I am honored and excited to be the new editor for Metal Clay Connections. I would like to thank Linda Bernstein for starting this newsletter and doing such a fantastic job. I will do my best to maintain the high standards Linda has set. In order to make this online newsletter a success, I need your submissions! Anything you have, even if it is just a comment or a correction is appreciated. If you have ideas on topics you would like to cover, please let me know.
In this issue, we focus on Gemstones and Metal Clay, a subject I have been facinated with for some years now. Color, sparkle, iridescence, luster, pattern, rarity, and beauty top the reasons people choose to add gems to their jewelry creations. But how do we define what is and is not a “gem?” In its broadest sense, gems can include pearls, coral, shell, amber, as well as inorganic minerals (gemstones). More rigid definitions confine the term to gemstones—crystalline minerals that can be faceted, are durable, and rare.Gemstones can be natural, synthetic, or enhanced to improve color or clarity. One good place to learn more about the subject of gemstones is Professor Jill Banfield’s online course Gems and Gem Materials. The Gemological Institute of America also has online materials on the subject.
Whatever your personal definition, a vast array of gems and gemstones are available for metal clay artists to include in their work. Some can be fired in place, while others need to be set after the metal clay has been fully sintered. Information on stones that can and cannot be fired include Kevin Whitmore’s gem tests and my own list of natural stones and list of synthetic stones that can be fired in place or are best set after firing.
Countless techniques are available for setting gems, gemstones, and other objects. Virtually all the metal clay books include at least one or two methods for setting gems. Specialized resources for learning about setting stones in metal clay include:
Margaret Schindel’s Squidoo lens Setting Gemstones in Metal Clay.
My own booklet Using Investment Models for Setting Stones in Silver Clay
Lorrene Davis’ booklet Setting Gemstones in Metal Clay
We can, of course, only scratch the surface of the topic here, but I hope you will find the articles, projects, tips, and links helpful and informative whether you are a novice or an experienced metal clay artist.
Mary Ellin D’Agostino