Trying Art Clay Copper (Post #9 of ?)
Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/03/20
[All images in this post are composites that show both sides of the same pieces. One side of each set is to the left; the other, to the right. Clicking on any image should open a new window where you can see a larger version of it if you want.]
Four more hours in simmering pickle, and over an hour of concentrated dental-picking later, and they’re still not done!!! In addition to some remaining firescale, they still all need to be hand-polished and such. I will admit it: I am getting kinda tired of these 15 little copper pieces.
If one reason to use copper (aside from its lovely color, of course) is to help keep down the price of my work as silver prices soar, working with this copper this way isn’t looking promising. Yes, the raw material costs less, but the difference is eaten up by the hours (of my time) that will be required after firing. Yes, I can do other productive work while pieces just sit in the pickle. Yes, I’m still learning at this point, so I’ll likely find ways to speed up with trial and practice. But right now, what I have invested in these is far more than what I could ever sell them for had they been silver. And copper sells for less. I can picture getting the copper-work down to the same cost, to me, as it’d’ve been had I worked in silver. I’m having trouble picturing how to get the cost (materials + time) to come in at less. (And, yes, Art Clay Copper can also be fired in activated carbon, like the other copper clays, which should eliminate some of the firescale problems … but the point of trying it was to see if I could avoid the various other issues in using that technique.)
The two fish — the pieces that caused the whole episode of having to start a second packet of clay during the construction phase — have cleaned up nicely. The fan still needs some clean-up on the front, and the ginkgo needs a little on the back. But these four are in pretty good shape. The end of the work on them seems to be in sight.
The pair of matching wedding-love medallions don’t match. In my last post I noted the huge air-induced bubble on the one at the top. It’s a kind of nice effect; my only disappointment with it is that the other one didn’t react the same way! Both heart-sides cleaned up well, but dental picking was key there. (The top one was also polished with a Dremel tool. That didn’t help with the firescale, at least not via the attachments I tried, but it’s why that one looks a bit shinier than any of the others for now.) The bells still need a bit of work. Note that the bell that’s on the convex side of the bubble dome cleaned up a bit better than did the one that’s still flat. (Yet another reason I wish both had bubbled!)
The other pair of disks show something similar. They each have the same intricate texture on one side, and the one that’s on the convex side of the domed piece cleaned up well. The other one, on a flat piece, is going to require a good bit more cleaning: whether that means going back in the pickle or being attacked with more hand tools has not yet been decided!
Of the next five, the little leaf-shapes are in the best shape. The other three all still have a lot of firescale, on one side or the other. On the paisley shape, the most black is on the side that was facing up on the firing shelf, so that makes some sense to me. I’m sorry to see, however, that the patch I had made to the little ding the piece suffered while drying is one of the bits that popped off. (Please, can we just have the firescale pop off? What’s this with losing other bits as well!) On the butterfly, the most black remains on the side that was fired down, which is not how it’s supposed to work. Same thing on the long oblong shape: the blackest side was fired face-down. I can almost understand it for that piece: the face that was down was not really flat, so some oxygenated air could have slipped underneath. But it also disappoints because in the “popping off” action, a small area near the top (right edge, just under the smooth area at the top of the textured section) now has a small hole in it.
But the biggest disappointment is this last little pair. Even after almost seven hours in hot pickle, the black just will not come off them. And they totally defy the theory of less firescale on the face-down side, because the dense black — up in the indentations on the side that doesn’t have the little “snake” — is on the side that was facing the kiln shelf. I tried picking at them, just to see if it’d work, and it did not. These were meant to be used in an inexpensive little pair of earrings, and it is not worth my time to pick at them any more. They’re going to sit in the pickle until they clear themselves up, or they just disintegrate in the acid.
But I’m too tired to think about them any more right now. Polishing remans .. both to be done, and to be reported on.
This entry was posted on 2011/03/20 at 22:00 and is filed under Learning Metal Clay. Tagged: copper. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.