Tuesday, February 28, 2012

PMC Sterling Rings

Pictured here are a group of rings I'm working on for my upcoming CraftCast webinar on April 4th and for my pre-PMC Conference class. Mostly I'm enjoying the process of learning about another new material, its pros and cons, and how to best integrate it into my studio.
About the rings: They are all about the same size as this makes it easier for me to keep track of the shrinkage and determine if it's regular.
They are all 'open' because I haven't wanted to do this in fine silver clay and PMC Sterling seems a perfect opportunity. They are all carved because it's simply one of my favorite activities and PMC Sterling does it so well. I have discovered something: The drier the clay, the more it's likely to chip when carved. If you're carving PMC Sterling and it chips try giving it a "steam bath". By this I mean, put it in a hydrating environment briefly then carve. This might be 10 minutes but it depends on where you live, the thickness of the piece, etc. Don't overdo the hydration or it will get floppy and while this is good if you want to re-form the piece, it may make it too fragile to carve.
Once I form, refine and carve the rings I begin trying different solutions. I have a lifetime of pebbles and pieces, not to mention those I make, to house on the rivet wire that joins the two sides of the ring band.
I love working this way: On one side of my desk I have a pile of treasures I've collected or made over the years: rocks, beads, baubles and bits. On the other side I am making and carving ring shanks, the solutions for the orphans in the other pile, the 'bits' pile. The fun is in mixing and matching them up then sorting out the inevitable problems that occur when joining disparite materials.
This hollow form "flip ring" looks straightforward but actually depends on a tube inside the hollow form through which the rivet wire will go. Without the tube, the rivet wire would simply bend inside the hollow form. Fortunately the PMC Sterling's longer open working time serves it well for use with the extruder and the tube was easy to make.
Later this month I'll be posting examples of other rings that will be featured on the Craftcast webinar.