These are made of fine silver (.999). Fine silver is a product that was developed from tiny, microscopic particals of silver recycled from old film. The particals are bound in a clay that can be manipulized into whatever you wish. Then, when dried and fired in a kiln, the binding agent in the clay burns away leaving behind pure silver. It's a beautiful medium to work with and I've been using it for about the past three years. Most, if not all, of the pieces that I've created are part of my personal collection so far. But now I am going to be listing some of the new things in my Etsy shop, Little Brown Bird. I'm really excited about some of the new things. I duplicated a couple of pairs of earrings that I wear quite often and they will be listed in the shop. I also completed the silver portion of a pair of earrings that I promised my sister a year ago that I would make for her. Whatever, she can wait, it's not like I'm making her buy them! (Kidding, Nancy, they"ll be done soon.)
My favorite part of the whole process is this...
...the moment the binding agent is burned away. The piece flames up for about a second or two and then shrinks just a bit as the binder burns. My kiln is a small one (yes, with a cracked kiln plate, but it works fine), just a table-top style about the size of a small coffee pot.
It gets extremely hot. In fact while I'm busy writing this, I have just destroyed a small piece I was firing because I let it get too hot! Thankfully, it was a very small piece because the price of silver is becoming outrageous!
The process is facinating ...
I think I let the kiln get a little too hot for this piece. It began to show a crystalization on the surface, which actually was kind of cool, had I been trying to do it. I'm not sure I could duplicate the effect though. And since this was one of a pair of earrings, that could be a problem.
The kiln can be touchy, not every part of the kiln plate has exactly the same temperature. These earrings were fired in the kiln at the same time but ended up with very different looks. All was fine in the end though. After a little burnishing, the two pieces began to look the same.
Depending on the final finish that you want for the piece, it can be tumbled for a high shine, or left brushed for a soft glow. Some of my favorite pieces are very lightly sanded creating a beautiful comtemporary look. You can add a patina using a few different methods (liver of sulfur, or the "egg" method) and give the final piece an antiqued look. I have used liver of sulfur in the past to create some fantastic colors. I think I will try the egg method on some of the new pieces and see what happens. I'll post those when I get them done. But here are a couple of my favorite earrings that I recreated to list on Etsy.