Last week I took some time off work to attend the 3 day Silver Metal Clay course which I booked many months ago. I have been on 2 metal clay courses in the last year and used my skills to make my daughter's engagement keepsake pendant.
11 ladies arrived on the Monday morning keen to further (or begin) their creativity.
I really do find this medium so fascinating to work with. Once you master how to handle the clay (it does take some getting used to) there is so much freedom in working with it. My traditional silver smithing skills further help me. As a refresher, to those of you who are not familiar with metal clay, there are 2 main makers, both Japanese, who produce the brands "PMC" and "Art Clay". I have worked with both but I do prefer the slow dry version of Art Clay although both brands are very similar. Metal clay is almost pure silver, 999 parts as opposed to 925 found in sterling silver. It is held in a binder and once fired to burn off the binder, using a kiln or hand torch, it becomes solid 999 silver. It really is almost magical the way it changes its form during the firing process.
Each day we worked on a different project, 2 were set projects and the last day it was possible to work on something different if we did not want to work on the one suggested. The projects were; pendant making, bead making and ring making. As I have already attended a 1 day ring making course I decided that I would try my hand at making my own toggle clasps to use in my jewellery making.
We had a demo from Liz our tutor after which we were given a piece of Fimo clay to roll out some design ideas. Metal clay is very expensive and you need to make your errors using Fimo.Once we were happy with our Fimo designs it was time to cut out the real thing. I decided that I wanted to use my heart cutters again which I used for my daughter's engagement cake and pendant.
After embossing the clay with a pattern and cutting them out they were left to dry. Once dry I had to file smooth all the edges of the components. Once smooth I assembled them using metal clay paste (similar to the slip you use in pottery) and got them ready for drying on the hot plate.This is the stage when the clay is very fragile and easy to break if too much pressure is applied.
Here they are assembled and ready to be dried again. I set a tiny cubic zirconia in the centre of the small heart of the pendant on the left.
I had a small piece of clay spare so I also cut out a tiny daisy design and set a cubic zirconia in the centre.I then fixed the small daisy on to the larger one to give a "3 D" effect.
The set project for this day was to make 2 styles of bead; a lentil and a rolled bead. The lentil bead was quite difficult to make.
I conditioned and rolled out the clay
Next I chose an embossing pad, I used a seashell design and I rolled this design into the clay...
which left this pretty pattern.
Next I used 2 round cutters to cut out the 2 sides of the beads which I then left to dry on a former (or in this case the backs of 2 same sized measuring spoons).
Once dry I carefully filed the 2 halves smooth and after checking the fit I made a hole in each end and sandwiched them together.
This is the other style of bead.
Rather than the set project of ring making I chose to have a "play" at making some toggle clasps. I first came up with 2 designs which again I practiced making using Fimo clay. Once I was happy I made them up in metal clay.
Here are the front components prior to filing and assembling.
The toggle part was very fiddly as first I had to cut out the shape and before the clay hardened (it hardens in a matter of minutes)...................
.....I had to fix in 1/2 jump rings to the back. You can see this in the toggle on the far side of the photo.Eveything was again sanded when dry and the clasp and toggle assembled by adding the little daisies.
I am sure you are now asking....so what did they all look like finished........
..........well here they all are having been fired, brass filed, tumble polished and burnished.
It's incredible the way the finished pieces turn out and yes they really are solid almost pure silver! I am particularly pleased with the toggles as I hope to develop these and use them in the bridal jewellery for my daughter's wedding next July.
I hope you enjoyed this post and if you are interested I have decided for the very 1st time to sell one of my PMC pieces. You will find the heart pendant in the centre of the photo above for sale here in my Etsy shop. Enjoy!
I am off to Paris on Friday, I will be back the following Wednesday (27th July).
DON'T FORGET...I am launching my giveaway post for my 1st Bloggerversary whilst I am away. All being well if the "scheduler" works! Put the date in your diaries, Wednesday 26th July. You could win my alabaster earrings.
I will be back that same week with some photos from the city of L*O*V*E where my dear Hb and I will be celebrating our 30th Wedding Anniversary. I will raise a glass to you all - cheers to all, my blogging friends :0)
Bye for now,