Wednesday 28 March 2012

Bead Table Wednesday - Tools of the Trade...

This Wednesday finds my bead table set up with all the paraphernalia for a Bronzclay session...

The blue striped box holds all my commercial texture plates plus anything else that takes my eye including wallpaper, fabric and lace and an onion net! In front of that are moulds that I have made myself. The blue ones are made from 2 part silicon gels - very expensive but much the best for moulding soft (or bulky) materials like plant matter which I'm very fond of using in my work. The green ones are made from polymer clay which is much cheaper and suitable for harder materials.

The tray contains all my lotions and potions and my tools. The 1 Cal Olive Oil spray never got used when it sat in the kitchen cupboard so I moved it into the workroom. It's a godsend as I'm a bit of a klutz and have knocked over oil bottles countless times as I never put the tops on while I'm working. 'Gloves in a Bottle' is a barrier cream which helps me avoid the horrible brown stains metal clay can give you and the lavender oil is for conditioning the clay but also makes the room smell nice.

Tools include commercial  shapers and cutters but are supplemented with more cost effective bits and bobs like knitting pins, cocktail sticks, emery boards... just about anything that comes to hand really. The little black box with the white balls contains cocktails sticks with cheap plastic beads glued to the top of them - I use these as forms for bead caps which I then poke into a block of florists foam to dry - necessity is the mother of invention as they say!

The little white artist's palettes are also used as forms to create domed pendants and clasps as they cost just a fraction of the price of the commercial forms like the copper one you can also see here. They're also great for holding tiny items I'm working with and mixing slip. For larger pieces I also use dead light bulbs again stuck into florists foam!

The coloured strips are the spacers I use to get an even thickness when rolling the clay and these are one of the commercial tools that I do prefer. I was taught metal clay using playing cards as spacers but these come in graduated depths, are easier to clean and I've had much more even results since using them.

I love, love, love silicone baking sheets for rolling metal clay on. I cut them into small pieces and then I just move the sheets to a drying surface with the pieces in situ and they just slip off when dry. Not having to move clay from one surface to another avoids the risks of distortion or marking. And finally, to the left is my tin of cutters - again an assortment of clay and cookie cutters mixed with bits and bobs that I've picked up along the way. I've yet to come across a commercial tool that you can't find some sort of substitute for around the home or garden.

I can guarantee you that within half an hour of me starting work, this scene will be unrecognisable and look more like a small bomb site - bit of a messy worker me. But hopefully it's all worth it when I end up with lots of goodies ready to go into the kiln like these that I made yesterday...

There's bit of a nature vibe going on here and I'm starting to think beach themes too - must be the week of warm sunny weather we've had here in the UK. These will going into my components shop  THEA too later this week.

So, that's what's on my bead table and you can see what other people have on theirs here



  1. You sound so much like me when you work. I always start tidy and always clean up at the end of a work session, but as I work, it's a disaster zone. Most of my tools are improvised for PMC work as I got together many for polymer clay work and they work just the same with metal clay. I always work on tiles - cheap white bathroom tiles (put a bit of non slip mat underneath for rolling etc.) with the metal clay I add a sheet of baking silicone on top and just move these around with pieces to dry etc., I'd only flex the sheet otherwise and drop everything off!

    1. Oh great idea with the tiles - I'll give that a try.

  2. This is awesome - I so love seeing how others organize their workspaces, and tips are always found in how others do things! Love your work area!

  3. Thanks Holly - I find other peoples workrooms fascinating too, always full of interesting things and as you say - tips to steal!

  4. Very interesting, to see what someone needs to work with artclay - a thing I always wanted to try. And what a clean and tidy workplace you start with ;0) Thanks for sharing your work with us!
    Greetings, Michi

  5. Fascinating Lesley! I did a short silver clay course a while back, but it was too expensive a hobby for me to continue at Home. I loved having a peek in your work space!

  6. Thanks for that verbal tour! I love hearing how folks use their tools, and your sense of improv really impressed me. I've been wondering if the expense of working with PMC would suit me, and your description intrigued me. (Uh oh.) Really love how you used that woodruff, by the way!


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