Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Finding the Right Torch for Copper Clay

I spent the past couple of days firing more copper charms.  My hubby bought me a cute little handheld torch that I was dying to try.  However, I had no pieces that were ready to fire.  So I spent Sunday playing with copper clay, stamps and molds.  You would think with the hundreds of stamps I have sitting around, that stamping would be easy.  Not so much.  You need stamps with deep impressions.  Most of my favorite stamps do not fit this description.  Also, you don't want the stamps to be too busy for the small shapes I intended to make.  I do have some neat cutter shapes so that I was able to make many charms in different sizes.  It took me all day.

Monday I sat in the porch and tried out the new torch.  However, it seems the cute little torch does not put out enough heat.  The whole piece is supposed to turn a peachy color; if there are spots of glowing bright orange, that is too hot and you need to back off a bit.  I had lots of trouble with this; even on a small charm, the metal clay heated up in spots.  Whereever the torch hit the charm, that spot would get bright, but the rest of the charm was dark.  I tried to fire several pieces, but it wasn't going well.  They were so brittle, that when I tried to burnish them, they broke into pieces. 

I tried to find the tank and nozzle I had used the previous weekend, but it was somewhere in the back garage and I couldn't find it.  So I had to give up until hubby came home and dug it out for me.

Tuesday I fired more charms with the old tank and nozzle.  That worked much better as far as producing an even temperature throughout the charm.  Two of the charms were pretty large so I heated them for an extra 2 minutes each (for a total of 9 minutes), but the color doesn't look quite right and the surface oxidation didn't come off like it should when I dropped them in cool water.  They are the flowers in the picture below on the top left and bottom left.  The top flower is still pretty red and the bottom flower looks more like darkened silver than copper.  I did use 3 different propane tanks and they each seemed to produce different results. 

I also pressed the stamps into the clay a little too hard in a couple instances where the pieces broke along the deeper grooves.  The bird on the left should have been in a larger oval; when a small piece of the background under his beak broke off, I broke of the rest of the background all the way around his lower body.  I might have to do the same on the top of his head and body.  Another piece broke when I drilled the hole (not shown).  The bird in the middle lost a small part of his tail, but otherwise he turned out pretty good.  I didn't drill a hole in him as I was afraid I'd break his beak.  So he may need a wire-wrapped "cage" of some sort.

Today I polished my charms as best I could with polishing papers.  Once I get some steel shot for the tumbler, I hope polishing will be easier and less time-consuming. 

So that's it for now!!



1 comment:

  1. Laurel, the charms are darling! I've tried PMCs before and either can't get the hang of them or just find them too intimidating. You did a great job! :)