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Experiments by Lesley Messam

Lesley 'blind' tested the two clays. Here are her conclusions from the testing. She started with the Art Clay mix (Clay B) and then tested the PMC ProLesley Messam's Ring mix (Clay A)

Clay B (Bubbles and more bubbles)

My first impressions werenít great. The clay was so dry it cracked really badly. I had to add so much water and massage it in to re-hydrate.

I decided to make an open wrap-around ring. I made it a size 13 on the mandrel I used.

The clay was rolled between 3mm slats and 2 cards under each slat. I used a deep texture and removed the cards, then rolled very firmly but the texture didnít pick up very well.

I cut a strip and wrapped it around the mandrel. Not only did it crack really badly but it also kept slipping off. In the end I gave it a blast with a hair dryer, which was enough to hold it in place. I also pushed in two small pieces of sterling silver wire at this stage.

It didnít take too long to dry - a couple of hours in the de-hydrator and it sanded well. It felt really strong.

I thought it would be a great test to snap it!!! And pop it back together. How wrong was I.

I tried water and holding it with pressure. That didnít work at all. I then made a paste again - it didnít work.Then I wedged a piece of lump clay into both joins and held firmly whilst drying with the hair dryer. This was successful, but it took me a long time to get it back in one piece.

Sanding was nice because the silver felt so strong.

The piece was left in the de-hydrator for 24 hours I followed the firing instructions to the letter using a Paragon SC2 with Sentry Express 4.0 kiln.

I had the shock of my life when I fished the ring out of the carbon. It was covered in blisters not just small ones but some really large ones. I can honestly say it is the worst thing I have ever made.

I used a Dremel with a drum sander to remove the blisters which it did very well but some were just so deep. These can be seen on the inside of the ring.

I tested the strength of the silver by giving it a hammered texture, as the texture sheet just didnít take very well. The strength was great you could not do that with fine silver.

Polishing was a bit of a pain with all the blistering but I could see that this silver would have polished up very nicely if it hadnít blistered. The final ring size was a 9 so it shrank five sizes.

I had a small test strip that I blow torched by mistake, I then hammered it and that was rock hard.

If I knew the recipe I would play around with the clay again, the strength is very impressive.

Clay A

Lesley Messam's RingFirst impression, the clay felt really nice, not too wet but enough that I had time to work with it, the colour was a really dark grey.

I made the same ring as clay B but had no problem adding texture or wrapping it around the mandrel, it stayed put. I also added the two pieces of sterling silver.

The ring took a long time to dry so when I removed it from the mandrel I had to support it while it was drying in the de-hydrator.

Once it had dried enough to work on I found it really strange, it had flex, quite a lot. I soon got used to the feel and really enjoyed sanding it.

I left the ring in the de-hydrator all day to dry. Before I fired it I placed a support between the ring bands, I was a bit worried the ring might collapse. Then I fired for 30 minutes on an open shelf at 538 degrees C then into the carbon for 30 minutes this time, at 821 degrees C.

I allowed the kiln to cool fully.

This ring only had a couple of small blisters on the inside, again the ring shrank by five sizes. It held the texture really well.

I removed the small blisters with a Dremel very easily. I could have polished this to a really high finish but the time I had was limited. I could really see the potential with this clay and would love to work with this again and do some of my own test firings.

Visit Lesley Messam's website here

 

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