Convergent Series

learning, using & teaching metal clay, and other aspects of life

Smart Bronze: By Jove, I Think I’ve Got It! (Post 5 of 6)

Posted by C Scheftic on 2013/06/30

This post continues the story I’ve been telling about coming to understand Smart Bronze metal clay….

By now I was feeling time-pressure on top of some test-process frustration. What pressure? The various “test” pieces in Smart Bronze had not taken that much time to make, in and of themselves. But their firings had been eating up kiln-time. I was making and firing pieces in other metals in between so that I’d have enough inventory for the Three Rivers Arts Festival (held June 7 through 16 this year). Aside from the rings, which I’d been doing just for myself, I’d been thinking the “test” pieces might serve as the “loss leaders” in my collection at the Festival: an option for someone who really wanted something of mine but could not afford the higher-end pieces. (I’d make sure to cover my actual costs with them, but would take some loss on my time by just calling that testing-learning overhead.) And I write about all of this, now, as a teacher: to illustrate that even someone who, in general, does know what she’s doing … can also hit roadblocks, make mistakes, continue exploring, and figure things out. Just in time!

Here’s what happened next:

Trial #7: Early June in a Brick Kiln

Hadar (still) said: Ramp at 1400 per hour to 1430°F and hold for 2 hours.
What I entered (correctly, this time!): Ramp at 1350 to 1395 and hold for 2 hours.
Program completed in 2:59.

Test pieces: Taking a risk, I fired all of these: another open-ended ring shank, several botanic pendants and a collection of earring elements. All came out looking fine! Whew!

Trial #8: Early June in a Brick Kiln.
Or, have I moved beyond Trial Firings to Real Firings?!

Hadar said: Ramp at 1400 per hour to 1430°F and hold for 2 hours.
I entered: Ramp at 1350 to 1395 and hold for 2 hours.
Program completed in 2:59.

Test pieces: Once I’d attached a new “top design” to the ring shank from trial #7, I fired that in the kiln, along with another collection of little earring components. (Shown, here, are ten pieces I included in this particular load.) Once again, all came out looking fine. I could actually wear the ring! In the time since these last two “test” firings and my getting around to writing this report, I’ve sold almost all the earrings and pendants I stuffed into these test-loads. Success, at last!

And the ring, which I wore constantly during the Three Rivers Arts Festival and have continued to wear frequently since, is holding up beautifully:


I’ll close this series with one final post, summing up what I’ve learned in the process.

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