Monday, May 4, 2009

My favourite metal clay tools - Part One - wet clay stage

My series of posts this week is about the favourite tools I use with metal clay. I've chosen one tool for each phase of the creating process - a) the wet clay phase; b) the dry clay phase; and c) the fired phase. They will be covered in three different posts, today, tomorrow and Thursday.

Now don't go expecting any beautiful photographs. Tools aren't the most attractive things out there - so this will not be a visual experience!!!

The discussion will focus on my using these tools for my sculptural three dimensional pieces. Often they aren't the most suitable things to use for flat pieces so if you have questions regarding this - do feel free to ask.

Anyhow, my favorite tool for using on 'wet' clay is this rubber tipped "clay shaper". One of the biggest steps I took in my learning curve of how to use silver clay was when I realized that in the wet stage, things don't need to be perfect - or really anywhere near. This is the quick phase of the process where, when you do sculptural work, you need the basic shape and that's about it.

So when I am making one of my birds, it literally takes only a few seconds to get the general bird shape in the clay. I use the clay shaper a little then to smooth out any lines - again just quickly and then set the piece to dry.

Then as the piece dries, you use the clay shaper with fresh 'wet' clay to fill in any cracks that appear as it dries - I fill in any holes in seams ( for example, where the wing attaches to the bird or around a bail)...I smooth off and add shaping ( for example making sure the beak is a good shape and symmetrical).... Basically, I get some wet clay on the shaper, then the shaper lets you squidge the clay in teeny tiny holes or gaps and makes the piece solid and secure.

The rubber end is flexible but not too much so you can pull and push and move the clay around.

You can get different shaped ends on the shaper and I have a few - yet always seem to end up using this pointed one. You can buy them from Whole Lotta Whimsy.

So do share your favorite 'wet clay' tool with us - tell us in the comments section.....

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