Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Try, Try Again!

I got some lump copper clay from Hadar quite a while ago and was really excited to play with it. It was lovely to work with and I had fun with my quick little designs. Unfortunately I could never get it to sinter! I put it in the kiln at a variety of temps and ramps and techniques 4 or 5 times and it never worked. I was sad.
These dangle 2" below the ear wire and the blade is 1.5" wide. Love them.

I almost threw it all out a couple of weeks ago and would have done so today with my big desk purge (scheduled for this afternoon) if it hadn't been for a Facebook comment by Angela Crispin. Gotta love that you can get advice from France in real time. 

Sweet, simple little hoops with a bit of carving. The hoop measures about 1.25"

Just to check out her schedule I threw those old failures in the hot blue box and waited. Guess what happened?  They sintered!!!!! Yay!!! Success. If those old things fired right, then anything will. I think. I threw some student work in and that sintered too. First time. I have another batch in right now, charms for the Etsy MetalClay team's charm swap.

A big pile of other stuff waiting to be finished. The soldering's done on the blades in the front, but they haven't been polished yet.

So the magic formula is: (insert drum roll here)

• Step 1 - Place your pieces flat on a kiln shelf or supported on fiber blanket in an open firing at ramp 480ºF to 555ºF and hold for one hour

• Step 2 - Wait until it cools down enough that you're comfortable handling them and transfer to the stainless steel sink and carbon in the way we've been taught with a full ramp to 1650ºF for 3.5 hours. I fire to 1670ºF myself, but you should try 1650 and then up the temp by ten degrees with each successive firing until you see pimples from the coal. Then back down to the previous temp. Copper doesn't melt until around 1980ºF and I figure that just like silver clay, the higher you fire, the better. 

Thanks Angela. You may have just renewed my faith in the wondrous CopprClay.

Look for my Etsy shop update next Wednesday.


Sue said...

Thanks for posting this Lora! I haven't even opened my copper clay after reading about so many failures. I may give it a try now.

Paige said...

I'm going to do some phase one firing today. I hope it works out. I really appreciate you sharing this information.

Angela said...

So happy the schedule I've been using finally worked for you, Lora ! I love the texture and feel of Hadar's clay and really love to work with both copper clays out there for different reasons. I'll add that you really need to protect your hands all around, nooks and crannies, and up to the wrist too.
Lovely pieces, and those earrings will be really cool once they've been polished !

Lore said...

Thanks Lora and Angela!!!
I will fire my next pieces like this.
Love your blog Lora!!!!

Aja Vaz said...

I'm working up the courage to try this on some of my hollow pieces- eek! Maybe I should try it on some smaller pieces first...Thanks for the wonderful info Lora and Angela!
That's great that you were able to sinter Hadar's copper because I've put mine to the side since I could never get it to sinter :( Yahoo, more clay to play w/, lol.

Dina Alexander said...

I've made my pieces Lora, but still have yet to fire them. I'm unsure of how to set up my kiln. I have an older model. Your pieces are great.