Monday, October 18, 2010

Silver and Bronze Metal Clay Beads Workshop


As I sat here toying with names for this blog post, I came up with "TUBEILICIOUS", "TUBEADELIGHTED"...hehehe...seriously!

We have just finished another two-day workshop and are both soooooo pleased. It made me reflect on how much Marly and I both love teaching workshops. I decided to blog about a workshop we recently ran to make silver and bronze tube beads for either a bracelet or a necklace. I've been making beaded bracelets like this for a few years now and this group wanted to learn how to make the beads to wear on thick silver snake chain bracelets.

My "Dream Spinner beaded bracelets

We ran the workshop in two sessions, creating the beads in the morning and finishing them in the same evening. We began by introducing our "workshoppers" to Fast Fire Bronzclay, which we had tried for the first time when Ruth visited. They were all quite taken with it and loved how it picked up details, and how nicely it rolled and formed.

Having gained confidence with the bronze, we switched over to silver clay, (PMC3), and though they found it a bit "stickier" to work with(they LOVED working with the bronze), they had already learned the skills of rolling, texturing and forming and didn't "stress" over using a more "precious" metal clay!

Confidently working with Silver Metal Clay

Off they returned to their other lives until the evening, and off we went to "fire" the beads.

We fired the bronze first, "à la instruction booklet" found in the packet. While they were firing, we both worked on polishing some bronze beads we had fired the previous day. As we began, I noticed what seemed to be a little piece chip off...uh oh...not sintered. Both Marly and I went through all our beads and half of them had sintered, half had not. Panic! Would THEIR beads sinter in the time allotted?!! Crossing fingers at this point!

We took the bronze beads out of the carbon after they had cooled and popped the silver beads into the kiln to fire. Nervously, I tested a "wee" section of one of their beads...

(at this point I should keep you all in suspense until next posting!!!)

Sadly, a "wee bit" chipped off of the bead...not sintered...okay problem solving 101, what to do now?!

Once the silver beads fired, we decided to "pop" their bronze beads back into the kiln, lid off, for an additional hour of firing ET VOILÀ! It worked-and was even more exciting for the "workshoppers"! I took the hot pan out of the kiln into the dark of the evening where it cast a beautiful red glow and was a lovely heat source in the cool autumn air as I carefully poured out the carbon. Everyone thought they looked as if they were coming out of lava, so we decided they would henceforth be called "lava beads"!!!

Upon returning to the light of the studio, we all "oohed and ahhhhhhed" at the wonderful colours that were on the beads-but were they sintered?!...YES!! Sintered AND gorgeous colour!

The kiln gods DID work with us! Some of the group kept the colour on their beads, others removed it, but all were content.

They left wearing their beautiful creations...

...and all was well with the world. Ahhh...

So, off we go to prepare for another workshop. We'll let you know how it goes!

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