Wednesday, December 4, 2013

BronzClay First Firing

I took a brave step yesterday and fired my first BronzClay pieces.  I did tons of research, and finally ended up using the firing schedule chart on the Cool Tools site.  It was written by Mardel Rein, and it's kinda genius.  You can find it HERE.  Just scroll down for all the information you will need to get started with BronzClay and how to troubleshoot.  The stuff can be sorta fickle, so don't give up if your first go isn't perfect.

My kiln is a Paragon SC2 from Rio Grande, and it is the 1680 watt model, and my thickest piece was 7 mm thick, and I used a 4" high stainless steel container.  So here's the schedule I ran.

Rate:  212 per hour
Target Temperature:  1490 degrees F
Hold Time: 2 hours

That took about 9 1/2 hours to complete, and about an hour to cool down enough for me to take the container out and sift through with a stainless steel spoon to fish my pieces out.  I only fired 7 pieces, and here they are straight out of the kiln.

Dirty, grungy, oxidized, but beautiful and fully sintered.

Cleaned up a bit with my Dremel tool.

And a finished piece, a wax seal pendant on an 18" antiqued brass ball chain with a Swarovski birthstone element.  

I did not polish and sand before I fired these pieces, so I had to do a lot of work after I got them out of the kiln.  I sanded and tried to burnish the piece a bit, but I had a few places where the bronze would sort of flake off.  I was worried the piece had not sintered fully, but I did a test on one of the roses that did the same thing.  I hammered the crap out of it and it sounded metal and did not break or crack or anything.  The more I hammered the more bronze I saw.  I read somewhere that you should anneal the metal before you work with it a lot or it could become brittle and break, so I wonder if the flaking was from working it too hard without annealing it.  I plan on fixing this dilemma by sanding and burnishing before firing so all I will have to do is pickle the piece and polish.  

The back of the medallion has a faux bois texture.

I'm so proud of how this turned out, and I can't wait to make more!!!!!