Thursday, April 25, 2013

Crystal Clay Tutorial - repair "solder" work

One of the reasons I love epoxy clay is because it has so many uses. I've tried Apoxie, DeCore, and Crystal Clay, but so far my favourite is Crystal Clay. This isn't because I find the other brands bad, but I feel that Crystal Clay sits in the middle in terms of technique. Apoxie is very soft while DeCore is very hard - Crystal Clay is in-between and so allows me to do what I want, quicker.

I, being a sometimes jewellery-medic, was recently asked to repair this snake bracelet:

The tail had fallen off and since the rest of the snake is in sections, the rest of the body was sliding off too.
Now, I checked how it was connected before. There was a tiny blob of solder. So, I guess it would be an easy solder repair. If I knew how to solder that is.

I own a soldering gun, and I've used it, but I haven't experimented enough with the technique to be assured that this bracelet would not break again.
Poor snake. So I immediately assembled my tools.

I used brown crystal clay, a soft paintbrush, and some 'antique bronze' PearlEX powder.
Basically I mixed up a pea sized amount:

Then I made sure to re-align the segments of the snake's body. I put the tail back on....

.... and packed the clay into the tail so that the wire would stay in place. Then I brushed PearlEX powder onto the clay so that it would match the bronze metal. This PearlEX powder is awesome. The clay basically looked like metal once I brushed enough powder on.


Now here's where my great big paragraph of advice comes in.

When epoxy clay is curing (12-24 hours), you sometimes have to babysit your project and check in on it once in a while. Because once the clay cures (even past one hour) it becomes permanent. You can't get your crystals out. You can't dig out that cat hair. If there's a scratch, you can't smooth it out.

I've caught many things because I checked on a project a half hour after setting it aside to cure. I've found dust, dents, crystals that had popped halfway out. Lots of stuff. So either I leave it to cure in an empty drawer or in a bowl/container with some seran wrap over it.

In this case, when I checked back on the snake, the tail had moved and the wire was poking out of the clay.

So I made some more Crystal Clay, packed that in tighter so the wire was more secure. And of course, I brushed some more PearlEX powder on.

Then I kept the snake with me for a while as I did work around the house... just making sure the tail didn't cure at the wrong angle, because if it did, there would be nothing I could do about it short of cutting the wire or drilling the clay.

TIP: heat will make Crystal Clay cure faster. So I left the snake in the warm sun for about half an hour.

The clay was dry in no time. It's hard as a rock and acts as a super-glue. And with my trusty powder, it looks like I soldered it in. And my sister-in-law can now wear her bracelet without it breaking again.

And now instead of a sad snake, we have a happy one!

So there you have it. One of the many ways Crystal Clay can be used.

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