Tuesday, July 15, 2008

BronzClay (Trademark) - or Bronze Clay

So I flew to Chicago yesterday then rented a car - ( why do they always want to give you a minvan when you order a compact??????!!!!!) and drove to Purdue university - West Lafayette in Indiana where I will be for the week for a conference and workshop. This morning I got up at the equivalent of 5am California time and it did not feel good! Anyhow - went to my first day of a two day workshop with Celie Fago - using the brand new product BronzClay. It is just being launched this week here at the conference. It is like the silver clay that I use for my creations - but obviously, is bronze! Only a handful people have ever used it and they were the testers......but it seems that we are really testers too. There aren't answers to the many questions we have - it is new stuff and we need to try and see if something works. Obviously, the testers have come along way and it was really helpful to hear from Celie about her experiments and see her beautiful results. Very inspiring.

Bronzclay is 11% tin and 89% copper along with water and binding materials. And we had a whole day to play with it. Here is a photo of some of things I made - pre-firing and finishing.
Apologies for the photo quality - but I only had my phone with me. Anyhow - you will see some flatter pieces, some curved pieces and some more sculptural pieces (yes, a Bronze version of Quentin sneaked in....if he works out). One of the biggest differences between Bronzclay and silver clay is that when you fire it, you need to deprive it of oxygen. All pieces are therefore fired in activated carbon in the kiln. The whole firing process takes about 9 hours - and so the pieces above are "cooking" as I type.

Here is a photo of the pieces created by the class and just going into their stainless steel container with the carbon.
As bronze is cheaper than silver - alot of us wanted to work larger than normal - without that fear of "wasting" money if it didn't turn out well that goes along with using silver. To that end - Quentin quail in bronze today may be too large to fully sinter in the kiln....but you don't know until you try.

There are two types of activated carbon you can use and depending on which you use, you get different patinas. And I think it is the patinas which are going to make this such a popular product - not only for the artist but for the buyer as well...the lovely green and blues and golds......Hopefully I'll get photos tomorrow to share with you.

Its just great to be at the forefront of new products. I have a whole day to play again tomorrow - so fingers crossed that some of our experiments have worked! We'll learn from them, whatever happens!


Marian said...

This looks very interesting.
I am a ceramist and in the Atelier where I learn we've been planning to stop the raku for a while and give some time to the silver clay... Bronzclay sounds interesting too!


Ruth said...

I know - it's exciting. I'm just off to my class now to see how it'll look fresh out of the kiln...! Both the silver and bronze have different challenges - but I just love the products - such flexibility in their use. I hope you give it a try and would love to hear your experiences. Nice to hear from you again Marian.