Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Testing Art Clay Silver 950 Part 2

Part 2 of my Art Clay Silver 950 testing. Don't worry, there won't be a part 3 ;)
This will make a lot more sense if you have read Part 1 first, and if you've done that you will also know it is probably a good idea to grab a cup of tea before you start reading this time! Yes, it could be another long post! ;)
At the end of the last post I showed you two enamelled pieces. One was made out of AC950 (on the right) and depletion gilded. The one on the left was a circular piece of AC999 attached to a backing of AC950 and the two were fired together. I've now patinated these using Liver of Sulphur to bring up the textures. The LOS worked just fine, exactly as I would expect it to. Here they are all done. I love to patinate most things as it gives the textures definition and seems to make the enamel colours more vibrant :)
As I mentioned in the last blog post there is a difference between the shrinkage of AC950 and AC999. I've been trying to get a photo showing the slight doming on the piece on the left. As I've failed I decided to try a short video clip. I hope you might be able to see the domed effect in the centre of the back in this.

Next I made two more rings to see if the shrinkage seemed fairly consistent and also to try a few different techniques.
The first one is...um...a bit strange really! Why? Well I was using up the last bits of clay :D I forgot to take any process photos on this one so you'll have to stay with me here on a description.
I wanted to see how well the clay moulded. I twisted 2 strands of 1mm wire together and pressed it into two part moulding compound to make a long thin mould that I could use for a ring band. The clay moulded really well and cleanly. Then I added the front decoration. It looks kind of weird because it was all the bits I had left from all the other things I made. I'd made some tiny balls with little bits of clay and also I had two pieces left over for stone settings. I was going to use them on the first ring but changed my mind. So I set the two small barrel shapes with 2mm lab sapphires. I rolled out a tiny piece of clay .25mm (1 card) thick and once dry I added the ten tiny balls using water to join them. Once that piece was dry I sanded the tops off the balls to make that little piece in the middle.

Everything was joined using water only. After firing as per schedule I polished the ring and added some gold. Whenever I do keum boo I always totally polish the piece first then do the keum boo. The gold foil took really easily and without any issues.

Did I mention this was a tiny ring??? Actually it is a UK size N so perfectly wearable, just very thin!! Shrinkage was consistent with the first ring I made at 7 UK sizes. (As a side note I was amused to realise yet again I had created something vaguely bird like!!! or maybe I just see birds everywhere :D )

The third ring I made was more the sort of thing I would make normally. I started out with a snake of clay and then rolled it flat to 1.5mm (6 cards). I joined it into a flat band and once dry I carved it using a graver. I went with a quick simple starburst design to see how it felt. It carved very smoothly and cleanly. Lovely to work with!

Next I made a topper. I rolled out clay and textured a circle on both sides to .75mm (3 cards) thick. This is thinner than I would ever use in AC999 on a ring. I domed the circle by forming it over a 13mm bead to dry. Once dry I filed the edges to give a nice serrated look that went with the radiating design I had used.

I also filed the edges of the ring band.

The stone setting was a little piece I had pre-made in AC999. It was set with a 3mm lab ruby cab. I was interested to see how well the two clays would go together (and I was running short of clay to make a setting in AC950!). I used water to wet both parts and then joined them. It made a very solid join.

The topper was attached to the ring band using AC999 syringe. As I had used water only to join the toppers on my other two rings I wanted to see how this worked.

I fired the ring to schedule but took it out the kiln hot and placed it on one side to cool. The AC950 polished up very nicely. For this ring I used Black Max to patinate.

I was very pleased with the result. Again shrinkage was 7 UK sizes. I made this at a UK size X and it shrank to a UK size Q. After firing there was a certain amount of distortion, but that was very easy to correct on a ring mandrel, and because the fired silver is much harder I found there was less chance of marking it. The domed part held it shape nicely.

Finally I made one more piece to enamel. My other pieces had been more tests really so I wanted to make something that would show the colours better. I opted for one of my small butterfly designs.
I actually think the AC950 refines up even better than AC999 with baby wipes. Here is the dried butterfly before and after refining. The refining took me about 5 minutes, so very quick and easy.

This piece was textured to 1mm thick. Even though AC950 is stronger than AC999, for enamelling I would not make pieces any thinner. Enamel will crack on very thin silver unless you counter enamel the back due the stresses of the glass enamel on the silver. I never counter enamel as I always decorate the backs of things. For this little piece I stamped out one of my Joy logos. The AC950 took an impression from the stamp very crisply. I attached a piece of fine silver wire to the back of the piece using AC999 syringe to join it all.

This piece was fired to schedule at the same time as the previous ring. After firing I depletion gilded the piece until it was very white. Then I re-polished it and enamelled it.
And here it is...a rainbow butterfly!!!

So what conclusions did I draw from all this testing...
First of all - I love this clay!
Will I use it all the time?
I'll still use AC999 for a lot of things. Depletion gilding works really well on AC950, but it does take extra time. If a piece needs extra strength I'll go with AC950 and put that extra time in if it is a piece to be enamelled. For rings I will definitely go over to AC950. If I am making something where the difference in strength will not be a major issue I'll stick with AC999.
For teaching I will most likely mainly stick to AC999 because of the shorter firing schedule, but there will be some things that I'll go over to AC950 for.
I'm  delighted to have had a chance to test this clay out - thank you Metal Clay Ltd!! I'm looking forward to the release date at the start of September so I can do more playing. I have lots of ideas in mind that I would not make using AC999 :)
If you use silver clay I recommend you give this a whirl and see what you think!!
Have fun!
Joy x



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