Thursday, November 3, 2011

Next Meeting 12-04-11

Our next meeting will be the 4th of December at the Crawford United Methodist Church.  This will be a combined meeting instead of a November and a December meeting, due to the holidays.
We will be honored to hear a quick verison of Lori Magno's talk on Social Media, which she presented at Metalwerx Vendor's Day and then we will have a Play with Clay day.  So, basically gab and work!  Bring a few goodies and we'll supply the tea and coffee.  Hope to see you all there!  And no more storms!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sterling PMC Coming in December 2011

Today, there was an announcement on the PMC Guild website that Sterling PMC is coming in December!

Mitsubishi Materials Announces an Important New Product
After two years of research, Mitsubishi announced today the release of a new product called "PMC Sterling." The clay contains 92.5% silver and therefore meets the legal standard of sterling. Like traditional sterling, the alloy is strong, hard, and bright.
PMS Sterling will be available for purchase starting in December 2011. Technical details will be coming in the next months, but for now, here is the short version:
  • Like other types of PMC, it can be molded, joined, carved, and modeled.
  • The clay works like fine silver PMC, though some testers feel that it has a longer working time.
  • Use the same tools and kiln as for other metal clays.
  • Fire half hour in air and a half hour in carbon.
  • Cost will be consistent with other forms of silver metal clay.
For more details, follow the links below:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Social Media with Lori Magno

This past Sunday, Lori Magno of Moda di Magno, gave a presentation on Social Media at Metalwerx's Vendor Day.

And as you can see by the photo below, there's so many ways to put your work out there. It's pick and choose.  Overwhelmed by the choices?  Lori suggests to just start with one. 

Sites like Google, Yahoo, Bing, MSN - they want to find you. Keywords are how they find you. Use them wisely. Do a test. Think of something you want to buy and then choose some keywords to describe it. What links do you get? Change the keywords and see what other links you get. 

The three main reasons to use social media are:

1. Your audience needs to find you and you need to be in communication with them.

2. They need to find your work, whether your work is branded under your name - or a company name.

3. It provides opportunities to connect to your market. You need to be in contact with your customers - keep them close, keep them informed -- not always selling, sometimes just sharing.

There are other opportunities via social media:

1. Connect to other artists

2. Connect to your suppliers and vendors

3. Shows are using social media to announce ‘call for artists’ (the days of mailing in slides and CDs of images are quickly coming to an end!)

There's something else to think about. The keywords you use - they stay out there. Say for instance you made a bridal necklace and it sold. The keywords you entered for that item on your page will still bring traffic to your site.

And finally, Lori talked a little about Google+.  Another social networking site.  It opened to the public on September 20th and has attracted 40 million users.  It took their rival Facebook three years to reach the 25 million users mark.  So people seem to be flocking to Google+.  Here's a brief video that talks about circles and sharing. 

And one of the nice features of Gmail is the chat. So, it would make sense they would take the chat feature and pump it up.  It's called the hangouts . . .  what do you think?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Next Meeting - October 23, 2011

Our next meeting will be held at the Armenian Cultural Center, 47 Nichols Avenue, Watertown, MA., October 23, 2011. Metalwerx will be holding Vendor's Day (yippee!!) there that day from 10:00 to 4:00. Metalwerx Vendor's Day is a much anticipated yearly event. Just a few of the vendors are AllCraft Jewelry Supply, Fretz Design, Blue Heron Designs, Sierra Madre and J. Stachura. Get there early to make sure you get what you need!

Our own talented, Lori Magno, will be giving a talk on using Social Media. Lori has co-authored a number of books on this subject and this lecture will be open to the public. Exact details on Lori's lecture and times will be posted a little closer to the event.

Road Trip - Gemstar Gems

Back in August, a number of us from the guild took a road trip up to New Hampshire to Gemstar Gems.  For those of us who had never been there before, it was quite the experience. There were numerous gasps heard as we stepped onto the property . . . the never-never-land of gems.  From the base of the property all the way up to the store entrance, there were gems everywhere. They were loose on the ground, on benches, in sheds, and on shelves.  It was crow heaven I tell you. Here's a few photos from our spectacular day.  Wish you could have joined us!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Meeting Cancelled

Due to the forecast of Hurricane Irene, the guild meeting for this Sunday, August 28th has been cancelled.  The kumihimo demo has been postponed until the September 25th meeting.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Meeting on August 28, 2011

There has been a schedule change for this meeting.  Monte Nikkel will be giving a hands on demo on Kumihimo braiding.  If you're interested in getting information on supplies needed, please leave a comment below.  Meeting will be held from 1:00 - 5:00.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Only certain gemstones can be embedded in unfired silver metal clay and withstand the temperature and firing times needed.   There are suppliers who test their gemstones and stand behind them as being "kiln-safe."  Any inclusion or air-space in the stone can cause the stone to fracture while firing, however nice “clear” stones can be bought from other sources but test-fire a "spare" stone by itself (cover it with a piece of fiber blanket in case it shatters) and see whether it fractures or changes color.  However, even a stone that appears to survive a test firing successfully may be weakened and fracture later on.  Setting firable stones in silver metal clay pre-firing is never 100% guaranteed and even “kiln-safe” tested stones can occasionally crack.   Therefore you should need set extremely valuable stones in metal clay prefiring. 

Setting Gemstones in "Wet" Clay

To set faceted stones directly in metal clay, ensure that the girdle of the stone (the widest part) is embedded in the clay about 1 mm below the surface of the clay, and the table of the stone is level. The clay will lock around the girdle of the stone during firing, so the setting must adequately capture this.  For cabochons, the clay must come up over the shoulder of the stone. Cutting a hole in the clay under the stone helps minimize the amount that the clay pushes up on the stone during firing, as well as conserving clay, and allowing some light through transparent or translucent stones.

Check the depth of the stone vs. the clay thickness. You'll need to add enough clay in the setting area to cover the stone's girdle or shoulder.  If setting a faceted stone, the depth of clay must cover the bottom point of the stone, otherwise it could potentially “poke” the wearer.

1.  Simple setting: Cut a hole and just press the stone in so the girdle or shoulder is about 1 mm below the clay.  Cut the hole slightly smaller than the stone.

2.  Ball setting:  Cut a hole in the base clay slightly smaller than the stone's diameter. Roll a small ball of clay and then flatten it into a disc that is wider than the stone. Using a pencil or pointed shaper, make a cone-shaped hole for the stone and press the stone into the clay. Make sure the girdle is covered, the table is level and if the stone is faceted that it does not protrude below the base of the piece.

3.   Tube or Bezel setting - Roll out clay to the thickness of the stone from table to point.  Cut a hole slightly smaller than the stone.  Press the stone into the hole.  Take a larger cutter, center over the stone and cut out around the stone, leaving the stone in a “tube” of clay.  These can be made ahead and added to clay pieces as desired.

4.  Syringe bezels. Cut a hole in the clay slightly smaller than the stone to be set. Set the stone in the hole and extrude a line of syringe clay to create a rim surrounding the edge of the hole. If needed, add a more rows of syringe as needed to make the bezel tall enough to capture the girdle. Alternatively, the syringe bezel can be made first and the stone pressed in until the table is level and the girdle captured by the syringe bezel.

5.  Syringe prongs. Start with the simple setting above. Moisten the clay around the stone and add syringe “prongs”around the stone.  These are simply “dots” of clay that attach both to the clay base and the stone itself.

6.  Coil settings. Extrude a coil of lump clay and form the coil into loops just slightly smaller than the stones you want to set. Place the stone in the loops and press into the clay so that the girdle is captured and the table is level.

7.  Channel setting.  Take double sided tape, put a strip of tape on a piece of Teflon, then place stones table side down on the tape.  Cut strips of clay marginally deeper than the full depth (table to culet) of the stone to account for the shrinkage of the clay in the kiln.  Press these strips along the sides of the stone to capture the girdle.  If this will be “free standing” you will need ends, otherwise these strips will simply fall off the stones.  If this will be added to another piece of metal clay that will hold everything together, this can be left as two separate strips.  Once dry, lift tape off Teflon, trim down the tape and adhere clay strips to your metal clay piece in the usual fashion.  The tape can be left on the piece if its removal might make your piece fall apart.

8.  Marquise or odd shaped stones – strip setting.  This setting is much like the one above, you will place the stone table down on double-sided tape.  Cut clay strips marginally deeper than the full depth of the stone.  Add the strips to one side of the stone, pressing clay to the stone to capture the girdle.  Angle cut the strips flush to the ends of the stone, then add another strip to the other side of the stone.  Moisten and paste the join and press firmly.  Let dry and then pop off the double-sided tape and add to your metal clay base.

Setting Gemstones in Dried Clay

1.  Gypsy settings. Make sure the clay is thick enough so the girdle and the point of the stone will be covered after pre-finishing. When the clay is dry, use a very small drill bit in a hand drill/pin vise to drill a pilot hole all the way through the clay.  Once you have a hole, use an exacto knife to “drill” cone-shaped hole.  Test-fit the stone in the hole frequently making sure the girdle is slightly below the surface of the clay.  Extrude a very fine line of syringe just inside the edge of the drilled setting hole or brush a little paste inside the hole. Place the stone into the hole then wipe the edge of the setting with a damp brush to make sure no clay squeezed out above the stone.

Prefire cleaning

If any clay ends up on top of the stone, scrape/flake it off the stone gently once it has dried.  Carefully brush off any loose dust from the clay and from the gemstone. Make sure it's level and clean the top of the stone with alcohol and a sponge-tipped cosmetic applicator or cotton swab.  Stones must be absolutely clean prior to firing, as any clay on the stone will fire to silver on the stone’s surface and alter its appearance.

Firable Stones Chart

This listing is from current available data and should be used as reference only.  There is always a chance that a variety of stone that has tested safe will have inclusions, fractures or other features which will cause a specific stone to fracture in the kiln.  If your stone is valuable, set after firing!

1650 for 1 hour:  Alexandrite, Black Star Sapphire, Padparadscha, Ruby, Hematite, Zircon, Spinel, Lab Alexandrite, Lab Ruby, Lab Sapphire - blue, orange, yellow, Lab Spinel, CZ’s - Amethyst,  Champagne, Garnet, Olivine, Orange, Pink, Yellow, White
1560 for 1 hour: Almandine Garnet, Demantoid Garnet, Pyrope Garnet,
1470 for 1 hour: Rhodolite Garnet, Tsavorite Garnet, Peridot, Lab Emerald
1200 for 1 hour: Amazonite, Labradorite, Moonstone - Grey, Sunstone, Chrome Diopside, Star Diopside, Tourmaline - Green, Chrome Green, Chatham Opal,
1100 for 1 hour: Moonstone - Peach, White, CZ - Bright Emerald, Tanzanite.

The photos taken for the stone setting are in the following order:  Wet pressed in stone, strip clay setting, channel setting,  pre-cut bezel, faux prongs with lift on back, syringe and dry setting - gypsy setting.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Upcoming Guild Events

JULY 24TH - trip to Gemstar Gems in Enfield, New Hampshire.   They are open from noon until 5:00 and their stonecutter will be there! 

AUGUST 28TH - demo by Ruth Levine on Hadar's base metal clays.

SEPTEMBER 25TH -  Lori Magno will talk about photoshopping and using social media for marketing

OCTOBER 23RD - Monte Nikkel will demo Viking Knit and Kumihimo.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Meeting for June 26th

Mikki Verani will be demo'ing how to set firable stones in silver metal clay.  If you plan on attending, bring somes stones and clay.

It was a Riveting Meeting

The meeting on May 22nd had Karen Karon demonstrating her lovely riveting techniques.  Here's a few up close and personal pictures of the various stages. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

May Meeting

The next Boston Metal Clay Guild meeting will be on May 22nd.  The demo for that meeting will be on riveting.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Recycling Metal

I had originally read a post on the Metal Clay yahoo group about using NTR Metals for recycling metal.  This was something I had wanted to do for quite a while - actually years.  With the price of silver at its peak now in years (over $40.00/oz. as of today) there was no time like the presentFor us Boston Metal Clay people, we are very fortunate to have one of their 38 worldwide locations here in Stoughton, MA. 

My first trip took a little longer than I'd anticipated.  The only reason was that you have to fill out a form and it has to get faxed and approved by their corporate headquarters.  What I should have done is gone on their site, downloaded their application, printed it, filled it out and faxed it.  This could have reduced my wait to only 10-15 minutes!  I've gone twice now and there really wasn't much of a wait.  The second time I went, I dropped it off, went to IKEA (also in Stoughton and only 5 minutes away!), came back and literally just picked up my check. And the nice thing is, they do take sweeps.  So, for all of you who've been collecting your metal clay filings on wet wipes, you can just put them in a ziploc bag, place that in a box and bring them with your name and address noted somewhere.  They have to send their sweeps to their corporate office for assaying.  They don't do it locally.  They will then send you a check in the mail.  

I've only used this service for my sterling and fine silver scrap which had been piling up over the years.  I don't have much in the way of sweeps yet.  But it sure felt good recycling those atrocious metal clay charms I did in my first PMC class.  Does that bring back memories to any of you?  

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Celebrating their 10th Year Bead Extravaganza

On April 16th, the Boston Chapter of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers will be celebrating their 10th year of Beading Extravaganzas.  Mark your calendar!  The event will take place at the Holiday Inn in Marlboro, MA.  For more details, visit their facebook page.  Admission is $3.00.

"The Boston Chapter has its roots in a small group of New England beadmakers brought together in a Newburyport living room in 1996. In 1998 the group became recognized as a chapter of the Society for Glass Beadmakers, now called the ISGB. In August 2010 membership had grown to 130 with people from all over New England as well as some from as far away as Arizona and California."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Tear-Away Technique with Janice Abarbanel

This month, the demo was about the elusive tear-away technique.  There are two variables that come into play that determine the success or failure of using this technique.  These are the clay and the paper. I originally learned to use white Sculpey III clay for this technique.  But now, the clay of choice is Studio by Sculpey.  Also, it was pointed out that using a combination of 25% metallic Studio by Sculpey works really well.  Studio by Sculpey clay has been discontinued, but it can still be found in various Michaels locations as well as on-line at Polymer Clay Express.  The other variable is the paper in which the design is printed.  For me, my tear-aways became successful when I taught to use Hammermill Color Laser Gloss Paper, 32 lb., 90 brilliance.  You can find this paper at Staples and Sam's Clubs.  To do the transfer, you need to make a toner copy of some sort of black & white artwork.  You can use your own original artwork, or choose from many black & white images from Dover Publications.   The artwork must be black and white - no greys. 

To begin, roll the clay out to about 1/8" (or #1 on the pasta machine).  Lay the clay on some sort of tile, glass or other work area.  Take your design and lay it out with the ink side face down on the clay.  Begin to rub the paper with either your hand or a bone folder (being careful not to apply too much pressure).  Keep rubbing for 3 minutes.  When done, take this unit over to a desk lamp and keeping the light somewhere between 5 - 8 inches away, keep it there for 7 minutes.  When done, go back to rubbing the paper for another two minutes.  Then again, go back to the lamp and keep the work there for another 7 minutes.  Now, you're ready to remove the paper.  Fold one side of the paper about 1/4".  Taking hold of this tab, you will pull the paper off as quickly as tearing a bandaid off the skin.  When the tear away is successful, you will now see the clay over the ink on the paper.  This will act as a low relief etching for your metal clay.  Bake the etched polymer clay plate for 20 minutes at 265 degrees. 

Fortunately for our guild, Mikki came in with numerous designs to choose from.   They were Chinese black & white prints from Dover Publications.  Some people experimented with some of the more intricate designs and they came out really well.  Here's a few photos from the meeting.  And the picture of Mikki?  She's holding the current issue of Art Jewelry Magazine.  Her article "Bring a Dragonfly to Life with Metal Clay and Glass" is on page 30!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Viking Knit Tools

For those of you who have wanted to add viking kit to their metal clay pieces, Whole Lotta Whimsy just made it a bit easier.  They're now selling viking knit weaving tools, viking knit drawplates, or the whole kit an caboodle (o.k. - am I dating myself?) viking knit weaving tool kit.  No affiliation - just one happy customer!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Big News in Metal Clay

It's official!  You will now be able to mix your own hallmark-quality sterling silver clay.  For info regarding this new clay, see this press release.  Do you subscribe to Metal Clay Artist magazine?  The next issue will detail how to mix and fire this yourself in your home studio from either Art Clay or PMC brand clays.  Take a look here:

Monday, February 28, 2011

Flexible Clay with Monte Nikkel

The demo at the February 28th, 2011 meeting was all about flexible clay.  Monte Nikkel presented the demo using pmc3.  She used glycerin which she had purchased from Rite Aid Drug.  A number of us also had glycerin purchased from Cool Tools.  She rolled her clay out fresh from her package inside of a plain non-textured sheet protector that you can pick up at Staples (or any office supply store).  After putting around 10 drops on the clay, she spread them out using her fingers.  Then she folded the clay over onto itself until she had a small thick mound of clay.  Covering it again with the top of the sheet protector she rolled the clay out thin.  Once it was rolled out, Monte used a scraper to lift it off the transparency.  It began to get looser and stickier.  Once she mounded it up again on top of itself, she again put the cover of the protector on and rolled it out thin.  She continued to do this a number of times.  Here, you can see the difference in color of the clay.  As you can see, the darker area shows where the glycerin has penetrated.  She continued until the clay was one color and it again felt just like it did when it came out of the package.

Monte had picked up a book on knotting and here's one of the knots she made with the flexible clay.

For those that weren't able to make the meeting, here's a video on flexible clay with Hadar Jacobsen.


Welcome to the Boston Metal Clay Guild's new blog.  We're a young but very active group.  We have members that are beginners as well as seasoned metal clay artists.  We meet on the 4th Sunday of each month at the Crawford Memorial United Methodist Church from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.  At each meeting we have demos scheduled so we all can learn from one another.  Come join us and share with like-minded people for an afternoon of fun and learning!