Friday, November 4, 2011

Making Metal Clay Jewelry-Review

I've been thinking of delving into the world of Metal Clay.  However, I don't really want to have to have a kiln to fire it.  So I started looking at Art Metal Clay.  Then I received the book The Absolute Beginners Guide: Making Metal Clay Jewlry by Cindy Pankopf and published by Kalmbach Books.  It is a wonderful book.  Cindy sets everything out very clearly, especially for someone who doesn't know anything about the Metal Clays.  Right from the beginning she gives you places you might find instructors or classes to learn from in your area.  Then she outlines what Silver clay is and what to expect from it as you work with it.  She also sets out a little warning to not skip ahead so you won't get frustrated with your efforts and waste time and money. Then she delves right in to the different types of clay and varieties of clay.  For instance, there's lump clay, paste clay, syringe clay and paper clay.  There's also ACS clay, ACS Slow Dry, ACS 650, even Copper clay (which is why I got interested in the first place, since I love copper, but would like to be able to do more with it than just cut pieces of copper sheet.)  She also mentions in the Basics that she designed all the projects in the book so as to be fired with a simple to use, inexpensive, handheld butane torch, which is great for beginners.  That way you can get used to the firing process without putting out a lot of money/investment in the beginning, until you know if this is really for you.  She also lists other materials you can use with your clay, like gemstones, wire and more.  Then she delves right in outlining tools and supplies you'll need. Cindy tries to keep start-up costs minimal by suggesting tools and substitutes that are inexpensive and easy to come by.  For instance, Freezer paper can be used for a nonstick work surface instead of Teflon-coated sheets.  And playing cards can be used to measure your gauge/thickness instead of buying graduated slat sets.  Olive oil can even be used as an oil to keep surfaces and your hands from sticking to the clay.  She talks about the tools you'll need for working with dry clay, firing, finishing and adding patina's.  There's even a section on specialty tools you might want/need.  Next is the Techniques section where she talks about an easy way to figure out gram size for scrap clay you will have, storing your clay between sessions and recovering your scrap clay.  There's tips about how to know if your firing too long and what to look for while you're firing.  And then ways to get different finishes on your fired clay.  And there's this handy shopping list you can print out for the projects in Part 2. 

Are you ready to go?  The projects start with the easiest and also grouped by the techniques you'll learn.  I really liked that.  At the top of the page it show you what technique you'll be learning with this project. For instance, with the first project: Stamped Charms, you'll learn Roll, Texture and Create a Satin Finish.  Plus, a chart tells you how big the charm will be and what you'll need for this project.  There's also extra tips with each project about how to do something easier or get rid of unwanted texture from your Teflex sheet.  The projects graduate to harder and harder projects, learning new techniques with each one, right up to working with Paper (sheet) clay and how to assembly dry clay with an overlay.  The final project is one with Copper clay, since it requires a few more tools and techniques.  There is only one that can be Torch Fired, so be careful if you want to work with Copper and make sure you get the right clay.  At the end is 'Beyond the Basics' with tips on Making connections, reconditioning/reclaiming clay, how to fix mistakes and how to repair broken pieces.  All in all this is a great book for the beginner.  It outlines everything you need to know and what you need to begin working with Metal Clay.  I think even ones that have worked with it for a while would enjoy it and perhaps learn something from it, even if it's just something they'd forgotten or hadn't thought about.  I highly recommend this book if you've been thinking about starting to work with Metal Clay.  Even if there's a class or instructor in your area, this is a great book to have on your bookshelf to refer to afterwards for more tips or reminders of what you learned.
Keep a watch on my Etsy shop, KayzKreationz for new Glass Kreationz and Jewelry that will be featuring pieces made with Metal Clay.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Kalmbach Publishing to read and do my review.


Therese's Treasures said...

Thank you for the book review Kay, I have always wanted to work with the metal clays, but did not know how to go about using it. This book will be a big help. I'm off to purchase the book now.

KayzKreationz said...

Thanks Therese. You'll really love it.

Raida said...

Sounds like a great book, Thanks for sharing. I've done some silver clay but really want to try the bronze and copper since silver is so expensive.