September 9, 2010

finishing silver pieces

large Dala Horse pendant
(custom order)

As I recently finished up some silver pieces made from silver metal clay, I thought I'd share a few photos from the process. And you'll get a sneak preview of upcoming sale items, some of which I haven't offered before, like the snowflakes and leaves.

If you're not sure what metal clay is, it is composed of .999 pure (fine) silver particles (recycled/reclaimed) blended with an organic binder. Each piece is made individually, using my hands, basic tools, and custom stamps from my original images (except I can't claim the Dala horse design that has been around much longer than me!).  I will also use molds of my own relief-style sculpted images, similar to some horse head medallion ornaments I have made in the past (only smaller), I just haven't gotten that far yet! (So many ideas, never enough hours!) During firing in a special kiln, the binder burns away and the silver particles fuse (sinter) together to leave a .999 Fine Silver piece. Fired metal clay silver is a little less dense (and therefore lighter weight) than cast silver, but is still a quality silver product especially suitable for creating unique jewelry. It allows me to work in a sculptural way (as opposed to traditional metalsmithing methods), which seems very natural to me.

After firing, many pieces are antiqued (oxidized) for contrast to bring out the design. I use different combinations of polishing techniques depending on what suits the piece, including tumbling, hand-polishing, and burnishing for a high shine. These are the steps I'm sharing with you today!

completed, dry metal clay pieces (ready for firing)
fired, now .999 silver
(wire-brushed surface, the first finishing step)
oxidized, ready for preliminary polishing and tumbling
tumbled and hand polished, ready to use!


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