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Keeping you up to date with all my jewellery making and course news.

By feebs-ks, Aug 14 2016 06:41PM

I was delighted to come back from holiday to find a packet of the new Art Clay 950 to test from Metalclay.co.uk. The new clay has a stronger bending strength than Art Clay Silver as it has 90% silver and copper particles with the binder. This means that the clay is great for certain pieces of jewellery that require extra strength and is a bit more scratch resistant.

Wet stage…

When the clay first comes out of the packet, it looks slightly darker than the fine silver version. It came out of the packet easily and was perhaps slightly firmer that I am used to. With a few rolls and ‘squidges’ the clay was the perfect consistency.

I use olive oil as a lubricant when I work with clay and found that this worked just as well with the new clay. I tried the clay in a mould made from two part silicone moulding compound. The clay came out of the mould really cleanly – I tried one mould with olive oil and one without and the clay came out of both equally as easily.

I rolled the clay to four cards thick and then used a texture roller on three cards for a simple pendant shape. I felt that the ArtClay 950 took the texture exceptionally well. Cutting out shapes with a needle tool was also very clean.

I made a ring out of a textured strip and then placed a decorative element on top. The ring began six sizes larger than I wanted because I was expecting it to shrink quite alot. The clay mixed to a paste very easily and stuck the two pieces together well. I added a fireable stone to the centre of my ring to find out whether that would be affected in any way.

Dry stage…

I used a sanding sponge to refine my pendant and found that the sponge needed very slightly more pressure than with fine silver – this is consistent with the fact that it will end up being a harder material. Drilling a hole for an ear wire was very easy – and felt no different. I needed to remember to make the hole a little larger than usual as the shrinkage is higher.

Firing and Post firing…

I used the firing schedule recommended – that is ramp to 500°C followed by 850°C for 60 minutes. I then let the kiln cool down completely before taking the pieces out. I had made a test strip to make sure that the items were sintered so I checked this first. The colour of the fired clay was less white – more a sort of putty grey. The clay had sintered and was hard. Brushing was easy and quick.

My pendant started life as 3.3cm long by 0.8cm at its widest point – it shrunk by about 10% I think.

When the pendant came out of the kiln, it had arched more than I wanted it to – so I bent it gently into shape and gave it a gentle tap with a hammer. I decided I liked it slightly arched though so I left it like that. I can tell that the clay is a bit stronger than fine silver by feeling the resistance.

The ring had shrunk about 6-7 sizes in the kiln – the stone, a purple cubic zirconia had not altered in the firing. I used Liver of Sulphur and this took well. I decided to add some keum boo gold foil and this adhered well with lots of burnishing on a hot plate. Polishing papers worked well too.

Reconstituting the clay…

I was very pleased with how well the clay reconstituted. I chopped up the dry clay with my tissue blade rather than use my coffee grinder – I wanted to see whether the clay would still soak up the water as well. The clay was back to being perfectly workable in about half an hour after spritzing, mixing and rolling in cling film a few times. I was impressed with this.

Torch firing…

Although neither AIDA nor Metalclay.co.uk recommend torch firing of the new clay, I thought I would have a go to see what happened! I fired a small stud earring element and then soldering it onto an earpost.

I gave the earring 5 minutes under the torch and was genuinely surprised that it seemed to sinter so well. Soldering was also hassle free – how exciting! I have not as yet tried anything larger under the torch.

Overall, this is a great addition to the range and is available from metalclay.co.uk for pre-order now.

Fiona Ingram


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By feebs-ks, Jul 18 2016 09:23AM

I had an interesting experience at a market yesterday where I was selling my metal clay jewellery - a lady came up to my stall and said ‘I absolutely love this piece- but I don’t do mining’. I showed her my pot of metal clay and explained that this was metal clay and it had a large recycled element, but it struck me that I didn’t have a great response to the point she was making. So I decided to do a bit of research. I use Art Clay Silver for the majority of my work, so I decided to look at Aida Chemicals who produce it. I was really pleased to find that silver clay is produced from 100% recycled materials. Aida’s mission statement says ‘Aida has been recycling precious metals as a resource for production and as an alternative solution to exhausting naturally occurring mineral resources.’

I was initially surprised to find that most of the world’s silver is used in industrial applications rather than in the jewellery industry, so that explains why Art Clay Silver is refined and recycled from amongst other things photographic processing waste, printing by products as well as dental and medical waste.

And when we metal clay jewellery makers create something that goes wrong (which happens all too frequently I don’t mind admitting) - the absolutely best thing is that we can use it over and over again! Thank goodness for that….

By feebs-ks, Nov 18 2015 02:19PM

Wow! What a busy and exciting six months it's been - all starting with the big house move and the dismantling of my old workspace. After much decorating and setting up my new studio space is ready - and much more fit for purpose. Hurrah!

In June, I passed my Grade 1 Art Clay Diploma in Cornwall, ably assisted by Julia Rai at CSAJC and met some lovely friends and kindred spirits along the way. I have also registered my hallmark at the London Assay office, Goldsmith's Hall and will be hallmarking all my larger silver pieces from now on.

There are lots of new pieces on the website and will be adding more over the next few weeks. Anyone that would like to view in person, please use the web site contact page or pm me on my fionaingramjewellery facebook page.

For a general overview of my jewellery please do enjoy a browse for Christmas presents or give yourself a well earned treat! All items come packaged with a hand selected quotation and postage is free.

By feebs-ks, Dec 16 2014 02:26PM

As I am primarily using silver in my jewellery, I thought it would be interesting to share a few thoughts about this amazing metal. Silver is mentioned in the bible, was an important currency in Roman times and was first called 'seolfor' by the Anglo Saxons. The Latin for ‘white’ and ‘shining’, argentum, gives us the chemical symbol Ag. It is the most reflective metal on earth.

Symbolically, silver is linked with the moon and the tides and emotionally, it is associated with intuition – it is reflective and sensitive, illuminating and creative.

Our silver standard of 925 means that 92.5 % of the silver is pure, with added alloys to make the metal harder. This is the metal used in the majority of my settings such as this purple pendant http://www.fionaingramjewellery.co.uk/shop/4586745591/purple-sea-sparkle-pendant/8854108

I also use fine silver - in the form of silver clay (silver particles in a binder that must be fired) - this contains 99.9% silver. This is great for moulding and texturing as in my ‘sound of the sea’ shell pendant www.fionaingramjewellery.co.uk/shop/4586745591/sound-of-the-sea-shell-pendant/8944018 or my ‘branching out’ earrings www.fionaingramjewellery.co.uk/shop/4586745591/branching-out-earrings/9145999

This will be my last blog before Christmas. Thank you so much to all those of you that have purchased items from my website - I have been so touched by the lovely feedback from you all.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year! Any UK orders received by 20th December should reach you for Christmas as this is the Royal Mail first class deadline.

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