Tag Archives: metal clay

Goldie bronze tutorial – Bronze tassel necklace

 

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Tutor Anna Campbell has been testing out and reviewing products for Metal Clay Ltd including Goldie Bronze one of the Goldie clays that is now available through Metal Clay in the UK. Anna wrote this free beginners tutorial to help get you started.

 

In this project you will learn how to roll your clay to an even consistency, how to use a stencil to cut out your design and how to add embellishments after firing. It’s the perfect first project for a beader who wants to try out bronze clay.

Please note, Goldie Bronze needs to be kiln fired. If you don’t have a kiln you can follow these same steps to make a pendant in Art Clay silver clay and torch fire your piece instead.

Also, ensure you clean your tools thoroughly when making pieces with different types of metal clay to avoid cross contamination.

 

Tools and materials

Goldie bronze mid (Approximately 10g, mixed and ready to use. See the video tutorial for instructions)

Playing cards

Clay roller

Mat

Deep texture

Olive oil or badger balm

Quik art stylus or needle tool

Quik art clay saving stencil 55180

Sanding pad

Cocktail stick

2 x flat pliers e.g. snipe nosed and flat nosed

Kiln

Aluminium firing pan

Coconut carbon

Heat proof gloves

Barrel polisher or brass brush and 3M polishing papers

2 x black aluminium jump rings, 0.81mm (or other jump rings)

1 x black tassel (mine came from a strand of gemstones I had already purchased. You can also buy tassels at upholsterers or haberdashers)

Rubber necklace or chain

 

 

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Goldie Bronze comes in powder form, you just need to add water. Mix up your clay as per the instructions, see the video for extra guidance

 

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Choose a deep texture as these work best with bronze clay. Lightly oil your texture (with olive oil or badger balm) to ensure the clay doesn’t stick.

With metal clay we use playing cards or spacer slats to roll out our clay to an even thickness. Put eight playing cards each side of the texture, ensuring they overlap the texture. Put the clay in the middle and roll it out, ensuring the roller is touching the playing cards on both sides

 

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Take the clay off the texture and put it on a mat, lay your stencil on top, press it down firmly to ensure it doesn’t slip around. Cut the shapes out with your stylus. Ensure your stylus needle is vertical and touching the sides of the stencil. Do this slowly and regularly remove your stylus and clean it of any residue clay

Note – I used the smallest stencil shape to complete this piece

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Leave the clay aside on a flat surface to dry completely

 

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File the edges with a sanding pad to neaten them

 

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It can be difficult to get the sanding pad into the small holes so use a cocktail stick. You can also wrap a small piece of sandpaper around your cocktail stick if you need additional friction to file inside any holes

 

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Pour 1cm of coconut carbon into your stainless steel pan. Place your piece/s on top of the carbon. If you have made more than one piece make sure you leave at least 1cm gap in between each piece

Fire in your kiln on a full ramp up to 350 degrees centigrade for 30 minutes

 

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Safely remove the stainless steel pan from the kiln – either use heat proof gloves or wait for the kiln to cool completely. Leave the pieces in the pan (they are fragile at this stage as the binder in the clay has burned away). Cover the pieces over with at least 1cm of coconut carbon and fire on a full ramp To 820 degree centigrade for 40 minutes. Wait until the kiln is cool before removing the pieces

 

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I used a barrel polisher to polish the bronze. You can also polish by hand using a brass brush and soapy water to start with then use the 3M polishing papers to rub the piece.

Use your pliers to open a jump ring and add the tassel to the piece, closing the jump ring. Also add the rubber necklace with a jump ring
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We hope you enjoy making this project!  Have a go and let us know how you get on by sharing pictures on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

 

Author: Anna Campbell

LJG Guest Blogger - Anna Campbell of Campbell Hall Designs

Why choose a private tuition class at the London Jewellery School

Tutor Anna Campbell has recently taught a number of private tuitions for us. She makes the case for choosing a private tuition and gives the case study example of one of our private students

 

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Title: Pieces made during a private tuition (by the tutee and tutor)

 

At the London Jewellery School we offer over a hundred different courses ranging from one evening to one year. But many people aren’t aware that we also offer private tuition. Our private tuition sessions are typically one day in length (10-5pm), one to one sessions with an expert tutor covering the topic/s of your choice.

But a private tuition is more expensive than a one day class so why choose one?

 

You get a course tailor made just for you

You can pick and choose projects from our classes that you would like to do. Alternatively, you can ask to cover something that we don’t have a class for and we will endeavour to find a tutor.

 

You get one to one tuition

Based on what you want to cover, an expert tutor will be chosen to help guide you throughout the day. Your tutor is hand picked by our management team based on the projects you would like to work on.

 

You get more done

When you are working one to one we find that you can cover more in the time as you have a dedicated expert working just with you at your pace.

 

Good use of your time, especially if you’re not based in London

We regularly have private tuition students that are not based in the UK. This summer we had a private tuition student who came over from Japan! She did a number of days of private tuition with us and covered beading, silver clay and polymer clay with different tutors.

Even if you are from the UK it can still be more economical in terms of time and money. For example, if you would like to do projects from intermediate and advanced beading you would have to pay for two days of courses and travel to us twice. But you could cover projects from both in one day (note – not all of the projects!)

 

Dedicated private tuition space

We have a dedicated private tuition space in our new studios in the heart of Hatton Garden which means we now have more availability of dates and times. We are open 7 days a week so can accommodate weekends as well as weekdays.

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The dedicated private tuition workshop at the London Jewellery School.

How do I arrange a private tuition?

Contact us by email on info@londonjewelleryschool.co.uk with as much detail as you can about what you would like to cover on your private tuition. Do include links to photos of the kinds of things you would like to achieve. This gives the management team the information they need to advise on what can be achieved in a day and to choose the tutor with the skills you would like to learn.

Also, please include a number of potential dates as we need both the room and tutor availability to match up with your availability. Please provide a phone number we can contact you on to help us do this quickly.

 

What have others covered in private tuitions?

Here are some things that have been covered in previous private tuition sessions. Please note, sometimes more than one day is necessary depending on the complexity of the work and number of projects you would like to make.

 

  • Making an engagement ring
  • Making a special gift e.g. for an anniversary, birthday etc
  • Jewellery business tailored advice
  • Support with a commission
  • Working in gold
  • Help in developing a collection
  • Glass and enamel work
  • Beading and wirework
  • Silver clay

 

Case study

K has recently taken voluntary redundancy from her work and would like to build up a part time jewellery business. After some discussion with our management team she booked two days of private tuition with me to work on silver clay projects.

 

K was able to pick and choose exactly what she wanted to learn from 4 different classes at LJS. These were:

Beginners metal clay

Intermediate metal clay

Soldering on metal clay

Fingerprint jewellery

 

Private tuition day 1

We covered topics from beginners metal clay and soldering on metal clay including

  • Silver clay earrings
  • A silicone mould and moulded silver charm
  • A cubic zirconia stone set pendant
  • Silver clay stud earrings
  • Silver clay cufflinks
  • Torch firing silver clay (all pieces were torch fired)
  • Soldering stud earrings and cufflinks

 

Private tuition day 2

We covered a mix of metal clay projects including

  • Fingerprint jewellery
  • Pendant with keum boo (gold leaf) and gold paste
  • How to make a silver clay bail
  • Silver clay ring with embellishment

 

(note – to cover all the projects K had to purchase some additional silver clay on day 2).
Would you like to know more about planning a private tuition? Give us a call on 0203 176 0546 to discuss what you would like to do.

Author: Anna Campbell

LJG Guest Blogger - Anna Campbell of Campbell Hall Designs

Previewing Art Clay 950

A couple of weeks ago LJS received a parcel from Metal Clay Ltd with a preview packet of the not yet available to buy Art Clay 950. Metal clay tutor Anna Campbell was very excited to have a go with it!

 

Art Clay 950 is a new formula of clay that is also being called sterling silver clay. I have written more here about what Art Clay 950 is in a previous blog post so do have a look back at this before reading the results of my testing.

With the preview packet we received I wanted to test out the following features of the clay and compare them to original Art Clay

  • Strength – both in the dry form and once fired
  • Ability to carve the clay in the dry form stage
  • Shrinkage (particularly important for rings)
  • Setting a fireable stone
  • Enamelling

I was able to make three projects with the clay:

 

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Ring shank with holes

I wouldn’t even try this in original Art Clay! I wanted to test the shrinkage and strength when I hammer it around once fired. It was 5 cards thick before firing.

 

Results

This shows why it is important to do a test of your kiln before you start firing a new clay. My ring shank broke very easily suggesting that my kiln is underfiring (is firing at a lower temperature than it says it is). It should have been strong enough to hammer around into a ring band.

When trying out a new clay for the first time I suggest you make one or two test strips of the clay that are 5 cards thick and about 6cm long. Fire them to the manufacturer’s guidelines and test them carefully when they come out of the kiln. Can you bend them without breaking? If they break it suggests that there may be a problem with your kiln firing and you might need to adjust your temperatures or length of firing. If that is the case I suggest contacted the clay manufacturer for advice.

 

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Ring

With the ring I wanted to test the shrinkage, ability to set a fireable stone and carving.

I made the ring and dried it. I made a paste with 950 and tap water and was easily able to stick the dried set stone to the dried ring. Carving was a dream! I really love that having tried to carve original Art Clay and found it was easy to break it!

 

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Finished stone set ring

Results

The piece fired well with very little warping. The stone did change colour but this does sometimes happen with cubic zirconia stones in the blue colours. I was advised to re-fire the piece in carbon as this sometimes changes the stone back to the original colour but did not in this case.

I am really pleased with this ring. I will be using this clay for all my rings in the future because it is so much stronger than the fine silver of the original Art Clay.

 

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Enamelled pendant

I used a Quick Art template and the Quick Art stylus from Metal Clay to make this pendant.

I rolled the stencilled section out at 3 cards thick. It was easy to cut out the stencil using the stylus which has a really fine tip. My previous needle tool made that quite difficult because the needle was thick so it was difficult to get a neat line.

I dried and filed the stencilled section. I then added it to a 2 card thick layer of wet clay. Once dried I cleaned the edges with baby wipes to ensure no join was visible.

 

Results

The piece had bowed slightly after firing, nothing that I was not expecting.

 

Enamelling

Original Art Clay is excellent for enamelling because it is fine silver and therefore does not require depletion guilding to counteract the effect of the copper. I was interested to see how different this would be to enamel.

I went about enamelling this piece in the same way as I would enamel fine silver (by this I mean I did no depletion guilding).

I cleaned the metal with pumice and dried it carefully. I used the wet packing technique to fill the cells that I had created with opaque enamels. I had already tested my chosen enamel colours on scrap silver to ensure the colours would work well.

I did two firings of the enamelling for about 1 minute 30 seconds each time. On the second firing I added more blue and red enamel as the cells didn’t look quite full.

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Coming out of the kiln the piece looked like this. There were some brown spots and some enamel on the silver (next to the top left blue cell)

I used a medium diagrit (a diamond impregnated mesh that is used like sandpaper to remove excess enamel from metal surfaces) and was easily able to clean the marks off the silver.  I then used a fine diagrit, wet and dry papers and 3M polishing papers to finish the piece.

I’m really pleased with the result. It was much better than I expected as I had expected to see more of an effect because I didn’t depletion guild.

 

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Finished Enamelled Pendant using Art Clay 950 by Anna Campbell

Conclusions

I am very impressed with this clay. I certainly plan to use it for my own pieces because of the strength, ability to hallmark as 925 sterling silver (which is popular with customers) and the price.

At LJS we have been discussing whether to create a class in Art Clay 950. I certainly think that an intermediate class would be popular and different from our current classes but the long kiln firing makes it difficult to fit this into our usual one day class format. We will certainly let you know if/when we launch an Art Clay 950 class and would love to hear from you about what you would like to learn to make with it. Please let us know in the comments below.

Art Clay 950 is available to buy now from Metal Clay Ltd and currently you also receive 10% extra free!

I’d like to thank Metal Clay for the opportunity to test out this clay before general release.

 

Come along for a demonstration

I will be demonstrating Art Clay 950 and showing all the samples of pieces I have made at the free Studio Warming at London Jewellery School in our new studios on 29th September 2016 from 6.30pm. There will also be demos of water casting and stacking rings.

RSVP by 20th September to info@londonjewelleryschool.co.uk

 

Studio address: London Jewellery School, Rear Ground Floor Studios, NEW HOUSE, 67-68 Hatton Garden, London EC1N 8JY.

I’d love to see you there and chat to you about this new clay!

Author: Anna Campbell

LJG Guest Blogger - Anna Campbell of Campbell Hall Designs

 

Diploma in Creative Jewellery – An Alternative to a Degree in Jewellery Making

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It’s Summer time here in the UK and whilst the holidays are in full swing, we are busy getting ready to welcome our new Diploma Students in September for a year of fun, hard work and creativity!  We offer a number of different Diplomas and options here at the London Jewellery School, but our signature Diploma is our 1-Year Diploma in Creative Jewellery which is a great alternative to doing a degree in jewellery, as you can work flexibly around other commitments and work as you spend 1 day a week with us!

This comprehensive Diploma Course is fantastic, as it introduces you to a wide range of jewellery making techniques, both traditional and contemporary, and really helps you to find your jewellery making ‘voice’ and unique style.  The Course will take you from a beginner in jewellery making to a professional standard and focuses on combining a mixture of traditional jewellery skills such as silversmithing, stone setting, wax carving and enamel but is unique also in its focus on more contemporary methods and materials such as resin, perspex, metal clay, fashion jewellery and polymer clay.  Although, the focus is on mastering the technical skills and techniques, over the Course of the diploma you will also learn essential skills for starting and running your own jewellery brand including technical drawing, photographing your jewellery  and a jewellery business day focusing on branding, USP and all the legalities of running your own business.

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Diploma exhibition pieces by Maria Lampitelli, Julia D McKenzie, Maysooun Homsi Touban and Kemi Awokiyesi (in April 2016)

The Course runs over 3 terms of 12 weeks and Classes run 1 day per week with a maximum of 7 students per Class.  Each term, your work will be marked by an expert Tutor and constructive feedback will be given to ensure you are progressing and pushing yourself and your jewellery designs forwards.

We understand that the Diploma is an investment both in time and money, so, we offer 3 flexible payment plans to help you along the way.

We are proud of the fact that our Diploma Course changes the lives of our Students and opens them up to a world of techniques, friendships and experiences.

We have spoken to some our former Diploma Students about their Diploma experience and how they have gotten on since they graduated.  This week we talk to Zoe Porter of Zoe Porter Jewellery and next week we will be hearing from George Galula of GV Jewellery and Linski Kilcourse of Linskiloolar Jewellery!

So Zoe, tell us a bit about how you started your jewellery making journey and what ultimately made you decide to do a diploma with LJS?

I started taking night classes with an incredible Danish jeweller in Wellington to try something new and quickly fell in love with silversmithing. It was a hobby that only developed when I went travelling around Europe for a year and realised how much I missed it. That’s when I started looking into diplomas in Europe and the U.K. and The London Jewellery School offered exactly what I was looking for.

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Zoe Porter Jewellery – Walnut Pendant

What was your favourite part of the diploma?

Learning so many new techniques and processes was great but the work experience I did with Just Castings, Hatton Garden really opened my eyes to a heap of possibilities I hadn’t realised when working with both silver and gold.

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Zoe Porter Jewellery – Pineapple Cufflinks

What was the biggest challenge for you during the diploma?

I had only worked with silver, gold and stones before the diploma, so the mixed media pieces were something I had difficulty with at first. It was however during the design of my final piece that I tried my hand at woodcarving for the first time and really enjoyed it!

What difference has doing the diploma made to your jewellery skills, designs and/ or business?

There were processes I knew nothing about, such as wax carving, that now play an integral part in my design process but one of the most helpful (and simplest) things I learnt was how to recycle silver and gold and make my own wire and sheet metal.

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Zoe Porter Jewellery – Molten Ring

What would you say to students thinking about doing a diploma with the London Jewellery School?

Just do it! The amount you’ll learn and take home from the course is great. Take notes – more than you think – and sit down and practice.

Don’t be scared to make mistakes, you can always melt it down and start over.

Where next for Zoe Porter Jewellery?

I’ve just launched my website and the response has been great. As a certified Fair Trade Gold user I think it’s really important to educate people on where their gold and silver is coming from and I’m hoping to visit Fair Trade mines in Sotrami, Peru, and help raise awareness.

For now, I’m just enjoying myself, working mostly on commissions and loving designing and making a number of engagement rings. They’re really special and personal pieces to be trusted with.

How can we find out more about you (website, Facebook, instagram?)

I sell online via my newly launched website – www.zoeporter.co.nz and I post regularly on Facebook and Instagram.

Thanks Zoe – good luck with your business and we are so thrilled to have played a small part in your jewellery making journey!

Our Diploma Classes are quick to fill up, so book now to avoid disappointment. There is currently availability for September intake 2016. For more details on Course dates and how to enroll, please visit the London Jewellery School website www.londonjewelleryschool.co.uk or call 0203 176 0546.

And due to popular demand we have loaded up the 2017 January and September dates onto our website for those of you who like to plan ahead!

Until next time,

Happy Making! x

Introducing Art Clay 950

We are very excited to announce that Art Clay are releasing a new sterling silver clay Art Clay 950 on 1st September! Metal clay tutor, Anna Campbell, gives you the low down.

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What is it?

This is a new product from Art Clay, one of the two main suppliers of silver clay in the world.  Silver clay is made up of fine silver particles, an organic binder and water. Art Clay 950 is 95% silver and 5% copper. The original Art Clay (the one we use in class) is a purer silver, 99% silver and 1% copper.

 

What are the benefits?

 

1. Strength

You might be thinking, well the original Art Clay is a purer silver so isn’t that better? The answer, of course, is it depends on what you want! Art Clay 950 is 60% stronger than original Art Clay because of the copper content. This means it is more suitable for making rings, bracelets etc and other items that might suffer more wear and tear.

 

2. Hallmarking

In the UK silver up to 958 purity is hallmarked as sterling silver (925). Silver purity over 958 is considered Britannia silver (958), and over 990 is hallmarked as fine silver (999).

Sterling silver is recognised by UK consumers more than Britannia and fine silver and so for those of you hallmarking and selling your work this is a big plus.

 

3. Pre-mixed

Many of the clays on the market need to be mixed and kneaded before you can start work but this is pre-mixed, smooth and ready to use out of the packet (just like the original Art Clay).

 

4. Cost

At the time of writing, Art Clay 950 is slightly cheaper than original Art Clay.

 

Other considerations

 

1. Firing

The one downside for the hobby silver clay jeweller is that this clay does need to be kiln fired. This is the same with any of the sterling silver clays I have seen on the market. However, on the plus side this does not need to be done in carbon and if you have a programmable kiln this is easy to set up.

 

2. The firing schedule

  1. Once your piece is completely dry put it on a kiln shelf, in a cool kiln
  2. Heat up to 500C and hold for 30 minutes (this first step burns off the binder)
  3. Heat up to 850C and hold for 60 minutes (this final firing sinters the metal particles)

 

The kiln can heat up at full speed, and doesn’t need to cool off between the two stages. Avoid moving the piece after the first firing step as it will be fragile before sintering.

 

3. Using the clay

I haven’t yet had the opportunity to try it out and will report back on the blog when I do. However, I have heard from those who have used it that it has a longer drying time. This could be an advantage as we often want a little more time before our clay starts to dry out! For those who are interested in more information have a look at this clear and interesting blog post on 950 by Henriëtte van Battum

 

4. Where can I buy it?

Metal Clay Ltd currently have a pre-order available on their website of 25g and 50g packs, including 10% extra free. The clay is due to be shipped on 1st September 2016. We hope also to sell it in our pop up shop after the launch (which is open 7 days a week).

 

Art Clay 950 class at LJS

I am looking at creating an Art Clay 950 class that uses the clay to its advantages e.g. in making a ring. The class would not be for beginners but for intermediate and advanced metal clay makers. The challenges are the longer drying time and longer firing time meaning that it might be difficult to fit the class into our normal one day schedule. If you are interested in attending a class in Art Clay 950 please let us know via the comments below.

 

Author: Anna Campbell

LJG Guest Blogger - Anna Campbell of Campbell Hall Designs

Tool Time – Barrel Polishers

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For the next post in our series about great workshop tools to add to your collection we are going to be talking about Barrel Polishers (also called Tumblers)!

When you first start to make silver Jewellery you will probably polish by hand using sand paper of varying grits to get a nice smooth finish on your piece, and a liquid metal polish such as Glanol which comes as part of our fab new polishing and finishing kit.  This process can take quite a while to do by hand, and we have no doubt that soon you will be looking for a tool to speed up your polishing and finishing time.

There are a few options in terms of polishing machines you will want to consider such as a pendant motor, micromotor or even a bench polisher, but one of the most common polishing tools that are purchased first for a new workshop is the Barrel Polisher (also known as a Tumble Polisher).  So what does it do?

A barrel polisher allows you to quickly and economically polish small quantities of Jewellery and Jewellery findings and components at the same time.  You place your Jewellery in the vaned container or ‘barrel’.  And depending on the finish you want you either add steel shot and a teaspoon of polishing compound such as BarrelBrite and just enough water to cover everything and have approximately 1cm of water above the steel shot; or cutting powder, ceramic cones and water for a matt finish.

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Shot and Barrelbrite in the barrel.

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Jewellery ready for polishing, plus enough water to cover the shot added.

You seal up the barrel so it is watertight as per the manufacturer’s instructions and place onto the rotating motor.  Typically the motor just plugs in at the wall and starts as soon as you turn on the switch at the socket.

Make sure that your barrel is not wet at all or it might not turn properly and don’t touch your barrel with wet hands when it is on.

Ideally tumble your pieces for as long as possible – I always aim to tumble my pieces for at least four hours but I often check them every hour to see how they are looking.  Please note it is best to open and drain your tumbler over a large plastic bowl or container so that you don’t lose all your shot and have to spend ages picking it up.

I normally tend to tumble either smaller pieces or larger pieces together as mixing them can cause damage to the smaller pieces.

Pros:

The biggest benefit of barrel polishing your pieces is that you can polish multiple pieces at once – you can have your work polishing in the background whilst you do other things so it is a real time saver!

One of the key benefits of tumbling your Jewellery and findings is that the steel shot gently work hardens the outer layer your pieces which is essential for things like ear pins and ear wires.  I normally still gently hammer or twist my findings in addition to tumbling so that I am 100% sure they are hard and robust but the tumbler hardens them a little too and makes them lovely and shiny.

Cons:

It is important that you bear in mind that for very smooth surfaces the little pins in the steel shot mix can occasionally leave little dents in your pieces.  For this reason you may prefer to remove the pins from the shot if you are polishing pieces with no texture, or chose another means of polishing your piece.

For intricate pieces you might find that the pins don’t quite get into all the nooks and crannies so you may need to either finish your pieces by hand, or look at investing in a pendant or micro motor.

If you intend to use different compounds to enable to you finish your pieces to a matt or polished finish I recommend having different barrels for different compounds so that you don’t get any contamination.  I have two barrels – one for getting a matt finish and one for getting a polished finish.

Barrel polishing won’t unfortunately remove any scratches so you still need to spend the time removing scratches beforehand using your files and your emery papers.

I wouldn’t recommend tumbling pieces with stones set or beads already set as there is a risk that the steel could crack the stones.

Finally please use stainless steel shot!  It is a bit more expensive to buy (do shop around) but it more rust resistant and so will save you money in the longer term!

Which one to buy?

There are a number of tumblers on the market that vary quite substantially in price.  The best piece of advice I can give you is to buy the best tool you can afford at the time.

I initially bought the Metal Barreling Starter Kit With 3lb Machine from Cookson Gold with the plastic barrel and lid.  However I found it was prone to leaking and you do have to heat the lid with warm water before use otherwise it was impossible to get the lid on without cracking it.  You can get replacement barrels, lids and belts for this machine.

Basic Barrel Polisher-CooksonGold

Metal Barreling Starter Kit With 3lb Machine from Cookson Gold

After about a year I upgraded my tumbler to one of the rubber ones.  I upgraded to the Cookson Gold Gold Pro one and I love it!   It comes in 2lb or 3lb sizes and you can buy the tumbler on its own or as part of a starter kit.  I have since purchased a second barrel to use with cutting powder and ceramic cones so that it is more versatile.  It is a great option for a good workhorse at a reasonable price.  FYI – I don’t tend to keep my shot and water in the rubber barrel – I transfer it between uses into a large jam jar.

london-jewellery-school-blog-jewellery-tool-review-barrel-polisher

Gold Pro Barrel Polisher by Cookson Gold

If you will be using your tumbler round the clock however, you may want to consider one of the semi-professional machines from Evans or Lortone or a Rotabarrel for the serious workshop!

Barrel Polisher

Author: Karen Young

 London Jewellery School Blog_Karen Young Bio

Exciting New Class – Metal Clay Guided Workshop!

London Jewellery School Blog - Guided Metal Clay Workshop

 

Tutor Anna Campbell will be hosting our first ever Metal Clay Guided Workshop on Thursday 30th June, but what is it?

Would you love to work on your own silver clay projects in our well equipped workshop with an expert tutor on hand? Do you find you achieve more during a class than you ever can at home?

At LJS we are trialling the metal clay guided workshop, an opportunity for you to work on your own designs and project ideas and to have help and support from an expert tutor and your fellow students. The idea for this workshop has come from feedback from our more experienced students who wanted a way to develop their skills and work alongside other metal clayers in a supportive and inspiring environment.

Who is the guided workshop for?

The metal clay guided workshops are designed for intermediate and advanced silver clay students. These sessions are different from our usual classes as there will be no organised tuition, you bring along your own designs and ideas!

What kinds of projects can I work on?

It is up to you! The workshop day is self-directed.

Some examples of projects you might like to work on

  • Cufflinks and stud earrings for soldering
  • Silver clay brooch (I suggest the large screw in silver brooch pin from metalclay.co.uk sku number K059A)
  • Pendant
  • Earrings

 

Project brief

We ask you to email us at least a week before the workshop session with a brief project outline. This is so I can prepare and ensure I am able to help you with what you want to do. Please include details of any equipment you would like to use e.g. the kiln.

Ensure you email this through to info@londonjewelleryschool.co.uk at least 7 days before the class or we cannot guarantee the support you require for the workshop.


What do you need to bring?

You need to provide all the materials you will need for the day including your silver clay. We do have some materials available to purchase in our pop up shop but we can’t guarantee that we’ll have what you need on the day so get organised in advance. You are welcome to phone us a week in advance to set aside any items you would like to purchase on the day in order to ensure it is available. Otherwise we recommend www.metalclay.co.uk for online orders or Cooksons Gold for buying in person in London.

 

What do LJS provide?

We will provide the following for use on the day

  • Silver clay tool kit e.g. mat, clay roller, textures, cookie cutters etc
  • Dehydrator for quick drying of the clay
  • Torch firing and soldering equipment
  • Kiln
  • Barrel polisher
  • Pickle
  • Expert silver clay tutor on hand to answer questions and provide one to one support

 

Can I use a different metal clay?

You are welcome to use silver Art Clay or PMC. We will not be accepting workshop attendees using other metal clays at this time because of the contamination of tools. If you are interested in working with other metal clays in the future please do let us know and we will consider scheduling a session if there is enough interest.

 

What if I can’t do 30th June but am still interested in attending?

As we are trialling this style of workshop it would be great if you could let us know if you would like to attend a guided workshop in the future. This would give us an indication if it’s worth adding more dates to the calendar. Please email us on info@londonjewelleryschool.co.uk to let us know!
If you have any further questions about the guided workshop do get in touch by email or phone. I hope to see you there!

 

Author: Anna Campbell

LJG Guest Blogger - Anna Campbell of Campbell Hall Designs

Metal clay tool – the humble baby wipe!

Copy of start your own jewellery business (1)

In today’s Blog, metal clay artist and tutor Anna Campbell outlines the many uses for baby wipes as a tool when creating metal clay jewellery!


One of the great things about metal clay is that you don’t tend to need expensive tools to get started, so for this tool review I decided I wanted to choose something people might not have thought to use. UK metal clay artist Joy Funnell was the person that first got me into the idea of using baby wipes for working with metal clay. Baby wipes are inexpensive and easy to get hold of in shops and supermarkets (for environmental reasons, I do recommend you buy biodegradable wipes).

You might be surprised at how versatile they are!

London Jewellery School Blog_Baby-wipes-for-metal-clay_Tool-reviewBiodegradable Baby Wipes

So how can the humble baby wipe be used with Metal Clay?

1. Keeping your clay moist

When you’re working with clay and have some lump clay out of the packet it is always best to wrap that lump clay up before continuing in order to keep it nice and fresh. However, you don’t always want to be wrapping it up and opening it, wrapping it up and opening it etc. So, put the clay onto a plastic mat and drape a baby wipe on top. This keeps it nice and moist.

When I’ve finished working with the clay and have some left I’ll wrap it up tightly in clingfilm and put a moist baby wipe around the clingfilm and then put this into a tupperware box.

2. Filing and smoothing your dry clay

Once your clay is completely dry you will want to file and smooth out the edges. Often we do this with sanding pads but a baby wipe is perfect for this as it helps to round off edges neatly and to get a nice smooth finish before polishing. You can do this just by wrapping the wipe around your finger to smooth the clay or, alternatively, wrap a tool in the baby wipe. I often use a cocktail stick to get a fine point.

London Jewellery School Blog_Tool Review_Smoothing Metal Clay with a Babywipe

Source: Metal Clay Today

3. Manipulating dry clay

If you have dry clay but want to change the shape, wrap it in a baby wipe for 15 minutes. When you unwrap it you should find that the clay is malleable. I use this technique for manipulating bails to ensure they are the correct size (with thanks to Tracey Spurgin for this tip).

Do you have any metal clay tips and tools to share? We’d love to hear them in the comments below or via our instagram, twitter or facebook pages.

Author: Anna Campbell

LJG Guest Blogger - Anna Campbell of Campbell Hall Designs

Behind the scenes at the filming of our online jewellery courses

2016 marks an exciting time for LJS as we are launching some new online jewellery making classes on our website jewellery school online. These classes are designed for students who can’t attend classes with us or who want a refresher for the classes they have attended. LJS tutor Anna Campbell has filmed two of the new courses for us, stone setting in metal clay and she has contributed to the business course. In this post, Anna talks about the experience of filming and what to expect from the courses.

In the beginning …..

I was very pleased to be asked to film some tutorials for jewellery school online by Jessica Rose, the founder of the London Jewellery School. Julia Rai has already filmed an online course in making silver metal clay charms which is excellent and teaches a wide variety of skills which, once mastered, can lead to so many different designs.

Jess and I met to discuss how we could create a tutorial that was different and that helped metal clay artists develop their skills further while not repeating what was in Julia’s tutorial. Jess wanted to do something with stone setting and we agreed that we would like to make it as widely useful as possible so we decided that all the projects needed to be torch fired.

Trial and error – making the samples

Stone setting in metal clay, sadly, is not as easy as pushing a stone into the clay. Many stones are damaged by the heat of the torch or kiln firing as natural stones have fissures in them. When heated, the heat expands the air inside these fissures and the stone shatters (for an excellent breakdown of which natural stones can be fired with a torch or kiln see this article from Cool Tools).

So, I had to find a way to torch fire pieces for three different stone setting projects – not an easy task! I did some practice pieces and in the end settled on the following three projects

  1. Setting a man made stone in clay e.g. cubic zirconia or lab created sapphire, ruby, spinel etc
  2. Setting a dichroic glass cabochon (I know, not technically a stone but the effect is the same as stone setting)
  3. Setting a fine silver bezel for a stone to be set inside afterwards

This meant that the tutorial covered firing stones in place, firing glass with a torch (which is not something that is taught usually) and setting a stone that cannot be torch fired.

I enjoyed playing about with designs, trying to make pieces that were different and that could show the students the possibilities of the techniques.

online metal clay class

Pieces from Anna’s online course

Filming

My filming day started at 5.30am.

Filming was to start at 7.30am and I had to travel to south London so it was an early start for me. I needed to take some tools and some of my own jewellery for display which you can see to the side of me in the shots sometimes. I was nervous as I knew there was a film crew! There were actually three members of the film crew but luckily they put me at my ease. I had a microphone clipped on (one of the crew had headphones on so he could hear everything I was saying!).

I sat in place so that the lights and cameras could be set up. There were three cameras focussing on me. One directly in front of me, one to one side and one directly above my hands to film what I was doing. Luckily I was able to have a cup of tea while everything was fiddled about with.

And then we started. There was an actual clapperboard with the takes written on it. Which is just as well as we had to film everything out of sequence because the clay had to dry in between takes.

There was a lot to get through and I was conscious that I didn’t have a lot of time to make mistakes, firstly because of the hot filming lights the clay was drying very quickly and secondly I knew the crew were filming another tutorial in the afternoon. It went well and we managed to get everything filmed and done by 12.30pm which was quite a feat. For some reason there were a lot a ambulance or police sirens that morning and we kept having to stop to wait for them to recede.

Written notes

As well as access to the videos, students on the course also get written notes. I wrote these after the filming, based on the notes I took to the filming day (I had wanted to make sure I wouldn’t forget to say something important!). These did take some time to write but are important as a reminder for you when you are learning so I hope you will find them useful.

Editing

I am grateful that I am not involved in the editing process. It takes hours to do this – to synch the camera footage with my audio and make sure everything is clear for the learner.

Then the tutorial is ready for you to purchase and watch over and over. I really do hope you learn something new and I would love to see what you create, please do share photos with us on instagram, twitter or facebook.

Class Pic Stone Setting in Metal Clay

To access Jewellery School Online click on the link and watch a trailer before you purchase your course. You can choose from a wide variety of jewellery making courses including silversmithing, wax carving, metal clay, jewellery business and wire wrapping. Anna’s Stone Setting in Metal Clay course will be available from the end of February 2016 – you can pre-order it a half price now from the Jewellery School Online site.

Anna Campbell is a metal clay artist, one of only ten people to hold the Higher Diploma in Metal Clay. She holds both Art Clay and PMC Rio Rewards certifications and is a member of the Metal Clay Masters Registry.

In the jewellery workshop: Stone setting in metal clay

Tutor and silver clay artist Anna Campbell discusses the possibilities for stone setting in silver clay

metal clay

Many jewellery makers haven’t heard of silver clay. It is a mouldable material made from silver particles, an organic binder and a bit of water. Once the clay is dry it can be fired with a torch or in a kiln to burn away the binder to leave silver. It is a flexible way of working with silver and I’m often asked if stones can be pressed into the clay and fired. Sadly it’s not as simple as that! Some stones can be fired in place, others are damaged by the heat of the kiln/torch and these stones need to be set in a more traditional way familiar to silversmiths e.g. using a bezel setting.

However, there are some stones that can be set and fired in the clay and here is some advice about using these.

metal clay

 

Cubic zirconia

Cubic zirconia (cz) are manmade stones that come in different shapes, sizes and colours. They are a very flexible stone for silver clay as they can be fired in place, both with a torch or in a kiln.

Hints

  • You do need to be wary of czs that lose their colour when heated and it is worth testing them by heating them safely with a butane torch for 30 seconds to a minute to ensure the colour stays
  • Ensure you push the stone so that the table (top) of the stone is level with the silver clay. This will ensure the silver clay shrinks around the stone to hold it in rather than popping it out
  • After you’ve fired the silver clay and cz do not quench the piece (put it in water), let the piece cool naturally (I have seen czs shatter when going from hot to cold through quenching).
  • At the jewellery school we buy our czs from metal clay as they are tested as kiln safe and come in a wide range of colours and shapes.

metal clay

 

Dichroic glass

Although, of course, not technically a stone, dichroic glass can be fired in place in silver clay. Dichroic glass cabochons can be very brightly coloured and a lovely addition to silver.

You can embed the glass in the silver, it will shrink slightly around the glass and hold it in place. This can be torch fired (when the silver is dry) as the glass is not as affected by extremes of heat and cool but let the piece cool naturally, do not quench.

Hints

  • For both torch firing and kiln firing, place the pieces onto thinfire paper (particularly if the glass might be in contact with the firing block/kiln shelf)
  • You want to make sure the piece is level as the glass can begin to melt and shift
  • Kiln fire on a full ramp at 700 degrees celcius for 15 minutes. Ensure the ceramic plug is our/vent is open to ensure the fumes can escape as these can affect the glass
  • Allow the kiln to cool naturally before opening the kiln door
  • For more information have a look at this article from the metal clay academy

metal clay

Half drilled pearls/stones

You may have seen that you can buy half drilled pearls and stones. These, as the name suggests, are drilled part of the way into the bead rather than all the way through. You can add these to your silver clay designs by embedding a piece of fine silver wire into your piece.

Hints

  • You need to use 999 fine silver wire, sterling silver becomes brittle at high temperatures
  • Ensure the thickness of the wire fits the hole in the bead
  • Fire this piece as you would any silver clay piece, I suggest in a kiln if possible as silver wire is easy to melt when torch firing
  • Do any polishing you want to do before adding the bead
  • Once the piece is polished and ready to add the pearl/stone, cut the wire to the correct length to take the bead and add some epoxy glue to the end of the wire. Thread the bead on and hold it for 30 seconds to ensure it adheres
  • Allow the glue to dry completely before wearing (check the drying time of the glue you used)
sapphire ring

Manmade sapphire and silver clay ring made by Anna Campbell

Man made stones

The reason many natural stones cannot be fired in place in silver clay is that they have natural fissures/holes in them. The heat from the kiln or torch expands inside these fissures which can cause them to break and crack. However, there are some manmade stones that don’t have these fissures and can be fired in place. I have used lab created blue sapphires, red rubies and blue spinel. Unfortunately the stockist I used has recently closed so I cannot recommend a stockist personally. I recommend you try heating the stones first as I mentioned with the czs to check that they keep their colour before incorporating them into your designs.

Stones that can be fired in place

The US supplier cool tools has put together a very comprehensive guide of the natural stones that can be fired either with a torch or in a kiln. It’s an invaluable guide and you can find it here. Refer to this to see if your favourite stone can be fired.

Do you want to join us to learn techniques to set stones in metal clay? On our one day stone setting in metal clay class you will learn

  • how to dry set cubic zirconia stones (similar to the gypsy setting in silversmithing)
  • how to set a dichroic glass cabochon
  • how to create a bezel setting for any stone and set it after firing (the technique you need for any stone that you cannot fire)

This class is suitable for those that have used silver clay before e.g. have attended our beginners silver clay class or taster class.

We have dates available for the class up to December 2016 and our 25% off sale runs until 20 October 2015.

Anna Campbell is a silver clay artist and tutor at LJS who runs her own jewellery business Campbell Hall Designs.