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A word about making silver twigs....

First born.

I make many vignettes with twigs in them.  I love the fact that each one is different, as the original burns away in the kiln.   Since I live on 4 acres of foresty goodness, you'd think that I would have a plethora of twigs to choose from....but.....I have often gone on a little jaunt and found only 1 or 2 that meet my needs.

Extra slippery slip:)....no...really....

I thought people might be interested to know a little bit about my process and a discovery that helped me immensely.  Did you know that if you put a few drops of essential oil (doesnt matter what kind) into your slip, the paste goes onto the twig so much smoother.  It's almost like the slip becomes so slippery that the bubbles slide right out.  You can see on the sides of my pot that the slip has actually slid right down the sides, leaving them clean.  30 seconds before this I had vigorously stirred it, and the slip was everywhere.  When I didn't use oil there would always be a very fine, see-through layer of slip clinging to the sides of the pot.

So....here's my usual process...
  1. Dry the heck out of the twig!  I usually leave it in the dehydrator overnight.  If the twig is particularly woody (as opposed to a hollower/ lighter type), leave longer.
  2. Make slip with a blob of clay or with sanding sweeps.  Add water to cover then LEAVE IT ALONE overnight or longer.  Keep adding water till you're satisfied.  Although the recommendation seems to be to have the slip be the consistency of heavy cream, mine is sometimes a bit waterier than that.  I can't really explain it.....you'll just have to experiment:)
  3. I use 7 layers, completely dried between layers.  My work is under glass, so it will never be touched.  For jewelry, I think the norm is about 15 layers, and I would definitely use sterling slip for strength.  BTW, I hold my twig in a third hand to dry...leaving room at the end for my fingers to hold it while I'm painting.
  4. Into the dehydrator again after the last coat....maybe an hour?
  5. I try to lay it in the kiln in the flattest way.  If there is a big wow in it that I want to keep, I'll put a bit of fibre blanket underneath, but not really touching, because the shrinkage will tend to bring it down.
I really do find that when making paste, patience is key.  I brush my sanding sweeps into the pot, or put a lump in, cover with water and LEAVE IT.   When I go back to that slip the next day, or the day after that, it is smooth and lovely.


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