Thirty eight new molds have been uploaded to my online store. All of them are marked “New”.
Some of them are really out there, I admit. But they have been very inspiring for me over the years. There’s a series with odd titles like Lost, Found, Torn, Hammered, Cracked, Wrinkled, Ruined, Jumbled – all very descriptive of their nature.
Another group is the beginning of an architectural series, like Screens, Bricks, Gravel, and Rocks.
Please see the rest of them here.
First, I will be teaching a 3-day workshop in Tuscon, AZ, during the gem show. The dates are February 14-16. Please contact Lyle Rayfield at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The topic of the workshop is “Patterns of Colors in Hollow Forms.”
Here are a few samples:
Second, the Instruction Manual for Hadar’s Clay has been updated and is marked October 25, 2013.
For your convenience, the changes are highlighted in yellow.
Here are the main changes:
1. The firing schedule and programing instructions for firing two phases in one uninterrupted session have been added. This schedule lasts around 6 hours and includes the cooling time. It is best for overnight continuous firing and for firing at 2-5 day workshops.
2. The firing temperature for the first phase of firing has been lowered to 1000°F/538°C.
3. Pearl Grey Steel XT is now recommended for color patterns (mokume-gane) fired at mid-fire schedule. Low Shrinkage Steel XT is recommended for structural purposes, fired at high-fire schedule.
Last week I showed how to use inlay technique with the Empty Spaces mold. This time I will show how to empty the spaces out and add an embellishment, such as a gemstone. For the demonstration I will use the Empty Circles mold.
This used to be another “project from Hell.” I first made it with tubes made around multiple straws, bundled together into a cane, then by cutting out slices. The problem was that you could never tell what was going on in the invisible part of the cane, tubes were not well connected, and a lot of repair was required. It’s much simpler with the mold.
1. Press clay into the mold.
2. Release the clay. As you can see in the photo, the result has a backing layer.
3. Trim the excess clay from around the shape.
You have two options now: empty out the holes when the earrings are wet, or wait until they are dry.
4a. Before drying: Use different sized straws to cut out the holes.
4b. After drying: Drill a hole in each empty circle. Then use diamond burrs mounted on a rotary tool or a battery operated bead reamer to enlarge the holes.
5. Pick a natural gemstone and a matching bezel cup, or just a fireable stone.
6. Take a thick patty of clay and flatten it with your fingers.
7. Press the bezel cup halfway into the patty. If you use a fireable stone – a cabochon should be pressed halfway into the patty; a faceted stone should be pressed all the way down until it is flush with the clay.
8. Pick a tube or a straw slightly larger than the bezel or the stone. Center the tube around the bezel and cut. Centering the tube may take some trial and error. My advice: use a short tube or cut the straw shorter. Dry the setting.
9. Attach the setting to the inside of the biggest hole with wet clay. Dry, and reinforce with more clay on the back of the earring.
10. After firing and finishing, set the natural stone.
Inlay in Mirror Image
All seven mirror image molds are earrings size. You can use then with or without the frame around them. They are all suitable for inlay. However, if you use copper and bronze, it’s best to inlay bronze in copper and not the other way around!
1. Press copper clay into the mold. Dry thoroughly.
2. Press bronze (Quick-fire or Brilliant) into the indentation, covering the whole surface. If after drying you still see the traces of the lines, add more bronze.
3. Sand off the surface until the pattern reappears. Do not over sand!
4. Insert a bronze eyelet at the top of the earring.
5. Fire at mid-fire schedule. Follow the finishing instructions in the document entitled “Finishing Fired Metal Clay.”
Inlay in Mokume-Gane
Last week I did say that the mokume-gane molds are not suitable for inlay. Because of the fine lines, some of the inlay may be lost. However, some of them have bigger gaps, that could be used for inlay, for enameling, or for setting stones. These are mokume gane 1, 2, and 8
1. Press the clay into the mold.
2. Cut the clay into the desired shape. (I placed the template on the clay so there is a hole on top for a jump ring.) Dry.
3. Fill some of the holes with another type of clay. You can fill up the hole, or trace a line around the inlay with a pin.
4. Fill as many empty spaces as you like. After drying, sand the inlay only as far as can be done without wiping off the fine line of the mokume-gane pattern.
5. Drill the top hole and fire.
Which of the molds are good for inlay? In general, only molds that have deep, relatively wide indentations. The mokume-gane molds will not show good results with inlay. If you want more than one metal in a mokume gane pattern, the best way is to follow the projects in my books Patterns of Color in Metal Clay and Metal Clay Practice. I have only made molds for those patterns that I didn’t see a point in teaching, since they involve losing big amounts of clay and requiring many re-firings.
Here are examples of molds that work well with inlay:
1. Press a lumpy chunk of clay into the mold. Press hard with your fingers to get a good impression. The chunk will become thinner. Remove the clay from the mold and check your results. Cut it to the desired size or use the whole mold. Dry thoroughly.
2. Paint-brush the piece with some water, and press another, compatible clay, as deep as possible into the indentations.
3. Make sure the whole piece is filled and covered and none of the original clay shows. Dry completely.
4. Sand off the surface until the original pattern reappears. Do not over-sand or you will wipe off the inlay!
5. Roll out a layer of copper, slightly textured, 6 cards thick. Lay the inlay piece over it. (Use copper backing even if you made step 1 with bronze).
6. Trim the copper layer to the desired size. Dry.
7. Drill two holes on the top of each side.
8. Fire at mid-fire schedule. The uninterrupted schedule that I posted a few days ago works every time. In my brick kiln it takes 11-12 hours – a single overnight firing. Keep in mind that the majority of the time the kiln is not even on – just cooling.
9. Finish the piece following the instructions in the document entitled “Finishing Fired Metal Clay“.
Here are earrings made with this mold with no inlay:
I have considered including the project for these earring several times in my books, and each time decided against it. Over the years, this project has rightfully earned the name “The Project from Hell” among my students. Hence the mold.
When you press the clay into the mold, you get a solid piece, with indentations, but no empty spaces:
After drying, fill the spaces with another, compatible clay, as in step 2 above.
Sand off the inlay until the pattern re-emerges.
Fire and finish as described above in steps 8 and 9.
Next time I will show you how to empty out the spaces, in another project that my students have dubbed “Another Project from Hell.”
Yes, this means you can start firing before you go to bed at night, and in the morning the second phase will be over.
This not only makes the firing process simpler; it also makes 2-day workshops feasible.
Why didn’t I think of this before? I don’t know. Why didn’t kiln manufacturers tell us that? I only thought of it because I got an email from a customer whose workshop is far from her house and it’s a hassle for her to go there a second time to start the second phase. So thank you for asking me this question – you know who you are!
In this PDF file you will find instructions for programing the kiln to fire 2 phases in one firing session. The instructions are both for the Sentry Xpress controller and for the Bartlett controller. Choose the instructions that apply to your controller.
Here is a short explanation:
You program the kiln to fire the first phase.
After doing this, the kiln will ask “rA2″, which means “At what speed would you like me to ramp the second time around?” Usually we say 0:00, which makes the kiln stop asking questions and start firing.
This time we say “Full,” and the kiln will keep asking questions. Next question is “At what temperature would you like me to fire the second time around?” Say 100ºF/50ºC.
The kiln will then ask: “How long would you like me to hold the second time around?” Say 0:00. No hold.
What we just did is tell the kiln to cool to 100ºF/50ºC.
The kiln will then ask: “At what speed would you like me to ramp the third time around?” We say Full or 1400ºF, depending on the kiln.
The kiln will ask: “At what temperature would you like me to fire the third time around?” We tell it our temperature for mid-fire schedule.
We just told the kiln to start phase 2 after it has reached 100ºF/50ºC. You entered 3 consecutive programs.
It will ask you: “At what speed would you like me to ramp the fourth time around?” Now you say 0:00 to shut it up.
Bartlett controllers work a little differently. They ask you at the outset how many programs you want to enter by the question “SEG” (number of segments). You tell it 3, and it won’t ask you for the fourth time around.
We can’t make the kiln cool faster than it would naturally do; we can only make it cool slower (which is important in the case of glass), but this is not what we want. If you are not firing overnight, you can open the kiln to cool it faster. Just don’t forget to close it when it starts phase 2.
This posting is a bit long, but covers quite a few possibilities.There is so much that can be done with a simple donut shape. The simpler type starts with a circle cut from a layer of clay, and another, smaller circle cut inside the first circle.
From this point on, you can change the shape of the donut just with a slight touch of your finger. You can elongate it:
Or you can dent it:
You can also cut the smaller circle off center:
With gentle manipulation of the shape the donut turns into a bean.
Here it’s done with a texturing mold. I used Mokume-Gane 9. I took a big chunk of clay and pressed it into the mold. I did not mind having it very thick, since fired steel clay is so light-weight.
While the bean was still wet, I inserted eyelets on both sides. If you use Low Shrinkage Steel XT, use nickel chromium wire (also called “high temp wire” or “nichrome”) to make the eyelets. This wire is available from PMC Connection
Instructions for making the eyelets can be found in my book The Handbook of Metal Clay: Textures and Forms, second edition, p. 45.
Low-Shrinkage Steel XT is best suited for structural purposes and the easiest clay to fire. Just cover with carbon and fire 2 hours at 1750°F/955°C (brick kiln); 1830°F/999°C (muffle kiln). If you happen to have the Mini 1800 just set it to the highest setting and come back after 2 hours. One phase firing.
A toggle clasp is also a donut of sorts. Using the same texture, I started with a circular donut.
Then changed the shape with my fingers and dried.
The toggle bar needs to stick out of the donut about a quarter inch to each side. What if the texturing mold is not long enough?
Roll a fat snake, bend it into a half circle, and press it into the mold.
Remove the snake from the mold.
Gently straighten it out.
Then cut to size.
Lay the bar on top of the donut to dry. Let the middle part slump inside the donut.
Now make another donut, 6 cards thick, with very small circles (for example, use two straws of different sizes). Let’s call it a washer.
Cut the washer in half and dry.
Attach one half washer to the top left of the donut, and the other to the center back of the bar.
Fire as described above.
Have the patience for one more? This is going to be a long weekend.
I wanted to use the same shape as the toggle’s, but as a frame, not flat. For this I had to make a template and use 6 mm thick foam sheet, preferably white, which you can get at Michael’s and JoAnn Fabrics (Foamies).
A variety of lovely shapes can be found on the first four templates at PMC Connection.
Cut the template on top of the foam and trace it with a pencil.
If you want to make earrings, turn the template over and trace it again to make the mirror image. If you choose to use a plastic template, turn it over and trace the inside contour line.
Cut the shapes out of the foam with scissors. To make it into a clean shape, I like to cut a 6 mm strip out of a postcard, wrap it around the foam, and tape.
Cut a strip of clay 6 cards thick, 6 mm wide, and wrap it around the foam shape. This is the frame.
Once dry, seal the joint if necessary, and dry again.
Place the frame on top of the texturing mold. Wet the inside of the frame, and press a chunk of clay into it, filling about half of the space inside the frame.
Remove from the mold.
With a knife, cut the top part on the inlaid chunk to a shape that pleases your eye.
After drying, turn the piece over and add more clay until the back is flush and the joints disappear. Dry and fire as described above.
As promised, here is the first of a few projects demonstrating some of what you can do with Hadar’s molds. The piece in the photo below is a concave pendant made with Rose Bronze.
You will need a concave area to dry the clay on. You can use a small bowl or a sapping die. I like to use plastic fondant mold. They come in various sizes, and they are cheap and available from Michael’s and JoAnn Fabrics.
1. Roll a layer of clay 4 cards thick. Pick a circle, more or less the same size as the Mokume-Gane 2 mold, and cut a circle out of the layer. Lay it in the concave area. It is recommended to dry it at least halfway before continuing. You can dry it in the air, in a vegetable dehydrator, or with a hair dryer, but not on a warming pan, because the plastic will melt.
2. Once the base layer is dry or almost dry, roll a layer of clay, 8 cards thick, and press it well into into the Mokume-Gane 2 mold to get a good impression. As you press it, it will become thinner.
3. Cut a rectangle out of the center of the mold. Lay it on the backing layer, in the center or off center.
4. Roll a layer textured with the Tree Bark mold. If you like, make it with a different metal. It does not have to be the same thickness as the center piece, but don’t make it thicker, since that would make it hard to reach the center piece for finishing after firing.
5. With a tissue blade, cut a vertical line on the left side of the layer.
As you can see in the photo, I used the mold called Crater, but I changed my mind because it seemed to be competing with the main texture.
6. Wet the backing layer and lay the layer adjacent to the mokume-gane rectangle.
7. With a knife, cut away the excess clay from the layer; let the dry backing layer lead your knife. The water will make the layer stay put and not move while you are cutting.
8. Repeat steps 4-7 with the left side of the rectangle. This time, cut a vertical line on the right side of the layer (step 5) and lay in the left side of the rectangle (step 6).
9. Dry the piece completely. You can remove it from the concave area and place it face down on the heating pan.
10. Fill the gapes between the backing layer and the overlays with clay. Dry again.
11. Make a bail on the back of the pendant. You can find a suggestion for a certain type of bail in my book The Handbook of Metal Clay: Textures and Forms, second edition, p. 36.
12. Fire the piece using the firing schedule appropriate for the clay that you used (see Instruction Manual for Hadar’s Clay from September 26, 2013.
13. Since this piece is textured, finishing is relatively easy. Use radial discs to clean the Tree Bark texture. For a good contrast, you can sand the mokume-gane rectangle, first with 220-grit sandpaper, then with 400 grit. See more information on finishing in the document entitled “Finishing Fired Metal Clay” on my blog.
What the textures on the quilt and in the photos above have in common is that they are all hand-crafted and part of the first series of Hadar’s molds, which is are now available on my online store.
Creating texturing and forming molds is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. These are molds that I created for my own work. They are not copied from natural or found objects nor computer generated. All masters are hand-made through an elaborate, labor intensive process.
Before getting into this venture I asked myself whether, being a teacher, I should teach how to make these mold rather that make them for sale. Indeed, my books include projects for making a few of these molds. However, they take a long time and much effort to make. Most of them also involve the loss of substantial amounts of clay, and have to be done over and over to reach the desired result.
The first collection includes 33 molds. They are all flexible, made from high-grade silicone putty which picks up fine details. They are all reversed: when you press the clay into the mold you will get the positive, the original pattern that the master displays. There is no need to make a mold from the mold.
In the next few weeks I will be posting projects and suggestion for using these molds, on my blog. Here are some options for using the set of molds called “Holey Rectangles”.
This is a set of three textured rectangles with slightly different size and pattern. They can be made into earrings, bracelets and necklaces.
1. Rub the mold with an oiled toothbrush. Press the clay into the mold and pull it out.
2. Stick a wire eyelet or embeddable at the top of the rectangle.
3. Repeat step 1 and 2 for the second earring. Sand, fire and finish.
1. For a bracelet you may want the links to be 2-sided. In this case, make two pieces for each link.
2. Dry the pieces, and attach them back to back with wet clay.
3. Dry again, then seal the joint with wet clay.
4. Dry again, then drill two side holes in each link.
5. Sand smooth, fire, finish and assemble. The bracelet in the photo bellow was assembled with flexible cord and black pearls as spacers.
Suggestion: Make a mixed metal Holey Link Bracelet:
The process is the same as that of the bracelet. The links don’t need to be two sided, though, and require only one side hole.
Before getting to the project, I’d like to show a stunning necklace, made by Komala Rohde, who will soon be an accredited teacher for Hadar’s Clay. Komala used a technique based on my latest blog posting, with her own twist and style.
The watchband from my last blog posting consisted of bulls eye cane slices. The links in this watchband have a mokume-gane pattern. How did that happen? This is an “enhanced” version of the “multiple canes” technique described extensively in my book Patterns of Color in Metal Clay, pp. 39-49.
The twist is that instead of the die with a circle hole, I used the tube adapter disc as a die.
1. Make a stack of alternating circles, slightly smaller than 2″ in diameter: 3 copper circles, 6 cards thick; 3 bronze (Quick-fire or Brilliant Bronze) circles, 3 cards thick; and 3 steel (any type), 1 card thick.
2. Unlike in the previous watchband, load the stack in the ClayMill Extruder with the copper circle on top (close to the die). Insert the tube adapter die in the cap.
3. Extrude the stack. There should be no leftovers in the extruder.
4. Bundle the multiple canes.
5. Roll the canes with your palms into a single cane.
6. Twist the new consolidated cane.
7. Re-roll the twisted cane into an even cylinder shape.
8. Wrap the cane with a 2-card layer of copper clay.
9. Place the cane on a warming plate and roll it back and forth until it is half dry. Then place it in a miter box (if you have one). Cut off a slice of each end of the cane.
10. Stick an eyelet at the top of each slice cut from the end of the cane to make a pair of earrings. Dry the earrings.
11. Cut the rest of the cane into slices, leaving enough room for side holes.
12. stick a needle through the side of each slice to mark the place of the side holes.
13. Dry the slices. some of them may have small cracks in them.
14. Fill the cracks and dry again. Sand both sides of the slices smmoth.
15. Enlarge the side holes with a drill bit or a round file.
16. Fire the slices and the earrings at mid-fire schedule.
17. Finish the pieces following the instructions in the document entitled “Finishing Fired Metal Clay” on this blog.
Will the ClayMill Extruder allow us to move beyond jewelry?