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Near the end of the year in 2011 sterling silver metal clay was introduced.  I have been working with fine silver metal clay for some time now and love it.  I wondered how the sterling version would behave so I purchased some.  I have made just one piece with sterling PMC.  The photo above shows the new ring “Zen Gazing Disc Ring”.  The design was somewhat inspired by a ring I made a long time ago entitled “Portable Zen Rock Garden”.  The differences between the two rings are vast.  This new ring has a larger focal element.  Sterling is stronger when work hardened than fine silver so I was able to make this ring shank quite thin.  The original ring has a pleasing weighty feel however and there are certainly pros and cons to both fine silver and sterling.  The sterling clay behaved for me the way I hoped it would, a lot like fine silver clay does.  The only challenge I encountered making this ring regards shrinkage of the piece during firing.  The stated shrinkage is higher than that of PMC3 and others have reported that rings lost about 3 sizes.  I made this ring 3 sizes too large for my middle finger.  After firing it does not fit on my middle or ring finger and it measures almost 4 sizes smaller than the dry piece had prior to firing.  I will have to take this into account when I design future rings.

 

On another subject, I have joined a group on Flickr this year entitled Four a Month and it is moderated by the fantastic and creative Lora Hart.  I am posting my first four pieces starting today and continuing over the next few days.  The idea behind the group is that the four pieces we make and post each month will all have a theme or unifying element about them.  Lora has allowed for a great deal of freedom regarding what can qualify as a foursome.  For my first set I chose butterflies.  Below you will find a monarch inspired butterfly in fine silver with a necklace bail in the body of the butterfly.  I have made a couple of other butterflies like it in the last year and they have been extremely warmly received.  I do adore everything butterflies stand for, metamorphosis, grace, beauty, flight, rising above ones limitations to name a few.  One woman told me she believes butterflies are the embodiment of the spirits of our lost loved ones.  All four of the butterflies are made and finished at this point.  I am working with some new photography equipment and software and two of the four will require me to spend more time with this new equipment so that I can produce nice photos.  The next four pieces will be based on the four seasons theme and I have already made those as well.  After those I will be presenting a series of four pieces based on box structures.  I have made three of the four and the remaining piece, a ring with a stone set in it, remains as greenware tidbits on my bench.

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