Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Make a decorative woodland pendant from silver clay. By Chu-mei Ho
Chu-mei Ho has been teaching at London Jewellery School since 2010, where she teaches beading, metal clay and fused glass jewellery. She also runs her own business, Grace and Firefly, and sells her work at craft fairs, markets and shops in London. This twig pendant is made with silver clay and Cubic Zirconia (CZ). You create your own textures using paste and two-part silicone moulding compound and add the CZs with silver clay.
14g Art Clay Silver
Art Clay Silver Paste
0.8mm (20 gauge) fine silver wire
2-part silicone moulding compound
Fresh leaves or skeleton leaves
Small circle cutter
Stack of playing cards or spacers
Agate burnisher or tumble polisher
Liver of Sulphur
Pliers and wire cutter
Glanol metal polish and a silver polishing cloth
Metal clay materials:
Use leaves with small, fine details when making leaf moulds.
Clean the CZs before firing to avoid silver dust fusing onto the surface.
Do not quench a project with embedded CZs straight after firing.
Roll about half the clay out into two small coils with your finger, then roll the ends together on one side and join to create a Y-shape. Use your finger or a clay shaper to shape the coils, so it looks like a twig.
Make two small eye pins using 0.8mm fine silver wire and round nose pliers. Embed the eye pins into the ends of the twig before the clay becomes dry.
Apply a thick layer of silver clay paste onto the twig and use a cocktail stick to create a wood grain texture on the surface. Once it’s dry, do the same on the back of the twig.
Mix the two-part silicone moulding compound following the manufacturer’s instructions. Roll the mixed moulding compound to a thickness of 2mm (8 playing cards). Put a leaf on the moulding compound and roll with a roller to take an imprint of the leaf texture. Remove the leaf and allow the moulding compound to set.
Roll a very small amount of clay into the shape of a teardrop with your fingers and press it onto the lightly greased leaf mould to make a tiny leaf. Make some more leaves in the same way.
Make some CZ components by rolling the clay out to a thickness of 2.5mm (10 playing cards) and press a 4mm CZ into the wet clay. Make sure the table of the CZ is in line with the clay surface and is level. Use a small circle cutter to cut the clay around the CZ and leave enough clay – at least 1mm around the edge. Leave to dry and sand if needed.
Arrange the leaves and CZ components and join them onto the twig with paste. Once they are dry, turn to the back and use the clay shaper to fill the gaps in between the CZ components and the twig with clay. Create wood grain textures on the back of CZ components using thick paste and a cocktail stick (Step 3) so the textures on the back of the twig are consistent.
Kiln-fire the twig pendant at 900°C for two hours or follow the manufacturer’s firing instructions for the minimum firing temperature and time. After firing, brush with a brass brush and soapy water. Polish the whole pendant with a tumbler polisher or use an agate burnisher to highlight the textures.
Mix some Liver of Sulphur solution, following the manufacturer’s instructions, and dip the twig pendant into it. Once it achieves the desired colour rinse it under tap water. Use metal polish and a silver polish cloth to remove unwanted oxidization to enhance the textures. Add a chain and beads to the twig pendant to finish the necklace.
Extra project: Make earrings
To make a pair of matching earrings follow the same steps as for the main project but make smaller twigs and use 3mm CZs. You can torch-fire the earrings if they are smaller than a 50p coin.