Wednesday, August 6, 2008

An "Oops" Turned Around - Rescuing Precious Metal Clay from Boo Boos at Any Stage

Funny story... the brown stone you see here is actually blue tanzanite. I made this pure silver pendant with a blue stone and the words "blue moon" stamped at the bottom. However, the stone is more heat sensitive than I realized...when I fired it in the kiln, it turned brown. Luckily it is a gorgeous brown stone with red & gold fire (the picture does not do it justice), but it was obviously out of place with the words "blue moon", so I thought hard about how I could salvage this pendant that I really liked and came up with the idea to cover "blue moon" with "eclipse' because the moon looks brown during an eclipse, right? So the pendant ended up being something completely different than I planned, and the "oops" turned into something that is kinda cool and different I think.

So far there is nothing that I have done with metal clay that has not been salvagable no matter how hard I try to screw it up!

Before the clay is fired...
  • In the wet stage, you can always ball it up and start over or augment with more clay.
  • If the clay starts to get dry before you are done forming, spritz with water.
  • In the dry greenware state it can be turned right back into clay by spritzing generously with water and sealing in plastic or an airtight container for a day or so.
  • If at any time you make it too wet, expose to the air until it is the right consistancy.
  • If you break a piece in the leatherhard or greenware state, you can use the metal clay paste to glue things back together.
  • You can refine edges and smooth flaws with a wet paintbrush or with sand paper. (If you sand the greenware, be sure to salvage the 'dust' from you sanding and add it to your paste jar. The moisture will turn the dust into more paste or slip so there is no waste.)
  • If cracks form while drying, you can 'spackle' them with silver paste.

After the clay is fired...

  • You can repair breaks using silver OIL paste and re-fire (Kiln only), then sand and polish until the seam is not visible.
  • You can add another element made from metal clay and use paste to adhere it to the original piece then refire.
  • You can enamel, paint, or collage over mistakes (as I did in the eclipse pendant) to turn the item into a mixed media piece.
  • You can file off small mistakes using metal files and different grits of sand paper or if you have metalsmithing tools, you can saw off boo boos or drill, etc.
  • If all else fails, the item is .999 silver and can be melted and poured into a mold or can be sold to a precious metal buyer for the going rate for pure silver.

I just love a hobby with built in safety net!!

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