Silver Clay Earrings

silver clay earrings

I made these earrings at a silver clay mould-making workshop I took recently. My silver clay guru Jenn Jevons taught the course, in which we learned to use moulding compound to take impressions of various textures, buttons, objects, etc. that could then be used to create something out of metal clay. These earrings are basically a copy of a brass button Jenn brought to the workshop.

If you’re interested in learning more about creating jewelry with metal clay, I’ve written about how I make customized charm pendants with silver clay here.

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Warm thanks to two bloggers who generously sent many new readers my way this past week:

And look, my Booby Trapped Coat made it to the home page of BurdaStyle, so it’s been a really great week on the sewing and blogging front. I hope your first week of 2016 has been just as lovely.

BurdaStyle featured member projects, week of Jan 6 2016

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

Silver Clay Pendants: How I Make Them

This was my little fundraising project a couple of months ago when I was raising money for El Hogar, the organization I worked with when I brought my students to Honduras for a volunteering trip in February. They’re made of silver clay, and my wonderful friends stepped up to support the cause.

silverpendants

My ‘customers’, or rather Facebook friends who put up with my fundraising statuses for a couple of months, could choose the shape (heart, circle, flower), size (large or small), font, and initial(s). One friend gave me an order for 10 different pendants, getting a lot of her family’s birthday shopping done for the year in one fell swoop. We were both glad she could accomplish this knowing all the proceeds would be supporting a great charity.

Silver clay pendant

If you’re not familiar with how metal clay works, it’s basically MAGIC. Silver clay can be manipulated pretty much like any other clay (you can roll it, shape it, texture it, carve it, etc.), then you let it dry out and fire it with a torch or in a kiln, and voilà — like medieval alchemy you suddenly have a silver piece. (Alright, it’s definitely more complex than that but you get the idea.)

Silver clay initial pendants

Here’s a brief explanation of how I make these pendants. I have left out a lot of detail that would be important if you’re trying to learn this on your own…if you want the long version, complete with explanation of tools and more detail on the procedures, feel free to get in touch, or check out some of the tutorials available online. I learned how to do this from Jenn at Metal Clay Atelier, who gives metal clay workshops in Oakville and Toronto; check out her website, too.

How to Make a Silver Clay Initial Pendant

Step 1: roll out the clay to desired thickness. With my hands lubricated with olive or coconut oil, I roll the clay into a ball then roll it on non-stick surface using an oiled rolling tool. I use Art Clay Silver but there are other brands of metal clay available as well.

Here's the ball of clay rolled out flat. The plastic slats at each side allow you to roll the clay out to a specific thickness.

Here’s the ball of clay rolled out flat. The plastic gauge slats at each side allow for rolling out the clay out to a specific thickness.

Step 2: Cut out the desired shape. You could use a knife or clay cutting tools to do this freehand but it’s easier and more precise to use a shape cutter like the one below.

Here I've used a flower shape cutter from XXXX. The edge of the cutter should be oiled with olive or coconut oil to prevent sticking.

Here I’ve used a flower shape cutter by Kemper Klay Kutters. (I like K’s as much as anyone but that’s a bit annoying.) The edge of the cutter should be oiled with olive or coconut oil to prevent sticking.

Klay Kutters

I have a variety of shape cutters in different sizes.

Step 3: Add a hole for the jump ring and stamp the initial.

I use a toothpick to create a hole for the jump ring

I use a toothpick to create a hole for the jump ring

silverclayprocess3a

I have a selection of letter stamps that I use for the initials. The stamp must be well oiled.

Studio G alphabet stamp set

These are great, inexpensive stamp sets that come in different fonts to use on metal clay. I have found some at Michael’s as well as from suppliers on Etsy.

Step 4: Allow the piece to dry — it must be completely dry or it can crack during the firing proces

Silver clay pieces drying on a mug warmer

You can let the piece dry by leaving it overnight, or set it on a mug warmer as I have done here for about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the piece. I leave them on the non-stick sheet they were rolled out on so I don’t mar the wet clay by trying to lift and move it.

Step 5: Sand and refine the dried pieces. I use various nail files and sanding pads to make sure there are no rough edges, scratches, or irregularities. This is the stage where it’s important to make the piece as perfect as possible, because it’s much harder to file out scratches after it’s been fired and turned to solid metal. The dry clay is fragile at this stage, so care must be taken not to break it.

Metal clay sanding tools

Filing & sanding tools. I do all the sanding in this little plastic tray, so that I can collect the silver clay particles and reuse them — too precious to waste!

silverclaydrill1

I have a little manual drill bit to make sure the hole for the jump ring is uniform. It’s important to do this on a spongy surface (polishing pad) so as not to break the dry clay piece.

Step 6: fire the clay pieces. They can be fired in a kiln, but small pieces like these can also be fired with a butane hand torch. These pieces generally take about 2 minutes of steady, even heating, constantly moving the flame around so the piece doesn’t overheat and melt. I don’t have a picture of the firing process for you — sorry! I’m pretty sure it’s a big safety hazard to be wielding a blow torch and taking a picture at the same time. 🙂

Metal clay pieces on the firing block

The pieces on the firing block. The one on the left has been fired and the other two haven’t. You can see how the clay shrinks a bit during the firing process if you compare the size of the fired and unfired heart.

Step 7: Marvel at the magical alchemy! When the piece is cool, I use a brass brush and water to remove the white coating that formed during the firing and discover that the piece has turned to fine silver! This is *always* cool. I will never get tired of this moment.

Brushing away the white coating to reveal silver!

Brushing away the white coating to reveal silver!

Step 8: Polish the finished piece. I usually tumble the pieces to work-harden them, then I use emery papers and polishing papers to bring the piece to a shine. This is a boring part so I don’t have pictures. 🙂 I also apply a little silver-blackener (Jax) to the initials to darken them and give contrast.

silverpendants3

Ta-da! Some cute, customized silver clay necklaces.

It’s a time-consuming process but a lot of fun, and I managed to raise a good chunk of money to donate to a great cause. Win-win-win all around, I’d say!

Silver clay initial pendants

An Embarrassment of Blogging Riches!

I have been creating things like mad lately and have a LOT to blog about! I’m going to take some time over the coming days to craft some posts that will hopefully be interesting to read, but being windswept and interesting takes a fair bit of time and effort and in the meantime I am bursting at the seams. So here’s a quick preview of more detailed posts to come…

I made this ring! Like, myself!

Silver Curlicue Ring with Amethyst CZ

I made this necklace! And the big deal (for me, anyway) is that I made it at home out of silver clay. No need for a fully equipped jeweler’s studio!

Silver Rectangles Necklace

And I made some silver stacking rings — my first home soldering experiment. I have a picture but I realize my unmanicured, ruddy hand with angry red scratches from scrabbling around in the garden yesterday does NOT make an excellent modeling form.

And just today I completed a ‘sparkle skirt’ — a skirt for which I built electronic circuits and programmed it to twinkle with light whenever I shake my hips. It’s crazy.

Sparkle Skirt Wearable Electronics

Can you see those little red lights? They change colour, too.

I’m also trying desperately to get a Leading Lady entry ready for this week’s Project Sewn challenge, for which I’ve chosen Faye Dunaway as inspiration and a 70’s-style dress pattern with big-ass drapey sleeves. Not likely I’ll finish, though, with a big mother’s day dinner to be prepared for both moms tomorrow.

Hope to see you here in these pages soon with more details about these projects! Thanks for reading!