Monday, June 1, 2009

Underwire


  NO I'm not talking about bras in this post.  (Although I did just buy a new one with underwire support.  It's obvious I need one.)

   I'm talking about wire under the metal clay to help form it.  The book PMC Technic and Barbara Becker Simons new book both demonstrate the technique.  The first one I tried is rather large and is not yet done.  At first it looked very sculptural to me and I thought about turning it into a sculpture until my friend Carol said she could see it as a piece of jewelry with tubes in it.  So, last week I bought some brass and some copper tubing.  Will share when it finally gets done (don't think that will be any time soon though as the old brain is sometimes slow.)

   The third charm on my bracelet was created with a much shorter (not smaller) piece of copper wire.  The wire was bent into a shape with twists and turns (so far I find it is impossible to predict what the finished clay piece will look like.)  It is important to make sure that the wire sits on the table and that there are no sharp points to tear through the clay.  Then a sheet of clay, 2 cards thick, is rolled out and draped over the wire.  At this point the clay can be formed into the recesses of the wire with the fingers.  Dry the clay and carefully remove the wire.  I thought it would be difficult to take the wire out, but it wasn't.  When the form is totally dry, lay the piece on another 2 card slab of clay (to form the back)and cut around it with a needle tool.  Then paste the back piece to the front piece, smooth the edges together  and fill in any gaps with extra clay or paste.

   Before I joined the back to the front on this piece, I made a wire loop, twisted the ends of the wire and inserted it between the front and back piece.  What I thought was fine silver wire (that's what it said when I bought it), turned out to be sterling silver wire which turned black during the firing process.  As an after thought I decided to add the peridot, so I refired the piece with a readymade bezel cup (and covered the black wire with metal clay paste.)  

2 comments:

Convergent said...

Wow, you must be firing cooler and shorter than I do. When I mistook sterling for fine silver (my own error, simple lack of attention one day), the wire didn't just turn black, it also got very brittle and crumbled!

No paste-salvage on those parts, so I'm jealous of your save here. Those two pieces of mine are still sitting on a side-cart, awaiting a re-do....

Alice Walkowski said...

Just got lucky I guess. I know that sterling wire gets brittle when fired.