Friday, July 4, 2008

Feats of Metal Clay - Part 1

Structural Metal Clay Class - Kate Mckinnon

I have been following Kate Mckinnon's work since the time she was publishing stringing designs in beads, and have often admired her use of silver toned beads in beadworked bracelets.

She has been working in silver metal clay for numerous years and her work is award-winning and simply beautiful.

Got the opportunity to attend a class with her, and it was such a great experience, here are some photos and a description of some of the events of the day. The class with Kate Mckinnon was a one-day workshop with just a few people, and it covered a lot of great topics, methods and lots of good studio practice information.

If you ever get a chance to go to one of Kate's classes, be sure to treat yourself to that, it's well worth the time and you will come away with lots of useful information and tons of inspiration.

If you don't have the chance to attend a class, get a copy of her self-published book, it is chock full of great information, photographs, and beautiful work she has created in silver metal clay.

And her 2008-2009 calendar, full of artistic photographs of her work and how it was created, is also worth having as an inspiration even if you don't currently work in silver metal clay. She is creative, witty and funny - and she knows the material backwards and forwards.

She teaches from her book, and it covers many topics that aren't related directly to silver metal clay. Fused fine silver links, metalworking insights and work hardening the silver after fusing.

Even though I had taken silver metal clay classes some years ago, the information about structural solidity of the fired fine silver is new information for me. It's a big area of my interest and something that Kate focuses on in detail. Making sure that the results of firing the fine silver metal clay is sturdy, structurally sound and able to be used and enjoyed for years to come are very important subjects, as important as stylistic and creative areas.

She also focuses on safety, the importance of proper firing techniques and minimizing exposure to silver dust, fumes from the binder during firing and avoiding firing using plastics of any kind. She answers many questions about the most health-conscious ways to create silver items of great beauty.

Kate is generous with her knowledge and experience, answering questions and sharing a lot of key information that was probably learned by her in the school of hard knocks. Providing guidance about things that have worked best and methods that have not worked as well is very valuable information.

She does hands-on demonstrations of the methods and techniques, and especially on how to deal with the tricky questions and issues of maintaining the best consistency of the metal clay, avoid drying out the material and get the most out of every ounce of metal.


Tomorrow I'll post photos of the student work, and some of Kate's finished jewelry. There were some very talented students and some amazing work was created, even in a one day class the results were amazing.

Will be traveling on July 4 - hope your holiday is wonderful, safe and full of family, food and fun!

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