Keep your clay sealed tightly when not in use.
Use a bit of olive oil on your hands and any press molds.
Roll out the clay and work with it on parchment paper. This paper is excellent all-around as a work surface.
Tiny scraps can be added to a slip jar to use as paste, or can be ground up and reconstituted with water and patience, as long as they haven't been fired.
CopprClay takes several days to dry, or can be hastened by placing in the oven (on parchment paper) at about 200 F for 15 to 20 minutes. More time if the piece is thick. It's vital to have the clay dry before firing, or you may end up with blisters and cracks. Make sure it's dry clear through, not just on the surface.
Do as much of your clean up on the piece as possible before firing. Even when the clay is dry, it is still pretty easy to refine, using an Exacto knife and a jewelers' files.
CopprClay must be surrounded by activated charcoal when firing to prevent serious discoloration from oxygen. It can not be torch-fired.
Every kiln is different. I highly recommend doing a few test runs to see how yours behaves. I have found that I can ramp up to 1700 F at full speed and hold for 3 hours for most pieces. Then I just turn it off and let my kiln cool down naturally before removing the pan.
To finish pieces, I use a brass brush on all of them first. After that, my procedure depends upon what effect I'm after.
For a shiny finish: brass brush, burnish, buff with red rouge, clean with a toothbrush and ammonia water.
To add enamel or colored epoxy resins: follow the procedure for a shiney finish and then add colorants.
For patinas: brass brush and then add patina solutions, or follow the procedure for a shiney finish and then add patina. The first option gives more tooth and a more organic look.
To preserve patination: some folks swear by silicone-based spray car wax, others by paste wax, still others prefer to leave it alone. I've experimented with spray wax, and it doesn't change the patina color much.
To set stones: do this last so that you can repolish the area behind the stone (liver of sulfur can seep in) to a shine and so that patination will not ruin the stone color.
To keep clean: use vinegar and salt to scrub or clean with a product called Penny Brite.
Lots more tips can be found at CopprClay.com.
Links to my tips articles with photos:
Working with CopprClay
Copyright 2009 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.
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