Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Metal Clay Attempt #1: Melted

Align Center
As I may have mentioned before I recently moved to a new apartment with no studio space to speak of. All of my metals and art supplies are currently residing in a coat closet and linen closet, and my workspace consists of my portable bench shoved into the coat closet, and the kitchen counters and dining room table. Needless to say, my new apartment is not exactly torch friendly, which means that soldering setting for my enamels is out. Also, the only work time I can get these days is after the baby goes to sleep, which means that whatever I do needs to be quiet, so hammering, sawing and filing are pretty much out too. Given these constraints, I decided that my best course of action would be to try out metal clay. So I got a basic set of tools and supplies and set up my little ultralite kiln to give it a try.
My first attempt was to make a simple pendant with a cutout that I could fill with enamel. I decided to start simple and cut out a little curved rectangular pendant, dried it and popped it in the kiln. Well the directions I had said to leave the cover off the kiln, but it didn't seem like it was getting hot enough so I put the cover on. This is why it is important to follow the directions the first time. I went back to check on my piece and found it just beginning to melt. I'm really glad I got to it before it melted into a puddle!
Lesson learned: next time follow the directions when doing something you have never tried before, and you won't waste ten dollars worth of metal clay.


sparklyofyourveryown said...

OK, trying for the third and final time to post this comment. Blogger does not like me. *sigh*
Thanks so much for your tutorials; they're the best I've seen so far! And you've given me hope that I'll be able to start enameling in my small apartment space.
I'm just starting out with metal clay. When I learned one could enamel on it (something I loved doing at camp as a kid), I was thrilled and eager to start! So I've been devouring instructional material.
While paging through a book, I read that one should never do enameling in the same space where one lives and eats; I'm assuming you've broken this rule?
Thanks in advance for your help. And keep up the good work!

Copperheart said...

I will admit to breaking the rule. However, all my enamels are lead-free, and I'm careful to clean up afterward. Some enamels can still have harmful minerals in them even if they are lead-free, but I feel that if you are careful, and especially if you are working on a small scale in a controlled way, there's not much to worry about.

sparklyofyourveryown said...

Excellent! Good to know. Thank you so much! :-)
Everything I do is on a small scale; I don't have that much space! Even my kiln (the Speedfire Electric Mini 1600) is tiny. Rio Grande assures me it's good for enameling; so far I've only fired PMC3 in it. I'm planning to order Rio's Enameling Beginner's Kit (, plus a dust mask, gloves, and alundum stone. Can't wait to start! :-)