Sometimes when I work with metal clay I feel a little like an alchemist. I do love this process of taking a lump of moist clay, shaping it, then putting it into the magical black box and coming out with a solid metal.
I've been making a lot of drawings lately. I haven't turned all of them into molds yet. Some of them aren't really ready and some of them just aren't go to make the cut. But, there is just something so satisfying about taking a drawing and turning it into metal.
Those little bronze snowflakes are a new design. I had a snowflake pattern in the past but I was never satisfied with it. That particular pair of snowflakes is going some place special next week.
This stage before I fire the pieces is one of favorites in the process. Not in this picture, but in person you can see tiny bright specks of metal. It's so fragile that it's hard to believe that it will become solid and substantial.
Then there is that moment of truth stage after the pieces have been fired. I packed this last load a little differently and wasn't sure if the pieces would survive. Bronze can be a bit finicky when it comes to firing. But I think I've got it down for most pieces now. It's pretty ugly fresh out of it's charcoal bed. All kind of crusty and rough.
But the tumbler takes care of the ugly part. It's like another black box. I put those pieces in there and let them go for an hour, sometimes more. If something is going to break it's probably going to be in that stage of the process. It's always exciting to dump those pieces out and dig for the shiny treasure among the steel shot.
Then there is the next ugly stage. These bright shiny pieces get bathed in chemicals and made all sort of black and nasty looking. This is actually my least favorite part of the process. It's kind of smelly. It makes a mess on my work bench. If I don't wear gloves then my hand turn orange. And I don't like wearing the gloves. Don't know why. Just don't like it.
Alchemy! Transformation complete. Now if I could only figure out how to transform bronze into gold. Heck, I'd be happy with silver given today's market prices.
Have a great weekend, all!