Stepping Stones

The lids on these three pieces handcrafted by Lora Hart feature soldered safety chains attached to the body of the containers.

by Lora Hart

Courtesy of Handmade Business

Metal clay artist Lora Hart views techniques learned in classes as just the starting point for creative expression

There's nothing more exciting than learning a new technique and imagining how I can extend and develop it to create something very different than the class project where it was introduced. That's what was going through my mind when, during a ring class, I first became interested in making containers.

I didn't jump straight from rings to fully realized containers. My thought process and experiments evolved over time. I started with the basics. Rings are round, hollow objects and I knew how to make those. Tube/cylinder beads are round, hollow objects and I knew how to make those.

So, the first container I created was round, but instead of using a straw or ring mandrel to create the round form, I wrapped metal clay around a pill bottle. On my next venture, I formed clay around an oval eyeglass case. Later, I tried joining two different bead shapes to make a 'lentil' shaped bottle. I was hooked! Today, I fabricate, saw apart, and re-configure all types of different shapes to come up with unique container designs.

Classes that focus on a specific project are a terrific way to dabble in something new. You get to meet an instructor you admire, work with other students you have something in common with, and come away with a really special piece that looks a lot like something the instructor might have made herself.

However, the magic really happens later, when you use the techniques you've learned in the class to create something that is uniquely yours. That's the definition of inspiration!
Metal Clay Container

The stone in the stopper is a rutilated quartz bullet; the gallery wire was soldered. The side walls were free formed/draped over a taped construction Hart made specifically to form the walls. The central ''domed'' Moroccan shape was finger dapped through a template. The dapped shape was gilded with AGS. The oval container was formed around a drug store reading glasses plastic case.

Metal Clay Bottle Metal Clay Container

Left: This textured container was accented with granulation formed with a lentil bead joined to a tube bead.

Basic Tools for Precious Metal Clay
  • Work surface such as Teflon sheet, ceramic tile, glass, or Formica
  • Rubber block
  • Lubricant
  • Clay roller
  • Spacers
  • Templates
  • Texture mats
  • Molds
  • Scalpel
  • Tissue slicing blade
  • Palette knife
  • Needle tool
  • Ceramic clean-up tool
  • Stainless steel brush
  • Sanding and polishing tools
  • Paintbrush
  • Nail files
  • Ultra polish pads
  • Sanding sticks and files
  • Needle nose files
  • Assortment of drinking straws
  • Airtight container
  • Kiln
  • Torch and torch firing pad

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