Friday, July 25, 2008

Bronzclay Update

So I got to spend a bit more time on my bronzclay pieces from the workshop today.

This first one, entitled "Comfort me", was the very first piece I made with the clay. It is a slightly domed circle. I used a tearaway texture for this piece and the script on the circle is from the 23rd Psalm - it includes:
and though I walk in the "shadow" of death, I will "fear no evil"...."rod and your staff"....."comfort me". On the front of the circle is a separate quotation, lengthwise - which says "comfort me".

The bronzclay was fired in coconut carbon for a total length of 9 hours. I love the colours this gave - this soft golden - tones really nicely with "flesh" - and looks great with blonde hair! To finish the piece I brushed it and then highlighted the text to make it more legible.

My second piece is Quentin Quail. He is my latest desk buddy! He will be sitting at my desk, with Mac (my computer) and my other little friends (Robin and Ding...maybe I'll introduce you to them later!). His basic shape I create by hand, adding the wings as separate pieces of clay. I tried some carving on Quentin - adding details to his wings and feathery texture to his chest. The biggest challenge with Quentin was that I tried to combine fine silver wire into his topknot and his legs, with then adding shoes. When you use silver clay, the clay shrinks and grabs hold of the wire strongly. It seems that the bronze is holding on tightly to the silver in Quentin's topknot - but not on his shoes. His legs are secure and his shoes don't fall off - but they do twist....Maybe he is just a dancing quail!! I finished him off by sanding him but I'm waiting for a new polisher to arrive in the mail and then I'll shine Quentin up even more...but for now, he is a nice little desk buddy. He is about an inch tall.

And thirdly I made a bronze flower. I shape the flower by hand, first forming it into a pyramid, then using scissors to cut the petals and then shaping them by hand. Hanging from the flower, to suggest the stamens, is a small bead. I have ordered some bronze cable to make this into a necklace as the gold cable seen here isn't quite the colour - but you get the idea. The photo seems a little glarey as well..... Surprisingly, the flower was the piece I made that didn't have any cracking problems during it's creation. Not sure why - but the other pieces needed quite a bit time to fill the cracks during their construction.


Marian said...

Im so intrigued about this material. Im a ceramist and have used always the ...muddy clay! to call it somehow. Terracota y my favorite. For a long time I've wanted to try the zilverclay and now I hear about bronzeclay, but...ya know... one thing leads to the other and nothing.
can you make big pieces?? I mean, i know this will end as a metal after fired, but ...can it be still used for bigger pieces? Is there anything special or different in the maleability, firing?
I need to find a workshop around here!!!

Ruth said...

Yes, my thought when I first heard about it coming out was to make larger bronze pieces. Whether it will work is still a mystery as no one has tried it yet. I think one of the restrictions will be kiln size and also that it needs to be fired in an oxygen free environment. You can fire it around cores that will burn away - to create hollow forms, but you need to make a hole in the piece to let the air escape. I'll let you know if I hear of large pieces being made. Everyone it talking about it at the moment so hopefully someone will get adventurous...who knows, it might even be me! I'm sure classes will come out soon enough too. There were a couple of people from the Netherlands at the conference so maybe they will do classes somewhere in your vicinity..

Marian said...

Im going to have to call my teacher at the Atellier and ask her... she is adventurous enough and makes very cool enoooormous birds... so maybe she takes it on!!hahaa

About your bag (what i responded on my blog)

Ruth, I could paint on a canvas bag your logo... exactly what your avatar shows. Birdland and the bird and flower. I would need you to send me a larger file of that avatar so i can print (1000pixels wide or so... something good enoough for me to print and use as guide). Naturally same colors, same price same everythng.Convo me at


Anonymous said...

Hi ruth, love that bronze flower:) Will be in touch soon.

Rena (Lilycobweb)x

Margaret said...

Your clay pieces are wonderful!! My pet peeve with PMC work is that people who are not learning sculpting techniques take this fantastic product and make a bunch of fine silver or bronze slabs :) Your work really brings the art and the sculpture to this product and they look fantastic!
Thanks for linking to me too, I love your blog!

Ruth said...

Hi Margaret. Thanks for your comments. Yes, the 3 dimensional part of the clay is what I love the most and I'm always surprised how few people seem to do sculptural pieces. It seems so natural - to use the character of the product to do something which can't be done with sheet metal or wire.
I had never done anything like this before - but it just sort of came out! And I have so much fun with it! I can see you do too!

A Fly On The Wall said...

Ruth - so do you think that the bronze clay looses moisture faster? what do you think causes the cracking when you are working with it?

BTW - in the bronze grain that they refine for cast bronze - there is silicon added - maybe it is the bronze that has the tendency to crack!

It would be a great medium to do a relic/artifacts series in so you don't have to cover the cracks!

Robyn Hawk (aflyonthewall)

Chocolate and Steel said...

Ruth, you are amazing! That bird is so adorable. I look forward to seeing what you do next.

Half an Acre said...

oooh! bronze clay! i use silver clay to make my own bits and pieces and sometimes to do my friends' kids' fingerprints - this looks exciting - I'll look for it on the internet - am hoping its cheaper than the silver pmc!

Ruth said...

Hi Robyn

Yes, I think the bronzclay formula that first came out needs a little more hydration. We found that straight from the packet we need to sit it in a humid environment for a while, then add some water, then alot of olive oil as you work with it - and I mean a lot, as that tends to slow down the water evaporation.

And you are so right in using the cracks in your design. Alot of the items made in that first class was "relic" or old looking - intentionally because we knew they would crack. I made a another script piece and left one edge "raw" and it created just that feel. haven't posted it yet - but maybe I will one of these days.

And you can go crack free - but some how, I think the next batch they make, may be better. This was the first one with this packaging system and I think they learnt alot -but will add more water next time...

Ruth said...

Nice to hear from your Christine. Maybe you'll try the bronze one of these days.....????