Monday, 20 July 2009

My thoughts on working with Bronze & Copper

A number of people have asked me about my thoughts on these new clays, so here you go!

Initially I started using Bronzclay. For someone who's used to working with silver clay, getting 100g of clay to play with is fantastic! I certainly feel that the nervousness you get when you're new to clay work and are given a little bit of silver to work with disappears when you're presented with a good size lump of bronze or copper. I am seriously thinking that new students would benefit from the beginners bronze class first rather than beginners silver - just because of the freedom to experiment a bit more.

For those of you used to working with silver clay, I do find the Bronzclay stiffer to work with. The main problem area for me has been cracking and bending. It does have a tendancy to warp as it's drying - especially if you're using a heat source to dry it, so really you need to remember to keep turning it over to keep it as flat as possible.

After the firing process I've also excitedly opened my container to find my lovely creations have cracked. I have been able to repair them by filling in the cracks with more bronze clay and then re-firing. So far, my straight forward designs fire the best. Cracking seems to be made worse on curved pieces.

Storage is another issue that will be new to many of you - unused clay has to be stored in the fridge after the pack has been opened. I find this a bit of a faff as I get to the studio only to realise that I've left my clay at home in the fridge!

This is one of the reasons that I now don't use Bronzclay, but instead use Hadar Jacobson's powdered Bronze & Copper clay. Yes, you have to mix it yourself, but it means that I only have to mix what I need - no deterioration of unused open clay. Another big plus for me is the working texture. Where I find Bronzclay quite stiff, I find Hadar's clay is a much softer consistency and it's much more pliable which makes it much more like working with PMC.

For those of you who are regulars to my classes or my blog - you'll know how much I LOVE Hadar's work. Her blog has been invaluable to many of us metal clay artists and it's great that we can share our progression with her. The fact that I can now give some of that support back by using her clay is great.

For me, one of the most exciting things about this medium is being able to make bigger pieces, for example here are two pictures of work by Hadar that she has very kindly let me post here:

This tile is 4" square and is made from bronze and copper clay. Hadar's blog says it was 6 hours of sanding on the front after it came out of the kiln!

I adore this corset! It's 2" square and weighs 90g! Again, a mixture of bronze and copper clay.

Please check out Hadar's Blog and her Website I have both of her books and would highly recommend them to anyone.

The idea of creating art from bronze and copper clay fills me with excitement! I can see wall art designs in my head right now!

Up until now all of my experiments have been with bronze - my next step is to play with copper clay. I'm just as excited at the prospect of working with copper clay because of the possibility of adding enamel to it. I love enamelling and am looking forward to experimenting on copper clay over the next couple of weeks.

You will be seeing a lot more bronze work from me over the coming weeks. My range of handmade beads and findings will be ready to launch shortly and I will have a range of bronze products as well as silver and eventually copper.

I am also holding a two day bronze and copper clay class on the Thursday 17th and Friday 18th September 2009. It's going to be a great class with lots of time for experimenting and getting to grips with these fantastic clays.

1 comment:

ChatElaine said...

Wow her work is amazing, I love the bronze clay, I cant wait to see what you come up with the copper clay. I just love copper metal!! Oh yes!!