3 Dec 2017

A New Bonschelle Blog

Hi everyone, I've been in the process of updating my website platform and that includes adding blog pages directly to my website. So I'll no longer be posting here to blogger. Catch all the new blog posts over at the New Bonschelle Blog and check out my latest collections there too. If you've not registered with Bonschelle yet sign up and get 20% off your over over £20 between 05 and 12 December! Just in time for getting those Christmas gifts!

I Hope to see you there soon!

15 Sep 2015

New Video Tutorial - Beginners Guide to Polishing Bronze Metal Clay

There are different ways you can finish your bronze metal clay pieces. You can leave them as is, or give them a patina for a more antique look, or polish them to a beautiful golden sheen. If you want to do the latter a new video tutorial is now available! A Beginners Guide to Polishing Bronze Metal Clay looks at a couple of ways you can get your bronze metal clay pieces polished and shiny, i.e. manually using sandpaper or an electric tool such as a Dremel, and compliments our written guide to polishing bronze metal clay.

You can view the tutorial now on our new tutorials section of the Bonschelle website.

9 Sep 2015

Making Jewellery Magazine feature - Bonschelle Bronze Metal Clay Kit

I have to admit I am very excited to see our Bronze Metal Clay Starter Kit featured in the September 2015 edition of Making Jewellery magazine. The magazine covers lots of projects and materials for making jewellery and is one of the very few magazines left dedicated purely to jewellery making.

The kit was tested, rather than this being a paid promotion, so it's great to have an honest review. The author had not used powdered clay before, so it shows how useful and easy the kit is for metal clay beginners, or even those who have perhaps tried silver or copper clay, but not bronze. There are some good pictures showing the kit contents being used.

The idea behind the kit is to introduce metal clay with all it's versatility to crafters to make their own jewellery or small accessories. Not everyone has heard of metal clay and it's nice to see magazines like this introducing this medium to readers.

To see the product testing article grab a copy of Making Jewellery Magazine from your newsagents, or you can buy the issue online .

For detailed information about the kit visit our Metal Clay section at Bonschelle

17 Jul 2015

Polishing Bonschelle Bronze Metal Clay

One of the enjoyable things about working with metal clay is seeing the transformation from a brown drab looking piece of clay into a shiny, bright decorative object when it's finished. The polishing process can be so transformative.

You can of course not polish your metal clay items and leave them in their natural state after they have been fired. Depending on when you decide to pull them out of the carbon they can take on varying shades due to oxidisation, from reds and oranges through to bright greens, and can be really beautiful.  Here is an example of some our hearts made with Bonschelle Metal Clay that were fired and taken out of the carbon whilst still relatively hot:

Bonschelle Bronze Metal Clay oxidisation and patina examples
Beautiful colours after firing

The colouration will be heavier the sooner they are taken out of the carbon after firing, but this can also result in some black oxidisation, so it's very dependent on timing - it's a good idea to wait a little bit, rather than pulling them straight out once firing has completed. Leaving pieces to cool completely in the carbon usually results in pieces having a more uniform pale terracotta colour which can also be attractive in design projects:

Bonschelle Bronze Metal Clay after firing and cooling
Metal clay piece left to cool in carbon after firing

If you intend to polish your pieces you will probably find it best to let them cool in the kiln (or at least leave to cool in the carbon till that's cool if you have removed the firing container from the kiln after firing) as there will be less oxidisation. 

When polishing you can determine how much of a shine your pieces have by what tools you use to polish. If you want a high shine use sandpaper in increasing grits, for example 400 first, followed by 600, 800 then a fine grit such as 1200. This will give you a mirror finish. If you would like a more satin sheen instead then an electric tool such as a Dremel with radial wheels. If you decide you don't want a satin finish after all then go right ahead and re-polish the pieces with sandpaper as described. 

With pieces that have a raised texture you can get some beautiful effects by polishing with sandpaper which will only reach the raised areas, giving a contrast between those parts and the unpolished recesses: 

Bonschelle Bronze Metal Clay polished raised areas
High polished areas contrasting with unpolished recesses

Polishing with radial wheels will result in recesses being polished as well as raised parts, as the soft flexible spokes of the wheels are able to reach small areas. Because of that they are very good good for polishing detailed work where you want all the little nooks and cranies polished and a uniform sheen.  In addition they will not sand away delicate details.

A video tutorial giving a step-by-step guide to polishing Bonschelle bronze metal clay will be available soon, so do check back - why not subscribe to this blog or our YouTube channel to keep up-to-date with our latest news and tutorials.

Do you have a preferred method of polishing bronze or silver items? Share below, we'd love to hear from you.

27 Jun 2015

Bonschelle Bronze Metal Clay Kit Overview

We've uploaded a new video to YouTube, this time a quick overview of what's in our Bronze Metal Clay Starter Kit. You can view this below or over at YouTube (http://youtu.be/B49USb8zCwc). The kit contains forming, texturing and polishing tools along with jewellery findings. We thought we'd also post below a little explanation of the tools - this is really aimed at the complete beginner to metal clay rather than the experience user who may already have some of these or be familiar with them and their uses.

So here's a run down of all the tools and supplies you'll receive in the kit:

Kit box - so first up is our Kit box - we've assembled the kit in a sturdy,  useful A5 size perspex container, handy to keep your metal clay supplies (or anything else you fancy!).
Quick Start Guide - a printed quick start guide is included to help you start making your own beautiful creations. You also get a link to a free downloadable PDF with full colour images and a step-by-step guide to making a pendant and matching earrings. There are also useful sections on tips & tricks and troubleshooting.
Metal Clay - a jar of 50g of our Bronze Metal Clay is included.
Acrylic Roller - so useful in rolling out out the clay before texturing or cutting out shapes. As it's acrylic it's non-stick, and very solid whilst being light.
Needle Tool - this helps to carve out shapes for pendants etc. especially when using a shape template. We find it has lots of other uses to such as making textures, picking up cut off pieces of clay rather than using fingers (which aren't always deft enough!)
Stir stick - useful for mixing the clay. The clay powder is mixed with water to the right consistency. The flat shape of the stick helps mix with a cutting motion and assists with scraping the mixed clay out of the jar.
Shape template - included is a perspex template with 27 different size oval shapes, great for making pendants and earrings and a useful tool in beginning jewellery making. The project in the full colour downloadable PDF that goes with the kit uses this to make a pendant and matching earring. Templates and cutters are indispensable in metal clay work unless you can draw shapes well freehand! Unless of course you want a more organic look to your shapes.
Spacers - the set of 1.5mm spacers help to ensure the clay is rolled out to an even thickness throughout. This gives a much more professional look to jewellery when it's finished. Some people like to use playing cards, but we find that these acrylic spacers are easier to work with, are durable, clean up easily, last longer, and you can always be sure of getting the same thickness results every time.
Sandpaper sheets - these 3 sheets have a dual function: they can be used to neaten up edges and surfaces of unbaked dried clay before firing to ensure a professional finish. You can smooth off edges with your fingers whilst the clay is still 'wet', but if pieces are thin or you are making a delicate design it can be easier to do once dry. Secondly they are use to polish the fired clay by using the grits in succession. This will give a high shine, or alternatively an electric hand polishing tool can be used (e.g. a Dremel with radial polishing wheels). But for beginners using sandpaper gives an appreciation of the polishing process, which can be applied to other metals too such as silver.
Pro-polishing Pad - this is used as a final stage to polishing to buff up, but we find they are great for polishing up any pieces that might have tarnished over time. These work for silver too.
Mini texture mat - almost anything can be used to create textures in metal clay, but it's nice also to have a texture mat to work with on your first projects. Large mats can be a bit pricey and when you are starting out you might not want to spend too much on ordering them (and paying for postage..), so a mini texture mat is included which has a beautiful detailed design. It's easy to use and keep clean and be used many times.
Non-stick work sheet - included for convenience. The sheet included is made of teflon so you'll have no problems with sticking clay during the creation process.
Jewellery findings - it can be frustrating to have a kit which shows you how to complete something yet doesn't provide what you need. We want you to be able to make and wear your creations once fired so we've include jump rings, leather cord and earwires. If you are new to jewellery making this also gives you an insight into what findings you can purchase and how to attach them.

To purchase the kit visit us at  Bonschelle or you can find it at the Bonschelle Etsy store

If you have any questions about the kit feel free to post your questions below or contact us .

24 Apr 2015

New Video Tutorial - How to mix Bonschelle Bronze Metal Clay

Happy Friday everyone! We've finally uploaded our video tutorial on mixing our Bronze Metal Clay to YouTube. We've been meaning to do this for a while.! It's a short video but we thought it would be useful for those metal clay users who perhaps have never used metal clay powder before, and of course for our customers. Watch it below or you can view it over at YouTube 

If you have never used metal clay powder before and are interested to try it, or have never heard of metal clay and would like to know more about how you can use it make beautiful jewellery and accessories, visit our Metal Clay page over at the Bonschelle website.

17 Apr 2015

What are the 2015 Spring Fashion Colours? (The Pantone Range)

If you've never heard of Pantone it's not a mispelling of the famous hair care range....it's a company specializing in colour space, with their colour tones used as reference in a lot of manufacturing and design industries. Twice a year they also announce a colour of the year. This year's colour is 'Marsala', a kind of subtle brick-burgundy shade which has resulted in some discussion, with both lovers and haters, on their site.

Pantone also have a collection of colours for Spring. They describe them as
...the cooler and softer side of the color spectrum. An eclectic, ethereal mix of understated brights, pale pastels and nature-like neutrals

(you can read more on their site here), and you can expect to see both the colour of the year and this range of spring colours cropping up in fashion and interior design ideas throughout the  year. One of the colours which drew my eye was the 'Lucite Green' - as it's close to a turquoise/green shade, which I think it can look beautiful in interiors teamed with white, as it has a lovely fresh feel.

Coincidentally we've used a similar colour in one of our latest designs, our teal green adjustable handmade bracelet. As soon as we saw these beautiful glass beads we had to use them:

We think the beautiful colour and transparency of the glass beads looked lovely teamed with the gold colour of the handmade chain.

What colours you would put together for your own personalized spring colour collection? We'd love to hear your ideas!

27 Mar 2015

Welcoming Spring and New Creativity

The Daffodils are here!
©H Masters 2015

Spring it seems is finally upon us. It's one of our favourite times of year as the trees with their blossoms look so beautiful, and of course we get a bit more sunshine! The daffodils are in full bloom and the garden feels like it's coming to life, with buds growing, and birds nesting. We have a bird nesting box in the garden which a Blue Tit family has made it's home. We wish we could capture some shots of them - we've have to make do with the flowers for now...

Not sure what these are called..but they are so pretty
©H Masters 2015

With the brighter days and more sunshine it does feel like it perks you up, and helps fuel our creativity. It's amazing how the sun can affect your mood. Having said that,  April has turned out to be quite chilly at times in past years, and with the English weather being what it is, you never know it might snow! Still, we'll try to enjoy the sunshine for now.

We've been busy creating more designs. Some are still a work in progress which we hope to have up soon, and a couple have already featured in our webstore and at Etsy and Bonanza.

6 Feb 2015

Valentine's Day - take the time to say I love you....

Valentine's day is shortly upon us again. It's easy nowadays to see it as just a big commercial opportunity by businesses to sell us stuff. But we think it's still more than that - it's a reminder to let those who are special to you in your life, whether it be a partner, family or friends, that you value them and care about them. It's easy to go about our everyday busy lives and forget to say the little things which mean so much, like 'thank you', and  'I love you'. Valentine's Day gives us a little nudge if we've been a bit lax in showing our appreciation and love for those important people in our lives.

But where did the yearly celebration originate? According to the History Channel's website it seems to be a bit of a mystery but is believed to be based on both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. One story is that a priest called Valentine defied Emperor Claudius II's ruling that young men could not be married (so that they would be better soldiers). So Valentine performed the marriages in secret, and when discovered was put to death by Claudius. Another story is that it is the  Christian church's attempt to Christianize the the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a fertility festival,  which occurred in February. There are other stories too, and more than one  historical figure named Valentine. Valentine's Day as a custom developed first in England, but has now spread to many countries across the globe including China and India.

Say 'Valentine's Day' and the first thing you probably think of is flowers and chocolate (we never say no to chocolate...!). But it's also nice to make a gift have a more personal and thoughtful feel by making a gift or cards (if you have time!). We've been busy making hearts and other trinkets for Valentines day with our bronze metal clay (see our website for more details), and some of our heart pendant designs are on sale now.

Whatever we all do for Valentine's Day, lets not forget to say I love you and show appreciation throughout the year too!

Image: Contemporary Heart Pendant Necklace by Bonschelle

23 Jan 2015

Working safely with Metal Clay

Metal clay is a fun and creative way to make jewellery, accessories and small art pieces. As with other craft materials it's important to consider safe handling to ensure a healthy and safe working experience.

When we first started exploring metal clay we didn't come across any tutorials which expressly looked at the safety aspect of working with metal clay. Some products had only minimal, safety instructions which didn't really explain what any effects could be. Then we discovered a great video by the talented artist Kate McKinnon, who talks about using silver metal clay safely in her video on Youtube . It was an eye opener and we were really glad to have found it at the beginning of our metal clay explorations. It's a very good video and we recommend it to anyone interested in using  metal clays as a hobby or professionally.

When we developed our own brand of metal clay, Bonschelle Bronze Metal Clay, we were keen to ensure we included detail on the safety aspect of working with metal clay. In the process of sourcing our ingredients we discovered further information  regarding the environmental impact of metal powders which we include in our clay  product instructions.

The  main issues to be aware of are dust and fume inhalation, and the potential environmental impact of waste clay.

Dust inhalation
All metal clays contain very fine metallic particles.  Sanding or filing metal clay greenware (the dried metal clay pieces) releases these particles into the air, so it's important to wear a dust mask to limit the amount  you may breath in. The particles can cause irritation to the throat and lungs. This is also true if mixing metal clay powder. Ideally a N95 rated dust mask is best as these are designed to filter out fine particulates. It's better to be safe every time you work so as to avoid exposure over time.

Where possible reduce the amount of sanding required by cutting pieces as neatly as possible and smoothing off edges with your fingers.

Firing Fumes
Fumes may be given off during the burnout period of the binder. The binder may not be toxic but it's best not breathe in fumes unnecessarily. If you are using materials as cores to support your work try and use organic materials. Non-organic ones may give of toxic fumes during firing. Either way, it's advisable to use your kiln in a well ventilated area, or refrain from being in the same room during firing as much as possible.

Skin contact
Metal clays are not toxic and on the whole don't cause any skin problems. But if you are unfortunately very sensitive you may wish to wear disposable gloves.

Environmental Impact
The metal particles in metal clay or metal clay powders are extremely toxic to aquatic organisms and should not be released into drains or rivers. Therefore it's not recommended that metal clay dust or powder is washed away through cleaning up with damp or wet cloths and then rinsing those out. If you need to clean your work area or tools of metal clay dust or bits and pieces you could for example use a damp piece of kitchen tissue and dispose of that with your regular waste.

The last thing to remember is to always wear safety glasses if using an electric tool to polish up your finished piece e.g. a Dremel. The drill parts such as polishing wheel spin extremely fast and this can mean that sometimes when polishing near edges the piece can be thrown off by the drill, even if you think you are holding it firmly. Experience and technique can help avoid this, but it can happen even if you are used to using electric tools when polishing, and the last thing you would want would be to have your piece hit your eye.

By taking a few simple precautions you can look after your own health and safety and ensure your enjoyment of metal clay has as little impact on the environment as possible.