Tuesday, April 27, 2010

High Tech

Working with metal clay requires very high tech sophisticated tools. Yeah, right........ they are anything but sophisticated. The clay is rolled out with a PVC pipe between playing cards. Then it is filed with sandpaper and nail files.

The metal clay websites are loaded with all sorts of fancy tools to buy. I've been suckered in on some of them (especially when I was starting out.) But most of them aren't necessary.

I can't take credit for coming up with anything in the tool line. Most metal clay artists (who have been working with the clay for awhile) know about these simple tools. I don't know who came up with some of these (like using playing cards to measure thickness.)

I'll mention just a few here. Like using a box with a hole cut in the top and a hair dryer which is much cheaper than some of the fancy dehydrators.

Metal clay will hold it's shape when dried over a form. A simple form for shaping the clay is a light bulb stuck in a cup or a plastic Easter egg. I've also used paint palettes and a mold for making jellybeans out of gelatin. One of my students draped her butterfly shape between two rubber blocks to give it the effect of flying.

Some sort of handle is needed when making beads or hollow vessels. Toothpicks and party picks come in handy for this, but then something is needed to support the picks while the bead dries. The photo shows a styrofoam cube and a small wooden box being used for support. When I was taking my Certification class, I was desperate to work on some small vessels. But, since we were staying in a hotel I had nothing to work with. The small bar of soap provided by the hotel did the trick. (We had brought our own soap with us. I didn't want you to think we didn't take a bath for the entire three days.)

There are many other simple, everyday items that work well as tools for metal clay. These are just a few. Please feel free to add to the list of "high tech" tools.

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