Meet the Masters: Hadar Jacobson

by Metalwerx on June 4, 2013

It wasn’t enough for Hadar Jacobson to work with metal clay, she had to make her own. Her product, eponymously titled Hadar’s Clay, is metal packaged in powder form. The user simply adds water to mix the right amount needed for a project. The material lasts indefinitely, sticks well to itself, and comes in various colors of copper, steel, and bronze.

Hadar was already an accomplished metalsmith when she left Israel for Berkeley, California. She learned about metal clay while thumbing through a supply catalog, soon after it was introduced in 1996. She recalled that at the time there were no classes in metal clay instruction, so she taught herself, experimented with it, and liked working with it so much that she left traditional metalsmithing behind.

City of Rings, by Hadar Jacobson, metal clay

“Once I found out about metal clay, I never went back to silversmithing,” Hadar said. “I was totally converted.”

But she was not satisfied with one aspect of metal clay. Once the package is opened, the clay is exposed to air and can quickly dry out, creating an opportunity for waste. She had a basic understanding of sintering, a process by which objects are created by using powders, so she tried to develop a product in which she could make just enough to suit the needs of her project.

Hadar's Metal Clay

She immediately realized the artistic potential of this new form of metal clay. The ability to mix smaller amounts meant that users could incorporate a variety of metals—color—to their project with little or no waste. Hadar’s specialty in metalsmithing was mixed metals, and she wanted to make pieces that included copper, bronze, and other colors. After five years of trial and error, she succeeded at achieving the results she desired.

Metal Clay Rings by Hadar Jacobson, Metal Clay

Hadar’s Clay ™ entered the market five years ago. A former editor, she followed up with books, videos, a blog, and a very thorough website to keep her clients up to date. One of the earliest users of metal clay, Hadar was soon in demand as a teacher in the United States and abroad.

Hadar will teach two classes at Metalwerx as part of the Summer with the Masters series. In the first class, “Color Patterns in Metal Clay Hollow Forms” (July 10-12), students will learn to make different types of hollow forms from base metal clay and decorate them with different color designs, such as bulls eye canes, a mokume gane-style pattern, and negative space. The mokume gane pattern is one she developed using an extruder and various colors. The result looks very much like mokume gane, but Hadar is quick to note that it is not to be confused with traditional mokume gane, in which a billet of different metals is forged to make the multi-colored sheet.

Hollow Form Pendant in Steel Metal Clay by Hadar Jacobson

The workshop also will focus on the different lower- and higher-fire clays to understand the different firing schedules and characteristics of each one. High-fire clays used in class include copper, Bronze XT and steel; lower firing clays include bronze, Brilliant bronze, copper, and steel.

In “Color Patterns in Metal Clay Rings” (July 13-14), students will make two hollow rings, a band ring and a ring with an ornamental front. Using base metal clay,  the rings will be decorated with patterns including bulls eye canes, negative space, and the mokume gane design.  For both workshops, enrollees must have experience working with metal clay.

Metal Clay Rings by Hadar Jacobson, Metal Clay

Hadar believes metal clay offers many possibilities for texturing than in metalsmithing. “There are things you cannot do, such as use a rolling mill or hammer, or do fold forming or use a hydraulic press,” she said “But there are lots of things you can do at home. You don’t need a big studio or make a big investment in machinery.”

To learn more about Hadar’s workshops, or to register for a workshop, please visit Metalwerx  or call 781-891-3854.

Metal clay does have its challenges. “You can make a simple ring in one hour by metalsmithing, but in metal clay, including firing, is a lot more work,” she said. “But for the creative person, it can offer a lot more possibilities.”

–by Yleana Martinez

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