Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Morning Blue Fingers and The Handbook of Metal Clay

It's been a couple of weeks since I took Hadar Jacobson's class on Mokume Gane but I'm still working on the pieces I didn't have a chance to fire and finish during the class. I've even fired a few pieces that I had laying around from my first foray into bronz metal clay (yes, they've been sitting there for two years!) I was amazed when they fired without crumbling.

I've been polishing with my dremel tool. I had alot of trouble with it during class and frankly, I'm a little afraid of taking an eye out trying to polish those small pieces. There's lots of dust too so I wear my safety glasses and my dust mask when I'm finishing.

Safety ain't pretty but your lungs and eyes appreciate it!

 Most of the patina goes directly onto my fingers turning them blue giving me a zombie look just perfect for Halloween. I understand now why so much of the metal clay jewelry is large, it's easier to finish.

If all this metal clay talk makes you want to take a class from Hadar, I recommend it. If you can't get to one of her classes or don't live near her, the next best thing is her book, The Handbook of Metal Clay: Textures and Forms. 

Photo Courtesy of Hadar's website

The Handbook of Metal Clay first edition was reviewed in Jewelry Artist August 2008.  I consider myself a beginner with metal clay and have had the opportunity to take a class. The handbook is an excellent follow-up to Hadar's class along with the free downloadable instructions available on her blog. However, if you haven't taken a class, I believe if you read through all the available material and the book, you would be able to create lovely pieces of metal clay. 

This is the second edition and contains information on mixing metal clays.  The book reads like her class, opening with a comprehensive list of materials and tools needed.  The actual book is spiral bound making it easy to open to specific pages while you're working. I've actually ruined my Enchanted Adornments book by pressing the spine to have it stay open while I'm working. 
Throughout the handbook, there are boxes on the margins containing useful tips. You'd be wise to read all of the tips as you work. Many of your questions can be answered by reading them. 

I skip through the book and pick out projects I really have been jonseing to do.  Page 20 is "Collage Pendant in Copper and Bronze" and is the first project I skipped to after taking the her class. I could use a little more practice on working with different textures but it's the basics of backing and adding a tube bail that I want to perfect. From there, I plan to skip to the project on page 25 called "Changing Places." It's an exercise in mixing bronze and copper clays into a squares and rectangles project. 

If you're into architectural style jewelry, page 44 introduces the concept with a project called "House Earrings."  You'll hone your skill in joining and making tube beads. I've got to make a pair of these! 

There are many more projects in this section but I'm going to skip right to the section on Flexible Clay and Textile Techniques. 

I've had dreams about flexible wire clay so you can be sure I'll make a project from this section soon. I love the Mobius Washers and Cross-Armed Earrings projects.

Whew! That's quite an array of techniques and those are just the ones I've mentioned. There are many more in the book. The books are self-published which makes them a little more expensive than those on Amazon. If you're looking for Hadar's techniques and tips, this is the only place to find them - well worth the price. If you've taken a class and don't understand the notes you took because you were too busy watching, the book is a great refresher. Everything is there. 

So me and my blue fingers are going back to work now. Have you taken a class from Hadar? Have you bought her books?  What do you think?


Eileen The Artful Crafter said...


I hope you'll show us what you've done, Cyndi.

The photographed pieces are to-die-for - escepially the cover shot.

Is flexible clay wire the same thing as or made with precious metal clay?

Michael Lange Ocala said...

those earrings are like an optical illusion!

Anthony Spence said...

Awww! I love the earrings and agree with Michael Yes for sure those are like an optical illusion..

Olivia & Will's Fine Children's Furniture said...

Too good.