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Seven Moons Pendant on the Cover of ACS Quarterly!

I wanted to share with you that one of my designs, Seven Moons Silver Pendant, won the competition for the cover of the next issue (Spring 2010) of the Art Clay Society Quarterly! This is the kind of news that bring me joy and inspiration…

Seven Moons Fine Silver Pendant by Yol Swan
Seven Moons Fine Silver Pendant by Yol Swan

My Seven Moons Silver Pendant is a pure silver collage created with metal clay (PMC) that was inspired by the feminine energy of the Moon and also by the concept that the Moon reflects the light of the Sun in the same manner that our mind reflects the light of pure consciousness. I chose the number Seven because it is a very mystical number with deep symbolism used by many esoteric schools. Some popular ones that come to mind are: 7 days in a week, 7 major chakras in the body, 7 notes in a scale, and 7 is the number of the seeker of Truth in numerology. Seven is most definitely a divine and mysterious number (being a prime number and all), and I believe that each 7-year cycle brings the opportunity to learn from experience to make progress in life, in terms of personal and spiritual development. Otherwise we just repeat the same mistakes in the next cycle. Seven also seems to be the cycle that tests our relationships (every seven days, months, years) to check how strong they really are…

My Seven Moons Silver Pendant shows seven moons at different stages of the lunar cycle with various textures, along with a feminine face and a dichroic glass cabochon acting as two of the moons. It has a light golden accent on some spots to convey the energy of the Sun that is reflected on the Moon. It has a light patina to add contrast. The three different parts of the pendant are linked with sterling silver wire, and the whole pendant weighs 41 gm of pure silver. Needless to say, I will be more than delighted to receive the next issue of the Art Clay Society Quarterly with my jewelry design on it!

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The Dream: New Pure Silver Pendant

I had promised to post the pendant I was working on when I wrote my New Silver Jewelry Designs post a while ago. I just hadn’t had the time to make the chain I wanted for this pendant with one thing or another getting in the way… Ok, so here is a close-up view:

The Dream Fine SIlver Pendant
The Dream : Close Up

Below is a view of the whole pendant with the oxidized sterling silver chain I made for it:

The Dream Silver Pendant with Chain
The Dream : Silver Pendant with Chain

This design was inspired by a song I wrote many years ago entitled A Dream Within a Dream, which referred to the yogic philosophical view that the external world is not real, just an illusion, and that the only true reality is the self, as well as by the incredibly versatile nature of dreams, where desires, fears, experiences and people get mixed up and re-created to fulfill a subconscious purpose. I tried to blend the masculine, outside world-ish aspect with the feminine, more introspective side of our mental field, as they intertwine in the subconscious.

This silver collage pendant was handcrafted using PMC (Precious Metal Clay) and weighs 44 gm of pure, beautiful silver.

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New Art Clay Copper Experiment

Of all PMC (Precious Metal Clay) and Art Clay, Copper and Bronze clays are still pretty new, so there is still a lot of experimentation going on amongst metal clay artists. And here is my second experiment with Art Clay Copper. I want to share here the steps I went through as well as my observations about each step. So here I go…

art clay copper pendant
Putting my pieces together...

Here I am putting together the pieces I want for my copper collage. I notice that the clay gets dry pretty quickly, making it harder for me to manipulate without it breaking or getting little cracks. I tried to smooth the clay out with water, but it was never completely smooth. It had these mini cracks that seemed like nothing, like they could be sanded once the clay dried.

copper clay collage design
Sticking the pieces together with some paste I made

Here I had to make some paste to stick things together, so I used a little bit of clay and mushed it up with Sherri Haab’s paste maker, which I use for silver clay. Now I think that the copper paste would have probably been better with just distilled water and lavender oil instead, because it gets so dry so quickly. I tried to reinforce the spots I considered weaker on the back of the piece, and once it was dry I sanded and reinforced the edges.

firing copper clay pendant
The finished pendant being fired...

After I finished adding all the parts and making sure it was completely dry, I fired the piece on the SpeeFire Cone at 1400 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Notice the very red color, which is different than the salmon color you get when firing silver clay.

As the piece was being fired, it bent a little bit, probably because the strips were of different thickness and not flat against a surface. Still, I thought the bent shape actually looked good!

copper clay pendant quenching
Quenching the copper clay pendant

As the pendant was fired, it became darker and darker, as it was oxidized. When I quenched it in cold water, most of the oxidation fell off right in the bowl. I was so excited!

I placed it in a pickle solution to completely remove the oxidized layer and left it in it for over an hour.

Finished art clay copper pendant
The pendant after being pickled and finished

Here is the somewhat finished piece, after being pickled and polished a little bit. You can probably see the small cracks here and there, especially the one on the bottom. I was disappointed to see these cracks and tried to file them, but a couple were deep enough to make the piece unsellable.

The left section didn’t lose the oxidation after being pickled, so I put the pendant in the pickle solution again for another hour, Still, the oxidation didn’t go away and I am not sure why.

In any case, this was an experiment, so after closer observation of the piece I noticed that it was weak and showed cracks in certain spots where I had used the paste, and in other spots where the clay was probably too thin, or maybe was bent while putting the pieces together. This would probably not have happened had the pendant been a single flat piece and not several strips of textured clay.

However, the fresh clay already had many little tiny cracks as it was drying, which was quick, and even though I tried to smooth them out, they were still there after firing the piece and got even deeper. I had filed some of them once the clay was dry, but apparently those little cracks run deep! It seems to me that the copper clay is much drier than the silver clay, at least the Art Clay Copper is (I’ve never tried the PMC Copper clay), and that makes it more difficult to work with. I think I will try to keep it moist and smoother on my next experiment, which will be with a flat piece. I will keep you posted…

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New Pictures of Silver Jewelry Designs

After the Copper Art Clay disaster I decided to cheer me up with a couple new designs in Silver Metal Clay (PMC) while I wait for some more copper clay to come in the mail and continue with my experiments…

I was able to take a few pictures that I would like to share with you before uploading them to the site. Below is a finished pure silver pendant that I slightly oxidized to add contrast with the fine silver and the thin layer of gold accent that I placed in some places. The finished patina is slightly blue-ish purple-ish, which is my favorite patina.

Inside Out Fine Silver Pendant
Inside Out: Fine Silver Pendant

I have always been fascinated by the relation of the subconscious and the dream world with our everyday life, and how we can discover what is inside of us by watching our mind and actions in the world. This design, as many of my jewelry pieces are, was inspired by this fascination with the subconscious.

As I was taking the picture, I realized that the photographic background had some scratches on it! Anyway, I don’t think I can fix that, which means I will have to “photoshop” my pictures whenever I use this background… Oh well. I wonder what photographers do to keep this type of background clear and unscratched.

Below is another precious metal clay design I am working on and I wanted to share this picture here before it is completely finished.

The Dream - Metal Clay Design
The Dream (unfinished)

This photo was taken before the piece was fired, and although I fired it already I will share it here when it is completely finished and photographed. I am waiting for some sterling silver wire to come in the mail because I would like to create a chain for it. I will post this pmc jewelry design again when it’s completely done.

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Copper Art Clay Mystery

I think I am on the right track at resolving the Copper Art Clay breaking mystery. From looking at my pieces, I’d say that they weren’t fired enough, that is, that the metal wasn’t sintered because there was not enough heat. Since copper sinters at a higher temperature than silver, I will fire another piece until it becomes redder than I am used to with silver, which shows a salmon color when fired, and I will also fire torch it longer than 5 minutes.

It was very disappointing to have those 2 pieces break on me, especially because now I have to wait until I get another order of copper clay. I might get a new kiln or a SpeedFire Cone system to fire more copper pieces that way. We’ll see…

I have my fingers crossed and will post results here soon.