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Guest Artistic Guide – Jen Lowe

 

Jen Lowe, affectionately called J-Lowe by her friends, describes herself as an artist, designer, poet, and writer. She holds a Masters Degree in Business; is a TV personality, appearing many times on the Home Shopping Network and DIY Scrapbooks; is a certified instructor for Ranger products; is senior-level certified in Art Clay for Silver in process; is an international educator; and is the owner of Lucy Magoo Designs & Rubber Stamps. And most importantly, she is just plain fun!

You can find Jen at play at the following websites:

http://www.jenlowedesigns.com/

and

http://web.mac.com/jen_lowe/Jen_Lowe_Designs/Home.html

The latter site features her works in silver clay and dichroic glass, along with various class offers. You can find a link to her blog at the end of this article.

In the midst of all she does, she graciously found the time to write a feature article for Stamper's Quest! 

 

What Box?

When I was in the second grade, I would draw a star with 2 triangles. I loved drawing stars.  They were perfect and even and looked wonderful.  I doodled stars and flowers in every spare moment. One day, my teacher told me that I was drawing them wrong.  She said that I had to leave my pencil on the paper the whole time I was drawing a make a 5-pointed star.  After that, I could never get the points to be even.... so I gave up drawing stars. 

She put me in a box.  And that box kept shrinking over the years as other people came in and out of my life and told me ever so many things that I could and couldn't do.  The walls went up.  This is right.  That is wrong.  Go here, don't go there.  Do this, don't do that.  I think it has happened to each one of us.  Somewhere along the way, our creativity gets squelched by the environment we live in.

I started stamping just a few years ago.... and I had no rules in any of my art.  I didn't take classes.  I just played!  What a liberating experience.  Once I started taking classes, I started being put inside a box.  "Oh, you are an altered artist", or "you are a scrapbooker".  Then I was on Ranger's Design Team and everyone said, "You are a stamper".  And I continued to deny it all and just tell people, "I play!"

A couple of years ago I took a metal clay class and once again.... there were "rules" to apply to that medium.... and you guessed it.... I didn't follow any of them!  There is no "box" for me...I just look at the media in front of me, the tools at hand, and figure out how I want to spend my day playing.  It's just so much fun!

When it comes to stamping, I truly do think outside the box.  I stamp outside the box. I stamp on walls and mirrors, on clothes...on anything that ink will adhere to.  With metal clay, you don't even need ink!  I simply roll it out (it acts a whole lot like polymer clay in a lot of ways), stamp on it, fire it.... and the finished product is a piece of .999 fine silver.

Here's a quick, easy tutorial on using this incredible medium with any rubber stamp.  I've chosen a star (made with 2 triangles) from my line of Lucy McGoo rubber stamps.

Roll the metal clay out.  I use plastic slats and a piece of PVC pipe, rolling it out on top of a non-stick craft sheet.

Put a little Badger Balm on your fingers, the stamp and the roller to keep the clay from sticking where you don't want it.  Press the stamp into the clay and pull it out.  Here's the image I got:

Next, take a craft knife and cut the image out.  You can cut as little or as much as you want...it's all up to you!

I wanted to make this a simple charm, so I punched a hole in the center top.  The clay needs to dry and to speed up that process, just place it in a melting pot at 300 degrees, or on top of a small hot plate.

Once the clay is dry, you can use a small emery board, or 320 - 600 grit sandpaper to sand away rough edges, bumps, or anything you want.  Just don't sand too hard, you don't want to sand away the stamped image!

The next step is to place the dried clay on a firebrick and "cook" it using a cream brulee torch.  (These little butane torches are available in the kitchen section of many department and discount stores.)  You will see smoke and then a small flame.  After that, you want the flame close enough to turn the clay light peach, yet not so close that it overheats the metal and turns it a bright peach/orange.  Keep your hand in a circular or oval motion at all times.  When you first see the light peach shade, turn a stopwatch on for 4 minutes.  Keep this motion going for 4 full minutes.  At the end of your time, pick up the piece with some insulated tweezers or tongs and dip it into cold water.  You will hear a fizz and a pop.  That's how you know your piece is "cooked".

Of course, you can also use a kiln.  Ramp at full speed to 1472 and hold for 10 minutes.

Once you have dipped the piece in water, it is back to room temperature. Dry it off with a paper towel and use a brass brush to clean the binder off the metal.

The silver will start to show immediately.  You can start with 320 grit sandpaper and then work all the way up to 2500 grit and move on to polishing papers that go up to 3500 grit in order to get a mirror finish on your piece.  Or you can just dip it into liver of sulphur and the de-bossed areas of the image will patina in a second.  Sand off the top for a wonderful look!

And then comes the fun part.... embellishing your new piece of jewelry!!!

I use Art Clay Silver.  I love the fact that I can "make it today and wear it tonight".  The other totally cool thing about this medium is that you can take any 2 pieces of fired metal and use oil paste to join them together.  So if you get tired of a piece after a few months, you can add to it and redesign your work!

If you'd like to see more of my work, just visit my blog, Jen Lowe Designs, and search for Art Clay Silver.

You can use any stamp, or simply draw, then cut the image "free-hand", use a brass stencil, plastic template, texture plate, die, anything you can think of to create your design.  No limits, no rules...just play!!!  Stamping outside the box.  I still say, "What box?"


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4 Responses »

  1. Amazing tutorial. Great writing. One more craft for me to try. Thanks Jen!!!

    Michael

  2. Wow Jen
    love the article and the tutorial.I'm doing a class here in Australia next March with Stephanie Lee and have to buy a creme brulee butane torch for that so just need to find some metal clay locally and I hope to give this a go..Thankyou so much Jen
    hugs
    Annette In Oz

  3. Jen alias Lucy McGoo an awesome artist and beautiful writer.
    Artist Hugs..Joe

  4. Fantastic project as always Jen. I wish I had a fraction of your talent and could learn to "play" as easily as you do. It is awesome to watch you create and see those wheels turning in your head. Keep up the good work. Jody