A (somewhat) daily rambling on the life of a polymer Clay metal clay and Fused Glass artist/teacher/author.

Very soon my blog will move to my website...as soon as it is done that is. This blog will be my Theatrical life of directing The Secret Garden

Friday, April 17, 2009

Jewel Carnival Blog for April

It is Jewel Carnival Time again!
What is my Favorite Technique?

Now, this is a very difficult topic to write about. I have SO MANY techniques that I absolutely love. Really. So instead of blogging on my FAVORITE technique, I will make it the plural.


  • Keum Boo.

  • Impressing stamps.

  • Carving out negative space

  • setting stones

  • Making bails.

Okay and my fondness is not necessarily in the above order. I love Keum Boo because it adds not only a contrasting color of 24 karat gold to the design, but it brings a warmth to the work. Keum boo, simply put, is adding 24 or 23 karat gold FOIL, not leaf, to very hot fine silver. At that point a burnishing tool is rubbed over the gold to marry the metals. When the piece has cooled down the whole work can be burnished again or put into a tumbler with steel shot and a bit of soapy water to burnish the entire jewelry. If the Keum Boo process has been done properly, then the gold will not come off. Tumbling, by the way, is a very good test to make sure the bond is perfect.

I don't just impress commercially purchased stamps into the wet metal clay, I prefer to make my own stamps. I use a Photo Polymer plate to make my own stamps, or I carve into polymer clay, erasers, stamp blanks or I impress Castaldo(tm) molding compound with unusual textures.... such as leaves, rocks or even my grasses. The stamping process gives all of my work a one-of-a-kind essence.

Another technique that is a fav of mine is carving out negative space. The piece above was pierced in the greenware state. The stamp is called Bamboo and I got it from Donna Kato's site. Prairie Craft. I will gaze at the design and then mark the areas to be removed with a Sharpie pen(tm). Then a small drill bit is placed in a pin vise and carefully drilled out. Next I insert a jewelers saw blade through the hole and cut out that marked area. After that I love to file, carve and sand to my heart's content to make the area look perfect.

Setting stones is just a flat-out given. I even wrote a book on a lot of different ways to set stones. Click on my website and you can even see a page. Well, okay, click here to see a sample page.

Making bails is a joy to me because it is so easy. My preference is for a curved hollow addition to the top of my pendants. This is what the neck chain will pass through to hold the pendant. I first started out by pasting many layers of slip over small curved branches and after the kiln process was done, the wood burned out and an unusually textured bail was created. I wrote a tutorial for this technique in the April 2004 issue of Lapidary Journal. But now I use the Makin's Extruder with the Hollow Core Adaptors to push out a looooong hollow tubing. Then I cut them into differing lengths,. Then when dry I sand and burnish them and store them in to an Altoids(tm) tin that is lined. This way I have a bail ready at the moment of inspiration. I have a tutorial in my gem setting book on this process. These adaptors can be purchased on line with a lot of sellers. Just google for merchants.

So, I cannot say I have just one technique that is my fav. I have tons too for polymer clay

This Summer I will be giving a one hour seminar on each of the three days of the Metal Clay World Conference in Chicago. The topic will be Bench Tricks for Metal Clayers. This is going to be a great event with a lot of wonderful presentations, pre-conference workshops and meeting and greeting many artist friends. I will be there the days before for the International Polymer Clay Association's Retreat too.


Go visit our other Jewel Carnival Bloggers below to find their favorite techniques.
Tonya Davidson
Elaine Luther
Angela Baudel-Crispin
Lora Hart
Tamra Gentry
Marco Fleseri

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog, very encouraging to read about your favorite techniques! It's so great to meet more metal clay lovers ;) To work with the clay is just as wonderful as you make it sound. I'm hoping to share more of my metal clay projects on http://byzarah.com Do take a look if you like! Hugs