"Originally from Maine, I relocated to Southern California many years ago for its better weather.
Healthcare worker by day, in my spare time I work on my new creative pursuit: metal clay. I discovered an artist practicing this 10-year-old art form at a recent County Fair and I signed up for a class on the spot.
Until then, the extent of my art experience was years of outdoor photography; so it was with some trepidation that I approached my first silver clay class in late September. However, with the encouragement and expert guidance of my talented and experienced instructors, I quickly developed sufficient skills to establish a personal workspace at home. As a beginner it was difficult to know what tools I would need, so I did lots of reading and research online. My breakfast table has been transformed into an art clay workspace until I can build a suitable workshop. I organize my everyday tools in jars: brushes in one, clay shapers in another, files and picks in another, and so on. Decorative cutting scissors are well organized and close-at-hand in their own wooden lazy susan. A tackle box holds most other backup tools in a cupboard. The dollar store is a great source for plastic trays and boxes that I use to store many small supplies including my silver clay packets, paste and syringes. Early on, I purchased many templates and molds which I still occasionally use. My current preference is for unique patterns, textures and molds which I create with two-part silicone putty.
The Art Clay I use is made from 100% reclaimed silver and is very easy to work with - even for those of us with no former clay experience. When I'm planning a new piece, like this Mushrooms Miniature Sculpture
I use regular modeling clay to create a mockup of my intended creation; and that I can easily modify as I see fit. Unlike Art Clay I don't have to worry about modeling clay drying up; and it can be reused repeatedly.
Although I have a Dremel hand tool, I prefer the personal touch using diamond needle files and sponge polishing pads to finish the clay piece prior to firing. I was fortunate to find a used Paragon kiln on craigslist and now can enjoy firing multiple items simultaneously.
When I want to impart a softer satin finish to a piece like this branch (http://www.etsy.com/listing/64851420/pure-silver-split-satin-branch-pendant), after kiln firing, I brushed the piece with a brass brush. Afterwards, I used an artist brush to apply a patina to the textured portions of the pendant.
For a shiny, more reflective look such as this pendant (http://www.etsy.com/listing/64852071/pure-silver-split-glossy-branch-pendant), I tumbled it in a jeweler's rotary tumbler. Then I used an artist brush to apply a patina to the textured areas.
There is a great sense of satisfaction in creating a unique fine silver piece from a lump of clay. Always looking to broaden my repertoire, I'm already contemplating which metal clay I'd like to get my hands on next: steel, bronze, copper or gold. Either alone or in combination, working with metal clay offers enormous artistic creative opportunity."