the two copper pieces during tumbling. I did not have this issue with the other clays. I believe that I thinned out the clay a little too much, which I used to embed the jump ring. This left the clay vulnerable to breaking. To fix this issue, the jump rings were soldered on to the copper pieces with paste solder and a butane torch. I am planning to remake and fire the copper charms to test whether my first clay connections were faulty, or if copper wire does not like to fuse to copper clay. Also, I did tumble the Steel XT and the Pearl Grey. These are steel clays, and they did rust a bit from the water in the tumbler. I would not recommend tumbling these clays. They will look better from just using dry polishing methods. I hope that my “Antique Mold Charm Bracelet” inspires your own custom charm bracelet. Listed below are all of the materials, tools and antique molds I used for this project.

 

 

 

Materials Used:

 

 

 

 

Tools Used:

Bowl for mixing clays

Distilled water

Mini Palette Knife

CoolSlip Anti-Stick Solution

Cool Tools Slik Metal Clay Conditioner and Release

Non-Stick Big Roller 

Tuff Cards – 2.5″ x 3.5″

Cool Tools Clayboard Non-Stick Work Surface 9″ x 9″

Texture Tile – Kazakh Vertical 

Ultra Clay Pick

Tidy Tray – Sanding Tray Small 6″ x 8″

Needle File Set – 6 Pieces – Cut 4

Tropical Shine Sanding Sticks

Foam Healing Tool

Carving Set

Bronze & Copper Clay Firing Kits

Patina Gel 

Scratch Brush – Brass – 4 Row Soft

Lortone® Tumbler

Ultra Polishing Pads

Silver Solder Paste – Medium 1/2oz

Torch – Firefox – Butane Mini Torch

Antique Molds (In order according to the picture):

Horse of the Sea

Star Rose

Xysticus

Halloween Gravestone

Dreamy Dragonfly

Out of the Brush

LOVE

Master Key

Roped Anchor

Give a Hoot

Young Peacock

Comedy/Tragedy

Pretty Purse

Two by Two