Thursday, September 10, 2009

a charmed life - the process

Here's a little sneak peak at my process for the charms I highlighted in my previous post. You might be a lucky recipient of your own personal charm, just comment on this post.

To start I formed 14 gauge wire into a square, added the circle with solder, pulled it and hammered it into a shaped that's a bit off.(shown on the lower right). Now to create the bezel, I used two part molding compound RTV and made a mold (the green blob shown top). With fresh bronze clay I formed small squarish balls, I did this to try to keep them about the same weight. I pressed the clay into the mold and smoothed out the back. I sign (or stamp if I'm doing that) while it's in the mold, so the charm is not distorted.
The one thing I really love about bronze clay versus silver clay, is the way it carves. After being in a dehydrator to leather hard state, with an exacto and some carving blades, I finished off the sides, digging out the center for the jump ring and cleaning up the bezel. I did some light sanding where needed. Then when completely dry, I loaded them in a kiln. A stainless steel container with an inch of charcoal between the 3 layers. I put the container on posts, so the air will be able to heat the whole container evenly. The one main challenge in bronzeclay is it's unpredictable nature. It needs to ramp up slowly and hold temp for a long time, but I've had success with the following: on my Paragon Kiln, I set my program to ramp up 250 degrees per hour, holding at 1565 for 3 hours.
beautiful, right out of the kiln, see how different each of the charms are, all from the same firing. Like I said, unpredictable, but lovely none-the-less.
with a little buffing (I used a scotch pad for a matte look) the patina in the inside really starts to show.
I was almost tempted to leave the inside as is, loved the coloring.
next I placed little mixed media pieces in each one: scissors, tweezers, pva (acid free archival glue) and a lot of time and patience for each colorful creation.

Here is the first layer of resin to seal the mixed media art. I use Envirotext which mixes 50/50. But I know there are a lot of other jewelers' grade resin, including Susan Lenart-Kazmer's ICE Resin.

For the final touch, after letting the resin set-up for two hours, I added the words. I prefer them to blend into the background a bit, so I placed them right on the resin. But if you would like it to be brighter, apply PVA to seal the words before pouring the last bit of resin. I placed a jump ring (I used solder-free Snapeez jump rings from Via Murano through the hole and they are ready to attach to a bracelet or string on a cord.
Now don't you want to enter the little contest and win your very own?
Hope you enjoyed the process.


HappyDayArt! said...

I enjoyed it! Thanks!


Nicole Taylor Photography said...

These are so cute! Love them.

Lisa Mertins illustration said...

i almost pd my pants when i saw this post! the magical, elusive (for me) BRONZE CLAY!!! i've been waiting for a local workshop because my first attempt ended up in disaster. how happy i am to see your simple tutorial and your fabulous work! oh, i'm a fellow fishie so my second swim by but first op to comment. i look forward to finding out more about you and your work over the next 5 weeks. cheers cherylyn

thewillowsnest said...

Hey there , another fish here , I loved this post!
I have worked with silver clay , but not the bronze
Gorgeous work!
I fired the silver with a torch , but I don't think it is possible with the bronze, not quite ready to buy a kiln !
Cheers . Helen

Regina said...

Your charms are very charming indeed! I love the words and colors. They are sooooo pretty. Thanks for sharing your process too.
Fellow fishie,

Pink & Green Mama said...

Such lovely charms and I love how each one is unique.

The surprise of seeing how each turns out must be a highlight of the process! Makes me wish I still had my kiln!

Fellow Fishie,
pink and green mama MaryLea

Nicola said...

I got the word creative in my charm swap, love it thank you :)

Jewels~ said...

Love Love Love them! Creative and Beautiful!