Monday, October 17, 2016

10.24.16 Argentium, revisited

On Sunday morning, we returned to the studio to find all our clay pieces turned to silver (even if I know how it happened - it's still kind of magical).  Now it was time to start putting all those little shiny pieces together and MAKE SOMETHING!

After taking a week long argentium class with Ronda Coryell, and working almost exclusively with the metal for the past several months, my comfort level was much higher for the second day of class.

Like Ronda, Vickie really likes argentium for its ability to fuse, and its low tarnish properties.  Because argentium melts - or flows - at a lower temperature than fine silver, the two can be used together, and the argentium will flow to fill in and hold the metal clay pieces when they are placed on wire or sheet (and you add heat with a torch).

Vickie said the best part of working with the clay, is that once it is all fired you can "play around with the pieces" and the possibilities are almost endless.  I knew I had far more components that I could use in one day at the bench - so I focused on completing at least a couple of surprise...earrings.

I had made the little Erlenmeyer flasks with my daughter in mind - and I made two sets, because I figured that worst case (if I melted something), I'd at least get one pair of earrings for case, we'd both have a pair.

I started playing around with adding small jump rings and granules on and around the flasks to create "bubbles".  My final design included 3 sets of  bubbles for each flask - which would be fused down on to argentium sheet.

The process of fusing down all the parts was very much like making Ronda's granulation earrings (which I liked so much, that I did a one off in turquoise - and I've worn them all summer)

I've gotten pretty good at controlling the torch, and while working with the components made from metal clay is different from just fusing argentium, I was able to watch the metal and successfully build four earring charms - no melting!

I also wanted to create earrings from the Heart of Texas charms - but fusing - or even soldering - small jump rings to the Panhandle proved to be beyond rather than melt one of them, I just set them aside for the time being.  I'm sure I'll come up with a way to put them to good use.

After the earrings, I decided to work on a more complex project - a pendant - with several small metal clay components, not just one.  Again - the trick is managing the heat and getting the argentium and metal clay to fuse together.

Using two of the small flowers, and two leaves, I began building a floral pendant with a bezel set stone.  I was able to get back to the bench just a couple of days after the end of class and finish the pendant.

I made a jump ring out of twisted wire, to match the pendant, then followed Vickie's instructions for finishing. I used liver of sulfur to get the patina, then carefully removed it from the flowers, granules and the twisted wire with a fine silicone polishing tip.

I'm really pleased with the end result - and hope to incorporate metal clay embellishments into some of my work going forward.

Until next time.

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