Category Archives: Product Spotlight

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.

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).

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

Nano Gems – Update

After conducting some further testing of Nano Gems in the Cool Tools Studio, we found that Nano Gems are highly responsive to light. To keep Nano Gems true to color, it is very important to fire with an azure, or a hole for light to pass through, behind the gem. Without an azure, Nano Gems can change color, get muddy or lose luster.

Nano Gems can also change properties when they are fired above certain temperatures, and the maximum temperate that a Nano Gem can be fired to varies from gem to gem. We have found that all of the Nano Gems we currently carry are safe to fire up to 1675°F / 913°C on an open shelf in clay, with the exception of the Dark Orange and Orange, which can be safely be fired up to 1650°F / 899°C on an open shelf in clay.
Initially, we fired the Nano Gems on an open shelf – not in clay. The Nano Gems could be fired up to 1725°F / 940°C safely without change, with the exception of the Dark Orange and Orange which could be fired safely up to 1700°F / 927°C on an open shelf.

The first Nano Gems testing we performed in clay was in FS999 Fine Silver clay on an open shelf, fired at FS999’s recommended firing schedule of 1650°F / 899°C for two hours. The top row of Nano Gems all have azures behind them. They stayed true to color and brilliance. The only exception was with the Amethyst Green, which reflected some champagne tones with the light green ones. The bottom row of Nano Gems do not have any azures, as the gems were placed directly into the clay. All changed greatly in color, clarity and luster. The exceptions were with Orange and the Kryptonite, which just lost some of their luster. You can clearly see the difference the azure makes for the stones appearance. Nano Gems with azures behind them are on the top row.

 

 

The next test we did was similar to the previous, however, we fired the Nano Gems in EZ960 Sterling Silver clay. The sample was fired open shelf at EZ960’s recommended firing schedule of 1675°F / 899°C for two hours. Again, the top row of Nano Gems with the azures behind them stayed true to color and brilliance. The exceptions were with the Dark Orange and Orange, which began to lose their luster and became slightly dull, and the Amethyst Green took on some champagne tones as it did in the FS999. The bottom row of Nano Gems, without the azures, respond very similarly to the ones fired in the FS999. Some did get darker and duller do to the higher firing temperature. At this point it is very evident that the Nano Gems are dependent on an azure to stay true to color and luster. We tested the Dark Orange and Orange in EZ960 and fired open shelf at 1650°F / 899°C and fired for 4 hours. They stayed true to color and brilliance. Both the Dark Orange and Orange cannot be fired above 1650°F / 899°C in clay.

 

Nano Gems with azures behind them are on the top row.

Nano Gems with azures behind them are on the top row.

The third test was the Nano Gems with azures in EZ960 fired in Magic Carbon. It was fired at EZ960’s recommended firing schedule when firing in carbon, which is 1590°F / 865°C for two hours. All fired beautifully, without any change in any of the stones. The test was repeated with FS999 in Magic Carbon fired at 1650°F / 899°C. Once again, they all fired perfectly. As of this writing, we have not tested firing silver clays and Nano Gems in coconut or coal carbon.

The next question… How do the Nanos respond to base metal clays? We did a test strip of Nano Gems with azures fired in Hadar’s One-fire High-fire White Satin fired in coconut carbon fired to 1000°F / 538°C and held for two hours, then continued to fire to 1705°F / 929°C for two hours. All the stones did change due to the higher temperature, with the exception of the Amethyst Green which stayed true to color and luster. Some just darkened and dulled slightly, others changed dramatically. We also did a test strip in Hadar’s One-fire Medium-fire Bronze and fired 1100°F / 599°C and held for two hours, then continued to fire to 1560°F / 849°C for two hours. All of the Nano Gems fired beautifully, with exception of the Dark Orange and Orange. The Dark Orange and Orange do not fire well in coconut carbon; in both samples they turned black as shown below.

 

Nano Gems with azures behind them are on the top row.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We worked on some other tests to get some conclusive evidence on cause and effect of firing Nano Gems. One test was to see if the size of the stone matters. We tested the London Blue Nano Gem in a 2mm, 3mm and 4mm round all with and without azures. All the Nano Gems with azures stayed true to color, and the ones without an azure did not. The upshot being that the size of the Nano Gem does not matter. We tested Cubic Zircons in 4mm round with and without azures to see if they responded to light the same way that Nano Gems do. They do not. There is only a very light change of color and luster when they are placed directly into clay.
All in all, the conclusive finding is to always fire Nano Gems in clay with an azure, or hole for light to pass through behind the gem. If the Nano gem is too small to effectively create an azure behind it, the next best option may be to use a small cubic zirconia instead, as their brilliance is not diminished when placed directly in clay – with or without an azure.

Nano Gems with azures behind them are on the top row.

 

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

Artist Project Series: Little Red School House Ring by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

Our tenth artist for the Artist Project Series with Creative Fire using EZ960® Sterling Silver Metal Clay is Jeannette Froese LeBlanc, the promotor, write and editor for Creative Fire. Jeannette is also a teacher who holds a Master’s degree in education as well as several Bachelor’s degree’s in history and arts.

Jeannette was inspired to create this ring by a red schoolhouse in rural Ontario.  The school house was built in 1876 and captured her heart as a child.

Follow along and learn Jeannette’s process step by step for making this beautiful piece as well as more about Jeannette Froese LeBlanc and the history around this cherished school house here.